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Places to see in Pondicherry

Discussion in 'Tamil Nadu' started by Shika, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. Shika

    Shika New Member

    We are a group of girls going for our girlie holiday to Pondicherry. So far all we know is that we want to be by the beach, and Pondicherry seemed like an ideal destination.

    It was after the booking we thought that we could not spend all of the holiday time on the beach, we should be out to explore the destination and see places.

    We don't think there is much to see in Pondicherry, but we would still like to know and have a list of places to see in Pondicherry and some information about the places.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Shika! Welcome to the forum!

    Pondicherry is a city and a municipality in the union territory of Puducherry. It is the regional capital and the largest city in the territory as well. Pondicherry is known for its French style houses and structures. Aside from the beaches, there's lots more that you can explore in Pondicherry or Pondy. Here are the best attractions in Pondicherry:

    • Manakula Vinayagar Temple - This is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The temple existed before 1666, meaning it was already in the city before the French colonised it. The other name of the temple is Manakula Vinayagar. In Tamil, Manal means sand and Kulam means pond near the sea. So the Ganesha here is known as Manal Kulathu Vinayagar or God Near the Pond of Sand. The temple has a golden chariot, with about 7.5 kgs of gold.
    • Varadaraja Perumal Temple - This temple is also known as the Thirubuvanai Temple. It is believed that the temple was built by the Cholas during the 11th century. It was later expanded by the Pandyas. It was constructed using a Dravidian style of architecture and is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. The temple has a five-tiered gateway tower and inside, there's an image of Varadaraja Perumal. Alongside, Sridevi and Bhudevi are located.
    • Kanniga Parameswari Temple - This temple is dedicated to the Goddess Shakti, which is a form of Goddess Kali. The temple has a blend of the French and the Deccan styles of architecture. The walls of the temple are designed with angels and heavenly creatures. The stained glass of the temple is also quite stunning.
    • Aayiram Kaliamman Temple - This temple can be found in Tirumalairayan. Aayiram Kali Amman means the Thousand Kali Goddess. The story goes that a devotee from the Senguntha Mudaliar community found a box containing the body parts of the Goddess Kali. Then, the Goddess appeared in his dream during the night time, asking him to worship her. When they opened the box, they found the image of Goddess Kali along with a palm leaf instruction that a daily pooja should be done with the 1,000 articles. So now, every five years, a festival is held where the box is opened for darshan and pooja. This festival happened last May 2012.
    • Saneeswaran Temple - This temple is located in Tirunallar in the Karaikal district of Pondicherry. It is a temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva and he is referred to as Dharbaranyam here. The door keeper of the shrine is Saniswarar, the icon of planet Saturn. The tradition is that you need to worship Saniswarar before worshipping Shiva here.
    • Sri Gokilambal Thirukameshwara Temple - This is also known as Villianur Temple. It's located in Villianur which is about 11 kms away from Pondicherry. It was constructed by the Cholas during the 12th century. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and he is in the form of a shivalinga here.
    • Meeran Mosque - This mosque was built by Nawab of the Carnatic about 350 years ago. It was built using the old Gothic style of architecture. It is also one of the oldest mosques in Pondicherry.
    • Khutba Mosque - This is also known as Jamia Mosque. It was built around the 17th century although it's unsure when exactly. The dargah of Moulla Saiubum can also be found inside the mosque. The complex also has the Muhammadia Mosque, which is its preaching part, where Islam is taught in the Urdu language.
    • Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus - This church was founded by the French missionaries in 1908. This is the first basilica in Pondicherry and the sixth in Tamil Nadu. It has a Neo-Gothic style of architecture with stained glass windows and Terracotta motifs. The church becomes alive during Christmas when it's decorated and all lit up.
    • Annai Velankanni Church - This church is dedicated to Madonna of Velankanni or the Lady of Health. The church was constructed in 1971 under Father Arapula and was inaugurated in 1972. It was built using the Gothic style of architecture, with white exteriors except for the red roof.
    • Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculee Church - This is also known as the Church of the Capuchins. It is located in Rue Dumas and is dedicated to Saint Peter. It was built in 1686 by Lazar De Mota and until 1728 it was just a parish church. Although the British destroyed many of the structures in Pondicherry during their arrival, the Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculee Church was spared.
    • Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges Church - This is also known as Our Lady of Angels Church. The original structure of the church was built in 1855 by Napolean III. Masses here are conducted in three languages: Tamil, English and French.
    • Sri Aurobindo Ashram - This ashram was managed by Sri Aurobindo until the 1926. He handed the ashram over to Mirra Alfassa or The Mother. The ashram started out as a small community and now, it has many parts: offices, a dining room, library, workshops and others. Now, there are about 400 buildings within Pondicherry that are part of the ashram.
    • Auroville - This is also known as the City of Dawn. This experimental township was founded by Mirra Alfassa in 1968. The purpose of the town is to realise human unity. The town has about 2,400 residents, mostly Indians, French and Germans. However, there are also other nationalities like Italians, Dutch, Americans and Russians.
    • Arikamedu - This is about 4 kms from the city centre of Pondicherry. During the years 1947 to 1950, Jean-Marie Casal and Sir Mortimer Wheeler conducted excavations around this area. The excavations around the area included Roman lamps, glassware, Arretine ware and gems. Because of these findings, Wheeler concluded that Arikamedu was a Greek trading post that traded with Rome during the reign of Augustus Caesar, until the 1st to 2nd CE. Vital Begley also conducted excavations and studies on the site and modified the date of occupation to be between 2nd century BCE to 8th century CE.
    • French War Memorial - This memorial was built in the year 1971 on Goubert Avenue. The memorial is dedicated to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the World War I. Every year during July 14, the memorial is lit and homage is paid to the martyrs. This day is also known as the Bastille Day.
    • Statue of Dupleix - This statue was built in 1870 for the Governor General of the French named Francois Dupleix. His tenure was from 1742 to 1754. He was an important part of Pondicherry's colonial past although this was only recognised in the year1870, when his statue was consecrated.
    • Anglo-French Textile Mill - This is also known as Rodier Mill. It is one of the oldest existing textile mills in Pondicherry. Back then, it only has two departments: weaving and spinning. Over the years, the mill has expanded and even exports the textiles from their department. You can also buy textiles here at a discounted price which makes for great souvenirs.
    • Ananda Ranga Pillai Mansion - Ananda Ranga Pillai was a dubash in the service of the French East India Company. He is also known as the Samuel Pepys of French India. He is well-known for his private diaries from the years 1736 to 1761 depicting the life during that time. His diaries also shed some light about the Anglo-French Carnatic Wars. Ananda Ranga Pillai's mansion has a unique blend of Indian and French architectural styles.
    • Old Light House - During the 19th century, the only light house guiding the ships going to Pondicherry was located in top of the Red Hills. In 1835, during the reign of Governor Saint Simon, a new light house was consecrated and was finished by 1836. This lighthouse used to function on oil lamps and reflectors although it was replaced by electric lamps in 1913. You could also visit the newer light house near the old light house that was constructed in the 20th century.
    • Kargil War Memorial - You can find this in Beach Road and it's a memorial dedicated to the soldiers who have died in the Kargil War. The Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan, in the Kashmir region. It happened between May to July 1999. The war claimed over 500 Indian soldiers' lives.
    • Ambedkar Mani Mandapam - This monument is dedicated to Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, also known as Babasaheb. He is a lawyer and also the first law minister of the Independent India. He was also the principal architect of the Constitution of India. He was also one of the first untouchables to have obtained a college degree in India.
    • Pondicherry Museum - This museum houses some important relics from the reign of the Pallavas and Cholas. There are also fossilised trunks of ancient trees, stone carved statues, modes of transport used in the past and bronze statues of Gods and Goddesses here. You can find the museum in Saint Louis Street in White Town. The museum is closed during Mondays though so plan your trip accordingly.
    • Romain Rolland Library - This was opened in 1827 by Desbassyns De Richemont. The present structure is located in the Romain Rolland Street although in the past, the library was in Ateliers Des Ponts Et Chaussees. The library has about 300,000 books, both in French and English languages. The library has different sections as well: Children's Section, Rare Books Section and also a Mobile Library Section.
    • Jawahar Toy Museum - This museum houses different collections of toys. It has about 140 dolls in vibrant costumes representing the various states of India. Aside from that, there's also a puppets section and a fairyland section presided by a Ganesha doll. The toy museum is located nearby the Old Light House.
    • Bharathi Park - This is also known as the Government Park. The park is famous for its Aayi Mandapam Statue. But aside from that, the cooler climate here also attracts visitors all over the country and locals as well. There are numerous benches here for the people who get tired of walking. Kids can enjoy running around its well-manicured lawns and landscapes.
    • Botanical Garden and Aquarium - The garden was opened to the public in 1826. It has many plants and trees, all of which are labelled with their corresponding scientific names. Aside from that, vital information like their oxygen given, use and medicinal properties are also given. The garden also has a children's train, dancing fountain, fountains and aquarium with ornamental fishes.
    • Ousteri Wetland and National Park - This is about 10 kms from the main city centre of Pondicherry. It's located in the Pondicherry-Villuppuram road. It is mainly a bird sanctuary although it house several species of aquatic animals as well.
    • Chunnambar Boat House - This is about 8 kms from Pondicherry, along Cuddalore Main Road. You can rent a boat and cruise along the tranquil backwaters of Chunnambar. There's also tree house rentals here, offering a stunning view of the backwaters and beaches. Trekking can also be done around the area.
    • Paradise Beach - This beach can be found in Chunnambar and in fact its other name is Chunnambar Beach. I've mentioned the Chunnambar Boat House above and from there, you can ride a boat to reach the Paradise Beach. The sands of the beach are fine and powdery. The water is also safe for swimming, even for children. However, there are no accommodations nor eateries nearby the beach. The last boat leaving from the Paradise Beach is at 6:30 pm so you can only stay around that time.
    • Serenity Beach - This is about 10 kms from the main town of Pondicherry. The waves here are a bit stronger so it's best to stick to the shoreline, especially for kids. The weekend bazaar here also attracts crowds. Apart from a small cafe, there's not many options for food as well.
    • Auro Beach - This is a rocky beach near the town of Auroville. It's not suitable for swimming but you can enjoy the sunset views from here. There's not many activities to do around as well so it's not as visited as other beaches in Pondicherry.
    • Karikal Beach - This is about a 20-minute drive away from Pondicherry. There are many water sports that you can here like kayaking, boating and canoeing. Beside the beach, there's a tennis court and children's park as well. There are also plenty of eateries around the beach. The water in the beach is also serene, very suitable for swimming.
    • Mahe Beach - This is just a short distance from Kannur. It's one of the best virgin beaches of Pondy, owing to its less commercialised shores and waters. You can also watch the local fishermen gathering their catches during the early morning here. There's not much you can do here but enjoy the water and views.
    • Promenade Beach - This is nearby the Mahatma Gandhi Statue, Statue of Dupleix and the French War Memorial. The shoreline of the beach has many seashells that local children collect. It's also one of the most popular beaches in Pondy so expect crowds here especially during evening time as the beach provides a scenic view. It is very much compared to the Marine Drive in Mumbai as it also has its own boulevard for strolling.
    I hope this helps. Enjoy your vacation!