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Things To Do In Pondicherry
Pondicherry is called a Heritage city and it is in the true sense, a place that is serene and peaceful. Many tourists travel to Pondicherry to search for spirituality and tranquillity that the town offers both in its spiritual centres and in its natural environs.
Take a break from visiting the heritage places and the monuments. Spend a lazy getaway and stroll through the tree lined lanes of Pondicherry or the boulder bordered beaches, call on the museums or learn yoga and martial arts. Go on an adventurous water sport on the Bay of Bengal, shop for exotic stuff or check out the pulse of Pondicherry’s night life.
We’ll set out a list of some of the things you can do, while in Pondicherry.
If you wish to spend a most idyllic day doing nothing but lazing on the beach side or just about everything including rowing, playing beachball, fishing or taking a short nap on the tree house, visit Chunnambar beach which is formed as the backwaters of the rivers that flow through Pondicherry. The palm trees and mangrove fringed backwaters are sure to bowl you over!
Chunnambar Beach is about 8 km from Pondicherry at the Cuddalore Road. Get tickets at the Boat House in Chunnambar for a boat ride to Plage Paradiso Island or Paradise Beach.
Experience the exhilaration of diving into the waters of India’s eastern coasts amidst natural coral reefs and schools of colourful exotic fishes. Check out some of Pondicherry’s scuba diving schools, that have trained guides to help you in scuba diving even if you are a newbie. Pondicherry's waters offer some of the best artificial and natural diving locations. You could also go surfing, snorkelling, parasailing or kite surfing in Pondicherry.
Being beside the coastline, Pondicherry has many a number of waterways that naturally attract birds that migrate for winter. Choose a nice pleasant winter morning or evening to go off to Ousteri Lake, with a camera and binoculars. The Ousteri Lake is one of Asia’s best wetlands according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. You’ll find birds like Rose Ringed Parakeets, storks, Spotted Owlets, Water hens and Tailor Birds. Bahour Lake is another waterway in Pondicherry where you’d find more birds like Egrets, Cormorants and King Fishers.
The Puducherry Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) offers boat rides in the Ousteri Lake and you can choose from a 20 seater boat, pedal boats, rowing boats and kayaks to take a ride in. The 20 seater boat takes tourists on a 30 minute ride along the Lake where you can get an opportunity to see the ducks, pelicans, flamingos, herons and egrets and the vast expanse of lotus blooms at close quarters.
This is a game unique to Pondicherry that was brought all the way from France by the war veterans of the World Wars. Petanque or Boules originated sometime about the early 20th century in the La Ciotat commune of Provence in France. Now the game has become very popular in Pondicherry that has about 40 clubs linked with the New Petanque Association of Puducherry. Try your hand at Petanque, which is very popular among older people and the youngsters of Pondicherry. You might find people playing Petanque near the Joan of Arc Statue or by the parks and promenade.
The Veerampattinam Car Festival held in July to August at Senkazhuneer Amman Temple has thousands of pilgrims and tourists travelling to the coastal town of Veerampattinam near Pondicherry. Join in the International Yoga Festival held in January, revel in the Mascarade or Mask Festival (March-April), visit Aurobindo Ashram to pay homage to the saint on his birth anniversary in August and Fete de Pondicherry, a three day cultural fest in August, that celebrates Pondicherry’s liberation from French rule. The quiet town wakes up with colour, music and dance to greet its day of Liberation.
Other traditional festivals of Pondicherry include Pongal and Masi Magam. One of the most exciting parts of any festival in Pondicherry is the Garadi dance whence the gaily costumed dancers mimic the movements of monkeys, which according to mythology celebrates the victorious events of the Ramayana.
Pondicherry has a multi cultural cuisine. Get to taste the exotic French, Italian, Indian and Indo-French cuisine at its natural best. Get to relish a variety of pizzas, lasagne, pasta, tiramisu, idlis and dosas and begin your day with a typical French breakfast of croissants, macaroons, baguette and coffee at the White Town or Ville Blanche. Some of Pondicherry’s specialities include the spicy prawn curry called Kadugu Yerra, curried vegetables, Paal Payasam and Soyabean dosa.
Shop for leather, handicrafts and craft items that you might browse for in the souvenir shops by the beaches. Scented candles, cologne and soaps, marble idols, beads, cotton and hand painted silk fabrics, Auroville handmade paper, pottery and tribal handicrafts are the other things you can buy. Some of the best buys are handicrafts in sandal, metal and glass, fine sillk and the trendiest of wooden furniture.
You would find beautiful palatial colonial period homes that have been converted into luxury resorts. There are a number of exotic resorts to choose from. Most of the resorts offer yoga classes, massages and will arrange for bicycles to tour the town. On the other side of the canal in the Tamil quarter, you could find restored South Indian houses like La Maison Tamoule or Maison Perumal to stay in. Check out the villas beside the beaches. You'll also find many budget hotels at affordable prices near the beaches and the bus stand.
Pondicherry has very subtle touches of a Goanese way of life. The town has a tax exemption on liquor and you’d find pubs and lounge bars serving wine and alcohol. There are way too vibrant places to spend your time in after sun set. Check out the clubs on the Promenade that serve exquisite seafood, cocktails and the best wines. What more would one want for a relaxing night out on a rooftop bar with a swimming pool, to boot! Shake a leg at the disco for some delightful music. If you would want a night out with sand below and the stars above, fix up a beach camp with a registered beach camping site.