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About Puducherry (Pondicherry)
Pondicherry or Puducherry, the erstwhile French Colony is the capital city of Union Territory of Pondicherry which comprises four major regions namely Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yenam. It lies along the serene East Coast of Southern India. Thanks the French heritage and Auroville; Pondicherry is now a popular tourist destination in South India.
Pondicherry is famous for its beaches like, the Auroville beach, Serenity beach, Promenade beach and the Paradise Beach. Paradise Beach is about 7 Km from city and you need take a short ferry ride to reach this beach. This coastal town is a popular weekend getaway from both Chennai and Bangalore.
Even today, one can come across many French people who are settled in Pondicherry. Besides this, there are huge numbers of Indian families who possess the French citizenship and live here. The colonial buildings and churches in Pondicherry are the best of its kind in colonial architecture. Even now, the policemen wear French type Red Caps which is unique from rest of India. The streets are neatly aligned.
Rented moped or bicycle is the best to explore the city. At this point, I should definitely mention about Auroville, the serene township which connects the past to the future. This place belongs to entire human clan irrespective of age, gender, religion, nationality etc.
In 1968 Auroville was established with the blessings of Mother. Shri Aurobindo Society and UNESCO took efforts to accomplish the township. People with extreme divine and spiritual consciousness live in Auroville. First time visitors can seek help from the information centre.
Matrimandir often called as "the soul of the city" is a meditation dome and shrine to The Mother representing Mother’s qualities and power, to experience the Divine consciousness. Other places to have a look at in Auroville include, Lotus Pond, Banyan Tree, and Amphitheatre etc. After a perfect indulgence of divinity and spirituality in Auroville, tourists can travel to the Chunnambar Boat House where one can have fun, sports, romance and relaxation all in single spot. This place is a conjugation of calm back waters and roaring sea waves.
Hire a boat and land in the sandy area between sea and backwaters to enjoy the nature’s bliss and play a beach volleyball match. Else, sit down calmly with a book in one of the Tree house available here and just enjoy the sunrise. Tourists who are sea sports enthusiasts can enjoy surfing in the Pondicherry Auroville Beach. Small to full length swells created by amicable waves in this beach, provides enthralling experience for surfers. There are many hotels and resorts with reasonable charges to stay.
The Temple of Sri Manakula Vinayagar is an old Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. There are over 30 churches in Pondicherry and the most famous among them are Our Lady of Angels Church, Sacred Heart Church, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Dupleix Church.
Arikamedu archeological site and Ousteri Lake (Osudu) are two tourist attraction that can be visited from Pondicherry on a day excursion. Ousteri Lake is a freshwater lake. Pondicherry museum is another place to visit in Pondicherry and apt for people interested in heritage, arts and culture. This museum showcases sculptures and many archeological findings from the Arikamedu Roman settlement, an ancient port city discovered near Pondicherry.
The Aurobindo Ashram, setup by Sri Aurobindo, is a popular landmark and one of the important places to visit in Pondicherry. It was founded by Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator Mirra Alfassa in 1926. Visitors must shop some souvenirs like hip leather bags, wallets and sandals with intricate designs on leather. Also one should take home some of the homemade incense sticks, batiks and paper bags from Ashram shops.
Pondicherry is a delight for food lovers. There are many nice Cafes in Pondicherry that give you a feel of the French past. Café des Arts is a popular cafe. One should not miss to taste the authentic seafood and French cuisine served in restaurants here.