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Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, Pondicherry
Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, Pondicherry | © Chris Hobcroft / Flickr
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13 Must-Visit Attractions in Pondicherry, India

Picture of Arun Venkatraman
Updated: 4 April 2018
A rare French colonial centre in India, Pondicherry is known for its quaint colonial-style cafes, beautiful promenades and partying scene. It’s a perfect destination for a seaside vacation. If you’re planning a visit to this beautiful coastal town, here are some of the best tourist attractions and destinations that you should definitely not miss.

White Town Promenade, Pondicherry

Bazaar, Market
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White Town Promenade is one of the most identifiable landmarks of Pondicherry
White Town Promenade is one of the most identifiable landmarks of Pondicherry | © Sanyam Bahga / WikiCommons
White Town was the residential quarters of the French in Pondicherry. The entire neighbourhood has great examples of colonial French architecture, and is often compared to seaside towns in the south of France. With heritage buildings and a large number of French cafes, the biggest highlight is the White Town Promenade, one of the most beautiful promenades in India. With well-defined seating, amazing sea views, and beautiful cafes such as the Le Cafe, the White Town Promenade is one of the most visited places in Pondicherry. Hidden behind its French exterior are influences of Indian and local Tamil cultures as well, evident in the handicrafts markets and street food.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
5:00 am - 12:00 am

Accessibility & Audience:

Dog Friendly, Kid Friendly, Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Gift Shop, Vintage, Free, No Smoking

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark, Scenic, Photo Opportunity, Instagrammable, Touristy

Pondicherry University Beach

Natural Feature, University
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Pondicherry's coastline boasts of a number of lesser-known beaches such as the University Beach
Pondicherry's coastline boasts of a number of lesser-known beaches such as the University Beach | ©Travel Moments / Pixabay
The Pondicherry University Beach in Kalapet is the northern-most beach in Pondicherry, and one of the least commercialised and secluded beaches in the Union Territory. Known for its golden sands and popular resorts such as Tanto, this beach is extremely popular among foreign tourists. It is also a lot cleaner than other beaches in the region. Located on the border between Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, this beach is also in proximity to the Auroville township.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
6:00 am - 11:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Dog Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Free

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Local, Scenic, Peaceful

Matrimandir, Auroville

Memorial, Theater, Shrine
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The Matrimandir dome is an meditation amphitheatre located at the centre of Auroville
The Matrimandir dome is an meditation amphitheatre located at the centre of Auroville | © Santoshnc / WikiCommons
An important architectural landmark in the region surrounding Pondicherry, this golden meditation temple is located right in the middle of Auroville and acts as a de facto centre of the entire town. While entry into the golf ball-shaped Matrimandir is open only to Aurovillians, visitors who register a day in advance can go to the viewing point near the structure.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Free, No Smoking

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Scenic, Architectural Landmark, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity, Peaceful

Auroville Market

Market
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The experimental city/township of Auroville is without a doubt one of the biggest tourist crowd-pullers near Pondicherry. Living there requires forsaking the use of money, and the long-term and absolute commitment to its principles of unity. Located approximately 8 km from Pondicherry’s city centre, one of the most popular destinations in Auroville is the Auroville Main Road Market. While it has far fewer shops and stalls than most common markets, the marketplace is pretty well-known for its handicrafts and traditional merchandise made and marketed by Aurovillians.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
9:00 am - 10:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Gift Shop, Boutique

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Crowded, Touristy, Local

Auroville Bakery and Boulangerie

Bakery, French, Gluten-free, Pastries, $$$
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Alcohol is prohibited in Auroville, meaning it attracts a different crowd from the one in Pondicherry. This and a burgeoning offbeat tourism scene has given rise to a number of great cafes, bakeries and restaurants in the area that are known for their gourmet menus, locally-sourced food and variety of cuisines. Of particular note is the famous Auroville Bakery & Boulangerie, which sources all its ingredients locally and has a beautiful garden seating area.
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Sun - Mon:
7:00 am - 5:30 pm

Meal service:

Breakfast, Dessert, Brunch

Atmosphere:

Casual, Quiet, Relaxed

Paradise Beach

Natural Feature
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Paradise Beach in Pondicherry is counted as one of the best hidden beaches in India
Paradise Beach in Pondicherry is counted as one of the best hidden beaches in India | © Ehteesham Khatri / WikiCommons
Paradise Beach is perhaps the most beautiful beach in Pondicherry. Located where the Chunnambar River meets the Bay of Bengal, the beach is inaccessible by road and can only be reached via a five-minute ferry ride from the boathouse. The beach is well equipped with lifeguards and despite its remoteness, there are a few restaurants and eateries. Paradise Beach is not only bigger than other beaches in Pondy, it is also one of the emptiest and cleanest beaches in the Union Territory.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
9:30 am - 4:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Lifeguard, Outdoor Showers

Atmosphere:

White Sand, Scenic, Photo Opportunity, Instagrammable, Outdoors

Chunnambar Boat House

Natural Feature, Park
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The cafe inside Chunnambar Boat House
The cafe inside Chunnambar Boat House | © Manish Sharma / Flickr
One of the best ways to experience Pondicherry’s pristine natural beauty is to take the ferry from Chunnamber Boat House, located near the mouth of the Chunnamber Creek, which operates boating and other leisure services. While the Chunnamber Boat House is best known as the sole access point to Paradise Beach, it also has options for a number of great activities such as backwater boating.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
9:30 am - 4:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Lifeguard, No Smoking, Entrance Fee, Gift Shop, Boat Rental

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Scenic, Photo Opportunity, Instagrammable

Serenity Beach, Pondicherry

Natural Feature
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Over the recent years, Serenity Beach in Pondicherry has come up as one of the most important surfing destinations in the region
Over the recent years, Serenity Beach in Pondicherry has come up as one of the most important surfing destinations in the region | © Karthik Easvur / WikiCommons
Serenity Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Pondicherry, for good reason. While its natural beauty alone is reason enough to visit, in recent years it has also become quite popular as a surfing destination. The beach has board rental shops and popular surf schools, as the waves here are perfect for surfing. Surfing classes for beginners can be had for around Rs. 1,500 per session.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
6:00 am - 8:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Dog Friendly, Kid Friendly, Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Rentals, Lifeguard, Free

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Photo Opportunity, Scenic, Crowded

Arikamedu, Pondicherry

Archeological site
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Arikamedu is one of the most important early-historic archaeological sites in the region
Arikamedu is one of the most important early-historic archaeological sites in the region | © NShivaa / WikiCommons
Located just 7 km from the centre of Pondicherry is the ancient settlement of Arikamedu, which once served as an important trading post in the region. Ruins of the settlement have been a subject of intensive studies, and several excavations at the site have revealed trade links to the Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus Caesar. The site is spread over nearly 34 acres, and is currently managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. Its importance can be gauged by the fact that it is mentioned in the famous 1st-century map Periplus of the Erythraen Sea, where it is identified as Emporium.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours, Free

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Architectural Landmark

Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple

Hindu Temple
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The Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple has the unique distinction of being the only Hindu temple in White Town
The Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple has the unique distinction of being the only Hindu temple in White Town | © Jonas Buchcholz / WikiCommons
This famous old temple is the only Hindu place of worship in White Town. Dedicated to the elephant-headed Hindu god Vinayaka (Ganesh), the temple is famous for its depiction of all the forms of the god, and also for the myths attached to it. The temple is one of the few in the region that predate the French occupation of Pondicherry, and is one of the most popular places of worship and pilgrimage in the town.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
5:45 am - 12:30 pm
Sun - Mon:
4:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Blind), Accessible (Deaf), Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Worship services, No Smoking, Free

Atmosphere:

Indoors, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Peaceful

Immaculate Conception Cathedral, White Town

Church
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With history going back to 1699, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Pondicherry
With history going back to 1699, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Pondicherry | © BishkekRocks / Wiki Commons
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Pondicherry’s White Town is one of the oldest and grandest churches in the region. It’s history goes back to the 18th century. The present cathedral is the last of four churches built on this ground since 1699, and is an architectural landmark in Pondicherry. The cathedral was visited by Mother Teresa, and it holds an important annual feast known as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary, on 8th December.
More Info
Mon - Sat:
5:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun:
5:00 am - 7:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Worship services, No Smoking, Free

Atmosphere:

Quiet, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Peaceful

Pondicherry Museum, White Town

History Museum
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While its identity is deeply rooted in its French heritage, the actual history of the region goes back nearly 2000 years, when ports and settlements such as Arikamedu (8 km from Pondicherry) served as a point of contact with the Roman empire. Check out the Pondicherry Museum, which houses several rare artifacts. Apart from items establishing the presence of trade links with Rome, the museum is also home to sculptures and stonework from the Pallava and Chola dynasties. The museum is also popular for its wealth of exhibits relating to the French rule in Pondicherry.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair), Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

No Smoking

Atmosphere:

Indoors, Historical Landmark, Touristy

Auroville Beach

Natural Feature
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Auroville Beach in Pondicherry is one of the most important nesting grounds for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles
Auroville Beach in Pondicherry is one of the most important nesting grounds for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles | © Pinku Halder / WikiCommons
This beautiful beach is one of the best lesser-known beaches of Pondicherry, and is the closest to Auroville. While the waters here are dangerous for swimming, the beach is often uncrowded, and is easily accessible from the arterial East Coast Road. The beach is also a popular nesting ground for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.
More Info
Sun - Mon:
5:00 am - 8:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Dog Friendly, Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Lifeguard, Free

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity, Scenic