Pondicherry or Puducherry, a costal union territory in India in the state of Tamil Nadu – literally means ‘New town’ in Tamil. Puducherry was colonized by the Dutch, British, Portuguese and French. The town has footprints left from all these cultures but predominantly of the French.
How to Reach Pondicherry
The nearest city is Chennai. You can take local or private buses, trains or a cab (as we did – freedom to stop en route for sightseeing, affordable, comfortable and sustainable only because 6 people were traveling)
Trains will take approximately 4 hours INR 170-250 per person one way. Buses will take approximately 3 hours INR 300 ( local bus ) / INR 400 ( private buses) per person one way.
In case you’re coming from Bangalore, it’ll take 6 hours INR 800 per person one way.
- We booked our flights in May 2017 for the trip in November 2017. Mumbai Chennai return fare was INR 2500.
- We booked our cab through Make my Trip. We took an SUV for 6 people plus driver and paid INR 9000 for a round trip. We hired a cab because we wanted to stop by at a lot of places en-route Pondicherry.
Around INR 5500 including everything listed on this blog
Pondicherry is best visited during the months of October to March (temperature between 15 – 30-degree Celsius). Summers (April-June) are quite hot and the temperature might touch 40 degree Celsius.
We landed at 9 pm in Chennai and stayed at Sri Krishna Residency for INR 1500 for a total of 2 rooms in Chennai on the first night since we have to leave at 5 am the next day to see the sunrise at Mahabalipuram.
We checked out from our hotel at 5 am the next day (Driver charged us extra INR 250 for asking him to work on odd hours. Read T&C on MMT). It was a great idea to leave early morning because 10 am onwards there was SCORCHING heat!! At all of the places we visited, we paid INR 20 for parking.
A UNESCO World Heritage site was built in 8th century. It is called The Shore Temple since it overlooks The Bay of Bengal. Prahlad’s ( Lord Vishnu’s devotee and Hiranakashyapu’s son) grandson Bali, founded Mahabalipuram here.
Damn! How I wish I knew of this before! There is a surf school near Shore Temple. Details below in Instagram post.
Our next stop was Crocodile bank. This place had a lot of reptiles too apart from crocodiles viz., snakes turtles, alligators, etc. We saw an alligator from a glass underwater! I personally felt that these reptiles are kept in a constraint place and are caged despite not having physical cages.
It is marked as ‘Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram’ by ‘UNESCO’. It was built in the 7th century during the Pallava Dynasty with a South Indian Dravidian architecture style. These are nine monolithic temples of Mahabalipuram. The five rathas are named as ‘Dharmaraja Ratha’, ‘Bhima Ratha’, ‘Arjuna Ratha’, ‘Nakula Sahadeva Ratha’, and ‘Draupadi Ratha’ after the five Pandava brothers and their common spouse Draupadi from the great Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’.
The giant boulder appears to be frozen in its roll down the hill it sits on, and no one is quite sure why. It is in the same position for 1200 years! Legend has that Krishna’s toy ball fell from the sky while he was playing with it. Other legend has it that one of his stolen butter balls fell from the sky while he was running.
Scientifically, there are loads of theories.
I would highly recommend hiring a guide here. Not to make a mistake that we made just to save INR 300 – 500 and not know the folklores of this first image and adjoining gigantic caves. And yes, please do not bargain with them.
India seashell museum
It is a must while visiting these places. It has a GORGEOUS collection of shells viz. Asia’s largest shells etc. Do not miss this place at any cost.
We reached Pondicherry around 2pm. Checked in a Golden Sun Inn. You can also check other hotels on Goibibo / MMT, I would advise sticking to a hotel in White Town since it is the center.
After checking in, we went to Cafe Chaplin for some lunch and snacks in the evening. Food was good.
- Golden Sun Inn
- Cafe Chaplin
- More about the Panch Rathas
- More about Krishna’s ButterBall
- More about the Shore temple
There are cars, bikes, scooters, and cycles available on rent in White Town itself for traveling in and around Pondicherry for approx INR 200-700. You can find these in the local markets.
We visited Pichavaram today which is Asia’s second largest mangrove zone (The first one being in West Bengal, India).
Pichavaram is 77 km ( 2 hours ) away from Pondicherry. We left in our cab to witness the mangroves.
We paid INR 1700 for one boat 6 people. Paid INR300 more to the rower to take us in the interiors! This was by far the best experience of this trip. Please be careful while going to the interiors. Our friend hurt herself while clicking and other dodged injuries because they ducked in time.
We had planned to leave around 7 am from Pondicherry but left at 9 am. It is advised to reach earlier since there will be less heat while you’re enjoying the mangroves under less or no head shelter. We got off the boats around 1 pm in 30 degrees Celsius with horrible tans.
Post this we had lunch at a local place and headed for Chidambaram to see the Nataraja Temple. Unfortunately, we didn’t check the timings and the main temple opened at 5 pm. Morning timings are from 7 am to 12 noon.
You should visit Nataraja Temple because it built in the 10th century when Chidambaram was the capital of the Chola dynasty, making it one of the oldest surviving active temple complexes in South India.
Disappointed, we returned to Pondicherry and had dinner at Margarita’s. The food was okay.
This morning we wandered around the streets of White Town to click the cliched Pondicherry photos against solid colors against the walls with cycle and flowers around.
We came across a shop which sold 1kg cloths at INR 500. Stopped there for a while and then left for Auroville and Maitri Mandir which is 11 km (20 min by drive) away from Pondicherry.
We tried Cafe Zuka. Ended the trip on “sweet” note. Anyone having a sweet tooth SHOULD visit Cafe Zuka.
Post 4 hours, we reached Chennai. Au revoir , Pondicherry!