Holidaying in Pondicherry

by Govindan Naganathan

Posted on 12th April, 2015

Mathri Mandir

I have been planning to visit Pondicherry for a long time and I could make it this December. Pondicherry is well connected with many cities by buses and train. One can also drive down since the roads are fairly good.

Heritage Pondicherry

I had planned for a weekend holiday and decided to take the train. The Garib Rath express (A/c train) leaves Bangalore at 9 pm from Yeshwantpur and reaches Pondycherry by 7.50 am. For return I had booked by Chalukya express going to Dadar (Mumbai) which leaves at 8.30pm and reaches Bangalore at Yeswantpur at 6.00am. I would like to mention here that Garib Rath runs only on Fridays. One can plan to leave on Friday and spend Saturday and Sunday at Pondicherry and return back to Bangalore very conveniently.

I had selected Ginger Hotel Pondycherry (A Tata Enterprise) for our stay since the tariff was modest. The hotel was comfortable with clean rooms, courteous staff and good food. There is also a bar which I did not use. Ginger also offers free Wi-Fi to guests in all rooms.

Pondicherry now known as Puducherry was a French colony until 1954. One can find the influence of French in many colonial buildings, statues, and churches in the city. There are also many old temples and mosques which is visited by tourists. A few of the must visit places are:

Sri Aurobindo AshramIt is located in the Rue de la marine Is one of the most famous ashrams in India. The main building consists of the house of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) a French woman who accepted Aurobindo as her spiritual guide and mentor and later became his most important disciple. In the courtyard of the ashram are the marble samadhi's of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother where the mortal remains have been enshrined.

Outside Aurobindo Ashram

The ashram was set up by Sri Aurobindo in 1926. After his death, The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) continued the social work till she died in 1973 at the age of 93. The idea of Auroville (City of dawn) was conceived by The motherThe Ashram is open to public between 8am-12pm and 2pm-6pm. The activities at the ashram include : development of art, culture, and spirituality besides cottage industries like weaving, paper making, perfumes, ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines. Absolute silence is maintained in the ashram and hence children below 3 years of age are not allowed inside the ashram. Cameras and mobile phones are also not allowed to be used inside the ashram.

Banyan Tree
Auroville (City of Dawns) :

Located about 10 Kms from the city Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. Auroville is a universal town where men and women of all countries live in peace and harmony above all politics and nationalities. One can move around lush green gardens or relax under the banyan tree en route to Matrrimandir. Matrimandir view point can be visited after obtaining pass from information centre which is free. There is also a coach service to the view point of Matrimandir. There is also an introductory video show on the township.Close to Auroville there is a beach which is called Auroville beach which is also very beautiful.

Temples in Pondicherry

1. Manakkula Vinayakar Temple : This temple is located near Aurobindo Ashram. The temple is said to be more than 300 years old and is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple portrays 40 different forms of Ganesha. There is also a shrine of Lord Murugan in Manakula Vinayaka Temple

Manakkula Vinayak Temple

Manakkula Vinayak Temple

2. Varadarajaperumal Temple : This temple is located on M.G.Road. This Vishnu temple has coloured Gopurams and sculpted pillars of Dravidian Style and dedicated to Lord Venkatchalapathi.The architecture of Varadaraja Temple is quite similar to the Vedapureswarar Temple. Lord Vishnu as Varadaraja Perumal and Goddess Lakshmi as Thayar are worshiped in this temple. The temple is situated beside Vedapureswarar Temple and is managed and administered by the same trust. The temple is open to the devotees offering prayers from 6 am to 12.00 in the noon and from 4.00pm to 9.30 pm. It is one of the oldest temples in the town that was built during 12th century. Huge number of devotees of Lord Vishnu visits the temple to receive the blessings of God.

Varadarajeperumal Temple

3. Vedapuraswar Temple : This temple is also called Easwaran Koil and is located in M.G.Road .The main deity in this temple is Lord Shiva.The temple was constructed during 18th century and is very famous for its stone inscriptions and a swayambhulinga. Pondicherry occupies a significant place among the religious places of India.

4. KannikaParameswari Temple : This temple of Shakti is also located in M.G.Road. This Temple is dedicated to Vasavi Kannika Parameswari and an unusual blend of both Tamil and French Architecture.the temple has arched walls, stained glass windows, ionic columns and angel decorations, among other features. The inner sanctum and ceilings are designed in traditional Tamil architectural style.

Vasavi Kannika Parameswari Temple

5. Panchavati Temple : This Hanuman temple is about 15 Kms from city. The deity is 36 Ft .in height. A very nice place to visit.

Panchavati Temple

6. Pyramid Natraja Temple : This Pyramid shaped temple is recently constructed and the deity is Nataraja.

Pyramid Natraja Temple
Pondicherry Museum

It has some beautiful collections of sculptures, old coins and arms ,palanquin, horse driven carriage etc.

Pondicherry Museum
Pondicherry Museum

There are many old beautiful churches in the city. Due to time constraint could visit only a few of them like Church of the sacred heart of Jesus, The church of lady of angels, The church of our lady of the immaculate conception. These are old a churches and are very beautiful. The Church of Our Lady of angels is on Rue Dumas and is called Dumas church Locally.This church is built in 1852.

Church of Our Lady of Angels

Church of our lady of immaculate conception is located on mission road resembles a church in France is built in 1791. In front of this Church is a statue of Our Lady with the Infant Jesus in her arms.

The Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus is located on Subbaiah Salai is a white and dark brown neo-gothic church.This church was built in 1700's by French Missioneries.This Church is vsited by Pope and known as Bascillica now.

Aayi Mandapam

This is situated in the middle of the park and the gleaming white structure is worth visiting. You can also see beautifully carved monolithic pillars supposed to have been brought from Gingee fort. There is also a children's play area in the park.

Aayi Mandapam
Pondicherry Beach (Beach Road)

This is a beautiful beach where one can sit on the rocks and relax. Unfortunately one cannot get into the water in the beach because of the rocks which form the sea wall.

There is also a light house nearby which was built up over 150 years ago. This light house was built in 1836 and was in use until 1979.This light house is now closed.The French war memorial is also situated in the beach road.

Pondicherry Beach

There are few monuments near the beach one of them being four meter tall Gandhi statue. Facing the Gandhi statue is that of Pandit Nehru.

Gandhi Statue
Chunnambar Boat House and Paradise Beach

Chunnambar boat house located on the banks of backwaters is an ideal place for relaxation and picnic. There is a play area which children will love. There is an inflated slide, a merry-go-round, a tree house etc.. for children to play and enjoy.

One can take a motor boat by paying Rs.150/ per head and go to Paradise beach. The beach is clean with white sand and not badly crowded. There is also a small shack where one can get food and drink. All said and done Pondicherry is a wonderful place for a weekend holiday. Hope this write-up is useful to people who are planning a weekend at Pondicherry (Puducherry).

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About the Author: Govindan Naganathan

Govindan Naganathan

An Electrical Engineer by qualification, I chose marketing as my profession. I took an early retirement to shift to Bangalore for family reasons and continued as an Engineering consultant for a few years before joining Rotary club. I am passionate about community service, and have been closely associated with Rotary Bangalore - Yelahanka in many of their health care initiatives, specifically paediatric heart surgery for poor children. An avid traveller, I have toured all over India and also visited Italy, South Africa, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali, Yogyakarta (Jogja), Nepal etc. I am a voracious reader with an appetite for new and varied topics across genres. Currently, I am involved in writing blogs and travel reviews, and travelling extensively. You can follow my other blogs here.


India, Pondicherry, Puducherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram