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Pondicherry

Pondicherry

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Puducherry Away from the hustle and bustle of big city, puducherry is a quiet little town on the southern coast. The unmistakable French connection,the tree lined boulevards,the quaint colonial heritage buildings, the spiritual scene, the endless stretches of unspoilt virgin beaches, backwater, a surprising choice of restaurants serving a melange of cuisines, provide a heady mix that draw travellers from near and far. It is the perfect place dto come to if you wants tko take the pace of life down a few notches.

The Union Territory of puducherry comprises of four coastal regions viz- puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. puducherry and Karaikal are situated on the East Coasts in Tamil Nadu, Yanam in Andra Pradesh and Mahe on the West Coast in Kerala.

puducherry is the Capital of this Union Territory. It is on the east coast about 162 kms south of Chennai (Madras) located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. There are no hills or forests in this region. The main soil types in this region are red ferrallitic, black clay and coastal alluvial.

Main languages spoken in the region are Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. English and French are other languages, which are spoken by a considerable number of people. Majorities of the people are Hindus. There are quite a number of Christians and Muslims, whereas very few 

Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists.

Puducherry is a unique place. Many feel that it has a distinct spiritual vibration. Stories of resident sages come down through its history from the earliest days. The nickname “Pondy” sums up this shared feeling of belonging, of having come home.

Puducherry has a special ambience, not felt anywhere else in India. It is a blend of spiritual aura, French colonial heritage, Tamil culture and the cosmopolitan flair of many nationalities in a  small but varied town. The inherent ambience of Pondy, as it is fondly called, becomes most evident in the oldest part of the town which flanks the seashore boulevard. Colonial buildings, some which trace back to the 18th century, line along a grid of straight 

clean streets and house the French institutions, private homes and businesses, and the sprawling premises of the famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The visitor is greeted by mellow colours of cream, yellow, pink and grey with flamboyant bougainvillea bursting over gates and 

compound walls of cool courtyards.

Quiet beaches and peaceful resorts to the north and south balance the town's bustling, yet easy  going life. But Pondy hasn't only its own special attractions to offer.It is a perfect base to explore the rich destinations around it (TamilNadu), even in daily trips: Auroville, the international City of Unity;theimposing Gingee Fort, the holy temple towns of Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Chidambaram, the heritage sculptures and magnificent rock temples of Mamallapuram, and the cool and lush hill stations of Yercaud and Kodaikanal.

puducherry is best accessible by road from Chennai, Bangalore and even from Kerala.Chennai has an international airport which directly connects to the highway to puducherry.  And good transit hotels are available in the vicinity for travellers who arrive in the night.

puducherry has a wide choice of hotels for most visitors: beach resorts for the easy going tourist and families, heritage hotels for those who want to experience something else, high class commercial hotels for the corporate visitor and the neat Ashram Guest Houses for the spiritual seeker. And ambient restaurants serve a rich variety of French, Indian, Asian and continental food, with the latest pizza for an American bite.

For the shopper puducherry has a lot to offer and is fast becoming a favourite shopping destination of the southern metropolitan cities. puducherry is soft on your purse with taxes  low or non-existent. It is known for its traditional doll-making and textiles and silks. But it is also  the birthplace of several world class brands in leather, pottery, aromatics, fashion and handmade paper. These excellent products came to renown solely by their superb quality. A new trend is the proliferation of exquisite decor boutiques and export-quality antique furniture galleries.

As we shall see, however, the Pondy Experience is considerably more than either of these unique and cloistered aspects. It is an experience that captivates all kinds of visitors; tourists, seekers from  metropolitan stress, and the families of visiting business people and conventioneers who can sightsee and shop when they want a diversion.

Fairs & Festivals

New Years Day – People of puducherry welcome the new year in exotic and esoteric nature, it is just extra bonus for them.

International Yoga Festival  
This festival brings in participants from all over the world between the 4th to the 7th January every year. The festival includes talks, discussions, exchange of ideas, consultation and demonstration of techniques. Classical Indian dance and music programme every day.

Pongal Festival 
The harvest, earth and sun festival.

Day 1 : Pongal Eve (Bogi) : house cleaning and decorating with intricate designs; burning of old clothes, mats and the like.

Day 2 : Pongal : Preparation of ritual pongal dish cooked in new pots and prayer for sun god.

Day 3 : Mattu Pongal (Cow/Ox Festival) – Cows and Ox are washed, decorated, have their horns painted and are fed pongal; they are  raced in villages around.

Day 4 : Farmer’s Day : People dress up and visit their neighbours and friends and relatives houses; there is no more busy day in Pondy’s Park and Beach Road.

Republic Day 
Police parade in the Indira Gandhi Stadium. Pondicherrians celebrate the day in a devoted manner. The Chief Secretariat, entire beach road and Raj Niwas (Lt. Governor’s residence) are illuminated attractively.

Masi Magam 
The festival will be celebrated in the sea shore. In the morning around 30 sacred images from a wide region are bathed ritually. In the evening the sacred images gathered in one place. In night there is a procession of images in a illuminated cars in differed shapes(image bearing vehicle) The Mother’s Birth Anniversary On 21st February, devotees queue at Sri Aurobindo Ashram starting early in the morning, to visit the Mother’s room.

Bakrid – Muslim day of Sacrifices.

Department of Art & Culture, Government of puducherry organize Indian Classical music and dances in various places of puducherry.

Villianur Temple Car Festival – on the full moon between mid May and mid June falls the ninth day of a ten day festival. On this day the temple car with the image of the god is paraded around the town.

Bastille Day-in July 14th, Bastille Day, puducherry witnesses an Indo-French pageantry.

Veerampattinam Car Festival   In the month of August the festival is celebrated in Veerampattinam, a fishing village near Ariyankuppam. On this day the temple car with the image of the god is paraded around the village.

Fete De puducherry (Festival of puducherry)

A cultural pageant, coinciding with Liberation Day and Independence Day. Government of puducherry organize the fete features free evening cultural presentation in various places of puducherry.

Independence Day- 15th of August, the day is celebrated with enthusiasm.

puducherry De Jure Transfer Day- 16th of August marks puducherry’s complete accession to the Indian Union in 1962.

Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Anniversary - On this day, devotees queue at Sri Aurobindo Ashram starting early in the morning, to visit the Sri Aurobindo’s room.

Vinayaka Chathurthi – The festival of India’s most ubiquitous god, Vinayaka (or Ganesh or Ganapati).

Navaratri The nine-day festival of the Goddesses Durgar (warrior righteousness), Lakshmi (prosperity) and Saraswati (knowledge and the arts). In some of the houses and temples decorated with kolu pommai (painted ceramic doos) particularly in Easwaran Kovil at M.G.Road.

Ayudha Puja This day marks the end of Navaratri. Gourds reddened with vermilion powder are broken, banana leaves are installed, and all forms of implements and equipments, including cars and motorcycles are given a puja as a honour.

Vijayadasami- the next day to Ayudha Puja is given over to the Goddess Durga, the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother.

Deepavali  the new moon between mid-October and mid-November sees the Festival of Light, marking the triumph of Good over Evil. Mostly all the peoples wear new dress and celebrate the festival with sweet and crackers. This day is the happiest day for the children.

Karthigai Deepam Festival- during this three day festival mostly all the Hindu houses even in rural and urban is illuminated.

Christmas Season - the Christmas season is quiet. Shops and houses are hung with perforated star lanterns

A Bird's Eye View of Pondicherry Beach

Beaching in puducherry

Any trip to puducherry would be incomplete without a visit to its beaches. Though it’s hot and muggy through most of the year, puducherry has four main beaches which are fairly popular with tourists and locals alike. As opposed to the rest of India, the beaches here are relatively clean and not as crowded.

Most of the beaches are a little away from the town except for small stretch of sand behind Seagulls restaurant on Goubert Avenue. However this stretch is not as popular because of its lack of accessibility and security.

Promenade : 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 aquiet 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.

Auroville Beach : The Auroville Beach as the name indicates is close to Auroville. It is right off the ECR, opposite the road leading to Auroville. Located around 12 kms from the main puducherry 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.

Temples in puducherry

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.

Manakula Vinayagar Koil This temple is more than 300 years old and is dedicated to Ganesha. It has a golden spire and walls portraying forty different forms of Ganesha. The temple also has a smaller shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan, who is Ganesha’s younger brother. Over 5000 devotees flock to this site everyday. The temple compound also plays host to ‘Lakshmi’, the temple elephant, who uses her trunk to dispense blessings and to collect coins from the devotees.

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 built in the typical Dravidian style, complete with brightly coloured ‘gopuram’ and sculpted pillars, is probably the oldest standing structure in puducherry. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu. Legend has it, that the temple was originally built for the idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, which were brought to the present site by fishermen, from the sea. The main deity here is Venkatachalapathy (Vishnu). Right behind that is a separate shrine for Narashima (who is also an avatar of Vishnu).

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 the statues of gods and goddesses, like most temples in South India.

Kanniga Parameswari Temple This temple, dedicated to the godess Shakti is unique as it seems to be strongly influenced by the French architectural style. Located on M.G.Road, it has an unusual blend of both Tamil and French architecture. With its arched walls, ionic columns, stained glass windows and even some angel decorations, it is reminiscent of a French building. However, the inner ceiling supported by the more traditional granite pillars and the sanctum sanctoram, which has a typical Tamil design, highlights the more traditional Tamil features.

Kamatchiamman Temple Located on Bharathi Street, this temple is different from most other South Indian temples by virtue of its lack of colour and ornamentation. Its starkness is what makes it stand out from the rest. This dark rust coloured temple is dedicated to Durga, the goddess of war.

Sri Gokilambal Thirukameshwara Temple This is located in a small town called ‘Villianur’, 11 kms. from puducherry. The main shrine housing the ‘Shivlinga’ and the shrines dedicated to the Devi and Murugan date back to the 12th century Chola period. This temple has a little bit of French heritage attached to it, though not in its architecture, but in some of its traditions. The annual Temple Car Festival which is held in the months of May and June, involves the pulling of a 15 metre tall chariot through the streets by a large crowd of devotees. 

During French colonial rule, the Governor of puducherry used to join this very procession and actively participate in the drawing of the chariot through the streets. This tradition lives on with the present Lieutenant Governor of puducherry participating in the festival now.                                              

Churches In puducherry

Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Located on Subbayah Salai, this white and brown neo-gothic church is one of Pondy’s finest Catholic churches. It was built by French missionaries in the 1700’s in a contrasting Neo-Gothic manner, with towers flanking a central gable and stained glass windows on the side. The church has an imposing entrance and the beautiful stained glass panels depict incidents from Jesus Christ’s life. Further along the southern boulevard is the cemetery which has some interesting tombs with ornate marble decorations.

Church of the Capuchins Located on rue Dumas, this is one of the first churches to be built in puducherry. Even though it was one of the very few buildings that partially survived the destruction of the town in 1761, it is a mere shadow of its past glory, except for its rather interesting gable. Today, it houses an orphanage.

Notre Dame de’ Located on Mission Street, this cathedral, which bears a strong resemblance to a church in France, was built in 1791 in the place of a former church. The imposing façade presents paired Doric columns below and ionic above. In front of the church is a statue of Our Lady with the infant Jesus in her arms. The interior design consists of eight barrel vaults and a central dome pierced with eight circular openings.

The Notre Dame des Anges The Church of our Lady of the Angels on rue Romain Rolland was built in 1852 in the Greek Roman architectural style. Its façade, flanked by two unadorned square towers, faces east towards the ocean. The interior is roofed by a barrel vault, with a great dome rising over the crossing. The pastel peach and lime colours give it a very serene appearance. 

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.

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 yall-like monster. Inside the church you will find some of the finest glided altarpieces including a Crucifix surrounded by flying angels.

The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes This interesting located at Villianur, a small town 11 km. from puducherry. It was erected in 1876 is modeled on that of the Basilica in France. The statue of Notre Dame was donated by the French Government a year later. A curious feature here is the Church tank, which is usually common in all the Hindu temples. We can only speculate as to the purpose of the tank. Was it an attempt to assimilate the local customs or was it built out of necessity. The ritual bathing of devotees at the tank here, a long standing tradition, is one of the highlights during the festival honouring the Madonna held in June.

Church of Our Lady of Good Health The church is located at Ariyankuppam, a tiny village 4 km south of puducherry. The church makes for an interesting cycling expedition off the beaten track. The church founded in 1690 was subsequently rebuilt several times. The interior has rounded arches carrying a vault over the central aisle. A freestanding Crucifix is displayed upon the altar and brightly painted wooden images are set on shelves in the side walls.

Besides these imposing structures there are various smaller churches and shrines in puducherry 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.

Mosques in Puducherry

JAMAI MOSQUE Located on Mulla Street, this beautiful mosque’s distinctive architecture and swaying palm trees in the back make it beautiful to behold.

MEERAN MOSQUE: Meeran mosque is the oldest mosque in puducherry.It was built before 350 years. It has the old gothic Islam architecture in it. It was built by ARCOD NAVAB.It has four lofty pillars below its dome, with MEERHATH near it and MEEMBER next to it. It also has the KALIMA SLAB above the MEERHATH, with clean blankets spread all over the hall.

The bronze KALLASAS in the top of the façade minaret adds beauty to it. It has the divine graves of MEERAN who built this mosque and SUUBHI ERRAI PERRIAR Mullah’s in it. The mosque has everyday prayers in it.

KUTHBHA MOSQUE: Kuthbha mosque is the first mosque in puducherry.It is said that it was near the Seventh day school now, during 17th century. As the mosque was in the white area the FRENCH people ordered them to vacate the place and shift the mosque and the Islam society to the southern end after the channel. 

These streets where built facing MECCA . It has the DAARGA of MOULLA SAIUBU.KUTHBHA means preaching. This mosque has daily preaching and prayers with special prayers on Fridays.

MULLA MOHHAMED MOSQUE: To have the preaching in URUDHU and URUDHU in Islam one part of KUTHBHA MOSQUE was built as MULLA MOAHMED MOSQUE.This mosque has a small pond with fishes, clean hall, and RAMJAN fasting food cooking hall and JENESHA in it.

Heritage Buildings & Monuments

BEACH ROAD No visit to puducherry is complete without a walk along beach road. Friday, Saturday and Sunday and holiday evening are busiest. The Police close both end of the road for vehicular traffic. Beach road has little of architectural interest, but oceans of simple charm and officially called Goubert Avenue. 

Children’s Park & Dupleix Statue It is a seaside park with a statue of a Dupleix. Marquis Joseph Francois Dupleix was an integral part of puducherry’s colonial past. He was the governor of puducherry between 1742 and 1754. The 2.88 m tall statue of Dupleix stands at the southern end of the park. Even though Dupleix left puducherry in 1754, French recognition of his contribution came only in 1870, with the commissioning of two statues-one in puducherry and the other in France.

The Mairie Located on Goubert Avenue, this charming white building, facing the sea almost transports you to France. Use your imagination a little and you could very well be on a French sea side resort. Today it houses the offices of the puducherry Municipality

Le Café It was once the port office when the railway ran along Beach Road from the South Boulevard to the old 240 meters iron pier. A cyclone in 1952 largely destroyed the pier whose remains can still be seen poking out of the water.

Gandhi Statue  This is a highlight of puducherry. A four-meter statue of Mahatma Gandhi is surrounded by eight magnificent granite pillars, which were supposedly brought from Gingee, a fort some 70 Kms. from puducherry.

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. Every year on the 14th July (Bastille Day) the memorial is beautifully illuminated and homage is paid to those brave martyrs.

Nehru Statue Located across the street from the imposing Gandhi statue, the statue is also flanked by four pillars from Gingee. The space in front plays host to various cultural, musical and commercial activities through the year.

19th Century Light House This light house was used for the first time on July 1st 1836 and continued to be used upto the year 1979. This now- abandoned lighthouse stands on the edge of the sea.

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.

Around Bharathi Park The park located in the heart of puducherry, is one of the most beautiful public spots in puducherry, with its lush green surroundings and shady trees providing succour from the harsh puducherry sun to many a weary soul. At any time of the day you will always find a smattering of people including locals. Besides the beautiful Aayi Mandapam in the centre of the park, there are a number of smaller surprises that greet you as you walk around in the park, like the exquisitely carved granite pillars and stone carvings of various gods and yallis. The park is also surrounded by interesting heritage buildings like.

Aayi Mandapam
This gleaming white monument built during the time of Napoleon III, Emperor of the France. The monument commemorates both the provision of water to the French city during his reign and the good deed of a lady some 300 years before.

Raj Niwas The Government House (Raj Niwas) is a harmonious blend of French and Indian style of architecture. Once the location of the Hotel de la Compagnie (the French trading company that ruled in puducherry from its first settlement in 1674 until the French government took over in 1769) and later played host to Dupleix. 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 and looks rater impressive. One can however get a glimpse of the grandeur within, through the tall imposing gates, which are guarded by red ‘kepi’ adorning police guards.

Romain Rolland Library The Romain Rolland library was established in 1872 and has a rich collection of more than 3,00,000 volumes 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.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram The Sri Aurobindo Ashram located on rue de la Marine, is one of the most well known and wealthiest ashrams in India, with devotees from India and all over the world flocking to it for spiritual salvation. Its spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science. It is open to the public daily between 08-1200 hrs and 1400-1800 hrs. Children below 3 years of age are not allowed into the ashram and photography is allowed only with permission of the ashram authorities. 

The Ashram was set up in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, one of India’s greatest philosopher-poets, who originally came to Pondy to escape persecution by the British. It was after arriving in puducherry, that he was drawn into the spiritual realm and discovered the power of yoga. His philosophy deeply rooted in yoga and his writings inspired a number of followers.

One of them was a Parisian mystic, painter and musician called Mirra Alfassa, who was so inspired by his philosophy that she stayed on in puducherry and was instrumental in establishment of the ashram. After Aurobindo’s death in 1950, the running of the Ashram was entrusted to his chief disciple and companion, Mirra Alfassa, (also known as ‘The Mother’). The idea of Auroville or the “City of Down” was conceived by ‘The Mother’. She died in 1973 at the age of 93.

The ashram’s influence can be felt in most of puducherry. The main ashram building is where the mortal remains of Aurobindo and the Mother are kept. Their ‘Samadhi’ or mausoleum, which is generally surrounded by supplicating devotees, is in the central courtyard under a frangipani tree and is covered daily with flowers.

Some of the ashram’s facilities like the Library and the Main Building (during collective meditation) can be accessed, only after obtaining a gate pass from the Bureau Central or some of the Ashram Guest Houses.

Auroville Auroville or the ‘City of Down’ was conceived as a utopian paradise by the Mother, the spiritual successor of Sri Aurobindo. The idea was tobuild a futuristic city where people of goodwill would live together in peace and harmony. Auroville came into existence in 1968. The Auroville 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 and as being a place of constant progress and a bridge between the past and the future”.

Located around 8 km northwest of puducherry, it was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. Around 1900 people live in communes, with names like Grace, Serenity, Fertile, Certitude and Transformation. Two-thrids of the residents are non-indians. Architecturally speaking the buildings are a combination of modern western and traditional Indian elements and are set in a rural landscape of narrow lanes, deep red earth and lush greenery. The residents sustain themselves by involving themselves in agriculture, handicrafts, alternative technology, educational and development projects including Aurolec, a computer software company.

The Matri Mandir is set in an area of 62 acres and reflects the Mother spiritual beliefs. It was conceived as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s inspiration for perfection. Union with the Divine manifesting in a progressive unity”.

During the inauguration ceremony of Auroville on 28th February 1968, the soil of 124 countries was poured into a lotus-shaped an urn, to symbolize universal oneness. This urn is today kept in the Matri Mandir. This spherical marble chamber has a crystal placed inside it, (believed to be the largest of its kind in the world) reflecting the suns rays. The concentrated light acts as a focal point to aid mediation.

Garden & BackWater

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.

Bharathi Park The Government Park or Bharati Park is in the green centre of the French Town and its lush trees provide ample relieve from the scorching sun on a hot summer day. With children playing in ponds, on their hill or in the traffic park, grown-ups sitting or lying on granite benches, families on a picnic and occassional sit-ins of striking citizens, the park is the most appreciated public area in town. Strolling under the cool trees is as dynamic as it gets. Unless people rush to the spot when an occassional movie is being shot.

The Aayi Mandapam has become the unmistakable centre from which four lanes divide the Park in four almost equal parts. The area is dotted with ancient sculptures and not so ancient statues. Around it stand a number of stately buildings:

The Raj Nivas - The residence of the Lt. Governor, formerly the Palace of the French Governor of puducherry.

The Museum - situated opposite the Raj Nivas on St Louis Street, houses an interesting collection of excavated artifacts from Roman Times and heritage from the French Period.

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 puducherry Art Gallery, Hotel Qualithe and the Chamber of Commerce, all built with a street front in colonial style. The UCO bank is surrounded by its own garden premises. A mighty stair invites you to the interior of a traditional bank.

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

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

Keezhoor There is a huge banyan tree near the village here. The canopy of the 400 year old tree covers a few acres at the very least. Kizhoor a border village is situated at a distance of nearly 28 kms from puducherry. It is a historic place in the sense that it is here only in the year 1954. Voting took place for the merger of puducherry with the Indian Union. As part of the celebrations of 50th Anniversary of De-facto puducherry, a permanent Exhibition of paintings relating to the merger of puducherry was opened at the Kizhoor Monument.

Chunamber  Beach, Pondicherry

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.

Seagulls the multicuisine restaurant cum bar is a stone's throw from the backwater. It specialises in Chinese and Tandoori food. The restaurant too has a view of the backwaters. It is an ideal setting for a theme party or an offbeat get-together. It also serves food in the huts just outside the restaurant. You can also order a picnic lunch to the beach and you shall be served there in style.

Here accommodation is available on the three tree top houses that offer you the bliss of ecotourism. You can either read a novel, paint, listen to music, meditate or even stay overnight, all on the top of a tree!

'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 abode for the adventure loving folks, it has a rope ladder that leads to a small balcony. All in a tree house!