Pondicherry is a place that greats you with hues of yellow, cream, grey, and pink, with the effervescent bougainvillea hovering over every gate and compound walls of the houses and the courtyards. Familiarly known as Pondy, the relics of British and French colonies linger over your memories for a long. Recently it's been christened as Puducherry.
The Colonial Era constructions still exist there, where some are in ruins while others stand tall amidst the modern construction around them.
Puducherry is a living example of the confluence of geography and history. Moreover, the blend of modernity and antiquity has evolved Pondy as a rare gem of styles and values. The city is home to about 350 temples; some are more than just shrines known and worshipped for their auspicious value and the environs.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the church constructed in the 1700s, attracts the locals and tourists. Where the authorities well preserve the church, its aesthetics reflect the artisans of that century.
Pondy's culture is influenced by Sri Aurobindo's teachings and the Mother. The famous Ashram in the Auroville is centre of attraction for spiritual seekers.
The older part of the city has an affluent ambience that exudes not only the culture and heritage of the city but also the flanks of the seashore boulevard. The colonial buildings of the 18th century, spread over like a grid on the clean streets of Pondy, would leave you astonished. Flora and fauna of the French colonies an institutions, businesses, private homes, and of course, the Ashram.
Being 160 km away from Chennai and a similar distance from the Bay of Bengal, it got the name of "New Settlement", which is the translation of "Puducherry" in Tamil. Then came the French, who made the name more sonorous as "Pondichery". Then the British anglicized it further to "Pondicherry" before it was rechristened to "Puducherry" in 2006.
Going back in time a bit to get acquainted with the colourful history of the town that once had a fascinating name as "Vedapuri"! It is believed that the Agastya Rishi had his Ashram in ancient times; supporting this belief are some inscriptions found in the Vedapuriswara Temple. This led to the city being also known as Agastiswaram.
A perfect place for a beach vacation, at Pondy, you experience a blend of spiritual and commercial activities. As mentioned above, French culture and old heritage churches are why tourists throng over the city all-round the year. The best season to visit Pondy is winter, when December, January, and February are pleasant and beautiful.
The Pondicherry Tour Itinerary:
Day 0: Board the train bound to Chennai either from Mumbai or Pune. (The train details are mailed to the participant on booking and confirmation). The train preferred is an overnight to utilise the time better and get sufficient rest before we embark on this beautiful exploration.
Day 1: We Reach Chennai and then hire taxis to drive towards Pondicherry through East Coastal Road. This day we relax and rejuvenate ourselves with good sleep and delicious food.
Day 2: A Packed up day. We begin this beautiful tour by visiting Paradise Beach Island first early in the morning, spend some 40-45 minutes there, and then head to a place nearby to relish some breakfast before we head to Auroville.
This is where we indulge in some organically cooked delicious food. Auroville mesmerizes you with its aesthetics and flora, and fauna. The simplicity of people here will win your heart. We explore the famous Auro Beach, Aurobindo Ashram, Churches, and the French Headquarters. The day comes to and ends with some beautiful memories collected as Sea Side Promenade near Gandhi Statue.
We retire for the day post some authentic Chettinad dinner and beautiful conversations with each other.
Day 3:A day begins with some healthy breakfast before we head to Vinayagar Temple. We leave for Mahabalipuram and relish some local food during the lunch break. Explore some more heritage spaces here before experiencing the beautiful sunset at Marina Beach. In Chennai, we spend some time shopping and leisure walks. Post this, and we head back to our hotel to freshen up and indulge in dinner specially prepared for us by the hotel staff.
Day 4: The day that marks an end to the beautiful exploration. In the morning hours, we explore a few places in Chennai as much as possible before we board our train post-lunch. This again would be an overnight train.
Day 5: We reach our respective destinations. Before we part ways and head to our homes, we get together for a group photo and some emotional farewell with the hope of crossing each other's path again on journeys meant to be together.