Pondicherry : Experiencing a Little France in India

The union district of Puducherry consists of four discticts Pondicherry, Mah’e, Yanam and Karaikal. It was the largest colony of French India, whose marks can be seen on the city even today, be it the architecture of the houses, or the way the city has been divided. The town is divided into two sections, The French section and The Indian Section. Travelling the city from one section to the other, one can observe the cultural miscellany, which is one of the key attractions of the city.

Here are a few places you ought to do in the city of Pondicherry:

Auroville

matrimandir auroville
Matrimandir in Auroville | Credits : Anup Jaiswal

Auroville, a little city within Puducherry, was an experimental city built within India, by the Sri Aurobindo society, who believe in the importance of international unity and trans-cultural existence. People from varied geographical backgrounds reside here together and in peace. You have the Mantrimandir, a golden sphere, in the center of the town, which is a symbol of man’s desire for perfection and has been hailed a stroke of genius. The mandir contains a solar power plant within and a well manicured garden all around.

Churches

Sacred Heart Church in Pondicherry
Sacred Heart Church in Pondicherry | Image Credits : Daniel Patrick

The powerful influence of the west has spread though religion too, and Puducherry has some of the most beautiful churches. The Basilica of the Sacred heart of Jesus, which is built along the lines of Gothic architecture, is outstanding, with its stained glass panels having acquired fame from far and wide.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Aurobindo Ashram Pondicherry
Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry | Credits: Amarnath Eswar

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, built by pioneer and freedom fighter Aurobindo Ghose, is a place where spirituality and science coexist. The place attracts millions of people a year, and is known for its cleanliness, the hospitality and general atmosphere of progressive thinking.

Museums

This little town also has museums with some fantastic relics, like the Pondicherry museum which has relics from the Roman settlement. One museum (one could even call it a temple) that anyone, who wishes to understand the complex dynamic of India, must visit is the home of great poet and freedom fighter Subramanya Bharati, who came to Puducherry as a fugitive from the British Indian government. His compositions have a unique frequency which strikes a chord of resonance with every Indian. His home, on No.20 Eswaran Darmaraja koil street has been preserved as it was and his fans flock here to pay their respects to the man who made Tamil compositions popular in the 20th century.

Notable Mentions

Pondicherry Promenade
Pondicherry Promenade | Image Credits : Ashwin Nagpal

Notable mentions are the French War Memorial, the Ousteri wetland and National park (which has unique aquatic and avian life), Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on the beach, the Promenade beach. A special mention to the speed enthusiasts, the East Coast Road has one of the most beautiful sights along the way, as the road extends exclusively along the beach, where the blue sea seems to extend forever, seamlessly merging into the sky.

Featured Image by Sunish Sebastian

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