"Pondicherry: Relaxing & Charming" Top 5 Page for this destination Pondicherry by Donna_in_India

Pondicherry Travel Guide: 186 reviews and 424 photos

Pondicherry History

Pondicherry is a small town located on the East coast of Southern India, a few hours drive south of Chennai. Its earliest history dates back to pre-historic days when it is believed that it was the seat for the great sage, Agasthya. At the time it was known as Vedapuri.

The excavations at Arikenmedu are proof that later, Pondicherry was a fishing village that was one of the major ports of trade during the Greco-Roman period. Artifacts from the excavations are preserved at the Pondicherry Museum and well worth a look.

Pondicherry then came under the Pallavas, Cholas, Vijayangara Kingdom and sultans. Sometime later several European settlements (Dutch, Portuguese, Danes, English and French) stepped in. They all influenced the city.

But it was the French who controlled Pondicherry for almost 300 years. Pondicherry was settled by the French in the early 18th century. Although the French reliquished control of Pondicherry 50+ years ago, the French influence is still there.

French Influence

The French Quarter has colorful heritage buildings - villas with gardens and flowers. Streets are named Rue Bazar Saint-Laurent and Rue Labourdonnais. Local police wear red kepis (caps). French food is served in restaurants and cafes. You'll hear French spoken in the streets - many locals speak French. And you'll find many French tourists as well.

The French Quarter is set up in a grid pattern that makes walking so easy and enjoyable. Another wonderful way to get around is to rent a bicycle. Words you will hear to describe Pondicherry include quaint and charming. And it is both. I would add laidback and relaxing.

The French Quarter butts up to the Promenade along the Bay of Bengal. Traffic is minimal - although "Beach Road" (Goubert Ave) can become busy at night. Pondicherry is much quieter and calmer than most Indian cities. But there is an Indian side (Tamil Quarter) as well, which should be explored.

Pondicherry Today

Even though Pondicherry has many interesting churches, parks, beaches, monuments, museums, etc., it is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram that draws visitors from around the world. There are Ashram buildings, shops, guesthouses, and workshops all around the city. Everyone (over 3 years old) is welcome to visit the Ashram. (Additional information is on my Ashram tip.)

This is a delightful place to spend a few days exploring!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Laidback, Relaxing, & Charming.
  • Cons:Hot & Humid!!
  • In a nutshell:A great place to escape the bustle of India
  • Last visit to Pondicherry: Jan 2010
  • Intro Updated Jan 18, 2010
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Reviews (40)

Comments (8)

  • betska's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2014 at 4:47 AM

    Certainly fancy Pondicherry. In fact, when in Laos, I met a family who ran a lovely Indian restaurant in Phonsavan. They came from Ponicherry & even gave me some travel brochures. Needless to say, it's on the list, as well as most of southern India & Sri Lanka. Will be back for a closer look, Donna. B xx

    • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
      Mar 5, 2014 at 5:57 AM

      I loved Pondi Betts. Has a unique flavor to it. Combine it with Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram out of Chennai!

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    Jul 13, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    Just watched the Life of Pi which has made me want to go here. Read your profile page yesterday; you have led an interesting travel filled life. Irene

    • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo
      Jul 14, 2013 at 4:23 AM

      Hi Irene - thanks for visiting my Pondicherry pages. It's is such a wonderful place to see. I did not know that it was featured in the movie. Now I will have to see it. Hope you make it to Pondi!

  • Durfun's Profile Photo
    Apr 10, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Hey 'Shokola' sounds tempting ;-)

  • Paris92's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Hey, Donna, Just wanted to say congrats on the Barney nomination! I've always loved reading your pages so it was great to see you nominated!

  • unaS's Profile Photo
    Dec 12, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    I had read about Pondicherry - first time it has become a real place and a possible destination for me. Many thanks.

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    Dec 3, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    i had heard of pondicherry but never had the opportunity to look before. love the elephant, love the chubby guys with the bananas and melons even more. will be back for the rest, hopefully over the weekend. great history. n.

  • mindcrime's Profile Photo
    Jan 19, 2010 at 5:49 AM

    very helpful tips about a place I never heard about. I never visited this part of the world in general.

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Well if I go now who will be there ?

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