Things to do in Puducherry
Puducherry is a small town whose list of attraction can be ‘covered’ in 2 days if necessary. However you might want to look beyond the guidebooks and discover a side of Pondi which goes well beyond the French architecture and quaint streets.
For starters, walk the 1.5 km promenade stretch by night which is well-lit and vehicle-free. Here is your chance to spot the renowned French General Monsieur Dupleix, Indian patriots – Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and the demure Joan of Arc under the dreamy orange streetlights. Catch a glimpse of the Puducherry Secretariat, the War Memorial and other attractions. Along the way, you could stop by for a coffee at the 24-hour seafacing Le Cafe.
Go clothes shopping at the street stalls at the Mission Street-Nehru Street cutting. Prices can be as low as Rs. 100, some prices marked. Bargain hard if they’re not marked. If you don’t mind factory rejects with small glitches, then the styles and cuts of some pieces on display will surprise you.
Visit the Shri Aurobindo Paper Factory, a hidden gem that will prove to be educative and fun. Don’t miss out on the stunning ranges of gift wrapping paper; some of them are truly cosmic with 3-imensional, surreal textures. Lovely, leafy gardens to stroll through too.
Walk through the Tamil quarter that lies on the other side of the canal. A strange mélange of French and typically Tamil architecture is quite apparent with the ground floors displaying Tamil elements and the top floors, French elements. If you look closely, you will notice that most temple manifest similar architecture – the pot-bellied, moustached idol of man perched along the corners of the roof.
Puducherry’s promenade doesn’t end at Mr. Dupleix’s statue. Climb onto the rocks and continue southwards until the pier for some great photo opportunities. If you happen to be in Pondi during the full moon, capitalize on this chance to watch a spectacular moonrise above the Bay of Bengal.
Weave your way through the mazes of the local Goubert. Market where you could spot a meter-long, beady-eyed fish sitting prettily at the feet of a fisher-woman. This place is a riot of colors, sounds, smells and flavors, and a great place to shop for fresh fruit.
Sunday evenings could mean a free film screening at the Alliance Francaise auditorium so check with them. Sunday’s are also a great chance to experience some serious shopping frenzy of locals thronging the weekly market along M.G. Road.
Foodies can indulge in about of “foodhopping” along Mission Street. Start, with Baker Street that’s close to the south end of Mission Street and then work your way past Choco La, Juice Wagon, Surgurus, Don Giovanni, Café xtasi and others.
Finally, just pick up a bike from the bike rental shops at Mission Street (close to the temple). Head down to the Bodhi Beach which is a few kilometers away, on the same route to Auroville but closer. On a good day, you might just bump into a bunch of surfers; some with their surfboards and others who prefer ‘body-surfing’. Yes, head down there to know more!