Pondicherry is known for its French heritage and its dynamic Ashram. The former French colony has numerous French-style buildings, all offset by wide boulevards, a seafront promenade, and surprising enclaves of French culture. The French relinquished their control of the city, still fondly known as ‘Pondy’, over 50 years ago but the city has clung to its former flair.
A long Petit Canal divides the city with the French township on the seaward side where some superb hotels make use of the town’s French architectural landmarks.
There is more than a little French influence on the cuisine, which is what makes the alluring restaurants one of the towns great attractions. Yet this is still definitely India, with its crowded bazaars, buzzing streets, touts, teas and painted temples.
The second feature for which the town is known is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram where many travellers come here to study yoga or meditation. The positive character of Pondicherry’s residents reflects the life-affirming aim of the Ashram.
Its French joie-de-vie and yogic serenity make Pondicherry a very special corner of India.
Relaxing in a French-style heritage hotel | Dining on Indo-Euro cuisine | Shopping for Indian antiques
− The name officially changed in October 2006 from Pondicherry to Puducheri, meaning ‘new settlement’
− There are 250 000 people living in Pondicherry