Posted 20 July 2023 in Travel wanderlust

6 places in Puducherry that are a must visit for every tourist

If you love French culture, cuisine, and literature and are dying to visit the mother of all Francophone Nations but are unable to, you can head to Pondicherry for a quick French rendezvous. Pondicherry, lovingly referred to as the “French Riviera of the East” is also known as Puducherry. Located on the southeast coast of India, it is bordered by Tamil Nadu on one side and by the Bay of Bengal on the other. Being close to the sea, Puducherry has natural similarity to the French Cote d’Azur.

In 1674 the French East India Company established their centre in Pondicherry and it became a French Settlement in India. It stayed in the hands of the French till 1693 after which it was captured by the Dutch. However, Pondicherry was returned back to the French in 1699. But this victory was short-lived as the British came in 1761. During the time Pondicherry served as a colony of the French, it left its mark in the architecture, cuisine, monuments, and language.

Let’s explore a few reasons why Puducherry will lure you as a traveller aside from its deeply entrenched European influence.

1. Aurobindo Ashram

Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual hermitage established by guru and poet Aurobindo Ghosh. The ashram came into being in 1926 at a time when Aurobindo had retired from active politics and embarked on a new beginning in Puducherry with his devoted disciples. The place was set up with the intention to act like a retreat for those in search of inner peace. The ashram in the days of its inception had only a few buildings but over time and with the love of its patrons, it grew bigger. 

2. Auroville

Structured like a Globe, Auroville is an experimental township meant to serve as a safe haven for all those in search of peace. Located in Tamil Nadu, about 15 km from Puducherry, it was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa. She was a devoted disciple of Aurobindo and was bestowed the title of ‘Mother’ of the Society (Sri Aurobindo Society).

A place known for its serenity, the best way to enjoy the tranquillity of Auroville is by interacting with others here. As of now, roughly 3,000 people from more than 190 nationalities are living in progressive harmony at the ashram. Referring to themselves as the Aurovilleans, the people at the ashram live by the principles of sustainable living, consciousness, and harmony.

3. Arikamedu

Before the discovery of Arikamedu, very little was known about any possible Indo-Roman connection. The ruins of the ancient trade centre of the Romans cemented the proof that the port town tucked away from the eyes of the surrounding city-folk was once inhabited by the Romans before the Cholas and French. The first ever excavations took place in the 1940s in the area. The word ‘Arikamedu’ in Tamil refers to ‘eroding mount’ and at first it served as a fishing port before being transformed into a harbour town. Currently, all that remains of this once-bustling trading hub are some bricks, mortars, and a few columns.

4. Raj Niwas

Also referred to as the Palais Du Government,Raj Niwasis an 18th-century structure that currently serves as the palatial residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory. One of the reasons why the building is so popular amongst tourists is because of the monolithic pillars that trace back its origins to the Gingee Fort that was conquered in the year 1751. A couple of more pillars from the same fort also adorn the Gandhi Mandapam. Raj Niwas is not open for public visit and can only be viewed from outside.

5. French War Memorial

The French War Memorial is an aesthetically pleasing structure that can be found embellishing the Goubert Avenue in the beautiful city. It is a war memorial dedicated to the valiant and dutiful soldiers who lost their lives trying to protect their motherland during the First World War. The memorial was ceremoniously inaugurated in the year 1938 and on 14th July, the place is beautifully lit to honour the sacrifice of the brave. Opposite this poignant structure is the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

6. Immaculate Conception Cathedral

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is a 350-year-old church meant to serve as the prime place of worship for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cuddalore and Puducherry. The church is a beautiful work of art in a stunning blue and white colour scheme with prominent golden highlights. A cultural amalgamation of French, Portuguese, and Herrian architectural styles, the present structure is a new creation because the church had been destroyed three times in the past.

Each time the church was damaged, it evolved into something more beautiful, intricate, and culturally significant. The church has a bell tower, a choir loft, and minutely designed open space. The church is also locally referred to as the Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculate Church and is dedicated to St. Peters.

Travel tips

  • One of the first and foremost things you need to keep in mind is that there are no direct flights to Puducherry. So, you either need to book a flight to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, or Chennai and then take either a taxi, bus or train to reach Puducherry.
  • Communication is not an issue in Pondicherry. The Union Territory being once a colony of the French gives you a lot of language flexibility. You can fluently speak in French, English, Tamil, Telugu, or Malayalam and get your requirements met during the course of your travel.
  • One of the cheapest methods of travelling around the populous city of Pondicherry is to rent a bike or scooter. 
  • Similar to planning a trip to any city, state or country, you need to make your bookings in advance to avoid last-minute rush. 
  • When in Puducherry, you must make it a point to explore the culture of the place through your taste buds. Do not miss out on a quintessentially French breakfast comprising butter croissants, coffee, and crepes. You can also try a typical South Indian lunch or dinner consisting of dosa, coconut prawn curry, assad, and podanlangkai. The proximity to the sea means fresh and flavourful seafood that all foodies must try.

How to reach?

As mentioned above, there are no direct flights to Pondicherry. One needs to take a flight to Chennai, Hyderabad, or Bengaluru and then book a cab, bus or train to reach here. If you are planning to come by train, the nearest station to Puducherry is Villupuram which is located about 35 kilometres away from the main city centre.


Puducherry has a humid and hot temperature with the winter months from November to March being the most pleasant. The summer months stretch from March to May and are uncomfortable if you are planning to travel because the daytime temperatures range from 35°C to 42°C. 

Best time to travel

If you wish to experience cool and pleasant temperature, so that you can enjoy your sightseeing at its optimum level, visit Puducherry during the winter months when the temperature is between 20°C and 28°C. Sometimes, the city also experiences rainfall during the winter season so it will be good to carry an umbrella as well.


Puducherry is a picturesque city known for its rich French colonial heritage, quaint buildings, vibrant people, delicious food, stunning promenades, and picture-perfect beaches. To experience some peace and quiet while you enjoy the mesmerising sunset or sunrise at the beach, do visit the French Riviera of the East.

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