Pondicherry or Puducherry is a former old french settlement in Tamil Nadu. it happens to be that many people around the world visit Pondicherry for its french history, architecture, beaches, food, activities, and much more. Puducherry is also referred to as the French capital of India. This union territory of India is a perfect weekend getaway. The old churches & ashrams are some of the must-visit places in Pondicherry.
My visit to Pondicherry was a fantastic 3-days staycation. You will surely admire the pristine clear beaches here if you love beaches. Since it is situated along the Bay of Bengal, the coast is lined up with gorgeous beaches. You can also explore the Fisherman’s village near most beaches. The locals often refer to Pondicherry as ‘Pondy’.
The old architecture of the town is what attracts most tourists. Pondicherry is also a popular destination among backpackers. Many people around the world stay for months exploring and around Pondy. You can either explore as a backpacker or enjoy your stay luxurious. Pondy has it all!
Here is my list of 10 must-visit places in Pondicherry.
10 Best Places to Visit in Pondicherry
1 – Auroville
Auroville was a spiritual experience for me. The township of Auroville depicts peace. Auroville is one of the must-visit places near Pondicherry. Many people visit here for meditation and spiritual healing. You should visit Auroville.
The Matrimandir is a unique place to visit in Pondicherry. It is a meditation center where Yoga is rehearsed. Unfortunately for me, I was not able to enter the Matrimandir due to the covid protocols.
You can check out my guide to Auroville – 12 unique places to visit in Auroville.
2 – Paradise Beach
Paradise beach is a unique place to visit in Pondicherry. You need to take a ferry from the Chunnambar boat docks to reach the paradise beach. It is a popular tourist attraction in Pondicherry. The beach is beautiful with clear water and clean sand. The beach is open for tourists from 9 AM to 6 PM daily. Exploring Paradise beach and its activities will take around 3 to 4 hours. The entry fee for paradise beach is 150/- INR, 20/- for the camera, and 40/- for video shooting.
Activities such as ATV rides would cost around 300/- INR per person. Fish spa is 200/-, Bungy trampoline is 150/-, and so on.
3 – Serenity Beach
Calm and secluded! The beach is very enjoyable during sunrise and sunset. It is around 8km away from Auroville. Since it is away from the town, the beach is less crowded. We were lucky to get a villa straight across the serenity beach. It was an amazing stay.
The beach is not typical! Per se, you will find boats on one half of the beach and a fishing village on the other. There is also a walkway made up of stones which are good for photography up close to the waves. That being said, I loved my stay at serenity beach and would also recommend you visit it once.
4 – Chunnambar Boat House Puducherry
Visiting the backwaters is truly an amazing experience. It is one of the best things to do here in Pondicherry. Chunnambar is a small village located 7kms from Pondicherry. You can relish yourself in an exquisite houseboat experience. You could also try out night camping at the seafront.
This experience is known for its exotic seafood, drifting slowly away across paddy fields ad rivers with blooming lilies. This is a good tropical vibe experience. If you have time you can spend a day on this activity.
5 – Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The church is an architectural marvel. The basilica of the sacred heart of Jesus is surely a must-visit place in Pondicherry. It is one of the 21 Basilicas in India. Originally it was a church built in 1908 and later elevated to the status of Basilica in 2011.
People visit this church to offer prayers and witness the beautiful interiors etched with biblical phrases. Many visit the church during Christmas and easter due to the grand celebrations.
6 – Immaculate Conception Cathedral
The cathedral is hard to miss. This beautiful church is around 300 years old and is the oldest church in Pondicherry. It is a top tourist place in Pondicherry. The Immaculate Conception Cathedral was built in the year 1791. The church has its history, having survived the British invasion of the city.
The building is constructed in Portuguese style. You will notice this from the interior of the cathedral. I would recommend you visit this place. 8th December is celebrated as the feast of the church. So if you are around that time, there would be a great occasion.
7 – Old and New Lighthouse
Offering amazing views atop you could give some time to visit both the old and new lighthouses in Pondicherry. It is an offbeat place to visit in Pondicherry. Most tourists only see the old lighthouse since it’s at the shore of Promenade beach.
The new lighthouse is recently being worked up and not many people visit it as it is far away from the city center. The old lighthouse is currently up for maintenance, and we have no idea about the re-opening date. The view atop is mesmerizing (as had been told by my friends). Unfortunately, I was not able to visit atop due to the renovations.
8 – Explore the Cafes in Pondicherry
Pondicherry is the heart of french cafes. Pondy is known for its French architecture, clean and neat streets, etc. Although, one thing I would 100% recommend you is to explore the cafes of Pondicherry. Each cafe has its uniqueness.
The union territory of Pondicherry has the best French Cafes in India. Foodies would love munching day and night in this city. Explore the cafes with menus that will make you try every dish. One of my favorite cafes is the ‘Le cafe’ on the promenade beach.
I will link a blog of my top favorite cafes in pondicherry below. In that blog, I will list down all the cafes that I visited and also which I missed out on so that you could let me know in the comments.
Check out my blog – 5 Must-visit Cafes in Pondicherry.
9 – Promenade Beach
The seaside stroll on the promenade beach will relax your mind and soul. If you are traveling the whole day, you could come to enjoy the beautiful sunset at the beach. The sunrise and sunset at the seaside promenade are equally pleasant.
People living here often take morning walks and jog around the promenade beach. The beach is famous for nature lovers, photography, and more. You can visit the old lighthouse, French Memorial, Mahatma Gandhi statue, Dupleix’s statue, the statue of Joan of Arc, the old heritage hall, and more.
10 – Botanical Garden
The Botanical garden is spread across massive 22 acres of land. Many tourists visit here to relax. It was established in 1826 and is known to be a major landmark of the city. The botanical garden has around 1000+ species of plants from across the world. The park is open from the morning at 10 AM to the evening at 5 PM. It is a great place for people who want to learn about plants.
Other Top Tourist Attractions in Pondicherry
11 – Sri Aurobindo Ashram Puducherry
12 – Arikamedu – Explore the ancient ruins
13 – Rock beach
14 – Raj Niwas
15 – Jawahar Toy Museum
16 – Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple
17 – Chidambaram
18 – Bharathi park
19 – White Town
20 – Sri Kareneswara Natraja Temple
21 – Gourbet Market
22 – Sri Gokilambai Thirumeswarar Temple
23 -Ousteri Lake, Wetland and National Park
24 – Veerampattinam Beach
25 – Meeran Mosque
Where to Stay in Pondicherry
Pondicherry is a backpacker paradise. You will get hotels whatever your budget would be. There are budget hotels/Oyo with 500/- INR per night. Or you can choose luxury hotels and homestays starting from 2000/- INR per night.
I stayed in a fabulous villa stay on the shores of Serenity beach. I booked this on Airbnb for around 3600/- INR per night. It’s a bit on the costlier side but worth it.
Most people choose to stay near the white town (city center). As all the major tourist attractions are nearby and it is easy to travel.
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