24 Hours in Pondicherry

24 Hours in Pondicherry

Tranquil, traditional, beautiful; there are many adjectives to describe Pondicherry, but none do full justice to this charming coastal town. Situated on the south-east coast of India, Pondicherry (also known as Puducherry) offers a frisson of France in India. It’s best known for Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, which attract thousands of spirituality seekers each year. It also boasts unblemished, serene stretches of sand, where beach lovers can kick back, relax, soak up the sun and watch the world go by. Our whirlwind tour, full of rich history, vibrant culture and delicious food, takes in all that this beautiful Indian destination has to offer. Join us as we spend 24 hours in Pondicherry.



As the sun rises over the Bay of Bengal, it’s time to kickstart your day with a hearty South Indian breakfast. Head to one of the local eateries and indulge in some piping hot idlis, dosas and fresh coffee. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you.



Now you’re all set for a full-on day of sightseeing, we recommend a leisurely stroll along Pondicherry Promenade. This iconic stretch is perfect for a morning walk, with picturesque views of the sea and French colonial buildings lining the streets. The nearby neighbourhood of White Town is a photographer’s dream, where you’ll find vintage bicycles balanced against brightly painted walls and palm trees lining the French signposted streets (aka rues). Be sure to take a snap outside Cafe Des Artes, one of the most Instragrammable spots in Pondicherry. Soak up the laidback beauty of the buildings and the life going on around them: tuk-tuk drivers taking it easy, abundant fruit stalls and the fresh aroma of patisseries baking in the oven. Be sure to visit the famous ‘Le Cafe’, open 24 hours a day for the finest south Indian coffee.



By now, you’ll likely be feeling hungry. It’s time to indulge in some delectable French cuisine, with an Indian twist. Pondicherry’s French Quarter is a food lover’s paradise, with its charming cafes and restaurants serving up a fusion of French and Indian flavours. Treat yourself to a leisurely lunch at one of the many bistros and savour dishes like quiche, croissants and crepes. With your belly full, it’s time to explore the French Quarter on foot. Wander through the colourful streets, lined with fragrant, floral covered houses and boutique shops. Don’t forget to visit the famous Dame des Anges, a beautiful pastel church that stands as a testament to Pondicherry’s French heritage. If you’re interested in history, make a stop at the Pondicherry Museum. Housed in a restored French mansion, the museum showcases a fascinating collection of artifacts, including sculptures, pottery and archaeological findings. It’s a great way to learn more about the town’s past.



Next, make your way to Auroville, a spiritual community founded by Sri Aurobindo Ashram and his disciple, The Mother, where all creeds and classes are welcome. Explore the serene ashram and visit the ‘soul of the city’, the famous Matrimandir. The golden orb, which took 37 years to build, is a symbol of spiritual significance for fans of integral yoga. If you’re lucky, you may even get a chance to attend a meditation session. Once you’ve finished, be sure to pay a visit to the restaurant for a sweet treat. Using mainly organic ingredients from farms local to Auroville, the restaurant serves an excellent mix of South Indian and European cuisine. Their cakes are also some of the best in India.



As the sun begins to set, head to Auroville Beach for a relaxing evening by the sea. This secluded spot is perfect for unwinding and watching the waves crash against the shore. Take a stroll along the sand, dip your toes in the sun-warmed water or simply sit back and enjoy the breathtaking sunset. Alternatively, Serenity Beach is a great place to wander at dusk. You can get there via an auto, motorbike or taxi (it’s around 20 minutes from the main town on the East Coast Road). Fishing boats line the shore, with locals preparing their nets for the next day. The palm trees, cafes, colourful guesthouses and cabanas make this the perfect place to spend an evening.



After dinner, take another stroll along the Promenade. The beach comes alive at night, with locals and tourists alike enjoying the cool sea breeze and lively atmosphere. You might even stumble upon street performers, steel bands and musicians adding to the festive vibe. If you’re in the mood, head to one of the many bars. The town has a vibrant nightlife scene, with regular live music, DJ sets and beach parties. Before you call it a night, be sure to grab a scoop of delicious ice cream from one of the local parlours. Pondicherry is known for its unusual ice cream flavours, such as ginger and basil.

There you have it. 24 hours in Pondicherry, taking in beaches, wellbeing, culture, yummy food and friendly locals. From its French Quarter to its serene ashram, this coastal town will leave an indelible mark on your heart. Be sure to include it on your Indian itinerary. You won’t be disappointed.