I went for a 2-day trip to Pondicherry in March 2017 with my sister. Pondicherry is known for its beaches, promenade, colonial villas, and churches.
When to visit
The best time to visit Pondicherry is during the winter from November to February. It’s better to avoid going in the summer like I did because it gets really hot; that becomes a hindrance while exploring the place, because the heat tires you out very quickly.
How to reach
We flew from Mumbai to Chennai, then took a bus to Pondicherry. You can even hire a private taxi to reach Pondicherry from Chennai.
Pondicherry is also well-connected by train. You can board the Puducherry Express from Dadar Station. It takes approximately 36 hours to reach Pondicherry via train.
All this travelling, from Chennai to Pondicherry, took up almost the whole day for us. We reached our hotel at around 6.30 pm. We were staying at the Treebo Red Lotus in White Town. So we decided to set off on our sightseeing spree the next day.
After a scrumptious breakfast of soft dosas and hot idlis at Red Lotus, we started on our way to explore the town. I decided to travel by rickshaw. Rickshaws are readily available in Pondicherry. They are better than hiring a car or two-wheeler as they don’t burn a deep hole in your pocket. Hiring two-wheeler costs around Rs 1000 per day, whereas hiring a car costs around Rs 3000 per day. Also if you want to take the same rickshaw back to your hotel, they wait for you till your sightseeing is over at no extra waiting charges.
Our first stop was the Botanical Garden. It is very huge, clean, and beautiful. It was not very crowded too. So I could click a lot of pictures and explore the place at leisure. Entry fee for the garden was Rs 20 per person. After a lot of fun and photos, we walked towards the Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Basilica is beautiful and afternoon prayers were going on when we reached. I felt very peaceful when I went there. Must-visit!
From the Basilica, we took a rickshaw to Chunnambar Boat House. The rickshaw driver agreed to wait for us and take us back to White Town at a total cost of Rs 500. The boat ride was amazing with lots of greenery. We rode all the way to Paradise Beach and back. It costs Rs 200 per person. If you want to take a camera, you have to pay extra photography charges. Paradise Beach is very attractive with lots of adventure sports like zorbing, kayaking, jet-skiing, and so on.
The rickshaw dropped us to Surguru Restaurant for lunch. I devoured into an authentic and mouth-watering South Indian thali. After lunch, we proceeded to our hotel for rest and relaxation. The scorching heat takes a toll on your energy levels! So it was necessary to take a well-deserved break.
In the evening, we explored the Heritage Town market for shopping. Pondicherry is ideal for shopping. We get a wide variety of soaps, incense sticks, garments, and so many things at reasonable prices. As we were shopping, we went inside the Varadharaja Perumal Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu with amazing architecture. For dinner, we went to Richy Rich for their tasty burgers and pizza.
Since it was my sister’s birthday, we went to Aurobindo Ashram. Many people gather at the ashram for meditation and to pay homage to the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and Mother. After some cool milkshake at #Dilliwalle6, we walked to the Seaside Promenade. The Promenade has the Gandhi Statue, French Memorial, Rock Beach, and many such attractions in line. You can have cold coffee and snacks at Le Cafe. According to me, Le Cafe is a little over-rated. I have tasted better cakes in my life. There is also not much variety in the menu and they don’t accept card payments.
Then we walked to Bharthi Park. The park was beautiful and clean. But I did not like it much as it was full of ogling men and sweltering heat. So we left quickly and roamed in the area to see Raj Niwas and Immaculate Conception Cathedral. We also covered Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple along the way. My experience at the temple was not very pleasant too; as the people there, including the guy keeping our footwear outside the temple, were rude and literally screaming at me for no apparent reason!
Since we were done with all of this by 11 am, I decided to take a rickshaw to Auroville. The ride to Auroville takes around an hour from Pondicherry. Again, we kept our driver waiting while we went to see Matri Mandir. Entry to Matri Mandir is free. We could not go inside as it is closed on Sunday. But having a look at the amazing Matri Mandir from outside was a great experience too. In Auroville, we went to Tanto Pizzeria for lunch. I had an impressive Mediterranean pizza and panna cotta at Tanto. The rickshaw drove us back to our hotel and the ride cost us Rs 750 in total.
After some rest, we went for some last-minute shopping in the Heritage Town market again. We had a dinner of amazing dosas and puris at Anand Bhavan. The next day, we booked a car to drive us back to Chennai Airport. The car hire cost us a hefty Rs 3000 but was worth it as we had to reach on time for our flight.
So here is my itinerary for Pondicherry including most of the offbeat and popular places in the town. Like I mentioned before, please avoid visiting in the summer as it can be burning hot. Also, I’d heard a lot that Pondicherry is ideal for solo women travellers. I don’t think that is true. Because in many places I went, especially the market area and Bharthi Park, I came across ogling and lecherous men. It’s not that it is unsafe but I felt a little uncomfortable. But the place is beautiful and green. It is ideal for photography and a perfect trip with your family/friends.
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