The Top Pondicherry tourist places you must know about:
1. Paradise Beach
Out of all the Pondicherry famous places, the Paradise Beach is one of the top and you are going to love it too! The beach is like an island where you will be taken by boat ride from the Chunnambar Boat House. Strapped in life jackets, clicking photos, enjoying the view from the boat and also chatting with other tourists will make your visit to the beach fun from the boat ride itself. The entrance fee to the area where you have to enter to take the boat ride is a small amount. But for the boat ride from the backwater to the actual beach will cost you around 300 rupees, inclusive of going and returning back.
The vibe of Paradise Beach is very lively with everyone enjoying the beautiful and scenic beach in an energetic manner. There is also provision of horse rides by the beaches. If you are a solo traveller, you can spend half-an-hour on the Paradise Beach enjoying the idyllic scenery with the waves of the sea and the boats and return for your boatride. But if you are with your friends or family, you can easily spend two hours there. You can play beach games or have your picnic. Water sports and eating joints ensure you are going to have a good time, whether you are going alone or with someone else. The beach is well-maintained and clean and there are lifeguards for safety too.
Paradise Beach is situated along Cuddalore road, which is at Chunnambar. The location to be specific is 40, Goubert Avenue. You can visit the beach from 9am – 5pm.
2. Sri Aurobindo Ashram
This spiritual place is one of the must-visit places to see in Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo had set up this ashram in the year 1926 and it is now well-known among travellers from around the world. One can learn how to do asamas, swimming, strength training and other sports. There are also libraries.
There is a frangipani tree in the ashram’s centre which is the mausoleum or Aurobindo’s samadhi. If you are seeking peace within yourself and you have an interest in spirituality and like to do yoga and meditation, you will find a lot of comfort by visiting this place.
The ashram is situated on Marine street in Manakula Vinayagar. Visitors are allowed to visit from 8 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm.
Pondicherry sightseeing cannot be complete without a visit to Auroville. It is like a city in itself, the ‘City of Dawn’. Mirra Alfassa, a lady who was the disciple of Aurobindo had set it up in 1968 in a place which is 15 kms away from Pondicherry. Mirra was also considered to be the mother of the Aurobindo society.
If you love quiet places because such places make you feel peaceful, you must visit Auroville city. And while you visit, do enter a cafe on the premises to have a chat with Auroville’ residents to have a better understanding of their lifestyle and life in Auroville.
Auroville is a unique experimental township. It is developed to be an ‘universal town’, which means that here you will find people of various cultures, ethnicities and countries co-existing harmoniously. There is a marble urn where Indians from 23 states and citizens of 124 countries have kept a little amount of soil that they have brought from their hometown!
The total count of the township’s residents is 2800 people and they have come from at least 195 different countries. The residents, the ‘Aurovilleans’ follow the philosophy of ‘divine consciousness’ which was also the mother’s philosophy. Peace, sustainable living and harmony are promoted in this township. Keep 1 or 2 whole days for exploring Auroville and the best months to do so are between November and March.
4. Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple
This temple in Pondicherry’s French Quarter is one of the religious of Pondicherry tourist spots. It is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple located on Manakula Vinayagar has a strange legend attached to it. It is believed that the French governor here tried removing the ido; multiple times to get rid of it by throwing it into the sea water. But he was turned into a faithful follower Ganesha when he saw that the idol kept coming back to it’s space!
The temple has many sculptures of Ganesha which are not usually seen anywhere else much. The temple is also maintained beautifully. The playing of musical instruments makes the ambience divine. You will really feel a strength in your heart when you see the main idol which is really big. Lotus and fresh water lilies are generally offered to this god. And if you offer some for puja, the flowers will be given back as his blessings after the worship is done. Devotees are also known to offer 108 coconuts to the lord after breaking them after their prayers are answered, in a mark of thanking Ganesha.
The walls of the temple have beautiful paintings. At the entrance you will see an elephant blessing visitors if some money is given. If you do not want to wait in a long queue, you can go for the special entry darshan one.
The Promenade is located in White Town and is one of the fabulous Pondicherry attractions. There is a rocky promenade by the sea which has been formed naturally. The vista is so beautiful that you will find photographers, amateur photographers and regular tourists busy clicking photos. It is one of the most scenic places in the city where you can come for a walk or to have a great time with your friends or family. The walking alley is about a km long. Feel refreshed by enjoying the cool sea-breeze. You will find people enjoying not only during sunrise or sunset, but after it as well, under the star-lit sky.
This is actually a posh and stylish area, and a heaven for foodies as there are many cool cafes lined up and restaurants serving all types of cuisines, especially French and sea-food. In the promenade area, you will find hawkers selling cotton candies and nuts, which you can enjoy while you sit and watch the waves along with the sunset. The promenade area is very clean and well-maintained and the walking path is so smooth that you will feel that you have reached France. While walking, don ‘t miss out on seeing the Gandhi statue, statue of Marquis Dupleix and the French War memorial.
Do not forget to click yourself at Promenade Pondicherry as it is going to be a great trademark photo of your Pondicherry trip!
6. Scuba Diving
Well, this is more of a top thing to do than the best Pondicherry tourist spots, but this exciting activity had to be included in the list where we are talking about all the best things of Pondicherry. Being on the East coast of the country and blessed with an interesting marine life, the city offers its visitors this thrilling opportunity of scuba diving.
Diving into the sea to watch the coral reefs which look extremely beautiful and water creatures like moray eels, sea snakes, manta rays, lionfish, crustaceans, butterflies, king fish etc. And if you are lucky, you might even see whale sharks, turtles, dolphins and sharks. There is also a man-made reef where you can enjoy diving if you want.
This place is 2 kms away from the city centre and is actually a site having ruins which serves as reminders of the Roman trade in this country. There have been recent excavations which have established a link between the city’s ancient history and the Roman trade, as old Roman coins and wine jars have been dug out.
A 30 minute drive from the French town will bring you to Arikamedu. You can visit the place between 10 am to 4 pm and can spend two to three hours there. This is one of the unique spots of Pondicherry tourism as it seems as if this ancient Roman trading centre is hidden from the common people. The name Arikamedu has come from ‘Arikanmedu’ which is a Tamil word, meaning ‘eroding mount’.
Earlier not much was known regarding the Indo-Roma ties that was during B.C. years, but after the recent excavations, the unearthing of these things led to this discovery and established the proof of the same. During the time span between 1st century BC and 2nd century AD, this port town was a maritime centre for the French, Romans and the Cholas. Arikamedu has a factory which manufactures glass beads and it is said to be the mother of all bead centres.
After the first digging that was first done during the 1940s, excavations were done multiple times after that. Sir Mortimer Wheeler institution was the best thing to have come out of the excavations. Now unfortunately, what you will only get to see is the 18th century French Jesuit Mission House and two perpendicular walls. But there are many amphorae which bear the mark of Roman schools like IITA, VIBII and Camuri.
But you must visit Arikamedu while doing your Pondicherry sightseeing to see the last of the standing pillars and the mortars and bricks of the ruins, making it look like a ghost town. There might not be a lot to see, but if you like History, this is a great place to see some ancient ruins and click photos of them.
8. Rock Beach
The next destination on our list having Pondicherry famous places is the Rock Beach. Walking along this beach is sure going to be a great experience. The Promenade is right beside this beach, so this is the best beach for viewing the sunrise. Do a morning walk here to feel rejuvenated throughout the day. And if you are not so keen on waking up early during your holiday, you can come in the evening too. But as traffic is restricted in this zone after 5 pm, a large number of people come here in the evening, especially families with their kids. But after your stroll, you can relax at one of the cafes here. Some of the best cafes of Pondicherry are by this beach.
The best thing is when you come here, you are also automatically seeing and walking on the Promenade and seeing the Gandhi statue. The ideal time to be here is between 6 to 8 in the morning and 7 to 9 in the evening. So come down here with your friends, sit by the iconic beach having black rocks and little sand, and chat away for as long as you want! But this is not a beach where you can get into the water.
Quite a few places to see in Pondicherry are peaceful and the Serenity Beach is very true to its name. This beach on the outskirts of Pondicherry has earned its name from the spa-resort-inn of the same name located here. It was initially known as the Kottakuppam Beach or the Thanthirayan Kuppam Beach. You will indeed have a serene time while you look at the blue water and sit on the golden sand, taking in the beauty of nature. An interesting fact of the beach is that it is still unknown by a lot of local people because it is in an isolated destination.
One can also surf on this beach. There are a few shades where you can have a great beach experience by sitting under it and sipping your coconut juice or coffee which you brought in your flask and sip on it. You can also listen to music or read a book leisurely with no one to disturb you. If you are newly-wed, you should stay in one of the resorts facing the beach, overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The beach, which is located on Kottakuppam, is open throughout the day for visitors.
10. Pondicherry Cafes
The cafes here can also be said to be Pondicherry tourist places. If you are a foodie who loves their drinks or you are someone who loves to drink good coffee and enjoy great food along with it, you must visit at least a couple of the cafes in Pondicherry. The cafes here serve good alcoholic beverages too and gourmet food. If you have always wanted to sit in insta-worthy cafes like you see in foreign films, while sipping your preferred beverage, then enter a cafe here. Pondicherry has some of the best cafes in the country which will make you feel like you have reached France.
11. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
This church is located in Sacred Heart Square on Mahatma Gandhi Road. Situated opposite to the station and towards the back side of the botanical garden, this is a really lovely church. You can have some quiet moments in conversation with the Lord in the adoration chapel. The neo-classical church looks beautiful with its old design which clearly has been built in European and French style.
The century-old church built in the Gothic style has stunning glass paintings having the paintings of the 28 saints who were known to be devotees of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is an important pilgrimage site for Christians in India. The church with its painted glass windows and maroonish-red and white walls looks resplendent during sunset, when the rays of the sun falls on these glasses, reflecting light in a grand manner. Keep fifteen to twenty minutes in hand when you visit this church. You will enjoy the quiet and cool ambience.
12. Auroville Beach
The Auroville beach is next on the list of Pondicherry tourist places. As you might have guessed already, this beach is located in Auroville, the city of dawn. This beach has gained a lot of fame and not without a reason. This beach has an exotic appearance, being located by a forest corner. The water here is shallow and great fro surfing. Even amateur surfers can comfortably surf here.
People living in the Auroville ashram often come here for downtime and the atmosphere on this beach is extremely relaxing. If you do want to visit a crowded beach like the Promenade beach, this beach is the kind which you would like.
13. Going cycling
Well this is another activity we could not miss out from listing. This is one of the best ways to go to places to visit in Pondicherry. It will be an exciting experience for you to ride around this picturesque town on a vintage bicycle. There are even guided tours where tourists on traditional cycles go to see places like the French quarters, Tamil settlements, colonial villas and streets having mustard coloured buildings on both sides. Cycling through narrow alleys and charming lanes is going to be a unique experience. So when you are Pondicherry and know how to ride a bicycle, you should rent one and go around town, marvelling at the beautiful architecture of the colonial buildings.
14. Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges
This is another of the churches or cathedrals in the city which you can visit. This beautiful cathedral too has excellent stained glass work and the ambience inside is absolutely tranquil. You would definitely feel like spending some time to sit in that quietness and feel all calm. If you visit Pondicherry during Christmas, you should visit this church to have a lovely time.
The church is located in Rue Dumas White Town and is a huge church, very near to Rock Beach. The artwork on the glasses, walls and ceilings makes it one of the most beautiful churches. The high dome with blue and white painting looks quite modern. But this is one of the city’s oldest churches which was built by Louis Guerre. It was constructed in the Greco-Roman style of architecture. The facade of the church has Latin inscriptions on them and the entrance has two towers.
The church located beside the Bay of Bengal is exceptional with its glass windows having latticework, the large windows, the semi circular arches, fluted Corinthian columns, the staircase to the entrance and the drum drones – all designed in special ways.
15. Chunnambar Boathouse
You have seen the mention of this boathouse when we informed you about Paradise beach. The Chunnambar Boathouse is at once a picnic spot and a boating spot. It is also called ‘Plage Paradiso’ and is located on the backwaters, in the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal and the Chunnambar river. This is one of the well-known tourist spots of Pondicherry where tourists come to enjoy under the sun, to lounge lazily or to play beach games with friends or family members.
There are also a variety of boating options. You can choose between motor boats, pedal boats, speed boats, water scooters, paddle boats, sail boats and row boats. So choose your ride to move on the backwaters which is in the middle of thick mangrove trees. You won’t even have to bring your own food if you are planning to have a picnic. There are restaurants serving delicious Tandoori and Chinese cuisines. The adventurous ones can go skiing here too.
The Chunnambar boat house is open between 9.30 am to 4 pm and one can avail a ferry ride to go to Paradise Beach from here. It is near the water sports complex on National Highway 45A.
If you love hills, you must be wondering about whether there are hill stations near Pondicherry. Yelagiri is one of the closest and best hill towns. The Rose Garden in Yelagiri is what makes this hill-station a favourite of tourists. Though most hill stations are known to be peaceful, the serene ambiance of Yelagiri is going to surprise you. This quaint hill station has a cluster of fourteen splendid hamlets. The orchard and rose garden are what makes this place a top spot for travellers who are looking for hill stations near Pondicherry. You will be able to get the smell of fresh fruits which also makes Yelagiri a special hill station.
Yelagiri is 238.7 kms away from Pondicherry and the ideal time to go there is between November to February. Don’t forget to see the Jalagamparai waterfalls, the Nilavoor Lake and the Punganoor Lake, and the temples here. Yelagiri also has facilities for rock-climbing and paragliding.
Winter is the best time to visit Pondicherry but you can visit the exotic town of Pondicherry. If France is on your bucket list, get a taste of French culture and cuisines by visiting Pondy first. You will not regret!