Holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I’m sure you can agree, because that’s when you get to go on vacation! Of course, ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, it hasn’t been possible for many people to travel as much as they would want to, or at all. However, now that cases have come down and mandates eased, it is possible to travel again, which is exactly what I did recently and took a trip with my dad, and two of my best friends. The destination you ask? The beautiful Indian coastal city of Pondicherry (or Puducherry).
A Brief Background & Geography
Pondicherry was a French colonial settlement in India until 1954, and is now a Union Territory town bounded by the southeastern Tamil Nadu state. The French legacy is preserved in its French Quarter, which has tree-lined streets, mustard-colored colonial villas, cute cafes and chic boutiques. There is also a seaside promenade that runs along the Bay of Bengal and passes a 4m-tall Gandhi Memorial. In Puducherry’s White Town, there is the famous Aurobindo Ashram, which I must say is quite serene and peaceful. Speaking of relaxing and calm, Auroville is about a 20 minute drive along the highway from Pondicherry. It is definitely a must visit, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the unique history of Auroville as a universal city.
Best Times to go
Between October and March are typically the best times to visit Pondicherry because the weather is amazing, and ranges from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the tourist season, but if you prefer a less-touristy time, you can go between March to June. Though there will be less crowds, the only downside is that the weather will be in the 90s but when you have the sea near you, it wouldn’t really matter.
Top 5 Things to do
Though numbered, this list is in no particular order, and is purely based on my experiences and opinions.
- Visit Auroville
Since we took a weeklong trip, there wasn’t much time to see and do everything. Therefore, we ended up only going to Auroville once, and I wish I had more time to spend there. The coffee, cafes, people, trees and beaches are extremely charming. There are a lot of workshops, volunteer activities and meditations to do. Aside from that, the whole place has this calm and welcoming vibe to it that totally enraptured me.
- Have the Breakfast at Villa Shanti
We were fortunate of staying here for a couple nights and waking up to this breakfast was divine. Personally, I couldn’t get enough of the croissants or the bread basket but they also offer an Indian breakfast option. This place is usually full and pretty booked in terms of lodging, but its restaurant is open to non-residents as well. Plus, the rooms are super aesthetically decorated and have a very traditional feel to them.
- Drive along the Eastern Coastal Road
This one isn’t entirely in Pondicherry, but we rented a car and drove from the Tamil Nadu airport to Pondicherry. There is an inside road that will probably get you there faster, but it has nothing on the views of the coastal road. I recommend going at around sunset time because there are tons of beaches along this road that you can stop at to admire the sunset.
- Visit the Beaches
Pondicherry has beautiful beaches, with clean waters and white, golden sand. We went multiple times and even got up early to see the sunrise one day, which is a big deal when you’re on vacation. So, clearly, the beaches are worth it.
- Live music at LB2 Eclipse – Rooftop Cafe
We unexpectedly found the place whilst stumbling around White Town one night, and let me tell you, it was the best accidental find. They had live music and the singer that night was amazing. She understood how to work a crowd and had the most sensational voice. The people there were also on a different level (due to the music), and at one point in the night, we were all just enjoying the moment with good music and food. Sitting here and just soaking in everything was seriously the best memory of the entire trip, for all of us.
Bonus: Have. The. Coffee. It is seriously delicious, we even bought some and took it home. The French clearly influenced the cuisine, and honestly, I am totally here for it.
For more travel tips, why not go international and check out Another Side of London?