Sitting along India’s southeast coast is Pondicherry. Often overlooked in favour of India’s more famous southern spots, such as Goa and Kerala, Pondicherry is blissfully tranquil and free from crowds. But, don’t lets it peaceful ambiance let you think there’s nothing to do here.
Pondicherry moves at a leisurely place with beautiful beaches lining one side of the town, and restaurants and churches flanking its streets. Still bearing the marks of its time under French colonial rule, Pondicherry is different to much of the rest of India. It is this blend of Indian and French culture that makes this town so wonderful.
If you’re planning a trip to India then here are 5 reasons why Pondicherry should be on your itinerary.
1. Its Sublime Beaches
It is a sad fact that some of India’s beaches are not very well kept. Fortunately, this is not the case for Pondicherry’s four main beaches. Each is blessed with golden sand that slopes down into warm, turquoise water, making them the perfect hang out spots. Grab a cold drink from a nearby kiosk and nestle down in the sand for an hour or two under the never-ending sunshine.
2. The Incredible Franco-Indian Food
It is rare to be able to find beef in India because in Hinduism the cow is a sacred animal. However, in Pondicherry, steak is available in a number of its up-market restaurants as a legacy left by the French. Fine wines can also be found in this town. Of course, travelers in Pondicherry are not limited to consuming French cuisine (although that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world). Southern Indian dishes, including fiery curries and dosas, are served in virtually every eatery in town. If you are staying in hotels in Pondicherry, they will usually have their own restaurant serving both Indian and international cuisines.
3. There are Loads of Churches
I’m not that into churches. I generally think that once you’ve seen a couple, you’ve seen them all. However, the churches in Pondicherry really impressed me. Some of the biggest, Church of Our Lady of Angels, Sacred Heart Church, and Dupleix Church to name a few, boast distinctly French architecture. Whether you are religious or not, it is impossible not to be blown away by these structures.
4. You Can Go Scuba Diving
If you are interested in exploring what lies beneath the surface, Pondicherry is a hotspot for scuba diving. The reefs here are home to all kinds of tropical fish and if you’re really lucky you might even spot a manta ray or whale shark. Pondicherry has a range of dive sites suitable for all levels. Those who have never dived before might want to sign up to a PADI course at the dive centre.
5. Auroville is Nearby
While you are in Pondicherry you should take the time to travel the short distance to Auroville. This township was set up by ‘The Mother’ as an experimental community where men and women from around the world could live and work in harmony. It is a deeply spiritual place and has a huge golden ball, known as Matrimandir, at its centre.