The Manakula Vinjayagar Temple is an ancient beautiful temple that dates back to almost 5 centuries ago. The temple is dedicated to the main deity Lord Ganesha known as Vellakkaran Pillai who is enshrined with a grand idol in the sanctum. In a region that is mostly ruled b churches and cathedrals, this temple is highly coveted among Hindu devotees and tourists. The temple has an illustrious history, including the name derived from two Tamil words Manal (sand) and Kulam (pond near the sea). Legends say that a Frenchman tried to remove the idol from the temple, but with each of his attempts the idol reappeared ultimately converting the Frenchman as a devotee of Lord Ganesha.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual community of disciples of Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian philosopher, guru, poet and nationalist. The Ashram was established in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo under the guidance of Mother (Mirra Alfassa). The large ashram community consists of more than 2000 people including around 400 students of the Centre of Education and the hundreds of devotees who live nearby. The Samadhis (mausoleums) of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo in white marble shrines lie in the centre of the ashram in a firangipani tree-shaded courtyard. There are various departments to look after the basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter along with medical care and everything else required for a decent life.
The ashram is a major center of attraction for the ones seeking spirituality. Thousands of visitors from all over the world come down to the ashram, which serves not only as a quiet place of retreat but also a vibrant centre of life in a modern urban setting. The library and the main building are accessed with permission. The art gallery is among the most visited ones which preserves and exhibits the Mother’s collection of paintings and photographs.
One must check out the different departments and sections including the library, the art gallery and ofcourse, the centre of education which is an integral part of the ashram. It is a must experience visit that serves as a field for experiment and research in education.
Lying along the borders of the Bay of Bengal is the Auroville Beach nestled in the serene locality of Aurovile in Pondicherry. It is among the most popular beaches of the region which is visited in hundreds – both by the localites as well as the tourists. The golden colored soft black volcanic sand is unique in the beach which makes it stand out among several other beaches in Pondicherry. The beach lies around 12 km from the main town and lies opposite to the road that takes you to the famous tourist spot, Auroville.
The tourists are mainly attracted by its exclusive golden colored sand with soft texture which makes it ideal for walking down the beachside. The waves are shallow and small, and hence a great choice for swimming. The slope is gentle, and many tourists prefer to sit down near the beachside to enjoy the nature and the cool breeze.
Swimming is one of the must to-do options while you are visiting Auroville Beach. The waves are small and controlled which allows the beach to be a safe preference for long and romantic strolls. While expert swimmers can have an excellent time down the water, novice ones too can have a great experience. Worth mentioning is the shingle and shells in various colors which make the beach colorful and more beautiful, and are collectables by the tourists.
Popular as a great educational and recreational value in Pondicherry, the Botanical Gardens is one of the must visit destinations while visiting Pondicherry. The Botanical Gardens was constructed in 1826 and was designed in ornate French style, with pruned trees, exotic flower beds and gravel lined paths and fountains. The gate leading to the garden reflects pure French architecture and can be differentiated from its immediate surroundings. Smacked in the middle of the old Tamil town, the garden is full of many exotic plants from all over the world. Spread across a total area of 22 acres, yhe garden has more than 1500 species of flora including some of the endangered species.
The twenty-eight different plots that divide the Botanical Gardens with separate theme is a wonderful visual treat. All the plants carry placards with the species, common name and other related interesting information mentioned over them. Started by the French colonists for experimental basis, it was later transformed to botanical garden in 1831 and houses his memorial that can be seen inside the premise as a major tourist attraction.
There are options of toy train rides, fountain shows with music and light mainly active during weekends and regular shows in the evening. The Japanese rock structure is an added attraction which must be seen and photographed. The aquarium inside the garden is also must checkout for its colorful fishes and well maintenance.
The French War Memorial is dedicated to the residents of French India who laid their lives for the country during the World War I. Located opposite to the Gandhi statue on the Goubert Avenue, the monument was erected in 1937 and was inaugurated by governor Crocicchia in 1938. There is a bronze plaque put up on the memorial with the names of the martyrs enlisted on it. More plaques carrying the names of soldiers who died during World War II, the French War and the Algrian War are also placed there.
The monument holds immense importance as a solemn reminder of the brave soldiers who were martyred. The bronze bas-relief to denote the arrival of Dupleix in Pondicherry in 1742 is placed behind the memorial. The entry to the ground of the memorial is restricted, though the stroll around the main complex of the memorial is an enticing feeling. The ornately carved memorial located in the freshly manicured lawn prominently shows the strong French connection of India.
The memorial must be visited on the Bastille Day celebrated on 14th July every year. The French War Memorial is illuminated beautifully and visitors from all over the country come down to pay their respects for the brave soldiers who gave up their lives for the welfare of the country.
Situated near the Krishna Nagar locality of the town, ISKCON Pondicherry is a famous Hindu revered temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Ashta Devi, his consort. The temple is a center of spiritual society which was ideated and formed by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1966. The temple boasts of mesmerizing architecture that includes the exterior, interior as well as the exquisite statues of Krishna and his consort. The shrine was established to promote the preaching of God consciousness, self-realization, unity and peace.
Ousteri Lake or the Osudu Lake is situated at Osudu Village on Pondicherry- Villuppuram Road and is spread across 390 hectares between Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. Declared as one of the important wetlands of Asia, the lake is named as a wildlife sanctuary by the government. More than 40 migratory birds inhabit this site consisting of water, marsh and mudflats. The flora of the region is ruled by mainly small herbs to trees supporting migratory as well as native birds. The lake used to be one of the biggest lakes and major supplier of drinking water to Pondicherry.
The century old man-made lake has a unique and complex structure that consists of water, wetland and marsh with mudflats which account for a huge support to the variety of fauna and flora. Unique and endangered species of birds including White Ibis, Open bill Stork, Golden Oriole, Painted Stork, Tailor Bird and Spotted Owlets are found in the region, especially during November-December every year.
One of the topmost to-do activities is boating operated by Pondicherry Tourism Department. The 30 minutes ride on 20-seater boats is perfect to rejuvenate the mind and soul of the travelers. Pedal boats are more relaxing and private as offered for the tourists. Spotting rare birds and clicking their pictures for lifetime memory are among favorite things to do for the nature lovers as well as for the photography freaks.
Paradise Beach situated in Chunnambar, near Pondicherry town is famous for its golden sand and marvelous scenic beauty. The highly sought after beach is a private beach that sways majestically in cold sea breeze and offers a lot from food to beverages to scenic beauty and peaceful ambience. Isolated in a corner, the beach is accessible via a ferry across the backwaters, which is a journey of 20-30 minutes. This sand of the Paradise Beach is different – with unusually soft and grainy texture which adds to the experience of exotic walk down the beach.
The journey to the beach on a houseboat is among the most exciting things. The backwaters on the way to the beach are strikingly beautiful with hues of green reflecting from the thick mangrove forests. The current of the water is often very high. The shacks along the main entrance of the beach are crowded with tourists for local snacks and coconut water.
Try to visit the Paradise beach during the monsoons when the backwaters are fresh and green and the birds flock in a large number. The beach must be visited early morning to get a view of the sunrise on the eastern coast. Spend hours sitting or strolling by the beach, or you may also try trekking, fishing, volleyball or boat-rides. The name is justified for the photographers who can’t put their cameras down.
Promenade Beach is one of the most visited places in the beautiful coastal city of Pondicherry. Stretching to almost 1.5 km between War Memorial and Dupleix Park, the beach is a rocky stretch with benches and wide pavements that runs along the Bay of Bengal. There are some important landmarks lying on the beach including Joan of Arc’s statue, Dupleix’s statue, the old heritage hall, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, and the old lighthouse greet visitors at the beach. The beach is also known as Mahatma Gandhi beach for the famous statue on the beach.
The beauty of the beach lies in the rocky structures facing towards the infinite water of the Bay of Bengal. The wide pavement along the beach is the perfect for morning and evening walks. The Goubert Avenue is quite nearby, which is the historical hub of the city, with beautiful colonial buildings reflecting the city’s heritage. The 27-m tall old Lighthouse near the beach is a major tourist attraction.
While at the Promenade Beach, one must not miss the beautiful moonrise which gives an impression of the moon rising from below the water. The sunrise is equally beautiful which offers some striking color combinations of blue and orange in the dawn. The beach is a paradise for nature lovers as well as a must visit for photography freaks to capture some most spectacular memories. Worth mentioning is the beachside handicraft shops that sell handmade souvenirs.
Considered as one of the most sacred and religious places of Pondicherry, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus lies around 2.5 km on the south boulevard of the town. It is one of the 21 Basilicas in India and the only one in Pondicherry which was established in 1908 by the French missionaries and was declared as a Basilica in 2011. The church is one of the most beautiful Catholic churches of Pondicherry that showcases the Gothic architecture in the most spectacular way. The church can accommodate close to 150 people at a time.