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Sunrise at Rock Beach

Pondicherry – 2 days in the erstwhile French colony

Short History about Pondicherry

The French East India Company set up a trading centre at Pondicherry (Puducherry / Pondy) in 1674, which soon became the foremost French settlement in India. The other French settlements in India were in Yanam (Andhra Pradesh), Mahe (Kerala) and Karaikal (Tamilnadu). French ruled Pondicherry for around 250 years until it was integrated with India in 1954 as a Union Territory. Before the French, Pondicherry was under the kingdoms of Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas and the Vijayanagara Empire till 1638. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes and the English have also been here. Since Pondicherry is surrounded by Tamil Nadu, the erstwhile French colony shares the language and culture with it.

Waves that caress

This post will be about my 2 days in the erstwhile French colony of Pondicherry which was a small fishing village that turned into a major port city by the 18th century.

How to reach Pondicherry?

Major Southern CitiesBy RoadBy Train
Chennai – Pondicherry151 km – 3.5 hours (avg.)197 km – 4 to 4.5 hours (avg.)
Bangalore – Pondicherry320 km – 7 to 8 hours (avg.)439 km – 9.5 to 10.5 hours (avg.)

Chennai to Pondicherry

There are multiple ways to reach Pondicherry from Chennai since it is the closest metropolitan city from the Union Territory. Most of the buses ply on the scenic East Coast Road (ECR).

  • Koyambedu bus stand always has buses to Pondicherry and it’s the best option. You can get onto a metro train from the airport to Koyambedu bus station at Rs.50-70.
    Note: Chennai Metro Train service is available from 6 am – 10 pm.
    TNSTC‘S (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation) SETC (State Express Transport Corporation) and PRTC (Puducherry Road Transport Corporation) AC and Non-AC buses from Koyambedu are available between 6 am – 6 pm and the tickets cost around Rs.100 – Rs.280.
  • You can get PRTC buses to Pondicherry from Thiruvanmiyur bus station on OMR.
  • You can get onto a local train at Rs.5 from Tirusulam local train station (10 mins walk from Chennai airport) or a metro train from the airport to Guindy, from where you can get TNSTC or PRTC buses via ECR Route from Chennai to Pondicherry.
  • The non-ECR buses from Koyambedu will pass through Perungulathur. You can get onto a local train from Tirisulam local train station by taking a subway from Chennai airport and reach Perungulathur train station (25 mins) at Rs.10, from where you can get SETC buses or PRTC buses.
    Note: The buses are not frequent at Perungulathur station as much as Koyambedu.
  • Only, if you are with a group of travelers, you can get a taxi from the Chennai airport to Pondicherry at Rs.2500 – Rs.3000.
    Note: You will find loads of taxi scammers at the airport and please beware of them.

Bangalore to Pondicherry

If you choose to go by bus from Bangalore to Pondicherry then I would suggest only KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) because their buses are well maintained and the tickets are priced reasonably. They have two services namely, Rajahamsa (budget) at Rs.400 and Airavat (Volvo) for around Rs.600.

Where to Stay at Pondicherry?

I would suggest you to stay in White Town or near the new bus station which is 2 kms from White Town. The areas apart from these might seem deserted and you wont to get interact with the locals.

You can find many hostels, rooms and homestays in Pondicherry. If you make last minute plans to visit Pondicherry, then the only problem would be in being able to reserve a good stay when it is also a budget trip. I had started planning  my Pondicherry travel only 2 days before my visit there and finding a good room became my biggest challenge and, in the end, I somehow found a decent budget stay at Hotel Sri Saptagiri which was right opposite to the new bus stand and 3 km from Rock Beach.

Rock Beach in the early mornings

How to commute in Pondicherry?

  • The best and cheapest way to commute for 2 days in the erstwhile French colony would be through a rented 2-wheeler. Our hotel recommended a dealer from whom we got a Suzuki Access for Rs.250/day for which we also had to pay a refundable security deposit of Rs.500.
  • There are many share autos on fixed routes within the city by which you can commute.
  • There are normal autos too but you might have to bargain a bit.
  • Taxis are very expensive in Pondicherry.

What to eat in Pondicherry?

I had South Indian food for breakfast near the bus stand and Continental for lunch and dinner in White Town. Click here to check out on the specifics about the must eats and the over hyped places to avoid eating at.

Pastry from Zuka

Exploration Starts Here…

The White Town or the French Quarter

We started from our hotel at 9.30 am, parked our scooter near Rock Beach and decided to explore White Town on foot. We also had an early lunch at the French Quarters. White Town is so colorful that you can’t resist yourself from clicking pictures.

White Town is filled with churches. We visited the colorful Dumas Church which was constructed in 1855 and supposed to resemble the Notre Dame in Paris. This is the only church in India which is said to conduct Sunday masses in Tamil, French and English.

Dumas church

Visit to Auroville

There are so many things to do at Auroville but I am going tell you what exactly I did in the few hours of time that I had to explore. Around 12.30 pm we started to Auroville which was about 13 km from White Town and we had our lunch on the way. The first thing we did on reaching there was going to the Visitor Centre which showcases the intent with which Auroville was established and the activities one can enjoy there, along with a special mention of the Matri Mandir. They also gave us numerous brochures on Auroville’s educational courses. There were also many yummy multicuisine restaurants for visitors.

Matri Mandir View Point

The Matrimandir viewing point inside Auroville is open from 9 am – 12 pm and 2 – 4.30 pm. It has become renowned for its architecture and its usage of energy saving construction materials.

We didn’t have enough time to book appointments for meditating at Matri Mandir which had to be done a day in prior. Something to be noted here is what Auroville has to offer. It is definitely much more than what meets the eye at first glance. Auroville aims to be a universal town where people all over the world will be able to live in peace and harmony. It is all about a diverse way of living and how we perceive and accept the world.

Serenity Beach

On our way back to the hotel we came across the Serenity Beach. One visit and you will know why it is named so. I sat on the shore for hours without uttering a word, letting my thoughts soak in the sea.

Serenity beach

Evenings at Goubert Ave

Rock beach, Promenade, Pondicherry beach and Goubert Ave mean the same in the French Colony of Pondicherry. It is the Rock beach that the White Town faces. We went there at around 7 pm to enjoy the evening breeze. It was extremely crowded, but the mood was lit with people selling chat items, sundal and other snacks. There were Tamil plays happening near the Gandhi statue which was fun to watch.

Sunrise at Promenade

There is nothing more satisfying than watching the sunrise in the Bay of Bengal. Sun decides to come up around 6 am in Pondicherry. You will see fitness enthusiasts out for a morning jog at the Promenade. We decided to soak in some Vitamin D ourselves.

Sunrises that are never to be missed

Soon after watching the sunrise we went back to our hotel to freshen up and get ready for exploring the remaining places in French Colony of Pondicherry for the day which included Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Paradise Beach.

Paradise Beach

It is a clean island beach with an astounding view. There are loads of fun activities at the sea along with a changing room as well.  In Google you might want to search for Chunnambar Boat House to reach the ticket counter point. The beach is open from 9 am – 5 pm. There were ferries to transport us from near the ticket counter point to the beach in 25 – 30 mins. It might be crowded during weekdays, but the experience is something which is not to be missed.
Ferry cost for a person: Rs.300

After a nice ferry ride

Most people think that Pondicherry is for cheap booze but in reality it has a LOT more to offer.

The best season to visit the erstwhile French colony of Pondicherry would be Oct – Feb and being a coastal area, it can get very hot during the rest of the year.

We had booked our return journey to Bangalore in a KSRTC Airavat bus and reached home early morning the next day.

You can read more of my travel stories here.

Aarthy Chinnaiya

Hola, you travel-prying soul! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by! My name is Aarthy Chinnaiya, exploring new places, food and people gets me excited. I focus on budget travel and exploring places to the fullest in limited number of days (being a Software Engineer I don't get much leaves you see :P). Follow me for a constant dose of my travel stories, experiences, tips and much more.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. bhushana

    Pondicherry is one of my favorite places in Tamil Nadu very nice blog

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