Distance: 350 KM from Bangalore and 135 KM from Chennai.
Journey time: 7 hours by road from Bangalore and 3 hours from Chennai by road.
How to reach there: From Bangalore — From Majestic bus stand there are many buses, mostly overnight buses. You can either go for KSRTC, PSTC or private buses. You can also hire you own vehicle or drive yourself.
Route 1: Take NH4 from Bangalore and drive through Kolar, Chittoor,Kanchipuram then state highway road to Sadras followed by East coast road to Pondicherry.
Route 2: Bangalore – Hosur – Krishnagiri – Uttangarai – Chengam – Tiruvannamalai – Villupuram – Pondicherry.
From Chennai — Buses are available from Chennai.
Route: Take the East Coast road and drive via Kovalam, Mahabalipuram, Sadras to Pondicherry.
When to visit: Summers are hot and may be avoided. However, it is great in rains. Winter are pleasant.
Where to stay:
Luxuary: 1. Hotel de L’Orient: This is Pondicherry’s best hotel located at 17, Rue Romain Rolland. Check for Creole food here. Tariff: Rs 1750 – 3500, Phone – 2343067
2. Hotel de Pondicherry: This is renovated heritage manison converted into a hotel. Located at Rue Dumas. Tariff: Rs 1450 – 2600, Phone – 2227409
1. Ginger Hotel – Rs 999, Phone: Phone: 91-413-666 3333
Ask the auto driver to take to a decent budget hotel and specify your budget.
Where to eat:
1. Satsanga – 30, Rue Labourdonnais, phone – 2225867
2. Rendezvous – 30, Rue Suffren, phone – 2338305
3. Salem Briyane Hotel – Needarajapaiyyer Street – famous for Biriyani
4. Indian coffee house – Decent coffee, phone – 2337572
5. Appachi – Rangapillai street – for Chettinad food
Important address: Pondicherry Tourism Development Corporation
40, Beach road, Pondicherry
Pondicherry which has been recently (September 2006) renamed officially as Puducherry was a French settlement till 1954 and was transfered to India under an agreement. The union teritory of Pondicherry includes Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Here we will see only about Pondicherry. It is located at the upper tip of Tamil Nadu on the eastern coast of India facing Bay of Bengal. Pondicherry still has huge French influences visible till date. The official languages of Pondicherry are French, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam.
Guide books and travel websites have written tons of things about its French connection but the reality is there no Paris themes steetside cafes and you may not hear people greeting you with ban jour and Monsieur. The city had been divided into two parts during French rule. You can get a taste of French lifestyle only in the French quarter.
Things to see and do:
Walk to see Pondicherry: Yes, I mean it. It is small town and most of its sight seeing spots are concentrated in an area. The most beautiful place to take a walk in Pondicherry is Beach road. Take a walk and see on the way place de la republique (here Gandhi’s staute has replaced Dupleix’s – the formar governer general of French India), lighthouse, French war memorial, statue of Joan of Arc, the Church of our Lasy of Angels, Pondicherry museum and the government gardens.
However, you need to take some vehicle to see some other notable places like the Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville etc. Below is the description of the all the places:
Aurobindo ashram: At Aurobindo ashram lies the samadhi of the swami Aurobindo and the mother (Mirra Alfassa). Located on Rue de la Marine.
Timmings: 8 am – 12 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm
The ashram also has a hand made paper factory – if you would you can visit there. The ashram’s has their own tour service called Shri Aurobindo Autocare Service which offers Auroville tour and Pondicherry darshan(view). For more info call, ashram’s visitor information centre at 2339648 between 6 am – 8 pm.
Pondicherry museum: The museum has various collections from ancient times like Chola coins, Roman era excavations and Dupliex’s era contents. Located on Saint Louis street behind Raj Niwas.
Timmings: 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm
Cluny centre: This is located at 46, Rue Romain Rolland Cluny is a embroidery centre. If you would like you canstuffs from there.
Chunambar Boat House: Chunambar Boat House is a star attraction of Pondicherry and is very popular with the youngs. In this pretty creek and sand banks you can boat, row or you can go for a speed boat ride. Located 7 KM from Pondicherry city centre.
Timmings: 9 am to 5.30 pm, longer hours during weekends
Churches: Pondicherry has some of the best churches in India. Built mostly during French rule the Chruch of the Capuchins (also knowns as Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, modelled on the basilica in Lourdes), Church of our lady of Immaculate Conception on Mission street and the Sacred Heart cathedral on South Boulevard. The Sacred Heart cathedral is the most beautiful and a must visit.
Auroville: Auroville has been setup by the Mother in 1968 with the idea of an universal township where everybody can live in peace and harmony. It is a huge area nestled with trees and start attarction here is the Matrimandir, a spherical shaped gold colour dome which captures the sun or the moon in different dimensions.
Timmings: 4 – 5 pn every day. Passes to be collected before 3.45 pm.
Other beaches: Nearby Auroville there is Serenity beach which is popular with foreigners and Aurovillians. Little further is Quiet beach. There you can visit the Quiet Healing Centre (phone – 2622646).
Note: Typically you finish everything in one day. If you are looking for whirlwind tour then start saturday night from here and by 6 am next morning you will be there. Book the PTDC whole day tour which will show you almost everything and it will drop you at Beach road in the evening. Board the bus again at night to be in Bangalore by Monday morning. If you have two days at hand then you can see everything at your own pace.
Official website of government of Pondicherry: http://pondicherry.nic.in/
Official Tourism website: http://tourism.pondicherry.gov.in