At first sight, Pondicherry looked like any other coastal city, but once we had a chance to walk down the French Quarter, marvel at the colonial architecture and indulge in a French dish with a name that was difficult to pronounce, it started to grow on us. The feeling only grew stronger after we got blessings from a friendly elephant called Lakshmi in one of the many temples, enjoyed a chilled drink at a shady-looking but hip bar overlooking the Rock Beach, did some sun-bathing at the quiet Serenity Beach, bargained for second-hand books at the Sunday market with the sun beating down on us and watched local fishermen fix their nets with the sun setting in the background. That’s the thing with ‘Pondy’, the more you see and explore, the more smitten you get.
How to Get There
Fly to Chennai and from there you can either take a cab or a bus. A non-AC Indica that can seat 4 passengers’ costs about Rs 3500, and it takes around 3 hours to reach the city. The bus takes about 4 hours to reach and costs around Rs 400-500.
Get a map and explore the city on foot. Do pop into the Pondicherry Museum to learn more about its history.
Where to Stay
Hôtel du Parc at 5, Jawaharlal Nehru Street is a great place to stay. It costs around Rs 3500 for a standard room with double bed.
Places to Shop/Eat
If you are in the mood for French cuisine, try Rendezvous on 30 Suffren Street or Madame Shante’s on 40 Romain Rolland Street. For brunch, we suggest Le Café on Goubert Avenue. Also try the thali at Surguru at 235 (old 99) Mission Street.
Make a Memory
Head to Auroville. At the Visitors’ Centre, you can learn all about the city’s aims and activities. Ask for a guided tour if you have ample time on your hands. There are many boutiques within the campus where you can shop for handmade souvenirs. You can also stop by the restaurant to get something to drink or eat.