Located in the south-eastern part of Tamil Nadu, India, Pondicherry is the best bet for weekend gateways if you reside in south India. This quaint little place is the largest and capital city of the Indian union territory of Puducherry. Fondly known as Pondy, the French colony of India has preserved the French legacy since 1954 and offers everything from beautiful beaches to delicious food and adventure activities. This French Riviera of East has maintained its old-world charm and will give you a sense of the French culture at its best!
For Chennaites, it’s around 3 hours of drive to Pondy on the smoothest and scenic East Coast Road, the highway connecting Chennai and Pondicherry. The drive is absolutely worth if you fancy long drives, soothing music, and conversations! I love visiting Pondicherry and thats why my first blog post on my lifestyle blog is about Pondicherry and you must definitely read this thoroughly. When planning a laidback weekend in Pondy, here is list 31 things you can do in Pondicherry and feel invigorated!
31 Places to Visit In Pondicherry
1.Experience Spiritual Enlightenment at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry
Founded by Sri Aurobindo, the ashram is essentially a lively center placed in a modern urban setting. Unlike most Indian ashram, Aurobindo Ashram does not entertain any prescribed practices, compulsory meditation or rituals, but allows visitors to experience the free spirit and connect with the ultimate presence of the universe.
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2.Meet the carefree community of Auroville in Pondicherry
Founded by Mirra Alfassa, a French Saint in 1968, Auroville aims at building a community where people from different nationalities could come and live together in peace and harmony. The main highlight of Auroville is Matirmandir “temple of the mother”, it’s a huge golden dome. A trip to Auroville is totally worth it for this architectural wonder.
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3. Get a blissful stroll at Paradise Beach in Pondicherry
If you are looking to indulge in pure solitude, The Paradise Beach is the place you should visit. It is one of the cleanest and calming beaches you will come across in Pondy, so experiencing tranquillity here is undeniable. Just sit back on one of the sand bars and let the splash of crystal clear waters wash over you.
4. Dive into the mesmeric under-water world with Scuba Diving in Pondicherry
Believe it or now, Pondicherry is one of the best scuba diving destinations in India. You can dive through the Eastern Coast and discover the enthralling beauty of the marine life. It includes corals, kingfish, eagle, parrot fish, sea snakes, angelfish, lionfish and many other marine organisms. Organized by PADI certified drivers, this adventure sport is not something you should miss!
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5. Catch a Rock at Promenade Beach
Promenade Beach is one of the highly adorable beaches in Pondicherry. This 1.2 KM long rocky beach is a haven for tourists and beach enthusiasts. The beach is bordered by a long walkway where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset through a casual walk. As you explore Promenade beach, you will find a black statue of Mahatma Gandhi, sea-facing restaurant, beach shacks and food cart that enhances the beauty of the beach.
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6. Get a glimpse of France through White Town
White Town is one of the most popular markets in Puducherry district, and it was the former headquarters of French. It still manages to offer a sense of French flavor after all these years. The shopping hub covers two major boutiques – Cane Lab Design and La Maison Rose, which are still run by French nationals. In addition, you can also explore Casablanca, Living Art Lifestyles, and Yaka Home design.
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7. Explore the rich history of Pondy through Pondicherry Museum
Spend some quality time exploring the French era through Pondicherry Museum. The museum boasts old French arms such as guns, knives, muskets, and swords along with statutes made up of stones and metals. An area of the museum is entirely covered with authentic French era objects such as dinner table, grandfather clock, mirrors, furniture and more.
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8. Get into some Surfing action at Serenity Beach
Pondicherry waves go as high as 12 ft, which makes it most sought after surfing destinations in India. Serenity beach sees most of the surfing action by tourist and localities. Among all the things to do around Pondicherry, surfing can be the most exciting activity if you love plath the moving waves and tryst with the peaceful wind.
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9. Elephant blessing at Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Like the name suggests, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Unlike another Hindu temple, Sri Manakula Vinayagar has Lakshmi, the Elephant who visits the temple daily and blesses her devotee with her trunk. The temple was built over 3 centuries ago and still has the magnificent architecture in all likelihood.
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10. Repose at Auroville Beach
If you are a beach person, then you already know what it is to reunite with oneself at the seashore. Auroville or Auro beach is one such destination where you can capture a moment of repose and indulge in yourself. This place is also ideal for swimmers as it contains shallow waters.
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11. Go street shopping without troubling your pocket much
Pondy is an excellent place for street shopping. The city is loaded with street shops. Casablanca and Kalki (on Mission Street), J.N Street, Serenity Beach Bazaar, Saram China Market,Goubert Market, Mahatma Gandhi Street, Romain Rolland Street, and Vinayagar Temple Street are some of the best places to shop in Pondicherry. Apparels, leather products, handmade paper, shoes, spices, and jewelry are some of the obvious hard-to-resists items to shop for. Of course, don’t forget to use your bargaining skills!
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12. Sail in Luxury
Sailing through coastline of Pondicherry is a must do activity for thrill seekers. Pondicherry has a wholesome range of yachts decked with all possible luxury and comfort you imagine while grooving on the water. Pondicherry sailing association offers a large number of sailing activities for both children and adults along with discoveries and competitions.
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13. Grab a copy of your favorite book from Romain Rolland Library
Established in 1827, Romain Rolland Library in Pondicherry is one of the oldest Indian libraries and is worth a visit. Named after a French Scholar Romain Rolland, the library has a rich collection of more than 3,00,000 books from both English and French language. If you are in Pondy for a few days, then you will not regret reading a book from their rare collection near the seaside.
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14. Spend some quiet time at Mahe Beach
Mahe beach is a must-visit tourist spot offering a tranquil retreat for a holiday. This place is usually less crowded and often you will watch fisherman doing their daily fishing activity for a living. Go ahead and take some time enjoying the gorgeous views of the shoreline along the Indian Ocean at Mahe Beach.
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15. Try boating and Canoeing at Karaikal beach
Karaikal beach is an ultimate destination for experiencing some thrilling water sports including boating, kayaking, canoeing, jet skiing, overnight camping and backwater sailing. Some of the activities are kids friendly as well, so don’t hesitate to visit Karaikal beach with your family.
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16. Visit Churches that represents French culture and architecture
You might not be able to visit all 32 churches that are available in Pondicherry, yet some popular ones like Church of Our Lady of Angels, Dupleix Church, and Immaculate Conception Cathedral are among the biggest and oldest churches in Pondicherry. These churches welcome people from all religion and offer peace of mind in all sense. Don’t miss out on the beautiful French architecture and culture that these churches hold within.
Image Source: pondicherryinfo.in
17. Unwind at the Dune Eco Village and Spa
Designed with an artistic concept resort, The Dune Eco Village and Spa comprises of cottages overlooking the Bay of Bengal. This place is spread over 35 acres offering 30 aesthetic villas and 20 rooms clubbing modern and traditional architecture. Swimming pool, tennis court, spa, organic farm etc are other highlights of Dune Eco Village.
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18. Do something productive at Sita Cultural Center
Sita Cultural Center is a Franco Indian Cultural Center, which is one of the most interesting spots in Pondy. The center offers varieties of fun classes for rejuvenation during holidays. You can choose and join classes ranging from Ayurvedic medicine, yoga, kolam, Indian cooking and more.
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19. Take a bicycle tour
Pondicherry offers amazing guided bicycle tours that take you to classical French colonies, cultural centers, Green Quarter, historical sites and more on a vintage bicycle. You can get a snapshot of this beautiful French capital of India in less than two hours. The tour ends with South Indian breakfast – Idli, chutney, sambar and delectable filter coffee.
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20. Experience French style nightlife
The union territory comes to life as the sunsets and stars begin to rule the sky. Pondy has a lot to offer for fun seekers for both singles and couples. It owns some of the most sizzling nightlife places in the state. Zero House, Asta, Paradise Lounge, Poudou Poudou, Pub Zipper, and Bamboo Bar are some nightlife places in Pondicherry worth exploring!
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21. Pamper your taste bud of French and South India Cuisines
Beyond doubts, Pondicherry is a foodie’s delight place offering a wide range of cuisines from traditional French and South Indian dishes. Although there is a lot of popular seafood restaurants, even vegetarian and vegan people can find great places to satisfy their taste bud. Most restaurants are built in an old-fashioned way with some comforting ambiance.
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22. Don’t leave Pondy without trying Wine
Thanks to the French influence, Pondicherry is a place where wine is served in most restaurants. Pondy is not much popular for wine-producing, yet the French capital city of India imports good wines from across the globe to serve their customer. Complete your French dining experience with a glass of good-old wine!
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23. Learn Yoga and Meditation at Yoganjali Natyalayam
Yoganjali Natyalayam is a school of yoga and meditation where different forms of Yoga including hatha yoga, vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga are taught by professionals. You can spend an entire day or two and learn spiritual awakening through beginners or advance available courses.
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24. Contemplate the exquisiteness of Reppo Beach
Reppo beach is a place for people that just want to get away from the every-day noise and rejuvenate themselves. There is less crowd and has a calming ambiance that is the reason most tourists prefers spending time at Reppo beach. This beach is located near Auroville.
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25. Visit Old Lighthouse
Apart from being a popular landmark, Old Lighthouse that was built in 1836 is recognized as a unique piece attraction because of its round tower. It is one of the popular tourist attractions in Pondicherry; however, it is not operational today.
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26. Discover nature’s epic beauty through Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden in Pondicherry attracts children and adults in equal measure. Laid out during 1826 in the ornate French Style, this Botanical Garden is a house of more than 1500 species of plants. You will be lucky to experience musical fountain show that is organized at regular intervals.
Image Source: wikimedia.org
27. Learn the Clay art at Golden Bridge Pottery Center
Pottery is a beautiful thing! Here you get a chance to mold the clay into anything you can imagine. If you were ever interested in Pottery then trying the art at Golden Bridge Pottery Center is something you can’t miss. You might not master the art of pottery for the first time, yet getting your hands on wet clay will surely be mesmerizing.
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28. Treat your eyes watching birds fly at Ousteri Lake
Also known as Osudu Lake is a home for some unique bird species including 40 migratory birds, Painted Stork, Golden Oriole, White Ibis, Tailor Bird and Openbill Stork. It possesses mudflats and marshy lands, which is designated as a significant wetland of Asia via IUNA. There is nothing compares to watching these colorful birds fly, while gentle Pondy breeze brushing your cheeks, it’s blissful!
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29. Bharati Park for Leisure Traveller
Bharati Park or Government Park is one of the greenest attractions you will ever come across. Make sure you visit Bharati Park in Pondicherry if you are coming with family. As this park is a wonderful picnic spot covering green lawns, huge playground, pond and granite benches for having some refreshing moments with friends and family.
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30. Take a Boat Ride through Chunnambar Boat House
The boat ride is another popular activity that tourist love to do. You can hire a boat- either speedboat or a regular boat through Chunnambar Boat House and take a fun-filled ride at Paradise Beach.
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31. Horse Riding At Red Earth Institute in Pondicherry
In the outskirts of Pondicherry around Auroville, you have an option to stay in Blackbox a home made of abandoned containers and right inside you have Red Earth that hosts about 30 Horses. You can pay Rs. 800 for a 1 hour horse riding training from the experts.
And Finally, Sit back and relax
Not to forget that Pondicherry is a place to relax and unwind. So if you are not in the mood to try any of the activity the best is to sit back on the beach and relax!
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There is something for everyone over here in Pondicherry, so plan your next holiday here and for sure you will fall in love with this small little nature’s own place!
If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment section below.