|Tourism in Puducherry
Puducherry has a wealth of heritage buildings of both French and Tamil architectural styles. The grid patterned layout of town divides the town into two distinct settlements. The French section is on the east of the canal that bisects the town while the Tamil section is essentially on the western side. Though the temples in puducherry are not as well known as their more famous counterparts in towns like Tanjavur or Chidambaram, they are charming in their own unique way, with some of them even dating back to the 10th Century AD Chola period.
Place of interest
Auroville: Auroville – or the ‘City of Dawn ’ – was conceived as a place of research into the ideal of human unity by the Mother, the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. 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 in 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.’ Located around 8 kms north-west of Puducherry, Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. Around 2,000 people live there in settlements with names like Grace, Fraternity, Fertile, Certitude and Transformation. Nearly two-thirds of the residents are non-Indians.
Promenade Beach: The 1.5 km long promenade running along the beach is the pride of puducherry. There one can relax or take a stroll at any time of the day. On the sea front are several land marks. The War memorial cold and dispassionate throbbing the memory of last dreams, the statue of Joan of Arc blazing an inspiration, the heritage town hall, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi standing tall, Dupleix statue, old light house, the remains of the old pier, the old customs house, speak the splendor of the by gone era. The well furnished tourist information centre is situated in esthetically heritage building facing the sea to cater to the need of visiting tourists.
Paradise Beach: Located 8 kms. from the town, along the Cuddalore Main Road this beach can be accessed from the Chunnambar Resort. Flanked by a quiet flowing creek on one side, the beach can only be accessed by boat
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.
French Quarter: The buildings in French section of puducherry are an enduring legacy of French history in India. It tells the story of a colonial adventure in a far away land, fighting many odds, overcoming a new and difficult terrain and the historic rivalry between the European powers of the time including the Danes, the Dutch and the British besides the French.
Tamil Quarter: The buildings in the Tamil streets are characterized by rows of tiled roofed buildings almost joined together by continuous wall to wall constructions. While the older buildings more or less retain their “Tamilness”, the later constructions have acquired certain gallic features behind the Tamil facades. A synthesis of these two styles has resulted in a town that has a unique ‘Franco Tamil’ architectural identity. Though unsympathetic modifications and extensions have ruined many wonderful samples of the native quarters, increasing awareness and work by certain non governmental agencies like the INTACH, have ensured restoration of some of the structures.
The puducherry Museum: The puducherry Museum is located on Saint Louis street and is open on all days except Mondays and national holidays between 1000-1700 hrs. The museum is located in the former Law Building. The museum has a collection of rare bronzes and stone sculptures from the Pallava and Chola dynasties and artifacts excavated from Arikamedu (an ancient port just 7 kms. from city that had trade links with the Roman empires).
Ananda Ranga Pillai Museum: Ananda Ranga Pillai was the celebrated dubash of Dupleix, the governor of puducherry while it flourished under the French glory. Pillai’s compilation of diaries serve as a storehouse of information on the 18th century French India. His mansion, completed sometime in 1738, is one of the oldest surviving buildings on the west side – then known as “natives’ quarters”.Its architecture represents a curious mix of French and Indian styles.
Bharathi Memorial Museum: Subramanya Bharathi (1882-1921), Bharathiyar to all, was a Tamil poet-patriot who arrived in puducherry in 1908 a fugitive from British India. The Free French air brought the best in Bharathi and some of his finest patriotic and romantic compositions were born here. Bharathi’s home also known as Bharathi Musuem, on No. 20, Eswaran Dharamaraja Koil Street, is almost a place of pilgrimage today for the Tamil people.
Botanical Gardens: The Botanical Gardens are located south of the New Bus Stand. The gate leading to the garden is reminiscent of French architecture and it stands out from its immediate surroundings because it is smack in the middle of the old Tamil town. The Botanical Gardens were laid out in 1826 in the ornate French style, with pruned trees, beautiful flower beds and gravel lined paths and fountains. The French introduced many exotic plants from all over the world, many of which thrived. With over 1500 species of plants, this could actually qualify as one of the best botanical gardens in South India. The gardens also have a musical fountain which is active over the weekends, with two shows in the evening. Check for timings and the frequency of the shows as they may change depending on the season.
Chunnambar Backwater: Chunnambar is situated 8 kms from puducherry, along the Cuddalore Main Road. This tropical paradise is flanked by a quiet-flowing creek on one side. You can sail downstream to the sands and pitch up a cozy seaside tent for yourself. Overnighting within the tree-houses on the backwater banks provides a relishing experience of the great outdoors. 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. It’s and ideal place for sun bathing and beach sports. A short, pleasant cruise into the sea from here could reward you with the memorable sight of playful dolphins in natural habitat, horsing around.