Unravelling the charms of the French Riviera of the East


Monday, December 23, 2013

The beautiful sea-facing, serene town Puducherry is heavily influenced by the French culture, since it was ruled by the French during colonial times. The roads and residential areas all have French names. The architectural monuments of Puducherry give you a glimpse of the adopted culture and also amalgamate well, with the native Hindu and Muslim traditions of India. Let’s take a look at the places which are must visits in Puducherry.

Puducherry

You must see some of the grand churches like Notre Dame des Anges; the only church which conducts the mass in three different languages, the Sacred Heart Church, Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. All these churches take you back to the olden times and are definitely worth a visit. The city museum has a number of historic memorabilia, from the Roman trade period making it an exciting place for historians.

Sunny beaches are a must visit, since no trip to Puducherry is complete without soaking in the sun. Puducherry has a number of beaches to choose from. If you want to go for a leisurely boat ride then the backwaters of Chunnambar provide you the perfect ambience. Cruise lines are also preferred for dolphin sighting. For the ones interested in speed boating, Paradise beach is the place to be. The botanical garden of Puducherry is unique, as it boasts of 900 species of exotic plants, along with an aquarium. (the Oscar winning movie Life of Pi was shot here.) So do make a visit to this Place, what if you end up finding your own ‘Richard Parker’? The trivia behind its establishment is that in 1822, The French wanted to know exactly what kind of crops could be grown on the terrain!

Notre Dame des Anges

The tranquil peace of Auroville ashram, built by Sri Aurobindo teleports you to different world altogether. Built in lush green forests and clear blue sky as backdrop, one can’t help but fall in love with the place. The Matri Mandir, ‘The Park of Unity’ in the ashram is a spherical monument, meant for meditation. It was designed by French architect Roger Anger. A huge banyan tree, which is approximately 100 years old, is near the Matri Mandir. A huge bonfire is held in the amphitheatre in the last week of February, to celebrate Mother and Sri Aurobindo’ birthday and it really is a mesmerizing experience.

The historic Promenade is definitely not to be missed, and also the beach road which can be appreciated best on foot. With sea on one side and massive colonial buildings on the other, an evening stroll by the seashore is the best way to end one’s day in Puducherry. Le Cafe

Le Cafe  is a popular coffee lounge, open twenty four hours on the beautiful promenade.

Along with the churches, Puducherry also has a number of temples, including Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple, which is 500 years old, Ganesha temple is a must visit to get blessings of an elephant in exchange for a few bananas and also Kanninga Parameshwari temple is another must see.

So plan a trip or plan a holiday to Puducherry for a serene and quiet holiday, where you can enjoy the sun, sand, sea and culture of the French Riviera!

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Anuradha Shankar is a mother, traveller, freelance writer, compulsive bookworm.. not necessarily in that order. She lives in Mumbai and aims to travel as much as she can across the country, 10 year old son in tow. Her blog 'A Wandering Mind' is primarily a travel blog, but true to its name it wanders all the time - from events to random thoughts, book reviews to her son's latest peccadilloes!

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