Puducherry, popularly known as Pondichery, a Union Terrirtory well known for its French traditions, is a renowned tourist destination, more so with foreigners who visit Auroville located in Puducherry. It is also bestowed with beaches, 300 year old Church, and a French colony.
Puducherry is best visited during the months of October to March as the temperature is quite moderate. Sometimes it even rains.
Birds in the river on the way to Puducherry
How to reach?
Located at about 165 kms from Chennai, it can be reached by Road and Rail. The rail connectivity is to some of the main cities like New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Trivandrum. It takes about 3 hours to reach Puducherry by road from Chennai.
Where to stay?
Puducherry has some star hotels like Le Royal Park, Windflower Resort, Le Pondy Beach Resort, Ashok Beach Resort etc. We stayed at (1) Hotel Annamalai International on Kamraj Salai, which is also good. As it was Christmas time in Puducherry, the room tariffs were quite high. Puducherry also has budget hotels and home stays.
(2) Lagoon Sarovar Premier Resort, Pooranakuppam, Puducherry :
Located at about 10 kms from Puducherry town, this beautiful backwater star resort has river in the front and sea at the back at a distance of about 4 kms. The approach road to this resort is slightly narrower weaving through the trees and once you reach the resort, the reaction is of 'wow'. Equipped with a large swimming pool, indoor games, coconut trees all around and boating right at the resort.
I visited this resort with family from 25th to 27th June, 2023. The welcome was quite traditional with a fresh coconut water. The check in process is quite smooth and the staff was very cooperative.
Initially we booked two Delux type rooms but on reaching the resort we found the view of the lagoon facing rooms was quite good. So, we requested the resort to provide us two lagoon facing rooms but only one was available. I booked the one available at some additional cost, which has a tub and a balcony with a view of the river and the swimming pool.
The resort arranged for a boat ride for us in the evening at additional cost.
The next day morning, we could walk on the front area of the resort and later we walked almost 4 kms to the Paradise beach at the back of the resort. We could see fishermen with the catch of crabs. The beach is completely without crowds.
Watching sun rise from the resort property was another good experience. Similarly, watching sunrise from the beach the next day was also another experience altogether.
The food at the resort was delicious.
In addition, while we travelled from Chennai to Vellankanni by road and on the way we had lunch at Hotel Devi at Cuddalore. It was one of the sumptous and tastiest meals we had for a long time. It was so good, on the return journey from Vellankanni to Puducherry, we again had our lunch at Hotel Devi the next day. They provide limited thali which itself is quite filling and also South Indian Thali which is unlimited meal served on banana a leaf.
What to do at Puducherry?
Major activities that can be done at Puducherry are:
1. Visit to Auroville.
A laboratory of evolution as they call it, was created by Mother as a place dedicated to practicing Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, as a place of humanity.
Inside the Auroville, you can visit Matrimandir with prior appointment for meditation etc. but for just visit to the area, you are provided free pass. From Entrance of Auroville, you need to walk a kilometre to reach Matrimandir, located among trees. For return journey, they are free buses made available by Auroville.
2. Sri Aurobindo Ashram
This is where the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo is located. Visiting hours are restricted to 8.00 a,.m. to 12.00 noon and 2.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. No flowers are allowed and children below 3 years are not allowed inside.
3. Paradise Island Beach
You need to travel by boat from Puducherry to Paradise beach. Once on the beach, certain areas are restricted to enter the water and swimming is strictly prohibited. You can enter water in certain areas only under supervision of Life Guards. At the Beach there is a Horse ride and ATV ride for a short distance.
4. Rock Beach
Within the city limits, you can visit Rock beach or Promanade. You cannot enter water here as rocks are placed on the beach side. But it is a nice place to sit and relax.
5. Botanical Garden
Near the Rock beach, Botanical garden is located which is built by French. It has an aquarium and train ride.
6. Heritage Walking Tour
A walking tour is arranged by prior arrangement by some agencies which covers Ashram Walk and Fresh Heritage places covering a distance of about 2 kms.
7. Bicycle Ride
You can also hire a bicycle or a Scooty and tour the place around.
8. Mannakkula Vinayakar Temple
A very beautiful temple with inscriptions on the walls depicting the different avatars of Vinayaka. The inside of the temple is golden.
9. Churches in Puducherry
Puducherry has The Immaculate Conception Cathedral, which is more than 300 years old located on Mission Street and the Sacred Heart Basilica of 19th Century located on M.G.Road and also Church of Our Lady of Angels at White Town, Puducherry.
10. Bird Watching at Ossudu Lake
Also known as Ousteri Lake. Migratory birds can be seen during the season of October to February, on a small piece of land on this lake by taking a boat ride. The closing time is 6.00 p.m. We reached the place at 5.45 p.m. by which time the last boat had already left. We hired a special boat and made the ride for 15 minutes and it was worth it.
11. Want to try the best tea in Puducherry?
while we were on a tour of Puducherry, our vehicle driver took us to a Tea point called "Tea Time" located on Chetty Street. It is a small tea stall which serves different kinds of tea. The best was lemon tea and ginger lemon tea. The speciality of the ginger lemon tea is it was added with subja, which I found was quite unique. The taste was awesome.
Where to eat?
One of the best Vegetarian restaurant is Surguru located on 100ft road. Adjacent to Surguru it is a good non-vegetarian restaurant known as Junior Kuppanna. The food provided at both these restaurants is the awesome.
In addition, about an hour's drive from Puducherry there is a Hotel Devi on Cuddalore town, which is quite famous for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
Puducherry is a lovely place to visit and relax. Liquor is cheaper here as it is an UT. During season time, the onrush of tourists is quite high.