After leaving Kumbakonam our next stop on our trip was the town of Pondicherry. This small town was the largest French colony in India, and was so right up to 1954. The French influence is still very much in evidence, the architecture, French street names, bakery’s and French speaking Indians. Pondicherry has three different areas. There is the heritage quarter, white town and the new town which is basically like stepping back into India. Our stay in Pondicherry did not start too well. On arrival we had problems with accommodation, one was nothing like as described, another after booking online told us on arrival that they had no rooms available. When I showed them our booking reference, we was informed that it was a computer error,and I was plagued by ” what I can honestly say” was the worst cough I have ever had and was feeling quite ill. Not a good start. So it was good that we had a full seven days stay in the town so I had time to recover. Once we finally got the accommodation settled it was time to enjoy Pondicherry “in between coughing fits that is”. Over the first few days of our stay, we discovered that we had arrived during an Indian festival called Pongal. It is a four day harvest festival dedicated to the different Gods to promote a good crop growing season. What is really nice about it is that many of the locals create intricate designed drawings (mandalas) on the pavements, created with many different coloured powders. A truly amazing sight. In Pondicherry there isn’t many notable sights to see, but that is not to say it isn’t a very nice place to spend some time. It is far removed from main stream Indian, and was a little bit of calm and serenity after our very busy previous few weeks.
So our week consisted of taking walks along the promenade with its nice refreshing breeze, to visiting some of the many good restaurants in the area. Notable sights are the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, also the Pondicherry Museum, which is housed in a very beautiful ornate building. A bit further out of town if you want to venture further is Auroville “which we did not visit”, but it’s described as a township devoted to an experiment in human unity community. It was founded in 1968 by the spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa who is also known as “Mother”
Restaurants & Eateries
Le Chateau I can highly recommend the restaurant in the hotel where we stayed. Le Chateau, the food is excellent, staff are first class. Also the kitchen is housed behind a glass wall where you can see the chefs preparing and cooking the food.
Cafe del Flora A great place to just chill and relax. The cafe is owned and run bu a nice French guy, and serves baguettes, quiches and various other delights and good coffee.
Sicily’s Another nice place right on the seafront, serving great coffee, delicious cakes and really good pizza.
Not a lot else to say about Pondicherry except if you are touring southern India it’s a nice place to stay. Next stop Mahabalipuram.