Pondicherry is best explored on foot. One can experience the colonial charm of the town, by walking through its old quarter which houses a varied collection of buildings, churches, homes and markets and thoroughfares with French names.
You can also visit the nearby Auroville, an interesting experiment in alternative living. At the Visitor’s Center you’ll be able to watch a video about Auroville, view the informational exhibits, eat at the cafeteria, and buy high quality products made by the community.
What to see
Shri Aurobindo Ashram: Aurobindo, a revolutionary turned saint from Bengal elaborated a system od ‘Integral Yoga’, synthesising yoga and modern science. He founded a modern Ashram in Pondicherry, which gave shape to his ideals. It was under the guidance of ‘The Mother’, a Paris born painter cum musician, that the Ashram developed as it is today. In the main building is the marble Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and the houses they lived in. Across the road is the Aurobindo International Centre, a school for children and in the town are shops and cottage industries run by the Ashram. (Timings: 0800 hrs to 1200 hrs & 1400 hrs to 1800 hrs (Mon -Sat); 0800 hrs to 1800 hrs (Sun)
French Institute: A research centre for Indian languages and culture. The scientific and technical section prepares vegetation maps , maps of soil types and the lithology of India.
Eglise de Sacre coeur De Jesus: This church on the south Boulevard is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is noted for it’s Gothic architecture and stained glass panels.
Pondicherry Museum: Located opposite the government park, it provides a glimpse into Pondicherry’s rich past and present. (Timings: 1000hrs to 1700 hrs) - closed on Mondays and public holidays.
Other places of interest in Pondicherry are:- The Government Park; Botanical gardens and Aquarium; Manakula vinayagar Temple; Bharathi Museum; Bharathidasan Museum and the Ananda Rangapillai Museum.
Air: The nearest airport is Chennai 160 km, connected by Indian Airlines and private airlines with major cities of India.
Rail: Pondicherry has a railway station connected with Madras and other important towns and cities and towns in Southern India.
Road: Pondicherry is connected with motorable roads with bangalore 303 Km, Chennai 162 Km, Chdambaram 68 Km, Kanchipuram 136 Km, Kanyakumri 580 Km, Madurai 330 Km, Mamallapuram 134 km, Mumbai 1315 km, Rameshwaram 465 Km, Thanjavur 198 Km, Thiruvannamalai 94 Km, Tirupati 222 Km, Trichy 209 Km, Velankanni 158 Km, Villupuram 32 Km.
Area: 62 Sq.Km Temperature: Summer - Max: 40.8 Deg. C Min: 31.2 Deg. C Winter - Max: 31.1 Deg.C. Min: 25.0 Deg. C Rainfall: 143 cm Altitude: Sea Level Season: Throughout the year STD Code: 0413
Chunnambar Boat House (8 km): A picnic spot with facilities of pedal boats, rowing boats, wind surfers, water scooters, Kayaks and Hydroplanes avialable for visitors.
Auroville (10 Km): The township of Auroville or the ‘City of Dawn’ was concieved as a tribute to Sri Aurobindo and was launched in 1968 with the co-operation of many nations, at the behest of The Mother. Auroville is a new concept symbolising an experiment in International living. The city is engaged in various activities including afforestation, farming, education and handicrafts. Information for casual visitors (1 day to 1 week visitors) Offers information, exhibition, videos, restaurant and shopping facilities. (Timings: 0930 hjrs to 1730 hrs). Guests who want to experience life in Auroville, follow a training or contribute their time and expertise in any of the various existing fields.
Villianur (10 Km): The Temple here built in the 12 th century , is dedicated to Lord Thirukameshwara. The church, Eglise de notre dame de Lourdes in Villianur was constructed in 1876 on the model of the Basilica at lourdes in southern France.
Arikamendu (20 Km): Recent excavations at some sites in Arikamedu have unearthed Roman coins, wine Jars, etc. establishing it to be the earliest Indo-Roman trading centre.
Tiruvakkarai (29 km): It has the country’s first National Fossil wood Park. Close to the fossil wood area is an interesting temple from the Chola period with beautiful sculptures.
Mandagapattu (50 Km): This is the location of the first Pallava cave temple dedicated to the Hindu Trinity Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Chidambaram (64 Km): Chidambaram is famous for the magnificient Nataraj temple, one of the most venerated among the ancient temples of southern India.
Gingee Fort (67 km): Nestled between three hills and enclosed by a huge rampart 60 feet thick, stands the majestic Gingee Fort. The massive fortified walls Gingee interconnect the three inaccessible hills - Krishnagiri, Chakkilidurg and Rajagiri. Kalyana Mahal built in the Indo-islamic style is one of the most attractive ruins in the fort. Other places of interest are the Venkataramana Temple and the Citadel on Rajagiri hill.
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary (85 Km): Is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in India, spread over 30 hecters of marshy land, with a lake in which over 1,00.000 migratory birds make their home every year. The majority of the birds can be seen from November to February. The birds can be viewed from observation towers on the tank bund. The best time being early morning and evenings.
Tiruvannamalai (94 km): 56 Km from Villupuram, it is one of the sacred places of Tamil Nadu. Among it’s many temples , the Arunachaleshwara temple is a remarkable landmark. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is situated in the foothills of Tiruvannamalai and occupies an area of 44 acres. The Karthigai Deepam festival held here on full moon day in November/ December is very famous and attracts people from far and near. The Ashram of the mystic saint Ramana maharishi is also worth visiting. The Sheshadri- Maharshi and Yogi Ramsurat Kumar ashram are situated nearby.
Karaikal (163 Km): Lying on the eastern coast, Karaikal was a pilgrimage centre right from the ancient times. It is famous for the Ammayar Temple.
Thirunailar (168 Km): Situated 5 Km from Karaikal it is famous for the Saniswara Temple, probably the only temple dedicated to Lord Saturn in India.