Pondicherry or Puducherry as it is known as now, is a quaint Indian town with many French hues, situated on the Bay of Bengal, the eastern seaboard of India.
Easily accessible by road from major Indian cities like Chennai and Bangalore, Pondicherry should be a place to visit, if you want to experience some bygone French nostalgia and spirituality.
The small Pondicherry town is a mix of traditional Tamil and old French settlements. The town’s French connect can be traced back to the time when Pondicherry was the capital of old French India.
Most parts of the city are like any other crowded Indian city, but it is in the French part of town, which is most appealing and different. So, if one wants, one can dive in and experience the Indian chaos in the Tamil settlement areas, or be cocooned from it all in the French part of town.
French Pondicherry, as the French part of town is locally known as, has neatly laid out intersecting roads, a wide and breezy beach promenade, exclusive boutiques, niche restaurants and many vintage French-style-cottages that are also available on rent.
Regular theatre shows in English and in the local dialect Tamil, is the latest addition to the Pondicherry cultural pool.
I happened to watch a superb production called Karna and Kunti (a story from the Indian epic, Mahabharata). The age-old story became special due to the innovative use of Kerala martial arts Kalaripayattu in the story.
Would you like to know about a show even before you head for the city? Then http://www.indianostrum.org is the site you would need to check for their updates.
Some of the best vintage hotels are situated in French Pondicherry; an ideal part of town to stay for sure, since one can be away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and most importantly can walk around most places of interest.
While there is no denying that the town with its beaches, riverside café’s and exclusive boutique shopping offers an eclectic experience, personally it was Auroville, which captivated me the most.
What is it that prompted me to go to Pondicherry? Apart from my wish to experience the French aura in my own country, it was the desire to meditate and connect with my higher consciousness at Auroville.
In the next few posts, I will share my experiences of the Pondicherry town which I had via its café’s, fine-dine restaurants, retail shops and of course Auroville.
Fun Trivia: Hollywood’s latest 2012 visual treat, Life of Pi, has been shot partly in Pondicherry! A reason for movie buffs to come and visit Pi’s land 🙂