Indian is unique but did you know that you can experience France in India! Pondicherry, the favorite Union territory of India, one of the seven; is a charming holiday destination in India. The former French colony along the Bay of Bengal is truly enthralling. The top attractions in Pondicherry will create for you a memorable vacation with interesting sights and experiences.
Read on as you get introduced the charming concoction of picturesque beaches, appealing monuments, delightful cafes, by lanes which can explore on bicycles, watersports and so much more.
Here are the top attractions in Pondicherry that you must visit
Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges
Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, also known as Our Lady of Angels Church is one of the most popular places to visit in Pondicherry. Reputed for its brilliant masonry, the church has an appearance that is inspired from the churches in France, especially the breathtaking Basilica at Lourdes in Southern France.
Limestone mixed with white of eggs were mixed to create a mixture that gives it a marble like appearance. The church altar has a statue of Our Lady holding a baby Jesus in her arms. Inside the church, there are eight barrel vaults and a central dome that is pierced with eight round openings.
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Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Moving on to another relic of the French colonial days, we come to the Immaculate Conception Cathderal. One of the oldest churches in Pondicherry, it was built by the very first Jesuit Fathers that came to the French colony in 1689. Pay a visit to marvel at its typical Jesuit edifice.
Known as the mother church for the Roman Catholic Archideose of Pondicherry, it was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times in its long history. At the esplanade in front of cathedral, you can partake in the church ceremonies organized. The holy site is said to have been visited by Mother Teresa. Every year in the 8th of December, the church celebrates its annual feast.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Spiritual bliss is one of the reasons that tourists from far and wide plan a holiday in Pondicherry. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a famous spiritual community founded by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) in 1926.
One of the most visited places in Pondicherry, the ashram is a retreat for your spiritual needs. Take a break from the world and focus on your evolution to higher spiritual beings with International Yoga Festival, meditation, sermons and other activities. Around 1,200 members along with 400 students can easily accommodate in the complex. Spread over 400 buildings, the ashram has facilities of library, printing press, playground, art gallery, dispensary/nursing home, dairy, farms, guest houses, etc.
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Trace the French roots and even older histories at the Puducherry museum. Explore the wonderful collection of artifacts, relics and historic treasures. From archeological findings of Arikamedu Roman settlement, to Chola and Pallava dynasties, there are various eras of history preserved here.
Listed among the top attractions in Pondicherry, the museum has stone-carved statues, bronze sculptures of Indian Gods and Goddesses, fossilized trunks of ancient trees, models of modes of transportation, brass temple lamps, church relics, handicrafts, coins, shells and fossils. A completed section is dedicated to the history and legendary French colonial information. Do check out the painting gallery which has colonial prints, Tanjore paintings as well as contemporary works in glass, colors, pastels, and oils.
Kallialay Surf School
One of the premium surfing schools in India, Kallialay Surf School is one of the unmissable tourist attractions in Pondicherry. Located on the Serenity beach, the school was started by two brothers, Juan and Samai Reboul from Spain who settled down in Auroville.
Catch some waves and enjoy the thrill of riding one, if you are a learner you can choose from different kinds of packages and training according to your interest, budget and requirements. You can also avail surfing equipment of international standards. Also, an annual festival, the Summer Swell Challenge calls for visitors from all around the world.
Like its name, Paradise beach is truly a world apart! Adorned with golden sands, this is a little-isolated haven, one of the top attractions in Pondicherry. Reaching the beach is amazing as the shoreline itself. You need to board the ferry traveling through the backwaters surrounded with thick mangrove forests that takes around 20-30 minutes to get to the golden shores.
Spot birds, walk on the silky sands, enjoy the opportunity to get some great photos or sitting and enjoying the waves. A variety of water sports facilities are also available for enthusiastic tourists to try a hand at fishing as fishing rods and nets, easily available for rent.
The Promenade beach is among the most popular places to visit in Pondicherry. The rock-lined shore, 1.2km long stretch is marked with popular sites, monuments, cafes, eateries, restaurants, roadside food stalls, shopping options and hotels. Take a walk on the promenade. Stop to admire the statue of Marquis Dupleix. Pay respects to the Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Visit the First World War Memorial. Sit on the rocks watching the playful waves hitting the rocks.
For a break from the city, Promenade is a scenic getaway. Stroll, dine, click pics and or enjoy the charming setting along the picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal.
Serenity Beach, like its name offers peacefulness to all its visitors. The relaxing spot along the Bay of Bengal, 12 km from the town is one of the must visit places in Pondicherry. The warm golden sand with a trail of rocks leading to the cerulean sea is perfect for basking in bliss
Relatively isolated, the beach is to be definitely not to be missed by honeymooners for a quiet time. Early in the morning, fishermen add to the charm as they gear up for the day. Surfing is a thrilling pleasure here as massive waves lead to the shore. Avail surfing lessons and equipments from the nearby Kallialay Surf School.
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Close to Auroville, Auro Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Pondicherry. Known for the shallow waters and small waves, it is one of the must visit tourist attractions in Pondicherry, especially during sunrise or sunset.
Take a swim in the sea, stroll on the golden sands, relax on the shore or try your hand at surfing for both beginners and professionals. The long stretch of beach has all facilities for visitors. From an option of stay, dining, shopping, yoga, etc.
Water Sports & Adventure
Adventures abound in Pondicherry. Cycling, horse riding, trekking and hiking, rock climbing, rappelling, abseiling and parasailing are some exciting activities to indulge in. Lying in close proximity to the cerulean spread of Bay of Bengal, the union territory has lots of scope of water sports include surfing, banana boat rides, body boarding, scuba diving, free diving, kayaking, boat rides on backwaters through mangrove forests, and more.
Diving to explore the underwater world is particularly delightful as one can easily spot stunning corals, a variety of sea plants, some rare fishes, sea turtles, whale sharks, and more.
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