Pondicherry - The French Town of India

11th Nov 2017

Rock Beach (Courtesy: TravelTriangle)

Photo of Pondicherry - The French Town of India by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

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I just shifted from Pune to Bengaluru and it was my first weekend here in Bangalore, I was craving to go on a road trip to a South Indian coastal town. After a small research, I didn't take much time to choose Pondicherry as it is the nearest beach destination to Bangalore. It is nearby 300 km from Bangalore which is around 7 hrs journey including food halts.

Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry, is a Union Territory surrounded by the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the few places in India where history meets modernity. It is a lively destination that offers everything like colonial architecture, popular eateries & cafes, rock beach, a beautiful seaside promenade, historic sites & heritage, and more.

I traveled to Pondicherry with my college friends. There are plenty of buses & trains available between the two cities. However, we chose to travel by car for our own comfort. We hired a self-drive car for 2 days from Zoomcar for the road trip.

Day 1

We started our journey from Bengaluru before sunrise at around 5 o'clock to reach Pondicherry by 12 o'clock at noon. We drove on the Srinagar - Kanyakumari Highway (NH 44) till Krishnagiri, then we took a left turn to follow Krishnagiri - Tindivanam Highway (NH 77) till Tindivanam and then finally we took a right turn to follow Chennai - Thoothukudi Highway (NH 32) to reach Pondicherry. We had to take permit for the vehicle when entering into Tamil Nadu & when entering into Pondicherry both, as it was not a private vehicle.

We took a few small breaks on the way, one for breakfast and others for the munches & soft drinks. We reached Pondicherry by the expected time and directly headed to check into our hotel Hotel D'Europe where we had already booked rooms in advance for a night. We just kept our bags there, took some time to freshen up and set out to witness the beauty of one of the most beautiful cities of India.

We drove to the famous Auroville, named after Sri Aurobindo, which is an experimental township. Mirra Alfassa, the founder of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the establisher of Auroville, said that Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.

Auroville is outside Pondicherry territory, nearby 12 km from the hotel & we reached within 30 mins. There are few cafes inside the Auroville campus and it was lunchtime already so we ate some delicious food before exploring the campus. The main attraction at Auroville is Mantri Mandir, a place for individual silent concentration which should be visited in a quiet physical and mental state.

After that, we went to Auroville Beach, nearby 8.5 km from the Auroville & it took us around 20 mins to reach there. The beach was mostly filled with tourists, who were bathing in the cold water of the Bay of Bengal. The beach is very clean with the palm trees facing the sea.

Auroville Beach (Courtesy: Puducherry Tourism)

Photo of Pondicherry - The French Town of India by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

We took our next stop at the Serenity Beach, it is very near to Auroville Beach, it took us just 10 mins to reach there. The beach had a mixed crowd of tourists & locals. Tourists were enjoying the bath in the seawater, while the locals were busy in their fishing chores. There is also a rocky platform made with boulders, people were stepping over it to have a good view of the beach and to take some photos.

Serenity Beach (Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Photo of Pondicherry - The French Town of India by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

It was already sunset time when we were at Serenity Beach, we headed to Promenade Beach, also known as Rock Beach. From there, it is at a distance of 6 km and we reached in about 20 mins. The seaside promenade was lit with street lights and the ambiance was very soothing. There was a happy vibe at that place, the street vendors were selling snacks and other items. The whole area was very clean and well maintained, we spent some quality there in the hustle and bustle of happy vibes.

One of my friends told me about Cafe Xtasi there for their delicious pizzas. It was already dinnertime so we walked down to the cafe and ordered pizza & pasta there. The food there was really very tasty and we overate as we couldn't stop ourselves. After dinner, we again walked back to Beach Road & walked the seaside promenade end to end many times as we were really enjoying that vibe there.

Then, we grabbed some chairs at Le Café, only seafront cafe in Pondicherry. Originally, Le Café was the port office when the railway was used to operate from South Boulevard to the old Boulevard along the Beach Road. With the rooftop seating, Le Café is counted amongst those places which you can’t afford to miss out while in Pondicherry. We ordered hot coffee for everyone & croissants which is a must-try dish there. While sipping the hot coffee, the cool breeze was kissing the cheeks & we could hear the sound of majestic ocean waves in the background.

Le Café (Courtesy: WanderCrumbs)

Photo of Pondicherry - The French Town of India by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

This was one good experience and we drove back to the hotel as we were a little tired. At the hotel, we all gathered in a room and played some games before calling it a night.

Day 2

The coastal town was very calm in the morning, we could hear the birds chirping while the sun was already up in the sky. We all freshened up & went to eat the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast, we got ready and checked out of the hotel.

The first stop was at the church named Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This church is an oriental specimen of Gothic architecture. It contains rare stained glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ and saints of the Catholic Church. In the year 1895, the then Archbishop Joseph-Adolphe Gandy wished to build a new church in the devotion of Sacred Heart of Jesus. The construction of the new church was commenced in 1902 at the Southern side of Pondicherry. The blessing of the church and the first mass was held at the western wing of the present church by Joseph-Adolphe Gandy on 17, December 1907 and the new parish surrounding this church has been established on 27, January 1908.

After starting the day with a sacred place, we parked our car and walked to the French Colony. The whole colony is very clean & beautiful, the houses stand painted with yellow-orangish color mostly with white stripes on the pillars. Most of these houses date back to the pre-independence period. The houses and the colony are so beautiful that you would want to own a house there yourself.

French Colony

Photo of Pondicherry - The French Town of India by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

After a mesmerizing tour of one of the most beautiful architectures in India, we headed to Paradise Beach. The beach is around 7 km from the French Colony & we reached in 20 mins. To actually reach to Paradise Beach, he had to park our car at the jetty and buy tickets for the boat which ferried us to the other side of the river. Paradise Beach is well maintained and it is no doubt the cleanest beach of Pondicherry. We took a bath in the seawater, it felt like the sea was calling and we couldn't resist ourselves. There's not much to eat there on the beach, so better eat before going there as it takes an hour or so in the queue to board the boat.

You can skip this whole boat ride trip and reach directly to Paradise Beach by your own vehicle too. Instead of stopping at the jetty before the bridge, go straight to the other side of the bridge by road and then take a turn to reach the beach by road. I would suggest taking the road route as it will save your time & money both.

Paradise Beach

Photo of Pondicherry - The French Town of India by Agam Jain - Gypsy On Voyage

We boarded the boat back to the parking area after enjoying a hefty amount of time at the beach. There is a restaurant opposite the parking area and we directly went there as by this time we were very hungry. We ordered some North Indian food there and used the washroom there to change our clothes while the food was being prepared in the kitchen.

After lunch, we hit the highway towards Bengaluru, we took the same route as earlier. We started from Pondicherry around 4 o'clock in the evening & reached Bangalore by 11 o'clock in the night.

I would say that if you're looking for a nice beautiful city filled with good vibes and delicious food, then this place is for you. Experience yourself.

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Note: I could not find proper credits for few photos.