Pondicherry Journals

Pondicherry: India à la Française

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A December 2006 trip to Pondicherry by phileasfogg

Aurobindo Ashram Tours Photo, Pondicherry, India More Photos
Quote: On India's east coast is the distinctly Gallic enclave of Pondicherry. From policeman in red kepis, to cuisine that combines coconuts with brioches: Pondicherry prevails!

Pondicherry: India à la Française

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Overview

Vintage Pondicherry - the French Quarter Photo, Pondicherry, India
Quote:
Pondicherry is divided into two fairly distinct parts: the Tamil section, virtually indistinguishable from the neighbouring state of Tamilnadu; and the French quarter, an enticingly Gallic area. Of the two, French Pondicherry is where you should be headed for all the top sights. Just walking along the neat grid of streets - all of them with delightfully French names - is enough to make you fall in love with Pondicherry. The houses here are pale yellow and white; the grills on the windows and the flowering trees on the pavement are quaintly colonial, while the street names- written in white on dark blue rectangles nailed to the corners of streets- look straight out of Europe. Against this backdrop, the...Read More

Hotel De L’Orient

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Hotel

Hotel De L’Orient Photo, Pondicherry, India
Quote:
The Neemrana Group is my favourite chain in India, so their Hotel De L’Orient was the obvious choice for our Pondicherry sojourn. The 16-room villa was once owned by a local merchant family, the Sinnas. (There’s a delightful early 1900s family portrait opposite the reception. Demure sari-clad women, men with magnificent moustaches and huge turbans - and with incongruously French names: Edouard, Thérèse, and the like.) The Hotel opened in 2000, after extensive restoration. We arrived at the hotel after a tiring Delhi-Chennai flight, followed by a three hour cab ride. Our room, Nellore, (named after a historic town in Southern India: Calicut, Seringapatam, and Masulipatam are some of the other room...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

Hotel De L’Orient
17, Rue Romain Rolland
Pondicherry, India
+91 (0413)-2343067

Aurobindo Ashram Tours

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Attraction | "Aurobindo Ashram"

Aurobindo Ashram Tours Photo, Pondicherry, India
Quote:
In the early 1920s, an Indian freedom fighter called Aurobindo Ghosh, hotly pursued by the British in India, was forced to flee the country to escape retribution for his anti-colonial activities. He chose to quit the administrative boundaries of British India, but not its geographical area: he came to Pondicherry, which, being a French enclave, was technically another country. Aurobindo, or as he is universally known, Sri Aurobindo - made Pondicherry his home and the centre of a non-denominational spiritual movement that today draws a vast number of adherents from across the world. The Aurobindo Ashram on Rue de La Marine is home to the tomb and memorial of Aurobindo, and is one of Pondicherry’s ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

Aurobindo Ashram Tours
Aurobindo Ashram
Pondicherry, India

Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges

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Attraction

Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges Photo, Pondicherry, India
Quote:
I’d only been to Pondicherry once before, way back in 1994. I was on a whirlwind tour of South India with my parents, and we stopped for a few hours at Pondicherry en route to Ooty. Since we didn’t have much time, we ended up seeing only two sights - the War Memorial and the nearest church, a striking lemon-yellow and peach confection with twin towers. I didn’t know at that time what the church was called, but the image stayed in my mind. So much so that when I went back to Pondicherry this time, I insisted on hunting down the church. It was easy to find. Down the beachfront, past Rue Mahe de Labourdonnais, beyond the War Memorial - and there it was. Square towers flank the main building, all of ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges
Rue Dumas
Pondicherry, India

Eglise de Sacre Couer de Jesus

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Attraction

Eglise de Sacre Couer de Jesus Photo, Pondicherry, India
Quote:
The Eglise de Sacre Coeur de Jesus - the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - is one of Pondicherry’s most prominent churches- in more ways than one. It is, for instance, rather hard to miss. It stands just beyond the railway station, on the opposite side of the road, and is one of those big, bright, ostentatious (though not strictly beautiful) buildings that are nevertheless striking. The Eglise de Sacre Coeur has all the trappings of a typically Gothic church: rose windows, twin spires, imposing facade. The effect is rather dampened by the somewhat startling colour scheme: deep red, dark green, and white. The interior of the church is an unusual blend of French colonial and South Indian. The w...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

Eglise de Sacre Couer de Jesus
South Boulevard
Pondicherry, India

Boutique D’Auroville

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Attraction | "La Boutique D’Auroville"

Boutique D’Auroville Photo, Pondicherry, India
Quote:
Auroville houses an international community of people who’ve come from far and wide, drawn by the spiritual legacy of Shri Aurobindo and the Mother. The resident population is very cosmopolitan, but they share one thing in common: they believe in serving humanity. And fortunately enough for those who like shopping, that service takes some very tangible, material forms. Auroville is a busy centre for a number of cottage industries - small scale establishments that make everything from jams to handmade paper to silk scarves and sarongs. Auroville’s many products are available at Auroville, of course; but since we didn’t have the time to do the half-hour one-way trip to Auroville, we settled for the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

Boutique D’Auroville
Nehru Street
Pondicherry, India

Pondicherry Botanical Garden/Jardin Botanique

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Attraction | "Le Jardin Botanique"

Pondicherry Botanical Garden/Jardin Botanique Photo, Pondicherry, India
Quote:
A trip to Le Jardin Botanique is easily combined with a visit to the Eglise de Sacre Coeur - the gardens are just a few minutes’ drive along the road. All taxi drivers or rickshaw-wallahs wouldn’t know the gardens as Jardin Botanique, so ask for the Botanical Gardens instead. We visited Le Jardin Botanique late one Sunday morning. There were a few people around - mainly lovey-dovey couples looking for a bit of privacy, and a handful of men who seemed more interested in lounging around and gossiping than in looking at the gardens. Entry to the gardens is free, and in our opinion, rightly so - I would probably not want to pay to visit something that was, on the whole, fairly disappointing. ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 24, 2007

Pondicherry Botanical Garden/Jardin Botanique
West Boulevard
Pondicherry, India