VIT Admissions
Vol 7 Issue 22, May 27 - Jun 2, 2016
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

15 places to visit in Pondicherry to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul

   By  Catherine Gilon
31 May 2016
Posted 25-Jan-2014
Vol 5 Issue 4

A former French colony, Pondicherry, the town that is a mere three-hour drive from Chennai is a popular weekend getaway in South India with many tourist attractions and must-see-places.

The Weekend Leader has compiled a list of 15 places to visit in Pondicherry, now known as Puducherry. (Places have been listed in alphabetical order and not in terms of their importance.)

1. Arikamedu

The Arikamedu archeological excavation site, which is around 7 km from Pondicherry, gives you a glimpse of ancient Roman trading in this part of the world.

The place literally means ‘eroding mount’ and has been a treasure trove of Roman artifacts like lamps, glassware and so on, dating back to 1 BC. Though not much remains of the site, it is worth a visit to discover history, your way.

Aurobindo ashram is a popular landmark in Pondicherry (Photos: Joshua)

2. Aurobindo Ashram

The Aurobindo ashram, established by Sri Aurobindo, is a popular landmark in Pondicherry. The Ashram consists of a row of interconnected houses, including the buildings where Sri Aurobindo and The Mother lived and meditated. A white marble shrine, their final resting place is a place of reverence for many who follow their humble teachings.

3. Bharathi Park

Situated close to the famous Promenade Beach is another place of interest, the Bharathi Park. Surrounded by the picturesque governor building, Roman Rolland library, and the government hospital, the government park has abundant space for a leisurely stroll.

It also houses Aayi Mandap, a monument constructed by a French emperor in memory of a lady courtesan, Aayi, who had built a pond to supply water for the citizens of Pondicherry.

Aayi Mandapam at Bharathi Park

4. Bharathidasan memorial

Two great Tamil poets Bharathiyar and Bharathidasan had close connections with Pondicherry. Bharathidasan, a native poet of Pondicherry involved in socio-political genre, is said to have inspired the Dravidian movement further in Tamil Nadu.

In fact, the city is said to have inspired Bharathiyar’s famed works – Kuyil paatu and kannan paatu. Both the Bharathiyar and Bharathidasan memorials (on Perumal Koil Street) are worth a visit for their literary value.

The Bharathiyar memorial is under renovation but the poet’s works are currently preserved in a museum nearby.

5. Botanical Garden

Include Botanical Garden in your list of ‘places to visit in Pondicherry.’ Established in the early 19th century, Botanical Garden attracted a lot of attention after it became known that the acclaimed film ‘Life of Pie’ was shot here. (Don’t expect anything magical though!)

There are a wide variety of trees, birds, and even some monkeys. The aquarium is average, a toy train entertains kids, but the trees are its lifeline. The garden is very close to the Pondicherry bus terminal.

Chunnambar - Gateway to Paradise

6. Chunnambar Boat House (Paradise Beach)

You may not want to miss a visit to Chunnambar Boat House. With the sun out most of the year, boating in calm waters can be a soothing experience. The backwaters at Chunnambar along the Cuddalore Main road will guarantee you a pleasure ride - be it on one of those larger ferries or a jet ski.

But the reason why most people visit this place is to hitch a ride to Paradise Beach, a beautiful coastline which is accessible only through a boat ride.

Add this place to your sightseeing list in Pondicherry. But do drop in before 4 pm as the access to Paradise Beach is closed after that.

7. Kalki

With residents of Auroville - an international township near Pondicherry founded by The Mother - promoting sustainable living, you will find heaps of organic and natural products across the town.

Kalki is a shop in Mission Street, which is a treasure trove for products ranging from candles, potpourri to hand painted silks, scarves, jewellery, and more. Don’t forget to splurge on their bags too.

Matrimandir: The dome is covered by golden discs

8. Matrimandir (Auroville)

This beautiful dome is synonymous with Auroville, and represents its very essence with a quiet hall for meditation. The dome is covered on the outside by golden discs that reflect the sun, giving it a surreal radiance.

The Matrimandir Viewing Point, a raised garden area presents a striking view of the building. While you are at Auroville, don’t forget to shop around for some awesome earthenware and paper products.

9. Mohanam Culture Centre

If you want a taster session of local Tamil culture, try visiting Mohanam Culture Centre near Auroville. The centre aims to revive local arts including folk dances (Kummi, Karagam and Kolaatam), martial arts (Silambam) and theatre (therukoothu).

Children and youngsters from the neighbouring villages of Auroville are trained in these activities. During Pongal, the harvest festival of Tamils, the centre conducts cultural and traditional events for the villagers with a liberal dose of traditional games like Kabaddi, Ilavatta Kal Thookuthal and Nondi. The women folk get a chance to showcase their artistic side with ‘Kolam’ (line drawings made in front of the house) competitions. It is one of the ‘must see places in Pondicherry.’

Mohanam promotes traditional Tamil arts

10. Ousteri

Located 10 km from Pondicherry, Ousteri Lake (Osudu) is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the city and used to be a major supplier of drinking water in the past.

Come December and the place swarms with migratory birds. If you happen to be in Pondicherry around this time, it would be a good idea to visit the spot for a leisurely boat ride and to catch some interesting avian life in action.

11. Promenade Beach

There are a bunch of beaches across this town with the Promenade Beach located right at the heart of the city. You’ll see a relatively cleaner beach though the portion allocated to food vendors is an eyesore.

There is a small children’s park at one end of the stretch, Mahatma Gandhi statue somewhere in the middle that doubles up as slide rides for the kids, a war memorial, and a beautiful French church dotting the beach line.

For a more peaceful stroll, we suggest that you take the parallel road and soak your sights in the beautiful, very Pondyish grey or orange buildings with large French windows.

You can stop at one of the quieter restaurants for a truly global culinary experience or go local by binging on yummy paani puris near the court complex.

Tourists relaxing at Paradise Beach

12. Quiet Healing Centre

If you are looking at rejuvenating yourself, this is the place to be. From Watsu (water-based therapy), shiatsu, sound healing to the more well-known acupuncture, hot stone massages, you can try them all at this health spa in Auroville.

All their treatments are non-invasive and natural, so you don’t have to worry about side effects.

13. Svaram

Svaram – a musical museum and research centre in Auroville is a must-visit place for musicians and anybody with genuine interest in music.

It was while browsing through one of the Auroville shops in Pondicherry we discovered an indigenous looking wind chime created by Svaram.

When we dug deeper, we discovered a whole new dimension of musical magic. Do check out the Svaram new waves series – a unique range of musical instruments based on Pythagorean studies, created to be used in sound healing. From raw tribal instruments to contemporary resonators, you have them all here!

Zuka: The latest hotspot in town

14. Siruvanthadu

Not many know of Siruvanthadu village near Villupuram as a silk destination, but surprisingly, this place located about 28 km from Pondicherry, hosts over 2500 silk weavers.

With over 300 silk sari stores, this village plays second fiddle only to the famed Kanchipuram (known for its silk saris). As the place is yet to be discovered by tourists, customer service is quite exceptional with most vendors willing to customize saris as per your requirements. A visit to this place is sure to keep the womenfolk happy.

15. Zuka café

Zuka chocolate café in Mission Street has become a recent icon in the city what with chocolate lovers thronging it through the day.

Its owner Srinath Balachander takes pride in infusing the original cocoa taste in its international line of chocolates, desserts and cakes.

A one-of-a-kind chocolate café, it is also known for creative experiments on special occasions. Their mocha cake is to die for and chocolate pakoras, another universal favourite.

Print  |  Email  | 

You might also like:

Priceless art

A silent, voiceless, tribal population in India has enormous talents, but has been denied its due recognition. Bhavana Akella spoke to some of them at a tribal conclave and got their stories 

Read More

TN vindicated

Kerala’s disinformation campaign on the Mullaiperiyar dam is falling flat, despite desperate attempts by a powerful coterie operating through sections of media to sustain the propaganda

Read More

Stories on Innovations & Innovators
The Lead Star Digital Issue
adyar bakery
Mentoring Tamil Nadu

Popular Stories

Poor’s banker

The son of a poor sweet shop owner, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh today sweetens the lives of women in poverty stricken homes with loans. G Singh traces the incredibly phenomenal rise of the founder of Bandhan Bank that has Rs.12,500 crore deposit now

Read More

Chef Robot

A love for dosas led to two friends in college fabricate an automatic dosa maker that is making waves by enabling chefs roast the crispy dosas that they were earlier not able to make outside Tamil Nadu. Usha Prasad has the interesting story

Read More

Nursing small towns

After experiencing the trials and tribulations of people from small towns and villages in seeking medical facilities, Dinesh Batra vowed to take specialised health care to smaller places. Today he is living his dreams, says Narendra Kaushik

Read More

Fruity growth

From a poor fruit vendor’s son, who grew up eating jack fruit for snacks in an obscure Karnataka village, to owning a Rs 108 crore company making fruit flavoured ice creams in Mumbai, Srinivas Kamath has come a long way, says Somma Banerjjee

Read More

Family lunch

When there is an eatery at every nook and cranny, why do people travel as far as 200 km for lunch in an obscure village near Erode? Usha Prasad brings the flavour of UBM Namma Veetu Saapaadu, served in a plantain leaf for the whole family

Read More

Grit gets success

From selling samosas on Chennai streets to setting up his own pakora shop to owning a Rs 1.5 crore company supplying delicacies to five star hotels, J Haja Funyamin has come a long way. P C Vinoj Kumar captures the flavour of a success story

Read More

Watershed innovation

Bhungroo in Gujarati means a hollow pipe. But Biplab Ketan Paul gave the word a new meaning by an innovation that has led to water availability, soil improvement and women empowerment, thus helping 14,000 farmers, says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Momo monarchs

Two friends in Kolkata, keen on turning their culinary delight into business, rejected job offers in a campus interview to start a momo kiosk. Eight years on, their venture started with Rs.30,000 has grown into a Rs.100 Cr entity, says G Singh

Read More

Model farmer

In a region known for farmer suicides and parched fields, Gudivada Nagaratnam Naidu returned to his roots, giving up a job, and went on to create a farm revolution. S Sainath visited Naidu’s farm near Hyderabad that’s even got an apple tree

Read More

Quality of success

Aasife Biriyani, popular among Chennai’s foodies and sold through nine outlets, was dispensed from a pushcart 18 years ago. Founder Aasife Ahmed made it a Rs 70 crore turnover chain by just not compromising on quality, says P C Vinoj Kumar

Read More
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend, 2010. All rights reserved.