Places inside Pondicherry & within 10km

The Beach Road (Promenade)

Heritage Buildings

Ashram

Churches

Temples

Mosques

Museums

Parks


Beaches

Auroville

Other Places of Interest

The Beach Road (Promenade)

No visit to Pondicherry is complete without a walk along Beach Road, known as Goubert Avenue or Promenade. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday evenings are the busiest.
 

Landmarks on Beach Road:

The Ocean (Bay of Bengal)
Children’s Park & Dupleix Statue
It is a seaside park with the statue of Dupleix. Marquis Joseph Francois Dupleix was the governor of Pondicherry between 1742 and 1754. The 2.88m tall statue of Dupleix stands in the south of the park.
Le Café
It was once the port office when the railway ran along Beach Road from the South Boulevard to the old 240meters iron pier. A cyclone in 1952 largely destroyed the pier whose remains can still be seen. Today, Le Café is a tourist information centre and a café selling delightful pastries with an amazing view of the ocean and the promenade. The café also has a nice rooftop.
Gandhi Statue
Gandhi Statue is the main highlight of the Beach Road. A four-meter statue of Mahatma Gandhi is surrounded by eight magnificent granite pillars, which were supposedly brought from Gingee.
Nehru Statue

The statue is located across the street almost face to face with the imposing Gandhi statue. The space in front plays host to various cultural, musical and commercial activities like handicrafts markets through the year.

19th Century Light House

This light house was built on July 1st 1836 and continued to be used till the year 1979. It stands on the edge of the sea near the Place Du Gouvernement.

The Mairie
Located on Goubert Avenue, this charming white building, facing the sea almost transports you to France. Today it houses the offices of the Pondicherry Municipality.
French War Memorial

The French War Memorial on Goubert Avenue is solemn reminder of those brave soldiers who laid down their lives for their country during the First World War.

Heritage Buildings

Public Works Department
This classic colonial Government building, situated in Bussy Street is notable for its entrance gate, compound wall, balcony with ironwork and brackets and high arched windows.
Romain Rolland Library
The Romain Rolland library was established in 1872 and has a rich collection of more than 300,000 books in both French and English. It also boasts of a mobile library service which has a collection of more than 8000 books. These books are taken to nearby villages by bus, in order to make the books more accessible to the common man. The library also houses some rare editions of books. The reference section on the second floor is open to the general public.
Saint Joseph de Cluny
Saint Joseph de Cluny is situated in Romain Rolland Street. Built in 1774 as a private house, this classic colonial building was donated to the religious order of Saint Joseph de Cluny about 150 years ago. Today it houses a workshop which produces beautiful embroidery.
Alliance Française
Situated in Suffren Street, this public place houses a cultural and information centre, a French language institution and a library. They also showcase multicultural movies on Sundays at 6pm in their auditorium.
Lycée Français
Located in Victor Simonel Street and established in 1826, this institute still imparts French education to hundreds of Pondicherrians. Special permission is required to visit this colonial place, with its well preserved shady courtyard, incredible trees, columns and balconies. It also has an interesting collection of old photographs of colonial Pondicherry and collection of very rare coins of the French East Indian Company.
Le Foyer du Soldat
Located in Law De Lauriston Street, this is the legion hall for retired soldiers from Pondicherry, who waged wars on behalf of France in Europe and the colonies. The building is interesting, with a dash of colour added to it in the form of the ‘tricolour’ (red, white, and blue flag) fluttering in the wind.
French Institute of Pondicherry at Saint-Louis Street (IFP)
This classic colonial building is an internationally renowned research institute on Indian Civilization, history and society in ecology, archaeology, environment and development in South and Southeast Asia. They are preserving lot of palm leaf manuscripts. Get prior permission to visit.

website: www.ifpindia.org
French Consulate

French Consulate General is the only diplomatic mission in town. This colonial building has changed over the years, and yet manages to retain some of its original 18th century charm. The consulate is open to French citizens.

Raj Niwas

The Government House (Raj Niwas) is a harmonious blend of French and Indian style of architecture. Formerly the Palace of the French Governor of Pondicherry, it is now the Lieutenant Governor’s residence. It is not open to the general public except on certain national holidays like Republic Day on 26th January, when it is adorned with lights. One can however get a glimpse of the grandeur within, through the tall imposing gates, which are guarded by red ‘kepi’ adorning police guards.

Towards the east, hidden behind a thick wall and huge trees lies the former French bandstand on which the French Army Band used to play.

On the southern side are the Pondicherry Art Gallery, Hotel Qualithe, The UCO bank and the Chamber of Commerce, all built with a street front in a colonial style.

Past the General Hospital on the western side are the Legislative Assembly and the Cercle de Pondichéry.

Legislative Assembly
It was established in 1962 in what was formerly a private house.
Cercle de Pondichéry
It is a private club, established for senior French notables in 1899. The activities of its 400 members can be glimpsed through its gate and high, open windows.
Ananda Rangapillai House
The single most famous house of the fusion Tamil-French style was built in 1735 and is located in Ananda Rangapillai Street. Its architecture combines French and Indian styles. Visiting the mansion requires a special permission. Ananda Pillai's compilation of diaries served as a storehouse of information in the 18th century French India.

* Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is located at 14, Aurobindo Street. They organize walking tours of the old neighborhoods.

website: www.intachpondicherry.org

Ashram
Sri Aurobindo Ashram

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram located on rue de la Marine, is one of the most well known ashrams in India.

The ashram was set up in 1926 by one of India’s famous sons Sri Aurobindo, who originally came to Pondicherry to escape persecution by the British. Sri Aurobindo, a saint-yogi, philosopher-poet, taught Integral Yoga, a new system of mind development, a synthesis of yoga and modern science. Madame Mirra Richard Alfassa, a French painter-sculptor-musician who had followed the same path on her own, joined him later. She is now known as the Mother. After the death of Sri Aurobindo, "the Mother" continued the social work till she died in 1973 at the age of 93. The idea of Auroville or the “City of Down” was conceived by ‘The Mother’.

In the garden, lies the marble Samadhi (final resting place, mausoleum) of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which attracts thousands of visitors from around the world. Children below 3 years of age are not allowed into the ashram and photography is allowed only with permission of the ashram authorities.

Some of the ashram’s facilities like the Library and the Main Building can be accessed, only after obtaining a gate pass from the Bureau Central or some of the Ashram Guest Houses.
The activities of the ashram include the development of art, culture, and spirituality, besides agriculture and cottage industries (weaving, paper making, perfume, ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines, incense making, tie dye etc).

The Handmade Paper factory is situated just at the end of the canal in front of Salt and Pepper restaurant.

Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
It is located in Marine Street and is notable for its entrance gate with courtyard, arched windows and parapet.
Ashram Dining Room

Turning back towards the Raj Nivas on the left stands the beautiful Villa Aroumé, which houses the Ashram Dining Room.

Ashram Dining Room has prepared the food for Ashramites and their guests since 1934. Have a look when the gate is open at meal times.

Churches
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Eglise du Sacré Coeur de Jésus)
The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, located on the South Boulevard, Subbayah Salai, is a white and brown neo-gothic church. It was built by French missionaries in the 1700’s. It is one of Pondicherry’s finest Catholic churches. It contains rare and beautiful stained glass windows and panels depicting events from Jesus Christ’s life. The church has an imposing entrance.
Church of the Capuchins
Situated on Rue Dumas, this is one of the first churches to be built in Pondicherry. Today, it houses an orphanage.
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
Located on Mission Street (or Cathedral Street), this cathedral, which bears a strong resemblance to a church in France, was built in 1791 in the place of a former church. In front of the church is a statue of Our Lady with the infant Jesus in her arms.
The Church of Our Lady of the Angels
The Church of our Lady of the Angels on rue Dumas was built in 1852 in the Greek Roman architectural style. Its façade faces east towards the ocean. The pastel peach and lime colours give it a very serene appearance. It is the same model as la Basilique at Lourdes, in southern France. This church is also famous for its rare oil painting of Our Lady of the Assumption, which was a gift from the French emperor, Napoleon III. The cemetery next to the church has the tomb of Marquis de Bussy (dated 1785), who was one of Dupleix’s most enterprising followers. The mass is done in French.
The Statue of Joan of Arc
A marble statue of the heroic French damsel Jeanne d' Arc is placed in the middle of a garden, in front of L'Église de Notre Dame des Anges.
Church of the Assumption
Located at Nellitoppu, on the western outskirts of the city, this church was built in 1851. The main entrance has an image of Our Lady and on the left towers is the statue of St. George in the act of slaying a yak-like monster.

Besides these imposing structures there are various smaller churches and shrines in Pondicherry which have their devout followers, like The Church of Francis Assist, which was built in 1843, the shrine of St. Anthony in the French Quarter, The Saint John Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Saint Anthony’s Shrine
Located in Suffren Street, this is the most interesting of many small shrines in Pondicherry.

Temples

The temples in Pondicherry are not as well known as their more famous counterparts in towns like Tanjore or Chidambaram, but they are charming in their own unique way.

Manakula Vinayagar Koil
This temple is more than 300 years old and is dedicated to Ganesha. It has a golden spire. The walls portray forty different forms of Ganesha. The temple also has a smaller shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan, who is Ganesha’s younger brother. You will find in front of the temple ‘Lakshmi’, the temple elephant, who uses her trunk to give blessings and to collect coins from the devotees and tourists.
Varadaraja Perumal Temple
Located on M.G.Road, this is believed to be the oldest temple in town, dating back to 600 AD. The temple is built in a typical Dravidian style. It is dedicated to Vishnu (Venkatachalapathy).
Vedhapureeswarar Temple
This temple also known as the Eashwaran Koil, is located on M.G.Road and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has colourful ‘gopuram’, adorned by statues of gods and goddesses.
Kanniga Parameswari Temple
This temple, dedicated to the goddess Shakti is unique as it seems to be strongly influenced by the French architectural style. Situated on M.G.Road, it has an unusual blend of both Tamil and French architecture.
Kamatchiamman Temple
Located on Bharathi Street, the lack of colour and ornamentation makes this temple different from most other South Indian temples. This dark rust coloured temple is dedicated to Durga, the goddess of war.
Pyramid Nataraj Temple
This is very recent temple constructed after the Tsunami. It is situated just 100m after the Dune Hotel on the shore in Pudhukuppam on ECR road.
Panchavatee Temple
This temple dedicated for Lord Hanuman is located on the Pondicherry - Dindivanam road. The main deity is 36feet height. This temple is very recent. It is really a nice place to visit.

Mosques

* One can not enter or visit the mosques.

Jama Mosque

Located on Mullah Street.

Meeran Mosque

Meeran mosque is the oldest mosque in Pondicherry. It was built before 350 years. It has the old gothic Islam architecture in it.

Kuthbha Mosque

Kuthbha mosque is the first mosque in Pondicherry. As the mosque was in the white area during the 17th century, the French people ordered to vacate the place and shift the mosque and the Muslim community to the southern side after the canal. These streets were built facing MECCA.

Mulla Mohamed Mosque
For the preaching in Urdu, one part of KUTHBHA MOSQUE was built as MULLA MOHAMED MOSQUE. This mosque has a small pond with fishes and a Ramadan food cooking hall.

Museums

The Pondicherry Museum
The Pondicherry Museum is located on Saint Louis street and is open between 10.00-17.00hrs on all days except Mondays and national holidays. The museum is located in the former residence of the French Administrator. The museum has a collection of rare bronzes and stone sculptures from the Pallava and Chola dynasties, objects found in Arikamedu site (an ancient port just 7km from city that traded with the Roman empire), Greek and Roman jars, 200 year old beads made from glass and precious stones, a wide collection of temple lamps and even objects from the Tsung period in China.

The museum also has a Geology room, a shell and fossil room and a collection of handicrafts, coins, church relics and French furniture. Also on display is Dupleix’s bed, the colony’s most famous governor.
Bharathi Memorial Museum
Subramanya Bharathi (1882-1921), Bharathiyar to all, was a Tamil poet-patriot, fugitive from British India who arrived in Pondicherry in 1908 in search of refuge. Bharathi's home also known as Bharathi Museum, on No. 20, Eswaran Koil Street, is almost a place of pilgrimage today for the Tamil people. Bharathi composed some of his finest patriotic songs and immortal works of Tamil literature.
Bharathidasan memorial Museum
The Bharathidasan Museum, on No. 95 Perumal Koil Street, is the former house of the famous Pondicherry Tamil poet and playwright - Bharathidasan (1891-1960) (meaning "Disciple of Bharathi"). He also wrote scripts for films on issues such as Dravidian culture and the rights of women.
Children’s Museum
It is a small museum located next to the Botanical Gardens. It has a good collection of snail shells from the region of Pondicherry.
Jawahar Toy Museum
Located next to the old lighthouse on Goubert Avenue, the museum is open on all days except Monday. This museum has a collection of costume dolls from different Indian states. Also on display is a little ‘fairyland’ with a tiny Ganesh watching over all the proceedings.

Parks
Bharathi Park or Government Park (Place du Gouvernement)
The park located in the heart of Pondicherry, is one of the most beautiful public spots in town, with its lawns, flowers beds, fountains and shady trees. Around it stands many stately buildings:
Aayi Mandapam (Water Monument)
Situated in the centre of the park, this is a gleaming white monument built during the reign of Napoleon III, Emperor of France. The monument, built in Greco-Roman architecture, commemorates both the provision of good drinking water for the population and the good deed of Aayi, a 16th century lady some 300 years before. The Aayi Mandapam has become the unmistakable centre from which four lanes divide the Park in four almost equal parts. Some exquisitely carved monolithic pillars, brought to Pondicherry from the Gingee Fort after its capture in 1751, adorn the place.
The Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is located south of the New Bus Stand. The Botanical Garden was opened in 1826. The gardens have a variety of rare and exotic plants, beautiful flowers, pruned trees, gravel lined paths, fountains and an aquarium. With over 1500 species of plants, this could actually be qualified as one of the best botanical garden in South India.

The gardens also have a musical fountain which is active in the evening time during the week end.

Beaches
Promenade (Beach Road)
The 1.5km long promenade running along the beach is the pride of Pondicherry. There one can relax or take a stroll at any time of the day. Unfortunately, it is impossible to swim in this beach because of the seawalls.
Serenity beach
This beach is a ten minutes drive to the north of the town. This virgin beach, with its serene surroundings is an ideal place to laze away your day. It is ideal for relaxation, a quick dip and sun bathing. The Serenity Beach is 1.5km long. It’s a beautiful, cool and clean place.
Paradise Beach (Plage Paradisio)
It is situated about 8km away from Pondicherry towards Cuddalore Main Road, in Chunnambar near the mouth of the backwater. The sand is pristine and the water, clean and clear. It's and ideal place for sun bathing and beach sports. The beach can only be accessed by boat.
Auroville Beach (Repos Beach)
The Auroville Beach as the name indicates is close to Auroville. It is right opposite the road leading to Auroville. It is located around 10km from the main Pondicherry town. Its shallow waters and small waves make it an ideal place of swimming. It is a fairly popular destination on weekends. On weekdays it is relatively less crowded.
Chunnambar Backwater

Chunnambar Boat House is situated 8km from Pondicherry, along Cuddalore Main Road. This tropical paradise is a great place for relaxation.

The beach at Chunnambar also known as Plage Paradiso, is located near the mouth of the backwater. The sand is pristine and the water, clean and clear. It's and ideal place for sun bathing and beach sports.

If you take a short and pleasant cruise into the sea, you will be able to see playful dolphins in natural habitat.

You pay 3 rupees for entrance. The boat trip itself is 30 rupees. The paddled boat costs 60Rps per hour. The speed or motor boat costs 125Rps per head for a trip up to Paradise Beach.

Chunnambar Beach and Backwater Resort has backwater boat tours, trekking and picnics on Paradise Beach. The resort offers various kinds of rental boats (speed, motor, sail, row paddled and paddled boat), beach volleyball and other beach sports.

Seagulls, the multicuisine restaurant-bar specialises in Chinese and Tandoori food. The restaurant too has a view of the backwaters. It also serves food in the huts just outside the restaurant. You can also order a picnic lunch to the beach.

Accommodation is available on the three tree top houses. 'Sunrise Panorama' (a two storey tree top house) gives you an unrestricted view of the backwater up to its mouth. 'Palm house' on the other hand overlooks the artificial pond and the park. 'Nest bird' is the perfect place for the adventure loving folks; it has a rope ladder that leads to a small balcony. All in a tree house, an unforgettable experience!

Chunnambar Backwater Resort,
Cuddalore Road, Chunnambar, Pondicherry.
Tel: (+91) 0413 – 2356816

Auroville

Located around 10km north-west from Pondicherry, Auroville or the “City of Dawn” was conceived by the Mother as a human unity. The idea is to build a futuristic city where people of goodwill can live together in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.

Auroville came into existence on February 28, 1968. Its Charter says, “To live in Auroville one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness”, and describes it as “belonging to nobody in particular, but to humanity as a whole”; as a place “of constant progress”; and as “a bridge between the past and the future.”

Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. The buildings are a combination of modern western and traditional Indian elements, set in a rural landscape of red earth and widespread forest.

Around 2,000 people from over 35 different nationalities (from all social classes, backgrounds, cultures and age groups) live there in 80 settlements with names like Grace, Fraternity, Fertile, Certitude and Transformation. Nearly two-thirds of the residents are non-Indians (more than 15% are French and 15% are German). The residents are involved in various activities like organic agriculture, administration, reforestation, commerce and handicrafts, alternative technology, education, health care and development projects.

Visitors can wander around the lush gardens, relax under banyan trees or visit the Matrimandir. At the centre of Auroville, stands the Matrimandir built in the form of a globe. It is a place for individual silent concentration. This is the geographical and spiritual heart of Auroville. The outside is plated with gold while the inside is stark white with a gigantic crystal in the centre.

The Auroville Visitors Centre is located near Bharat Niwas, the Indian national pavilion in Auroville. This Centre has a permanent exhibition on the history and philosophy of the project, an Information Service offering books, brochures and leaflets on various aspects of Auroville, three boutiques, a bookshop, and a cafeteria providing refreshments and international cuisine. Introductory videos on the township and the Matrimandir can be seen at the Centre by request.

For more information: www.auroville.org

Other Places of Interest
The French Cemetery
Further along the southern boulevard is the French cemetery on Dr.Ambedkar Salai which has some interesting tombs with ornate marble decorations. French Administrators, landlords, port officials, women and children are buried here.