Exploring a city takes time, energy and then a little more time…
However, when you know you have less than 5 days in hand and have a brand new city to unearth, you do the smart thing and google the top ‘n’ things to do in the city. I do this every time I am planning a trip and even though not all “top” things coming up on the search may be a top priority for me but they sure help me get a “feel” beforehand…
My post today lists out my Top 7 Things to do in Pondicherry that my sister and I enjoyed to the very brim –
1. Stay in a Heritage Hotel in The French Quarter
First things first, book a quaint little heritage or boutique hotel in The French Quarter part of town to remind you about the history of Pondicherry and its Creole roots. Needless to say, a colonial era house housing a hotel can be delightfully novel and at the same time make you yearn for a glimpse of the past.
What can make your stay all the more special is if your hotel is bang on the seaside promenade… Late night strolls, early morning walks or simply sitting on the rocky shore of the Bay of Bengal can be relaxing and help you make the fullest of your trip.
2. Visit Auroville
Auroville is an experimental township that aims at being a place for “global citizens” where everyone is above any kind of categorization, be it on the basis of caste, creed or race… The main attraction in Auroville however is the Matrimandir that is a “temple” of sorts that helps you reach out to your inner consciousness… It looks like a gigantic golden sphere surrounded by lush green, manicured gardens.
Auroville is about 40 kms from Pondicherry city and any means of public transport can be availed to reach Auroville.
3. Visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Unlike Auroville, Sri Aurobindo Ashram is bang in the center of the French Quarter part of town and is a unique place in itself. Talking (even softly) is prohibited inside the ashram and so is photography… The ashram gardens are surreal and so quiet that it feels like the silence drowns out the noise may float through the ashram compound walls from outside.
The first thing you notice when you enter the Ashram gates is the beautiful garden in full bloom and devotees as well as tourists just sitting on the lush lawn, in silence, introspecting and meditating. It is a sight to behold, literally!
4. Shop at the Hidesign Flagship Store
Pondicherry is the birthplace of the brand Hidesign and it goes without saying that a trip to this Union Territory is incomplete without paying a visit to the Hidesign flagship store on Main Street. If that isn’t impetus enough then maybe my telling you that the store has a flat 30% (flagship) discount on each and every product might help!
Additionally, there is a factory outlet next to the store that sells stuff at an even higher discount. And after you have drained yourself from all the shopping, I suggest you to head to the top floor of the Hidesign store where you could refresh yourself at the Hidesign Cafe!
5. Shop for some Incense & Scented Candles
Thanks to the larger than life presence of everything related to either Auroville or the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry city is dotted with outlets selling handmade products like Incense sticks, scented candles, handmade paper wrappers, cloth lampshades and the like… If you visit Pondicherry, getting these as souvenirs for people back home is a must!
6. Sample Creole Cuisine to your Heart’s Content
Every little boutique/heritage hotel in the French Quarter part of Pondicherry boasts of a small but plentiful restaurant that has a variety of Creole dishes on the menu. Sea food cooked Creole style is something that you shouldn’t miss for anything in the world. If you are a vegetarian then fret not cause there are myriads of vegetable dishes too that you might want to sample.
7. Introspect on the Seaside Promenade
This was my favorite part of the trip… After dinner leisurely strolls on the promenade, taking in the bustle of the local people, the sound of the sea and ambient street lighting was everything I needed to calm myself and just feel the moment. I highly recommend getting a hotel near or on the promenade, it is something you’ll always remember…
Have you been to Pondicherry?