Places To Visit In Pondicherry – The French Part Of India

Pondicherry Beach

Pondicherry, commonly known as Puducherry since 2006 is a fragment of history left behind by the French. It is the capital city of the Union Territory known by the same name. Under French rule from 1674 to 1954, it is no surprise that the area is steeped in French history and culture and to a traveller might seem more French than Indian in some ways.

Perched on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, and an ideal destination for a weekend getaway from Chennai, Pondicherry offers an excellent destination to travellers looking for a diverse experience at one place. From sun-kissed beaches in Pondicherry to ashrams and meditation centres and European architecture from a bygone era and an amalgamation of religious places such as Churches and temples, place has a lot to offer.

If you just drive into Pondicherry from land, do not be taken aback to see French architecture in the form of gothic styled colonial town houses and Mediterranean style bakeries serving steak and wine. You would be in the older “French” part of town where most people would speak English or English in a French accent. The newer part of Pondy would be typically Indian and resemble the hustle and bustle, characteristic of any Indian city. Apart from English, Tamil is the main spoken language in Pondicherry.

While anytime is actually a best time to visit Pondicherry, if you can, you should try and visit between the months of October and February when the weather should be pleasant with it being neither too cold nor too hot.

The best way to reach Pondicherry is by car and train from nearby metro cities such as Chennai and Bengaluru. In fact, Pondicherry and nearby areas are hot favourites as weekend getaways from these locations.

When it comes to things to do in Pondicherry, the best part is that you’re actually not expected to do much and instead just laze around and get used to the pace of life around here. Some of the notable things to do for which Pondicherry is actually famous are meditation, yoga and eating delicious French food. Let us take a look a detailed and closer look at the tourist places in Pondicherry and things to do in Pondicherry.

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20 Top Places to Visit in Pondicherry

  1. Pondicherry Beach or the Promenade
  2. Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges
  3. Varadaraja Perumal Temple
  4. Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus
  5. Immaculate Conception Cathedral
  6. French War Memorial
  7. Pondicherry Museum
  8. Chunnambar Boat house
  9. Botanical Garden
  10. Old Light House
  11. Serenity Beach
  12. Sri Aurobindo Ashram
  13. Auroville
  14. Paradise Beach
  15. Rock Beach
  16. Shopping in Pondy Bazaar
  17. Raj Niwas
  18. Park Monument
  19. Ousteri Lake
  20. Manakula Vinayagar Temple

1. Pondicherry Beach or the Promenade

Once the central attraction of Pondicherry, today the beach is just a shadow of itself but nevertheless attracts a lot of people. It is a thin strip of land where people come out to stroll in large numbers in the evenings. Probably keeping in mind the narrowness of the land, vehicular movement is banned here in the evenings. This is a nice place to wander around or simply do nothing in the evenings while taking in the views of the nearby Mahatma Gandhi statue and the statue of Dupleix, a statue built in honour of General Francois Dupleix who was Governor General of Pondicherry from 1742 to 1754.  The statue to honour him was built in 1870.One of the most interesting place to visit in Pondicherry. It is the central attraction. You can just take a stole or just go for a work here in the evening. You will even get to see the statue of Governor General of Pondicherry, General Francois Dupleix.

Note:

-It is open 24 hours for the tourists therefore you can visit the place throughout the year and anytime you want to.

– There is no entry fee needed for this place.

Visitor timings: 24×7

Entry fees: Not needed

2. Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges

Our Lady of Angels Church is the fourth oldest church in Pondicherry and was constructed in the year 1855. It is the only church in Pondicherry that offers mass in three languages – Tamil, French, and English. The church is a fine example of beautiful Greco-Roman architecture. Often said to be one of the most beautiful churches in town, the church is quite close to the Promenade beach.It is the fourth oldest church in Pondicherry and is one of the most visited places in Pondicherry. It holds a very important and ancient architectural feature. You should definitely visit this place.

Note:

It is the most famous and visited temples in Pondicherry. It holds a very historical importance. You should definitely visit this place in Pondicherry.

The temple is said to be 800 years old.

-The visiting time is from 6 a.m to 10 a.m and 4p.m to 7 p.m.

– There is no entry fee needed.

Visitor timings: 6:00 am to 10:00 am and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Entry fees: Not needed

3. Varadaraja Perumal Temple

Varadaraja Perumal Temple

A testimony to the pot-pourri of cultures in Pondicherry, the Varadaraja Temple is a well-known Vaishnavite temple in the heart of the city which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. The temple is believed to be more than 800 years old based on historical records and has remnants of Chola architecture & one of the oldest temples in Pondicherry. It is the most famous and visited temples in Pondicherry. It holds a very historical importance. You should definitely visit this place in Pondicherry.The temple is said to be 800 years old.

Note:

-The visiting time is from 6 a.m to 12p.m and 4p.m to 9p.m.

– There is no entry fee required to visit the place.

Visitor timings:  6:00 am – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Entry fees: Not needed

4. Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus

One of the most popular spots in any Pondicherry sightseeing itinerary this Church is a favourite with visitors. This church is famous for its gothic architecture and its stained windows which depict the life and time of Jesus Christ. The church is relatively new having its first mass in 1907. The parish surrounding it was constructed in 1908.It is one of the most popular and famous place in Pondicherry. This church is mostly visited because of its Gothic Architecture. If you love to admire historical architecture then this place is definitely for you.

Note:

-This church is open for tourists 24 hours and you can visit the church throughout the year.

– There is entry fee required for you to visit the church.

Visitor timings: 24×7

Entry fees: Not needed

5. Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

The history of this church dates back to 1692 but the present-day structure stands at the place of previous churches that were built and destroyed many times during its history. The best time to visit this church is before sunset for beautiful photo opportunities. This is one of the oldest tourist places in Pondicherry. This is one of the oldest places to visit in Pondicherry. This church is standing strong since 1692. While you are here in Pondicherry, you should definitely give this place a visit. There are many tourists who come to visit the place.

Note:

-This place is really famous and is open for their tourists 24 hours.

– You will need no entry fee to visit the place.

Visitor timings: 24×7

Entry fees: Not needed

6. French War Memorial

French War Memorial

A 20-century construct built in 1971, the memorial is a tribute to the French soldiers who attained martyrdom in the First World War. To commemorate their memory, every year on Bastille Day, on the July 14, the memorial is illuminated and homage paid to these martyrs. This is a reminder of the strong ties that Pondicherry shares with France. The memorial is open to visitors throughout the day and this is another must-visit among tourist places in Pondicherry. A place dedicated to the soldiers who had attained the First World War. A tribute given to the soldiers. You should definitely visit the place in Pondicherry as it holds such a great importance.

Note:

-You can visit this place throughout the year but it will be good if you visit the place on 14th July as there is a memorial held.

-No entry fee is needed and you are welcomed 24hours.

Visitor timings:  Throughout the day

Entry fees: Not needed

7. Pondicherry Museum

Pondicherry Museum

The Pondicherry museum is also one must-see site on the list of Pondicherry sightseeing. A visit to the museum will give a good background to the history of Pondicherry and its colonial past. Some of the interesting artefacts here consist of relics from the Arikamedu Roman settlement. Similarly, there are many rare sculptures in stone and bronze from the Chola and Pallava dynasties. The museum also houses a collection of shells from all over the Pondicherry region. Museum can be the most interesting place to visit whenever you take a trip somewhere. One of the most fun loving and interesting places to visit in Pondicherry. A full tour of the museum will increase your knowledge about the place.

Note:

-On Mondays the museum stays closed and on other days it stays open from 9a.m to 6:30p.m.

-The entry fee is 10rs per person.

Visitor timings: 9:00 am – 6:30 pm except for Mondays

Entry fees: INR 10 per person

8. Chunnambar Boat House

If you feel that you have seen enough of monuments, this destination will reveal a different side of the tourist places in Pondicherry. This is a place that is not on the list of popular places to visit for every tourist but has become popular of late. The Chunnambar Boat House is 8 kilometers away from the main city and here one can take a motorboat and go to Paradise Beach, which is an island where you can enjoy a leisurely picnic with the waters of the Bay of Bengal stretching into the distance. This is one of the places to visit in Pondicherry in one day. Chunnambar also has tree houses for overnight stays. You can also fish, swim, trek, watch birds or simply do nothing and watch the sun set. True to its name, this is one paradise that you will not want to leave once you are there. On the flipside, look out for weekend crowds as this place can get crowded on weekends with locals as well as tourists. If you want a break from visiting temples and museums then this is the place you must visit. This place is a hidden place and not that famous but one of the most beautiful places to visit Pondicherry.

Note:

-You can visit this place during 9:30a.m to 5:p.m.

– The fee for adults is 300rs and for children it is 150rs.

Visitor timings: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm

Entry fees:  Boat trip costs INR 300 per adult, INR 150 per child (10 years and below)

9. Botanical Garden

Another French era habitation, the Botanical garden, and aquarium were established in 1826 by CS Perrotet. The garden and the aquarium are close by and are spread over an area of 22 acres of land. The botanical garden is home to exotic plants, which are of great interest to researchers and students. The aquarium also has a great variety of marine life. This is a good place for a leisurely family outing as the botanical garden also houses a toy train and a number of colourful fountains. If you are a nature loving person then this place is definitely for you. Who doesn’t like a soothing and relaxing time in a botanical garden. You should definitely visit this place in Pondicherry.

Note:

-The Garden is open from 10a.m to 5p.m and you can visit this place throughout the year.

-The entry fee for adults is 10rs and for children it is 5rs.

Visitor timings: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Entry fees: Adults – INR 10, Children – INR 5, separate charges for train ride and aquarium visit

10. Old Light House

Old Light House

The old lighthouse is an abandoned lighthouse near the Promenade Beach, which was used in the 19-century for guiding ships at sea. The lighthouse was built in 1836 and did not look like its present-day form initially but later on, the present-day two storied circular construction came into being. Although the tower is no longer in use and is partly a museum today, you can go to the top and get a breath-taking view of the sea and entire Pondicherry town spread out below you. Simply worth a visit for the marvelous views from the top of the tower. The Old Lighthouse is an abandoned lighthouse which was used during the 19th Century to guide ships. Though this place is not used anymore but still get to the top and experience a breathtaking view. One of the most beautiful places to visit in Pondicherry.

Note:

-You can only visit this place during 3p.m to 5p.m that too only on weekdays.

-The entry fee is 10rs. 

Visitor timings: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm on weekdays

Entry fees: INR 10

11. Serenity Beach

Serenity Beach

If you were disappointed after reading about the promenade and thought that there are no beaches, we are here to tell you that serenity beach will change your mind. A twenty-minute drive to the north of Puducherry town, this is a beach which is popular for surfing and hence make for a popular weekend getaway. This also means that waves are stronger here and you should restrict your swimming to the shoreline. If you visit on a weekend, you can pick up knick knacks here from the flea market that sits near the beach. For surfing enthusiasts, there is a surf school here and a café ensures that hunger pangs stay away from you. On weekends, the beach can get crowded so mind your belongings. If you want a weekend getaway then this beach is perfect for you. This is just 22-minutes away from the north of Pondicherry town. So, this is one of the places to visit in Pondicherry in 1 day. The beach has a surfing school and even lovely cafes. If you want a relaxing weekend then this is the place to visit in Pondicherry.

Note:

-The beach closes by 6:30 p.m in the evening.

-There is no entry fee required.

Visitor timings: Beach closes at 6:30 pm

Entry fees: Not needed

12. Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

One of the most famous places in Pondicherry that especially brings in foreigners by the hordes is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a centre for meditation and yoga. Founded in 1926 by the spiritual guru Sri Aurobindo and a French lady Mirra Alfassa, simply known as “the mother”, the Ashram is a place to relax and contemplate.  You can also stay here. If you don’t want to stay and just visit, you are free to do so between 4:30 am and 11:00 pm and offer your free prayers at the Samadhi. You can also take art in collective meditation which everyone is allowed to do. The ashram also showcases an exhibition about the life of Sri Aurobindo, the ashram and its activities. Videos are also shown about the history of the ashram and the philosophy behind its existence. If you wish, you can also go on a conducted tour of the Ashram. One of the most peaceful places to visit in Pondicherry. You can even get staying facilities here but if not then you can visit the place and offer your prayers. This Ashram shows the life of Sri Aurobindo therefore you will have a lovely tour here.

Note:

-You can visit the Ashram during 6a.m to 8p.m.

-There is no entry fee required to visit the Ashram.

Visitor timings: 6:00 am – 8:00 pm daily

Entry fees: Not needed

13. Auroville

Auroville

Pondicherry sightseeing will be incomplete without a visit to Auroville. Auroville is located around 10 kilometres away from the main city of Pondicherry and is a unique township that saw its foundations laid in 1968 with support from the UNESCO. What makes this town unique is its concept of universal living where around 50,000 people coming from different parts of the world and speaking different languages and having different cultures live together.

This was also conceptualized by Sri Aurobindo and “the mother” who were researching the idea of human unity to attain a higher realm of consciousness called Supermind or Supramental.

At its inauguration, almost 5000 people gathered at the centre of this township and representatives of 124 nations and all the Indian states carried a handful of soil from their respective homelands and placed in a symbolic marble lotus bud which marks the “humanity in unity” concept.  Today the population of Auroville stands at 2500 and anybody is welcome to stay here provided they contribute towards its vision. It is a good idea to make a booking before going for a visit.

Pondicherry trip will be incomplete without a visit to Auroville. A place to visit in Pondicherry which is lovely. Auroville is 10 kilometres away from the main city of Pondicherry and is a unique place that was laid in 1968 with gets support from the UNESCO. What makes this town unique and famous is its concept of universal living where around 50,000 people coming from different parts of the world and speaking different languages and having different cultures live together.

Note:

-If you want to visit then the timings are from Monday- Saturday 9:30a.m to 12p.m and 2p.m to 4p.m.

And on Sundays only from 9:30a.m to 12:30p.m.

-There is no entry fee required to visit the place.

Visitor timings: Monday – Saturday: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Sunday: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm only

Entry fees: Not needed

14. Paradise Beach

the paradise beach

The Paradise Beach is known for its splendid backwaters. A place to visit in Pondicherry for people who love Nature and want a calm place to relax themselves. One of the most beautiful beaches in Pondicherry.

Note:

-If you want to visit the beach then the timings are from 9a.m to 5p.m.

-There is not entry fee required to admire this beautiful place.

15. Rock Beach

rock beach

It is a beautiful place which have rocks just attached to the beach. If you want to watch a beautiful sunrise then this place is for you. One of the most mesmerizing place to visit in Pondicherry. You can even grab some food while you visit this place.

Note:

-This place is open 24hours for the tourists to visit.

– There is no entry fee required to visit this lovely beach.

16. Shopping in Pondy Bazaar

Shopping in Pondy Bazaar

The tourists visiting Pondicherry love to buy some handmade art pieces. While you are visiting this place you will get many tourist guide and people who help you to take a tour here. You should definitely give it a visit while you are here. One of the best places to visit in Pondicherry.

Note:

-If you are taking a tour here then visit during 9:30a.m to 11:30a.m or from 3:30p.m to 5:30p.m.

-The tour doesn’t operate on Sundays.

-There is no entry fee.

17. Raj Niwas

raj niwas

 

Raj Niwas is the place where the lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry stay. One of the most historical place and important place to visit in Pondicherry. Some parts are open for the tourists to watch.

Note:

-Visit the place during 12p.m to 6:30p.m.

– There is no entry fee required to visit the place.

18. Park Monument

Park Monument

One of the most attractive monuments of Pondicherry is the Park Monument. It was built during the period of the Napoleon-III. Tourists still visit this place because of its historical importance. Ome of the most visited places in Pondicherry.

Note:

-This place is open from 8a.m to 8p.m for the tourists to visit.

-There is not entry fee required to enter the place.

19. Ousteri Lake

Ousteri Lake

A place you can visit to watch a breathtaking sunset. You can sip your coffee and you can watch the sunset here. One of the most pretty place to visit in Pondicherry. You will get to see even many migrating birds who usually flock here.

Note:

-The lake is open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m for all the tourists visiting the place.

-The lake requires no entry fee but if you want a boat ride then the boat price varies.

20. Manakula Vinayagar Temple

Manakula Vinayagar Temple

Who doesn’t like to visit temples when they are out on trips. Temples hold the most historical importance. The Manakula Vinayagar Temple is also a must-visit place in Pondicherry. This is also one of the most old and beautiful temple here in Pondicherry. You should definitely give it a visit.

Note:

-You can visit the temple during 5:45a.m to 12:30p.m and from 4p.m to 9:30p.m.

Conclusion

There are not a lot of things to do in Pondicherry per se because the idea is to relax and not do anything here but if you’re here for some time and interested in water sports you can take scuba diving lessons, surfing lessons, and massage courses. Else, you can meditate at Auroville or simply go fishing in the sea in a traditional catamaran. Before coming make sure to book hotels in Pondicherry. Pondicherry is that part of India where you’ll really see assimilation of cultures up close and personal. Don’t miss out on a visit and see for yourself what makes “unity in diversity” a reality in India.

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Gauri Babele

Gauri Babele

Hey! I'm Gauri.Sagittarius by birth, clumsy by choice.An engineer turned writer.Loves animals tolerate humans.Has a thing for pizza and old books.Expertize in awkward conversations and creepy smiles.

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