The Pondicherry Guide
I know I've been away for a while but I was indeed "Living the life of my dreams" since the last 2 months! Now that I'm back to reality.. I would like to help you plan your vacation to the most peaceful place in India that I've been to in recent times ;)
Yup..no guessing games here. IT IS PONDI ; also called Puducherry or Pondicherry.
A weekend destination for people in South India and a long journey for people who're from the North! You can find below, a detailed guide on what to do in Pondicherry, good restaurants/ cafes that are a must when you're there and places that you can't really miss!
1. HOW DO I PLAN MY TRIP TO PONDICHERRY?
Start by either booking your flights / trains and hotels or do both in advance. Chennai is closest so it takes about 3-3.5 hours if you take a bus from CMBT or Koyambedu. I went with my friend Vaidehi and apart from booking our flights from Mumbai to Chennai and the hostel booking, we did not plan anything in advance. We took a state-run bus which costed us Rs. 150 each . Bangalore to Pondicherry is also a good option but it takes about 6-7 hours in a bus. An economic way of reaching Pondicherry is by train although it takes a long time from Mumbai (at least 28-32 hours).
Pondicherry is a very small city so if you want to take your sweet time to explore then you should plan your trip for 5 days like I did although a weekend is enough to cover most of the important places. October to February is the best time to visit Pondicherry.
2. WHERE DO I STAY?
As I'm very comfortable and really admire the hostel culture in India, I stayed in a newly opened hostel called Micasa Hostels on MG Road, Pondicherry. It is well-connected to all the important places like White Town, Rock Beach, Aurobindo Ashram and is half an hour away from Auroville. A plus point is that the owners of the hostel are very friendly and the best people to help you get local information about Pondicherry! There are a lot of hostels apart from Micasa listed on sites like Booking.com. Do check the reviews and pictures before booking your accommodation. We had 4 complete days to explore Pondicherry so we decided to rent a scooty (Rs.300 per day on weekdays and Rs.350 on weekends) because autos are quite expensive. You can also rent cars if you're in a bigger group (Rs.1200-1500 approximately). Local buses are also a good and inexpensive option.
3. WHICH PLACES SHOULD I VISIT?
Well-known places: White Town- In and around French colony, Auroville (closed on Tuesdays), Matri Mandir- It is inside Auroville where you need to book tickets in person from The Auroville Visitor's centre at least one or two days in advance (opens at 10AM), Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Aurobindo Paper Factory, French Memorial, Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Pondicherry Museum.
Churches: Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady of Angels Church, Immaculate Conception Cathedral and St. Andrews Church to name a few.
Beaches: Promenade Beach, Paradise Beach, Serenity Beach, Auroville Beach
Not so well-known places: Arikamedu, New Pondicherry Lighthouse (Open for visitors from 3-5PM), Pichavaram Mangrove Forest.
Note: Pondicherry is also a great shopping place and you will find amazing clothes for as low as Rs.50/- Check the quality before buying anything off the road. The market is set up almost everyday on Mission Street and the best day to go is on a Sunday. There is also a Sunday Market at MG Road where you get everything from utensils, clothes, books, etc at reasonable prices. Do check it out when you're there!
4. WHICH CAFES AND RESTAURANTS SHOULD I VISIT?
Mentioning all the places that I managed to go to, below :-
Canteen 18- The best burgers in Pondicherry, HANDS DOWN! It is run by two incredible women and the overall vibe of this place is wonderful :D
La Villa- A little heavy on the pocket but their coolers were great!
Cafe Xtasi- Amazing wood fire pizzas at an affordable price.
Sky Garden- Food wasn't great at all but the view of Pondicherry is great from there!
Idli Idiyapam- Good food, slow service. The starters we ordered here were really good!
Vijaya Coffee Bar- Best filter coffee in Pondicherry! The dosa place adjacent to the coffee bar is also great.
Gelato Factory- Just one word: DELICIOUS <3
Bread and Chocolate- Best smoothie bowl, best breakfast place, BEST EVERYTHING! (Closed on Mondays)
Coromandel Cafe- Lovely ambience, expensive place and super slow service.
Gelateria Montecatini Terme (GMT Ice Cream) - Tasty tasty gelatos in more than ten flavours. Who wouldn't like it?
Cafe Des Arts- Loads of options in the breakfast menu, great ambience! (Closed on Tuesdays).
PY Cafe- The best of all! Good food, even better interiors. It's a Pastel lovers HEAVEN !!!
Taka Pizza- Another great pizza place and so cheap. A good "Rs. 250 for 2 people" eating place.
Marc's Café Roast and Taste- So many varieties of coffee that I've never seen in any coffee shop, ever.
Auroville Bakery- You'll find everything here. Breads, biscuits, pizza, quiche, tarts and pies. What more does anyone want in life?!!!
Baker's Street- Amazing chocolate eclair and croissants. Good vegetarian as well as non vegetarian options!
Hotel Surguru- A great place for vegetarian food and quite famous. Expect a waiting time of 10-20 minutes there.
That's all from my trip to Pondicherry! Special thanks to my friend Vaidehi Gujarathi without whom this trip wouldn't have happened <3
I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to this beautiful city easier! Do hit me up about your experience or if you would like me to add something!
ENJOY AND SAFE TRAVELS <3