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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pondicherry: Vibrant Getaway on India’s East Coast

During the colonial days, unlike the British, the French did not have a lot of control over India. But, they did manage to stamp their authority in one small town on the East coast of India. This town, Pondicherry, a union territory located in the Tamil Nadu state of India is a vibrant concoction of rich Tamil culture, great beaches, a very visible French architecture, the site for meditation and calm and great French and Tamil food.

Matrimandir Peace Dome - under construction at Auroville
All these attributes ensure that Pondicherry is a hot favorite both with the domestic and foreign tourists. In fact, such is the diversity of this place that it is a very popular weekend getaway from the metropolitan cities of Chennai and Bangalore. For the young traveler, Pondicherry appeals due to the low cost of alcohol and good beaches. For the seasoned travelers, the French style colonial architecture, good French wines, great food and interesting culture keep them interested. For those who seek solitude or calm, head to the Auroville Ashram in Pondicherry.

Temple entrance in B&W
There is so much that one can do here that you need multiple weekends here or even better if you have an extended holiday. With good road and rail networks, Pondicherry is very well connected with the rest of the country. And the hotels in Pondicherry span from a simple budget hotel to a colonial bungalow to beach side retreats making for a great set of options to choose from.

Bay of the Bengal view from Bungalow on the Beach
For those holidaying here, they need not just be limited to this seaside town. Instead, they can explore the UNESCO World heritage seashore temples at Mahabalipuram (about 50 kms north of Pondicherry), the massive Chidambaram Natarajar temple and one of the prime seats of Shaivism in India (about 70 kms south of Pondicherry) and/or the remote Danish town of Tranquebar (about 110 kms south of Pondicherry).

Western entrance to the sea shore temple
If temples and history, appeal to you, then you have lots of options in neighboring Tiruvannamalai or at Kumbakonam, the capital of South India’s temples. The best part about all this is that you can base yourself at Pondicherry and explore all these places as part of multiple day trips, according to your convenience and choice. There are many budget hotels in Pondicherry if you are a budget traveler. If you are not one, then the rich collection of Pondicherry hotels will ensure that you are spoilt for choices.

Go ahead and enjoy this rich and diverse town on India’s East Coast!!



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