Often known as the French capital of India, Pondicherry attracts countless tourists every year from around the world. The French architecture and innumerable beaches make it a perfect place to take relax and unwind. The pristine beaches, old temples, heritage buildings, and the colonial ambiance will make you feel like you have been transported to some other place that is not a part of India.
The best time to visit Pondicherry is from October to February. It is not too cold in Pondicherry in winter, making it the ideal time to visit the place. During winters, you can also enjoy various water sports and activities unavailable during monsoons.
Although Pondicherry is not that big of a place, it still has a lot to offer to its visitors. You will never have a dull day in Pondicherry, provided you know what all to experience as a tourist.
Here is a list of 15 exciting things you can do or experience in Pondicherry.
1. Boating at Chunnambar backwater
Chunnambar has a boathouse near the Cuddalore Main Road that offers boat rides. Both paddle and motorboats are available in the boathouse and you can have your pick according to your convenience. The boat rides in the backwater are exactly what you need to feel at peace. While going around in a boat, you will encounter breathtaking sights and if you will keep an eye out, you will also be able to spot exotic birds in the area.
2. Scuba Diving
Pondicherry also provides many water activities, including scuba diving. It is the only place that provides scuba diving on the eastern coast of India. It is an enthralling experience to go underwater here. Places for scuba diving include Temple Adventures Centre, Temple Reef, Ravines, Cool Shark Reef, and 4 Corners. You can spot coral reefs and various types of marine animals like parrotfish, kingfish, manta rays, lionfish, tigerfish, and angelfish along with eels.
3. Bicycle riding
There are bicycle tours available in Pondicherry that allow a person to cover the whole French capital of India in two hours. You will cycle through Green Quarter, Tamil houses, and French houses along with other cultural spots. These bicycle tours are guided by an English or French-speaking tour guide. At the end of the tour, you also get to experience an authentic south Indian style meal or a French-style breakfast with jam and baguette.
4. Visit Auroville
If you want to explore and broaden your spirituality, then spend a day at Auroville. It is a different world on its own where people from any community or country can stay and partakes in meditation and other activities to seek peace and oneness. There is also a community hall in the township of Auroville that holds activities that you can observe or take part in.
5. See the old lighthouse
The old lighthouse that was built by a French engineer in 1836 is one of the landmark sites because of the history and culture of the place. The lighthouse that originally used to guide ships and boats in the river at night makes for a snapshot worthy place now.
6. Surfing at the beach
If you are adventurous and a sports lover, then you should definitely try surfing at Serenity beach and Paradise beach. This water sport is available all year round. You can even take surfing lessons if you are a beginner. Gliding through the waves of the turquoise-colored water makes for a perfect surfing experience.
7. Bird watching and sunset at Ousteri lake
The Ousteri Lake or the Osudu Lake is a magnificent man-made lake. The marshy lands and mudflats make it a picturesque spot to witness sunsets or do bird watching. The area is rich in biodiversity, which makes it an ideal place for many migratory birds.
If you like bird watching, then get your binoculars and try spotting different species of birds. If you think you are not patient enough to do it, then you can just take a stroll by the lake and watch the jaw-dropping sunset.
8. Enjoy the local cuisine
If you are a food enthusiast, then you will love this place because Pondicherry offers some delicious savory. The varied options influence by French cuisine, South Indian style, and other European touch makes the local cuisine diverse and rich. Whether a person likes Continental or Indian, it has something for everyone. There are many cafes and restaurants in Pondicherry where you can expand your taste buds by trying new dishes.
9. Shopping in Goubert Market
The Goubert market proffers a glimpse of Pondicherry in one place. It offers everything from seafood and vegetables to woven baskets, jewelry, clothing, and leather goods. The narrow pathways, mouth-watering eateries, and the hustle-bustle make for an amazing shopping experience in this old-style market.
10. Sunrise at Rock beach
You should witness the sunrise at Rock beach at least once while visiting Pondicherry. As the morning hue takes on the earth, you will see endless orange water and golden sand. Even the rocks appear orange and beautiful under the orange sunlight. This is the perfect way to start your day amidst the silence and beauty of this place.
11. Water activities at Karaikal Beach
If you are an adrenaline junkie, then you are in luck as Karaikal Beach offers a good deal of water sports activities. You can enjoy canoeing, boating, backwater sailing, motorboating, and camping by the beachside.
12. Visit old churches and temples
Pondicherry is filled with some beautiful churches and old temples. Visiting them is one of the most sought after activities by tourists. You can relish the great architectural designs and marvel over their beauty.
Some of the most popular churches to visit are Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, and St. Andrews Church. The famous temples include Sri Gokilambal Thirukameswar Temple and Manakula Vinayagar Temple.
13. Heritage walk
Pondicherry is one of the most significant places, both culturally and historically, with its variety of cultural places and old architecture. The best way to admire its rich history would be to take a heritage walk in the place.
The best place to take this heritage walk is White Town as culturally speaking, it is the richest part of Pondicherry. You will find yellow buildings, cafes, markets, and some high-end boutiques here.
14. Visit Museums
Pondicherry’s museums will take you back in time with their archeological objects, sculptures, and other treasures of historical importance. It also houses amazing galleries exhibiting the remains of Chola and Pallava dynasties. Other than that, you can also view French furniture, handicrafts, paintings, and other artifacts. This is a must-do for all tourists while visiting Pondicherry.
15. Visit the Botanical Garden
The Botanical garden is built in French style and makes for the beautiful scenery of flowers, fountains, and enormous trees. You can also enjoy train rides inside, along with a dancing water fountain show that is held every weekend. The garden houses over 1,000 plant species from across the world that you can see while having a pleasant day out with your family or friends.
The above list promises you a full-blown experience of this place. This way, you could cover most of the things this place has to offer and avoid any regrets later. These are all the noteworthy things that one must experience for themselves when visiting Pondicherry.