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location_onSTATES AND CITIES

puducherry

INTRODUCTION

Puducherry (or Pondicherry - its earlier name by which it is still known), is a union territory of India. It lies on the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with a part of it on the coast of the Bay of Bengal (Eastern side), and one part (Mahe) on Arabian sea (western side).

In the 19th century to early 20th century, the region was under the control of the French East India Company, and to this day, vestiges of the French colonial architecture and culture exist in most parts of this region, along with Tamil culture.

Puducherry was formed out of out of four territories that were part of the former French India:

  • Puducherry territory
  • Karikal (Karaikal) territory
  • Mahé territory
  • Yanaon/Yanam territory (excluding Chandannagar part)

The union territory is named after its largest district, i.e., Puducherry (Pondicherry until 2006). Puducherry is also referred to as “White Town” – especially some areas which have French colonies (where French people used to live).

ATTRACTIONS

Pondicherry is an attractive vacation spot with tropical beaches, and a colorful scene of Tamil traditions intermingled with French colonial architecture and culture.

Some things to do and places to see in Pondicherry are:

  • Popular Beaches of Pondicherry and Auroville (like Rock Beach, Promenade Beach, Paradise Beach, Serenity Beach, Mahe Beach, Karaikal Beach, Auroville Beach, Quiet Beach, Reppo Beach, Plage Paradiso Beach, Veerampattinam Beach)
  • White Town Promenade
  • Auroville – Located a few kilometers away from Pondicherry – Auroville is, by itself, a relaxing vacation spot and has many resorts, retreats, bakeries, beaches and Matrimandir – a golden dome shaped meditation center which is popular with tourists and meditation lovers
  • Arikamedu
  • Pondicherry Museum
  • Pondicherry (new) light house – It was recently renovated, and has attractive hexagonal interiors and architecture; offers a lovely view of the ocean
  • Aurobindo Ashram
  • Pondicherry Botanical Garden
  • Jawahar Toy Museum

PEOPLE AND CULTURE

There are about 8.36 lakhs local people in Puducherry. Most people here speak Tamil. While English is widely understood, French is also understood by some people here.

Among religions, Christianity is predominant in Pondicherry, followed by Hinduism. The place has many churches and cathedrals along with temples and meditation retreats.

Many Christian and Hindu festivals are celebrated in Puducherry, like:

  • Bastille Day
  • Christmas
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • Aadi Amavasai (new moon day)
  • Akshaya Tritiya
  • Villianur Temple Festival
  • Mothers Birth Anniversary

SHOPPING

Pondicherry has an interesting shopping scene for people to indulge in some souvenir shopping. Some popular shopping spots in the region include:

  • Janaki
  • Casablanca
  • Cluny Embroidery Center
  • Studio Ebony
  • Anokhi - The Cotton House
  • Auro Woodworks
  • Hidesign
  • Serenity Beach Bazaar
  • Kriti Eco Boutique
  • Nehru Street
  • Goubert Market
  • Ma Pondy Cherie
  • Nava Vihan
  • Habitart
  • Auroville Market

FOOD

The cuisine of Puducherry consists of a mix of dishes with French or Tamil influence.

Some must-try delicacies when in Puducherry and Auroville include:

  • Salad Niçoise
  • Quiches
  • Sweet and Savory Crepes (French style)
  • Pal Payasam (Sweet Milk and Rice porridge)
  • Soybean Dosai (an Indian crepe)
  • Vegan Chocolates
  • French Breads, Croissants and Cakes (esp at Bread and Chocolate Bakery at Auroville)
  • Mason & Co. Vegan Organic Chocolates and Cocoa products

ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES

Pondicherry offers a plethora of experiences for the adrenaline junnkies and adventure enthusiasts – especially water sports and activities. Some interesting things to try in Puducherry are:

  • Surfing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Para-sailing
  • Kayaking
  • Bicycling

TRANSPORTATION

Puducherry does have its own regional airport (Puducherry airport), but it is currently not functional for domestic passenger flights. So, the best way to reach Puducherry is to take a flight to Chennai International Airport first, and then take a bus or cab to Puducherry (this could take anywhere between an hour or two, but not more than that).