Updated: May 20
Pondicherry, or Puducherry, is famously known as the French Riviera of the East and is one of the most mesmerizing and charming places in South India. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a weekend in Pondicherry and had an incredible time. It was a very impromptu trip!! But hopefully, we covered almost all the must-visits.
We are a gang of 7, started from Hyderabad by bus. We boarded Kaveri travels bus at 5 pm and reached Pondi at 7 am in the morning. We got off the bus at Auroville Tollgate as it would be nearer to our guest house, E Green resort.
Our stay was quite a good one. It is a duplex house. They served fish curry in the lunch specially prepared. They asked us to join for fishing too. It was quite a good experience.
Any place from our stay is around 20-30 min. We took bikes for rental for the first day and the third day. And booked an Innova for the second day as we had to travel Pichavaram Mangrove forest which is 2 and half hours journey.
So on the first day, we planned to cover the city...mostly beaches and planned to try a variety of food. We had our lunch served by the resort(especially cooked????). And then started to nearby beaches. We took bikes for rent which are real budget-friendly.
Rock beach or Promenade beach is located in the heart of the city and is one of the top tourist attractions in Pondicherry.
The promenade is a no-vehicle zone from 5 in the evening to early morning, making it the perfect place to spend your evenings.
Right in the middle of the promenade is the magnificent statue of Gandhi. This four-meter high statue made of black stone is surrounded by 8 granite pillars.
We covered Serenity beach too which is nearby. By the evening dinner time, we returned back to our resort taking our dinner on the way at A-Star Restaurant, which was real yum. After having our dinner we planned to set up DJ at our resort. Resort manager, Arul, was soo friendly...he said no objections and even joined us for a few moments.
Everyone knows how amazing Pondy is! It’s serene beaches, French architecture, continental food & not to forget- the tax-free alcohol make it the most favourite weekend destination. But how many tourists coming to Pondicherry really bother to look around and do something different than the list mentioned above? How many do really know that world’s 2nd biggest mangrove forests at Pichavaram are just about 70km from Pondicherry! While in Pondicherry, Me and my travel buddies decided to do exactly the same.
We rented an SUV from Auroville then we headed to the beautiful mangrove forest at Kille village near Pichavaram- just about 15 km from Chidambaram temple towards the east. Pichavaram mangrove forest spreads across 1100 hectares and is second biggest in the world; second only to the Sunderbans in India-Bangladesh. We hired a traditional rowing boat with a rower for an hour for about 160 rupees, our rower took the boat a bit inside the waters and asked us whether we wish to go deep inside the narrow waterways created by the mangroves or just take a general round of the mangroves-which is basically useless. He asked for extra money to take us in those narrow waterways.
As he took us inside the waterways created by mangroves, we were stunned! It was so beautiful! The dense cover of mangroves on both sides as well as a continuous canopy formed on top gives a feel of rowing in a narrow tunnel. Even sunlight barely entered these natural tunnels formed by various species of mangroves found here. The experience is just out of the world. Our rower although illiterate and fluent only in Tamil, showed us various types of mangroves species found here like Avicennia, Rhizophora etc.
Just when we were passing from one tunnel to the other and we wanted it to go and on, we took the exit in the open waters and headed back to where we started from.
By the time we returned from Pichavaram, it was already 5 in the evening, so we decided to have our dinner early, and head back to resort. We went to La Cafe, which serves continental food at Promenade beach, which has a beach view and an amazing ambience. The food was great too.
The third day we planned to cover the rest of the places in the city itself. We had our breakfast served by our resort and took bikes and started exploring again.
Cafe Des Arts This bohemian cafe would look perfectly at home in Europe, but this is Pondy, so there's a cycle rickshaw in the garden. Refreshingly light dishes range from crisp salads to crepes, baguettes, omelettes and toasties. Coffees and fresh juices are great. The old-townhouse setting is lovely, with low tables and lounge chairs spilling out in front of a vintage boutique.