Want to time travel to the French colonial era and that too by being in India? Then head straight to the charming, quaint city of Pondicherry. Better known as the French Capital of India, Pondicherry is a perfect destination for travellers looking for some rest from their tedious lives. It will definitely help you slow down and experience things one at a time. The city is calm with beautiful beaches, crisscrossed streets, elegant cafes, and the stunning French architecture. The delightful city will make you feel the French culture and the serene aura of the city will surely capture you in its essence.
So recently, I happened to travel to the gorgeous town of Pondicherry with two of my friends as the last college trip. Through this blog, I’ll be taking you on a trip to “The French town of India”, Pondicherry and make you envision the charm of the city, its beaches, the yellow buildings, its streets and much more.
So the expedition to Pondicherry was a bit long due to the tickets which were booked a year ago. So, the journey began from Bhopal and upon reaching Chennai, we drove our way to Pondicherry. After a beautiful road trip from Chennai, we finally reached Pondicherry.
Serenity Beach: A Place to Repose in quietude
We arrived at Pondy in noon and after checking into our rooms, we headed straight to the Serenity Beach. It is one of the beautiful beaches of the city and lives up to its name which is why it should not be missed. The secluded and peaceful surroundings of the beach make it an ideal place for soothing walks along the stretches of sand. The lovely palm trees wonderfully frame the beach and one can sit for hours listening to the sound of the waves gently hitting the shore and watching the beautiful oceanic vista. You will also find a large number of fishing boats parked on the shore.
Promenade Beach: The Appealing Seafront
It was Day 2 and we reached the pride of Pondicherry “Promenade” early in the morning. Located in the heart of the city, Promenade is a 1.5 km long beachfront that starts from the War Memorial and ends at the Dupleix Park on Goubert Avenue. A stroll along the gorgeous seafront is an excellent way of experiencing the real essence of the city. The beach here is covered with rocks and one would love spending time here sitting on the rocks or the seafront listening to the sounds of waves splashing against the rocks.
The Beach road here is a perfect place for walks at any time of the day. As you explore the beach, you will also come across the statue of Mahatma Gandhi which is followed by a sea-facing restaurant where one can have the famed delicacies of the city.
The footpath is interspersed with trees, flower beds and has lots of benches to sit on and enjoy the evening. The Promenade also holds various significant landmarks nearby, namely War Memorial, statue of Joan of Arc, heritage Town Hall, old lighthouse, remains of the old pier, Dupleix Statue, and old customs house. The opposite side of the beach is occupied by beautiful heritage buildings and one of the most beautiful mansions here is the “Marie”. It has been built in French style and is actually the Municipality office.
Auroville: The Soul of the City
After Promenade, we moved to the spiritual town of Auroville. The place is actually 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. About 2,000 people from 50 countries live in this artificial village. Half of them are Indians and there are some 300 French people, 200 Germans, and 150 Italians.
We trekked our way to the “Matrimandir” a huge golden dome built for peace, unity, and spirituality. Throughout the small trek, you’ll find messages written over the stones with each message reflecting a flower. Free entry passes are provided to watch the Matrimandir from a distance. To get inside the temple for meditation, one needs to get the entry pass in advance. The Auroville area also hosts some amazing French cafes and organic restaurants.
White Town: The French Quarter
The White Town is the French part of the city with the most tranquil and beautiful streets you’ll come across in India. Most of the structures in the white town are colonial buildings that were built by French during their rule. Some of the buildings have been listed as heritage and are incredibly beautiful. The streets have been laid out in formal grid pattern. The streets are also named in French beginning with “Rue”. The picture below is of The Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges church on the Rue Dumas street. The church still celebrates mass in French once a week.
Next Day, we also rented bicycles just to stroll along the tree-lined boulevards and witness the elegant French vibes the place offers. The houses adorned with shuttered windows and colorful exteriors will surely take your heart away.
Paradise Beach: Pristine Paradise of the City
It was Day 3 and we headed to “Paradise Beach”. The beach is pretty and extremely attractive due to the crystal clear water and clean golden sand it hosts. The sand of the beach is soft and grainy and a walk along the shoreline will make you feel more calm and relaxing. The backwaters on the way to the beach are also striking and have thick mangrove forests.
There are a few shacks along the main entrance to the beach, and you can get a fresh coconut water and some simple snacks. The vast oceanic landscape and beach panorama will lead you to grab your cameras and capture the beauty it offers.
Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus
After spending the day at Paradise Beach, we came back to the city to visit this church. The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most striking architectures you’ll witness. The interiors of the church were decorated beautifully and everything was just captivating.
One of the 21 Basilicas in India and the only one in Pondicherry, this church was set up by the French missionaries in 1908 which was given the status of the Basilica in 2011. One of the most beautiful Catholic Churches of Pondicherry, the Church beautifully showcases the Gothic architecture. Biblical words can be seen engraved on the entrance in Latin along with the images of Jesus and Mother Mary on the door at the entrance.
We spent the rest of the evening shopping. There were a lot of shops on Nehru Street. There’s plenty to do in this lovely coastal town after you have had your relaxations! You could go for walks in its streets, hang around in lovely colonial-style cafes, go for art galleries, shop around, visit one of the museums or monuments, there are some old and beautiful temples and churches or try exotic food.
You will never be satisfied with the charm this wonderful city offers and will surely take back home a lot of memories. Now you know what all places to visit at this french colonial settlement. What are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Puducherry now. For a hassle-free experience, book your train tickets through Trainman app. Download Trainman App to check PNR Status of your ticket, Running Status, Seat Availability, and many more features.