Puducherry, a Union Territory of India and popularly known by its old name ‘Pondicherry’, is a coastal town near Bay of Bengal. French legacy has been well preserved in its French quarter called ‘White Town” (most buildings are white color).
History of Puducherry during pre-colonial period dates back to 4th century AD, when it was ruled sequentially by Pallava, Chola and Pandya kings till 1370 AD. It came under Vijayanagara Empire and Sultan of Bijapur until 1638 AD.
During 16th and 17th century, the Portugese, the Dutch and the Danes came here for textile trade and explored the possibilities of colonization. In 1674, the French established a settlement here. Excluding 1693 to 1699, Puducherry remained as a French colony till 1954, after which it was merged in the Union of India. It remained a Union Territory of India from that time.
Where Is It?
It is located at about 170 km, 312 km, and 770 km from Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad respectively. Well connected with all big cities and towns of India, one can reach here through road, and rail. Though a small airport is there with connectivity to Hyderabad and Bangalore, most of the people depend on Railway service. Bus services are there from Chennai and nearby towns. Travelers can drive own vehicles or hire a taxi from these cities and towns to Puducherry.
In October 2023, we boarded a train (Bhubaneswar-Puducherry SF Express) from Bhubaneswar to Puducherry at noon and reached after 24 hours. We preferred train due to less travel cost and enjoyable train journey.
There are a good number of budget and premium hotels and guest houses in Puducherry with AC and non-AC single room, double room and dormitory facilities. We made online booking and stayed in ‘International Guest House’ run by Shri Aurobindo Society, Puducherry. Our AC double room was priced at around Rs.2100/- per night including GST.
Where Did We Visit?
We finished lunch, took a little rest and moved out to visit Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Devasthanam (Ganesh Temple), Bharathi Park, Rock beach, Sri Aurobindo Ashram (also attended evening prayer), and market place, all of which were close to our guest house. We booked a cab for the next day visit, finished dinner and went to bed.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram picture taken by Kishor Kumar Mishra
After breakfast, we started at 8:00 AM for Auroville, a peaceful township with natural surroundings, (Conceptualized to be a Universal township)- 15 km away from our guest house. In the ‘Peace Area’ of Auroville, we visited ‘Matrimandir’, its surrounding gardens, the amphitheatre with ‘Urn of Human Unity’, exhibition hall, small shopping complex among other things. We returned back at noon, had lunch and took rest.
At 3:00 PM, we hired a taxi for Chunamber Boat House, took a motor boat to the serene ‘Paradise Beach’. We returned back in the evening, booked a taxi for next day visit, had dinner and returned to bed.
Chunamber Boat House picture taken by Kishor Kumar Mishra
After breakfast at 8:00 AM, we started for Chidambaram (65 km away) to visit famous 10th century ‘Nataraja Temple’. The 40-acre square temple complex has four ‘Gopuram’ at four sides and has shrines of Nataraja(Shiva), Govindaraja Perumal(Sleeping Vishnu), Pundarikavalli Thayar(Goddess Laxmi) Shivagami Sundari Amman(Goddess Parvati) among others. We returned at 3:00 PM, had our lunch and took rest.
In the evening, we visited Government Museum, Aayi Mandapam, French War Memorial, Mahatma Gandhi Statue, Light House, Churches. After dinner, we returned to bed.
Aayi Mandapam picture taken by Kishor Kumar Mishra
Since the tour was for some other purposes also, we completed our other tasks locally on this day. In the evening, we took stroll on streets, made shopping, relaxed in park, beach and coffee shop. We skipped Arikamedu, Ousteri Lake and few other beaches.
After breakfast, we checked out from guest house at 8:30 AM and hired a taxi for Perambur railway station at Chennai, boarded a train at 4:00 PM and returned to Bhubaneswar.
Puducherry has hot and humid climate in summer. Best to visit is from October to February. A 3-day visit is sufficient for this peaceful and beautiful town.
Kishor Kumar Mishra