Things you must know before heading to PONDICHERRY...
So, What comes in your mind when you read Pondicherry…..
Well, I do not know about you, but this photo with a yellow wall in back and some funny cartoons definitely pops up in my mind whenever i used to hear this word...Pondicherry.
Like this 😋
The picturesque White Town surrounded with beautiful roads and its French style buildings painted in soothing colors like yellow, blue, peach, green and what not. But what if i say Pondicherry is more than just French legacy. After exploring this adorable city, what I think is, you will experience mixed feelings here. On one side, it has adventurous beaches and boozing options :p. While other parts of the town will offer you love, peace and faith.
I have explored touristy places in Pondy...and I am here to help you out with what you can explore whenever heading to this amazing place. So, let’s go....
Places that you must cover:
#1 Chunnambar Boat house and Paradise beach:
These two are one of the most famous places in Pondy and can be explored together.
Boat houses, speed boats and motor boats are available at Chunnambar boat house which will take you to Paradise beach. A full Boat house will cost you around 5000, and Speed boat will cost you around 350 for a round trip.
When on a boat, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the backwaters of South India while a calming view of the white sand and ocean when on the beach.
#2 Rock Beach, Promenade Beach and White town:
White town is in the very centre of Pondicherry. And these two beaches are the best to spend time and hangout. Some refer to Rock beach as “Marine Drive of Pondicherry.”
Both of the beaches are in the same line, so you can explore them together.
#3 Serenity Beach and Auroville Beach:
Serenity beach offers multiple things, a scenic view with black rocks and waves at one side while people surf and fish at its other side.
Auroville beach is very clean and perfect for a morning/evening walk and for spending time. This is just next to Serenity beach, so you can cover these two together.
As per my surfing instructor, this beach used to be a major place for surfing, back in the 2000s. But due to the Tsunami and Cyclone Thane, the beach communities were badly hurt. Also, this beach is not safe now as tides are very high.
Surfing at Serenity beach
#4 Surfing, Scuba diving and other adventurous sports:
Serenity beach is the only beach where you can surf.
Surfing schools, like Mothers Ocean Surf School, Kallialay Surf school are at this beach only. You have to book your slots at least before one day for fun session. The instructors firstly teach you some basics for surfing and then take you in the ocean for surfing. People who don’t know swimming can also go surfing. I went with Mother Ocean surf school and both of the instructors, Master and Guru, were great and fun to go with. One fun session (~1 hour) for surfing will cost you around ~2200 INR
Scuba diving is being done at Paradise beach.
Other water sports, like paragliding are also available at Paradise beach but due to COVID times, these all are banned.
#5 Sri Aurobindo Ashram:
This is in White town near Rock beach. The Ashram has Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo in the middle where the followers and the visitors can pay their respect. There is no entry fee. The ashram is opened only in specific time, so do check Google for latest timing.
#6 Auroville town and Matrimandir:
Auroville is an experimental township whose motto is towards human unity. The town offers you love, peace and faith. Once you reach Auroville, you'll find beautiful roads surrounded with trees, small shops, eatery places.
Matrimandir is in the centre of Auroville. You can visit it's meditation centre for which pre-online-booking is needed. Check Auroville site for details. But unfortunately due to COVID, this has been banned for now.
How to reach:
By Bus/train: Pondicherry bus stand and railway station is near Rock beach (3-4 km). If you are traveling from Bengaluru or Chennai, Bus is the most convenient option.
By Flight: Pondicherry airport is also available and is only 6-7 km from Rock beach.
Where to stay:
Rock beach and Serenity beach are the best places to search for resorts. You can also check for resorts near Auroville beach but there are not many options.
Resorts at Rock beach will be a little bit overpriced as this is in the heart of the city. Whether Serenity beach offers multiple options at affordable prices (~2-3k).
From my experience, I would suggest to book resorts at Serenity beach, you can enjoy the beach, surfing, playing in sand whenever you want. Even at night, you can see few groups enjoying themselves there.
Few resorts that i personally liked, like Theevu Plage, Edan beach cottage.
Hotels & Homestays:
Just one word. White town :)
This part of the city offers you all kinds of stay options. Since it's in the centre of the city, so everything will be easily accessible.
Best way to roam around in Pondy is scooty or bike
You can also book bicycle or car
Autos are available
Ola/Uber doesn't work there
For renting any vehicle, you can contact your hotel owner too, they generally have contacts. Or you can find a lot near Pondicherry bus stand or in Pondy bazaar.
Scooty will cost you around ~400 INR/day and bike around ~800 INR/day
Now the most important part, FOOD ;)
What to eat and Where to eat:
Authentic French cuisine: Well, pondicherry is mainly about French legacy, so yes experience authentic french cuisines and you can find it in almost all the french cafes. Dishes that you must try: Cheese Fondue, Crepe (Traditional French pancake), Quiche, Croissants Cafes that you can go: Cafe Des Arts, Coromandel Cafe
Different kinds of bread/buns/sandwiches: You can find a variety of breads even when you order a simple bread toast. There are a lot of bakeries available who bakes bread in their own unique style and taste. Few bakeries/cafe you must try: CafeDesArts (Try its Tartine sandwich), BreadAndChocolate
GMT Ice cream parlour: A must try place. It offers a variety of ice cream options and if you prefer alcohol, go for whiskey infused ice cream. ;) No personal experience as I couldn't try, but have heard a lot about this place, so do try.
Wood fired pizza: I find it somewhat similar to Thin crust pizza, but do give it a try. You can also try Jumbo pizza in some French cafe. Places to try wood fired pizza: Cafe Xtasi, Taka Pizza
Others: Baked fish in The Pasta Bar Vento, Fish/Prawn pepper fry in Theevu Plage
Soo, that's it.
I hope these little details help you when exploring.
Let me know in the comments 😊
Some Tips before heading out:
The Serenity beach is ~6km away from the centre of Pondicherry. The auto-walas will treat this place as if it's out of Pondicherry. But I would say to go and explore this beach as every beach has its own beauty. One trip (to or from) will cost you around ~400.
There is no such specific lane in White town, so do reserve one evening just for roaming around there. Because every corner of the colony will take you to a new colourful experience.
And Now, You are ready for the ride ;)
But!! Are you worried about planning now ?
If YES, let’s go and check how we can explore this beautiful place in just 2 days...