Puducherry— The French Riviera of the East

Puducherry— The French Riviera of the East

Puducherry— The French Riviera of the East

By Shruti Menon 

Welcome to Pondicherry, or as (it’s now called, Puducherry). Yes, you’re still in India. No, you haven’t been transported to the colonial past. It’s still 2019, it’s just that the old part of Pondy feels like it’s stuck in time, with the architecture still intact, with the continued prevalence of the French culture and language, and all the streets that retain the ‘Rue’ in the beginning of their names. However, all this makes for a fun culture shock, and a cool intermixing of the west and the east, and there you have it: Puducherry, Union Territory in South India, also known as the French Riviera of the East. 

Pondy, as such, is quite a slow-paced, chill environment. There’s not much that’s moving fast here , and so, as a tourist, your experience of Pondicherry would probably be best that way too. Pondy has some places for sightseeing, like the Auroville International City, which you can visit for a spiritual, meditative experience of service. The place follows the vision of Shri Aurobindo, a great spiritual figure who had his Ashram in Puducherry. There’s also the botanical gardens, and the Chunnambar Boat House, if you want to spend a little time reconnecting with nature. But let’s be real, Pondicherry’s main attraction is its unique, well preserved French culture, that’s a stark juxtaposition to the rest of India. To experience this, go for walks around the French Quarter, relish the street signs, and have a dinner, with a lovely bottle of wine at a French restaurant once your feet are tired. I assure you, it’ll be a slow, calming, peaceful experience. 

Pondicherry is coastal, so it does have beaches you can visit. There’s the famous Pondicherry Promenade, where the sunsets are too stunning for words. There’s also the Auro Beach, where the above picture was taken, and as you can see, it’s an incredibly heavenly natural phenomenon, where you can really feel like you’re reconnecting to yourself and your surroundings. 

However, all of Pondy isn’t always like this. There’s parts of newer Puducherry that definitely feel like South India (phew, familiarity!) and lose the lazy old-time charm of the French Quarter. I guess like everything else in the world, Pondy is also evolving, expanding, and creating new meanings for itself— but whatever it is, Pondicherry will be forever, a treat to visit.