It was the second most enthralling news in the same year that I’ll be attending a workshop in Pondicherry. The first was about the workshop news that I attended in Goa.
“Pondicherry? Where is Pondicherry in India?” The colors in my face drained.
I further read the email at a snail pace, taking notes of every little point. Soon I discovered that Pondicherry is in South India, approximately 173 KM away from Chennai.
As I browse Pondicherry map to know its exact location, the theme song of the famous Bollywood movie ‘Chennai Express’ played by Sharukhan and Deepika was coming in my mind.
I felt warm and already lively despite my fear of traveling alone. Adding to my delight to personally experience Pondicherry, I was overwhelmed by the news that the workshop is a follow-up to the one I’ve attended in Goa.
This made me clear that even the participants would be the same people I met in Goa. I felt more comfortable. Seeing familiar faces in a foreign land is blessing for solo travellers. The venue at Aditi hotel sounded more fun and luxurious.
Pondicherry: Good Place for Solo Travellers?
Pondicherry is the largest and the capital city of Indian Union territory of Puducherry. People of Tamil Nadu affectionately call it Pondy.
Pondicherry was the largest French Colony in India until 1954. I feel Pondicherry is a slice of France in India. There are French quarters with tree-lined streets and Rues. Boulevards lined in Mediterranean style houses and bakeries, mustard-colored colonial villas and chic boutiques.
Locals boast of it being a city of dual personality. Its visitors get to experience India and France in one place. There are the French Architecture and restaurants serving steak and good wines. All the places to visit in Pondicherry show perfect blend of India and France.
5 attractions of Pondicherry or what to see in Pondicherry
#1 Romantic getaway at Rock Beaches
Rock Beach is one of the popular tourist attractions of Pondicherry. As the name says, it’s a beach where the sea bank is filled with the rocks instead of ocean sand.
Tourists get to walk over beach rocks but it is equally contending and romantic. This is because the various shapes and sizes of the rocks made by the ocean currents are like each one of them looks like a product of perfect masonry artist.
It was quite an experience taking morning walk in this beach. Its fresh breeze sliding over those rocks and then coming softly to my face, at times made me forget all the eddies of my world. It’s also here you can be lazy and watch the sun rising beautifully over horizon.
When fishermen unfasten their anchored boats and start their new day with beats of ocean current, I couldn’t help but extend my smiles looking at their eyes of hope and determination. One won’t need friends in this beach – every lifeless rock appears distinctively beautiful with their own share of friendliness.
#2 Discover self in various Ashrams
Pondicherry is famous for various Ashrams – places of religious retreats modeled after the Indian Ashram. I could have never felt complete of having been to Pondicherry if I have not visited one of the Ashrams. So I visited the famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
This Ashram was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra Alfassa. It is one of the major Pondicherry tourist places. It is visited by thousands of people all over the world.
When I entered the Ashram with smiles of excitement and hopes, I could distantly hear door man asking me to leave the slippers outside and mobile phone in switched off mode.
The inside of Ashram was surreal with artistic flowers of different colors and aromas. Candidly, I’ve never seen something so serene, so decorated and so majestic like the Ashram in my entire life. I was like I can continuously glare at those settings for hours.
If they’ve allowed the visitors to take pictures, I am certain I would have been the one with highest numbers of pictures taken from all angles. I have fallen in love with the interior beauty of it so much I was awed by its exterior architectural grandeur.
3# Go for street elephant show
Animals are often our best companions no matter how large or dangerous they look. They are actually the wonderful creatures whose abilities to understand the human language is sadly deceived or commonly ignored.
However, the fact that animals can amaze the whole talking human being is well portrayed by an elephant on the way to Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Hundreds of people gather to watch the elephant show, get her blessings and take the pictures.
The elephant name is Laximi, a female. She understands whatever her owner says. She knows the value of money! I was amazed how she gives blessings with her nose to the people who give her money.
It was unbelievable but you gotta believe it that she poses to be photographed with the one who gives her the money. I was completely amazed that animals can be so harmlessly entertaining.
#4 Take heart pumping Boat Rides in Coast areas
Boat rides in the coastal areas are very popular and major tourists attractions of Pondicherry. Since I hail from highland country, boating, shipping, rafting and other marines experiences are always fun. I had one of the most memorable boating moments.
I had an almost never-ending sequel of photographing the sea, photographing one another, selfies, video-graphing with other tourists. The flying fishes were another charm boosters.
I couldn’t believe, all of us looked extra-beautiful and extra-handsome in the boat because of the soft blue rays of the sea water beneath us.
#5 Embrace Mangroves community & its wonders
Pichavaram community is well known for the mangroves forest. The forest spreads across 1100 hectares and it’s said to be the second largest in the world.
This mangroves forest provides livelihoods to thousands of Pichavaram people who initially had a nomadic style of living. According to local people, mangroves are manually restored a decade ago. And later people permanently settled in the areas protecting them.
The Pichavaram community is a wonder with lots of other wonders. The two most wonders that caught my attentions were the women in fishing and the wooden boat walk along the mangroves. Well, yes, you heard me right. Women in fishing!
While fishing is seen as men’s work in many places, the women in Pichavaram equally do fishing. This indicates that there exactly is no gender-specific work and that we now have to abolish the gender stereotypes.
I was happy to see a stretch of a wooden railway in the midst of the mangroves and water called the ‘boat walk.’ The wooden rail was so serene and classic. I thought it would be a good spot for commercial outdoor photography and models photo-shooting activities.
Conclusion – Tourist attractions to explore
India is a bowl of diversity. Pondicherry is of the places that stands to prove this statement. At a glance, everything might look like that of France. But as you dive deeper in it, I can assure you’ll also find things that are of India.
If I had time at my disposal, I will visit other tourist attractions of Pondicherry like Auroville, old light house, French war Memorial garden, churches and Museums. Since I know popular Hollywood movie ‘Life of Pi’ was shot here, I felt I was leaving Pondicherry without exploring majority of it.
Pondicherry treated me well during my short trip. It has so many things with which you can dance away your life’s loads and stresses. Therefore, I bet outings with the friends, families and your beloved ones to Pondicherry would but fetch your life with few unforgettable moments.
Recommend to read following travel experience and exciting travel stories from India:
- Rewalsar Lake – Guru Padmasambhava met Consort Mendarawa.
- Bodh Gaya – Where Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment.
- My experiences of travelling Goa, the Rome of East.
- Fun at Amatulla, a small Indian village near Daifam Bhutan.
- 12 popular tourist attractions of Himachal Pradesh, India.
- Varanasi, Garden of Bliss and city of Music and Light.
- Lotus Temple of New Delhi, a symbol of Unity and Tolerance.
- India Travel Advice – Expectations of its first time Tourists.
- Manikaran – Paradise of Good hot springs in Himachal Pradesh.