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Places To Visit

Auroville

Auroville was inaugurated on 28th February 1968 with representation from 124 countries.  Auroville was envisioned as a Universal Town, where people from different nationalities, faiths and beliefs, can live in peace and harmony. More...

It is an attempt to realize a new society as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.  Nearly 2000 people from 35 countries are living here to realize human unity and transformation of consciousness.

Auroville welcomes people from all parts of the world to live together and explore cultural, educational, scientific, spiritual and other pursuits in accordance with the Auroville Charter.

Auroville information centre and Matri Mandir [Meditation hall with world’s biggest man-made crystal ball] are the places open to most of the visitors.  It offers less to see and lots to experience.

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Parks & Lake

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden was established by CS Perrotet, in the year 1826 as a typical French style gardens with an exotic collection of more than 1500 species of plants.  Though the collections has changed in due course, it has wide collection of rare and exotic plants in 22 acres of land in the city center.  It hosts a dancing fountain, Japanese garden, children’s train and an aquarium with ornamental fishes.  This Garden came into limelight after Yann Martel’s award winning novel "Life of Pi". More...

Colourful and refreshing flora, small train for children, dancing / musical fountain, Japanese rock & Jawahar Bal Bhavan [An Institution to develop creative thinking among children through non-formal educational activities] are some of the attractions inside this park.

There is a small but good collection of aquarium, where children may enjoy the collections.

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Bharathi Park & Aayi Mandapam

The Bharathi Park is the green centre of the Pondicherry town, hosting the land mark monument, the "Aayi Mandapam".  This park is encompassed by Governor’s Bungalow, Pondicherry Assembly, Chamber of Commerce, Gandhi Square and four small Parks on it’s four corners.  This park was called as "Place du Pantheon" during the French rule. More...

Aayi Mandapam is a white Greco-Roman style monument, which is the official emblem of government of Pondicherry.  Aayi (a whore) destroyed her house based on the king’s order and made a tank for the people around (Aayi Kulam).  Later when Pondicherry had drinking water shortage, Aayi kulam was acting as the major water source for the people in Pondicherry.  French Emperor Napoleon III on hearing this story, ordered his men to build a monument in memory of Aayi. 

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Ousteri [Ossudu] Lake

Ousteri Lake is the largest fresh–water lake in Pondicherry and one of the most important wetlands in Asia.  It is located 10 kms north of Pondicherry town and acted as a major supplier of drinking water till 1980’s.

The lake is a major wintering spot for a large number of migratory birds and is a rich source of aquatic fish.  At present there is no habitat protection in the lake.  The lake has been declared as a bird sanctuary and developed for bird watching and it is the first wildlife sanctuary of Puducherry.  More...

A professional study states that this wetland covers an area of about 390 ha and has around 480 species of plants, 63 species of butterflies, 25 species of icthyo fauna, 43 species of herpetofauna (14 species of amphibians, 29 reptiles), 166 species of birds and 14 species of mammals.

The Government had opened boat ride for the tourists for bird watching, which is much debated by the Ecologists.  Tourists enjoy the boat ride during the sunset & full moon evenings.

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Beaches

Beach Promenade

One of the unique & must see place in Pondicherry.  This is the most popular and frequented beach front visited by the local people, the tourists and the photo shooters.  You don’t have access to the beach water, but people take risk by walking over the slippery rocks to reach the water.  More...

It is a stretch of 1.5 kms covering the important landmarks of Pondicherry town.  The statue of the most popular French Governor-Le Dupleix, the pier (285 mts stretch of Harbour), Eglise de notre dame des anges (French Church), The Hotel de Ville (Mairie), the Mahatma Gandhi statue, French war memorial, old Light house, Secretariat & French Consulate building.

A morning walk or an evening stroll along the Promenade is very common among the local residents.  Road traffic is closed for the pedestrians between 6.00 P.M to 10.00 P.M everyday.

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Paradise Beach & Backwaters [Chunnambar]

The boat ride along this Backwater offers exquisite and a true tropical paradise experience.  This is the gateway to reach paradise beach, which is a good picnic spot.

Paradise beach is one the beautiful and cleanest beach in East Coast.  This beach looks like an Island, as it is sandwiched between sea and backwater.  Both sunrise and sunset is beautiful.  More...

It does not have nice bar or restaurants but offers something to drink & munch.  At times the heat can make you very tired.  Bit of planing like organise yourself with some games, hat, sunglasses, snacks or favourite juices can make it real paradise.

We don't recommend to take a swim, unless you are a very experienced beach swimmer but of course you can take a dip and spend time along the shore.

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Auro (Auroville) Beach

Though Bay of Bengal is one of the roughest sea & not advisable for people who does not know swimming / amateur swimmers, the waters of the Bay of Bengal along the Auroville Beach is comparatively shallow and offers an opportunity for swimming (closer to the shore).  The sea shells, long stretch of sand, fishing villages adds beauty to this beach.

This beach is busy on weekends / public holidays and remains isolated on weekdays.

Serenity Beach

Serenity Beach is one of the most popular joint in early 1990’s and back again attracting beach lovers.  It offers boating (catamaran), scuba, surfing etc.  You can have a real feel of coastal life.

Churches

Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception

Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception popularly know as "Samba Kovil", which is a phonetic corruption of "Saint Paul´s Kovil".  Church was first built in 1692, with the financial help of Louis XIV, king of France.  It was demolished by the Dutch in the following year.  A second Church was quickly built in 1699 but could not last long.  More...

From 1728 to 1736 a large beautiful church was built on the site of the present Cathedral.  This third church was razed to the ground by the British in 1761 during the Seven Years War.  Since 1791 the Cathedral stands in the middle of the town surrounded by its four boulevards.

The old Pondicherry Catholic families with members often abroad consider this Church as symbol of their family joys and sorrows.  Besides the Cathedral is the Church of the Archbishop, who is the spiritual head of the Catholics of Pondicherry & Karaikal.

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Eglise De Sacre Coeur De Jesus

Eglise de Sacre Coeur de Jesus is known by the name Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is more than hundred years old.  Located in the South boulevard near the railway station with a striking mix of deep red and white colours stands unique with it’s stained glass paintings of 28 saints. More...

The church construction work was commenced in the year 1902 and got completed in the year 1908. It is 50 mts long, 48 mts wide and 18 mts high, designed in Gothic style.

The beautifully done "grotto for our lady Lourdes" at the courtyard and sacred heart of Jesus and mother Mary carved in the entrance door warmly welcomes all the people.

The interiors of the Church has a mix of west and Indian architecture.  The walls are adorned with beautiful terracotta crafts clubbed with stained glass paintings.

The church has seen lots of development and restoration in the past 100 years.

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Eglise De Notre Dame Des Anges

Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges is also known as The Church of Our Lady of Angels, is notable for its masonry–which uses the finest of limestone mixed with white of the egg-making for a texture identical to that of white marble.  More...

The facade of the church has two columns.  The tops are Ionic and the bottoms are Doric, both styles of classical architecture.  The other notable feature of the church is an oil painting that was presented by the French Emperor Napoleon III.  The interior central dome has eight circular openings.

This church is very picturesque facing the beach & trees around.  The statue of  "Joan de Arc" – the heroine of France facing the church and people playing petanque in the garden makes this area very unique in India.

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Siddhar Jeeva Samadhi

Siddhars are saints in Tamil , who professed and practised Sadhana (spiritual practice), to attain liberation. Yogic powers called Siddhis

are acquired by constant practice of certain yogic disciplines.  Those who acquire these Siddhis are called Siddhas. More...

Siddhars are people who are believed to control and transcend the barriers of time and space by meditation (Yoga), after the use of substances called Rasayanas that transform the body to make it potentially deathless, and a particular breathing-practice, a type of Pranayama.  Through their practices they are believed to have reached stages of insight which enabled them to tune into the powers hidden in various material substances and practices, useful for suffering and ignorant mankind.

Typically Siddhars were saints, doctors, alchemists and mysticists all at once.  They wrote their findings, in the form of poems in Tamil language, on palm leaves which are collected and stored in what are known today as Palm leaf manuscript, today still owned by private families in Tamil Nadu and handed down through the generations, as well as public institutions such as Universities all over the world (India, Germany, Great Britain, U.S.A.).

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Jeeva Samadhi

This is a state where Siddhas enters into the samadhi state at their own will after completion of their mission on earth and their mind completely dissolved into the Divine, they stop the functioning of the body and mind.  More...

In Jeeva samadhi you cannot say the body dies nor can you say it is still alive, however the energy will remain in and around the body as if it were still alive and the body will not decay over time either (or extremely slowly as in some cases).  This body will never or extremely slowly decay for several hundred of years because the magnetic force in the body now acts as the life force (prana) in this body. 

Every Siddha before taking Jeeva Samadhi gives specific instructions on how the tomb should be made and how their bodies must be placed and other instructions so that they can benefit the maximum to the world.

Jeeva Samadhis are energy spots or energy banks supplying infinite amount of kundalini energy at all times.  In many parts of Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry, temples were built on jeeva samadhi to preserve that energy.  Most of the big / famous temples will have siddhar peedam / shrine inside the temple.

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Siddhars In Pondicherry

Sl.No. Name Of The Siddha / Swami Location
1 Tholaikadhu Siddhar Manakula Vinayagar Temple
2 Narayana Paradesi Swamigal Vaithykuppam
3 Mowlasahib Meygnani Mullaa Street
4 Nagalinga Swamigal Ambalaththadyar Madam
5 Guru Siddhanandha Swamigal Karuvadikuppam
6 Sakthivel Paramandha Swamigal Karanamanikuppam
7 Aakka Swamigal Vaithykuppam
8 Kambili Gnanadesiga Swamigal Thatanchavadi
9 Sri Periavargalukku Periyavar Thatanchavadi
10 Sandha Nandha Swamigal Saradhambal Temple, 100 ft Rd.
11 Subramaniya Abinava Sachidhanandha Bharathi Swamigal Saradhambal Temple, 100 ft Rd.
12 Vedhanandha Swamigal Muthiyalpettai
13 Mannuruti Swamigal Thenanjalai Street
14 Shiva Sadaiyappar Swamigal Near Bharathi Theatre
15 Kathirvel Swamigal Siddhan Kudi
16 Shiva Prakasa Swamigal Nallathur
17 Dhatchinamoorthy Swamigal Palli Thennal (near Villiyanur)
18 Thengai Swamigal Arumaparthapuram
19 Ramparadeshi Swamigal Villiyanur
20 Devarasu Swamigal Vanniyaallur (near Sunampedu)
21 Satti Swamigal Uzhavar Karai (Shiva Temple)
22 Sri Ulaganadhagalar Anandhan Swamigal Soriyangkuppam, Bahoor
23 Sri Arulsakthi Annai Siddhar Pedam Pillayarkuppam
24 Azhagar Siddhar Thenampakkam
25 Appar Swamigal Yembalam
26 Mahan Vannara Paradeshi Swamigal Odhiyampattu
27 Viyomo Swamigal Kanuvaapettai
28 Karanapattu Kandhasamy Yembalam

Temples

There are about 150 temples in the main town area, which makes Pondicherry very special.  This could be the only place in India, where there are so many temples, churches & mosques located in such a small area.  Most of these temples has history & stories to be highlighted, but Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple, Sri Vedapureeswarar temple, Kamatchi Amman temple and Varadharaja Perumal temple are quite popular among the visitors.

Sri Manakula Vinayagar

Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple was in existence before the French came and settled in Pondicherry i.e. before 1666.  This temple was called as Manal kulam Vinyagar, as there was a pond (Kulam) filled with sand (Manal) on the Western side of this temple.  More...

Some of the records narrates that the French made several efforts to remove the deity from this place and every time the Ganesh idol came back to the same place, where the temple is located now.

Sri Thollaikkathu Siddhar (Guru), attained samadhi in this temple 300 years ago.  Lakshmi, the temple elephant is the major attraction for the kids visiting the temple.

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Vedapureeswarar Temple

This temple is located in M.G.Road, dedicated to Vedapureeswarar (Lord Shiva).  This 500 years old temple is very special as the main deity is a swayambumurthi (Self-Created or Self-Existent) and Guru Ramalinga Swamigal had sung the glory of Lord Muruga of this temple.  In fact the old name of Pondicherry is vedapuri, named after this god.

Varadharaja Perumal Temple

Located on M.G.Road, this temple was built in Dravidian style dedicated to Varadharaja Perumal (Lord Vishnu).  It is one of the most famous and the oldest temple in this town, dating back to 600 A.D

Kamatchi Amman Temple

The temple is devoted to the Goddess Durga, this temple is different from most of the other temples of South India.

Kanniga Parameswari Temple

This temple is dedicated to the Goddess Shakti and has a blend of Tamil and French Architecture.  The typical Tamil designs of traditional granite pillars and the sanctum mixes with French style arched walls and stained glass windows.

Panchavadi Panchamuga Anjaneya Temple

The Hanuman statue (Idol) is one of the biggest in India standing 36 feet tall & weighs 67 tonnes.  This monolithic statue was carved out of a 150 tonne–granite block and 40 sculptors took 24 months to complete it.

The Hanuman has panchamugam (Five faces) : Hanuman, Hayagriva, Narasimha, Garuda & Varaha.

History & Archeology

Arikenmedu

Arikenmedu has a long history dating back to the 2nd century BC.  It was used as a port for trade with the Greco-Romans.  Wine, garum sauce and olive oil, were imported and the exports must have included textile, beads, semi precious gems, glass and shell bangles.  More...

As the excavated trenches have been filled up, now we can see only the perpendicular walls of a mission house.

To know more about Arikenmedu and its ancient culture you could visit the Pondicherry Museum where the excavated collections like pottery, beads, shell bangles, studs are preserved.

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Museum

Pondicherry museum unwinds the glorious past of Pondicherry.  It has collections from the Greco-Roman era, Pallava, Chola, Vijayanagara and the French colonial period.  It houses all the collections excavated from Arikenmedu.

Fossil Wood Park

The National fossil wood park is located in Thiruvakkarai village near Pondicherry.  Most of the village was taken by geological survey of india for the valuable fossil wood it has.  This is india’s only village of petrified tree fossils, dated around 20–million–year–old.  Very few fossil forests in the world can boast of such high levels of preservation.  This park has around 200 fossil trees ranging from 3 to 15 metres in length and 5 metres in girth, scattered over 247 acres.  More...

Petrified wood is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation, which is the result of a tree having turned completely into stone by the process of permineralization.  All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals, while retaining the original structure of the wood.

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French War Memorial

It was built in 1971.  Every year on 14 July (Bastille Day) the memorial is beautifully illuminated and homage is paid to those brave martyrs.

Le Café

Located mid–way on the Beach road [Goubert Avenue], Le Café offers awesome view of the sea.  The sunrise, fisherman with their nets, coffee on the sea front, pop corns & ice creams in the evening can be the best moments in this café.

Surrounded with the attractions like the mairie building [hotel de ville], Gandhi square, French War memorial and old Light house, this building sleeps with an history of almost 200 years.  More...

The present Le café building was the office of the harbour / port during the European influence on Pondicherry.  The historical records are not very clear on this building but the researchers and scholars have made some conclusion based on their evidences.

It is widely believed that "Port office" was built when the French Governor Debassyns de Richmont in 1827, made the plans for developing "Cours Chabrol" – the present Goubert avenue or the beach road.

Some French archives mentions that "port Office" existed even before the plans of developing the "Cours Chabrol", it was only the minor work done in that building during the process of opening the cours chabrol.

Yet other book refers that the original port office and the harbour office were two different buildings and got destroyed by the Anglo–French war.  The present"port office" could have been built by the English, as they were in need of the port office.  May be this building is the only sign of the English influence [quite short period] over Pondicherry.

Even though the origin of this building is not very clear, from 1827 to 1866 this place had major developments with a light house and the pier.

This building showcases the strong trade influence of the Europeans and still stands as a landmark.

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Old Light House

The trade development for Pondicherry was mainly through the sea route.  The early sea-farers to Pondicherry were guided by log fire kept burning at red hills at Gorimedu [near the JIPMER Hospital], 5km west of the port.  Sometimes the ships / vessels were misguided with the lights of a factory in cuddalore and they had lot of difficulty in landing at Pondicherry. More...

The merchants and the captains formed a committee and asked the government to build a lighthouse, Governor Saint Simon took up this project in 1835 and the 29 meters (89 feet) lighthouse with powerful wick lamp was commissioned in to service on 1st July 1836.

Though it did not have a unique design this light house was considered to be the most modern lighthouse in those days.  The light beam could be seen from a distance of 15 miles with the help of six oil lamps and two reflectors.

This lighthouse was modernized in due course, like after 50 years of service the wick lamp was replaced by a PV Burner from France then electrified in the year 1913.  Latter in 1931 the fixed light was replaced by a revolving lantern.  Minor changes was done on the structure from square base to round base and then in the beginning of 20th century the first floor was constructed.

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Heritage

The real beauty of Pondicherry can be experienced by the heritage walk, which takes approximately 3 kms and may be around 90–120 mins to visit most of the monuments and heritage buildings.

The architecture differs a lot within the small area, even though houses looks similar, it is not exactly the same.  The white town has the structures in the European classical style and Indian town [Tamil, Muslim & Christian quarters] in the vernacular style of Tamil Nadu.  Few buildings have a blend of both styles.  More...

Probably you could cover :

White Town

  • Dupliex statue, Hotel de Ville, French War Memorial, Gandhi Statue, Old Light House & French consulate on the beach road
  • Romain Rolland Library, Pondicherry Museum, Raj Nivas, Cercle de Pondicherry, Legislative Assembly & Aayi Mandapam around the Bharathi Park.
  • Notre Dames des Anges [Chruch], Joan of Arc’s Statue & Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient on Rue Dumas. 
  • Church of Capuchians–Now an orphanage, the chruch is one of the very few buildings that survived the British raid in 1761. 
  • Lycee Francaise on Rue victor Simonel.
  • Hotel de L’Orient & Cluny embroidery centre on Rue Romain Rollan.
  • Alliance Francaise & Ashram Theatre in Rue Suffren.

Indian Town

  • Recently restored buildings in Vysial street [Rue Calve subbraya chetty street] under the Asia-Urbs programme and Bharathi Musuem in Eswaran koil street.
  • Houses in Rue Kazy, rue mulla and rue de l’ancien hospital.

Since Pondicherry is humid, it is better to take the heritage walk little early in the morning.

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Shopping

Pondicherry is popular for highly creative and beautiful souvenirs.  Terracotta, handmade paper products, wooden crafts, aromatics, leather products, linens and garments are unique here.  Sunday market is ideal for buying cheaper products.

Click here for more lists.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Founded by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the Ashram is a spiritual centre for the practice of Integral Yoga as developed by the Master and the Mother.  Sri Aurobindo, revolutionary, poet, philosopher and Yogi was born in Calcutta in 1872.  He came to Pondicherry in 1910.  More...

The Mother, born in Paris in 1878, came to india in 1914 to meet Sri Aurobindo in 1920 and resumed her spiritual Collaboration with him for the evolution of a higher consciousness, a spiritual and supramental consciousness on earth.

  • Phone :2233604
  • Visiting Hours / Time :8.00 A.M to 12.00 Noon and 2.00 P.M to 6.00 P.M
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