My Ultimate Solo Travel Guide to Pondicherry, India
India’s Little France – Pondicherry is a union territory of India located in Tamil Nadu, and it is officially known as Puducherry. It shares most of its culture from the state of Tamil Nadu. But it has a unique style of its own as it was earlier colonised by the Dutch, French, and British in the 17th and 18th centuries. The houses, cafes, restaurants, churches, and even shops have a French flair which is quite noticeable.
Once you visit Pondicherry, you will forget that you are in India as this place looks quite different. The natural beauty and the richly diverse culture of this place are nothing short of marvellous. The locals are spiritually inclined and practice their meditation and yoga diligently – something you should also try during your solo trip to Pondicherry.
Before you get all hyped up and book your tickets, here’s my ultimate solo travel guide to Pondicherry so that you can make the most out of your visit.
How to reach Pondicherry?
If you are travelling from the southern part of India and you wish to travel by road, you can take an overnight bus or book a taxi. You can also rent a car for the entirety of your trip, which will save your transportation costs in the city.
Alternatively, you can reach Pondicherry by train too. The Pondicherry Railway Station is well connected to all major cities in the country and easily accessible too.
The Pondicherry Airport is well connected to the Kempegowda International Airport (Bangalore) and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (Hyderabad), and both of these cities have daily flights to Pondicherry. If you are a foreign traveller, you can take a flight to either of these cities and then reach Pondicherry by a connecting flight.
Best time to visit Pondicherry
The best time to visit Pondicherry is from October to March as the temperature ranges from 22°C to 32°C. You can experience the rainfall here in October, November, and December. The climate in January, February, and March are dry with little to no rainfall.
If you do not mind the heat, you can also travel in the summer season. Temperatures can vary from 25°C to 36°C, so keep your sunscreen and hats handy and wear the required clothing. During the monsoon season, it can rain quite a lot, but it is nothing to worry about – that’s the beauty of Pondicherry weather!
Affordable places to stay in Pondicherry
While in Pondicherry, you can spend peaceful nights wherever you want – hotels, homestays, or even the hotels near the airport. I have compiled a list of affordable places where you can stay during your solo trip to Pondicherry.
- Ramana Residency, Orleanpet – ₹900 to ₹1200 per night
- Hotel Ram International, Chathiram – ₹1500 to ₹1800 per night
- Hotel Green Palace, Pudupalaiyam – ₹1850 to 2100 per night
- Nila Home Stay, White Town – ₹1750 to ₹2000 per night
- Les Hibiscus, White Town – ₹2000 to ₹2700 per night
- Dumas Guest House, White Town – ₹2200 per night
Near the airport
- Ginger Hotel, Marie Oulgaret – ₹1500 to ₹2300 per night
- Hotel Bon Sejour, Kuyavarpalayam – ₹1600 to 1900 per night
- Hotel Atithi, Heritage Town – ₹2700 to ₹2900 per night
Top tourist places to visit in Pondicherry
Pondicherry is known for its French flair, beaches, and ancient temples and churches. Out of the numerous places that you can visit in Pondicherry, here’s a list of my favourites places that I visited during my solo trip.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Founded by Sri Aurobindo, this is the most-visited tourist spot in Pondicherry. It is a spiritual ashram that expanded over a few years as more and more disciples gathered to seek spirituality. Not only is this place popular because people try to seek divinity and simplicity in life, but it is also one of the biggest ashrams in the country and the one that you must visit. You can meditate and relax in the ashram, and it usually takes a couple of hours to see the entire ashram. So, I would suggest that you try to visit the ashram in the morning.
It is a township where people from all parts of the world and of all ages live together. Mirra Alfassa established it in 1968 and was a follower of Sri Aurobindo. Many people called her “Mother” out of love. This is such a serene place, and it will bring you immense peace once you visit here. You can meditate and learn some new yoga asanas as well. Make sure you take out a couple of hours to visit this place and don’t be in a hurry to leave while you are here, as it may be considered disrespectful.
This is one of the major tourist attractions in Pondicherry. It was constructed by the French in the nineteenth century and had a focal height of 48 metres. It gives an amazing view of the city from a great height. Keep in mind that it is open only from 3 pm to 7 pm, but the best time to visit is around sunset. I would recommend you visit the lighthouse on weekdays as it usually gets crowded at other times.
What are beaches made up of? Sand? Well, think again! The Rock Beach in Pondicherry replaces the sand with rocks, and let me tell you – it is beautiful! While there are not any water sports, unlike other beaches, the view from Rock Beach is stunning. You can watch the sunrise, or sunset, or just sit in a café. You can also walk around the beach for as long as you want. Try not to visit this beach late at night as the police patrols the area and asks everyone to get back to their residence.
This is a peaceful and relaxing beach that you can reach only on a ferry. You will not be allowed to visit the beach in your private car or a cab/taxi. You will have to take a ferry from Pondicherry, which will drop you on Paradise Beach. While the journey on the ferry is a fascinating one, the beach in itself is even better. Not only does this beach make you feel relaxed from a tiring day, but it is also the perfect spot for your next Instagram post.
The beauty of this beach during sunset will leave you lost for words, and even if you don’t enjoy photography, the sunset will make you take out your phone and click at least a couple of pictures.
Golden sand, palm trees, views of the Bay of Bengal – these are some of the features of the Serenity Beach in Pondicherry. Well, the name of the beach says it all. Unlike other beaches, this one is not crowded, and you can have some quiet time here. You can also click some great shots of the sunset or simply take a walk – whatever you like. Not only photography, but the water sports and shopping complexes here are other things you wouldn’t want to miss!
Best places to shop in Pondicherry
Located on Mission Street in Heritage Town, Casablanca is open from 10 in the morning to 10 at night. You can find everything related to fashion here. From the simplest type of clothing to the fanciest, from loungewear to kurtas and dresses, they have it all here. This place primarily only sells clothes, and I recommend that you take out a few hours to explore it all and get your hands on some traditional clothes.
Serenity Beach Bazaar
Located on Serenity Beach, this bazaar sells a variety of items like clothes, accessories, handicrafts, souvenirs, and a lot more. Make sure you bargain a lot here. Because more often than not, the sellers try to charge a lot more than what the item is actually worth. If you aren’t into shopping, buy a souvenir or two as this bazaar is quite famous for that.
Where do you find good quality leather items? No, not in fancy malls, but in Hidesign on Jawaharlal Nehru Street. You might think that these items would be made using low-quality leather, but absolutely not. You can find wallets, belts, handbags, all made of high-quality leather and a price cheaper than the big-name brands! If you do not wish to spend a lot of money, you can also buy second-hand products here. In addition to this, you can also find a café on the top floor to fuel yourself if you get tired of shopping.
Muthu Silk Plaza
Located in Heritage Town, this place is a heaven for all solo female travellers. This is your go-to shop to buy anything made of silk. And the six yards of sheer elegance – the saree, that’s the bestseller here. The quality is amazing, and these are an absolute steal. They also sell kids’ wear and men’s wear, just in case you want any of it for a friend or family member back home.
If you appreciate and like handmade items, then this place is for you. It is one of the unique shopping places that you’ll find, and I was surprised looking at the variety of handmade items they sell. Located on Aurobindo Street, this place sells all the colourful, fashionable, and trendy handicrafts. I would highly recommend you visit this place as it sells some true masterpieces.
Top places to beat your hunger black and blue!
Café Des Arts, White Town
This is hands down one of the best cafes in Pondicherry that offers mouth-watering French dishes. You will also find a wide variety of desserts that will find a place in your tummy even if you’re full. This is the perfect place to visit after a long tiring day of sightseeing as it can fill your tummy without burning a hole in your pocket. It is open from 8:30 in the morning until 7 in the evening, and an average meal will cost you ₹300.
Surguru Restaurant, Heritage Town
Is your solo trip to south India even worth it if you don’t eat south Indian food? I tried a lot of dishes here, but my absolute favourite was their dosa. They also serve a variety of French dishes, which are no less than delectable. This can be your perfect spot for breakfast as it opens at 6:30 in the morning and shuts at 11 at night. A bellyful meal here will cost you no more than ₹200.
Appachi Chettinad Restaurant, MG Road
The name says it all – this place is south Indian to the core. It is one of the most popular restaurants in Pondicherry, and it won’t disappoint you. The restaurant specialises in ‘Chettinad’ (a Southern Tamil Nadu region) dishes, as the name suggests, and seafood. It is open from 12 in the afternoon to 3:30 in the evening and then from 7 pm to 10:30 pm. The perfect way to become ₹250 poorer is to eat the Dum Biryani here! Trust me, it is drool-worthy! Also, remember that most Chettinad dishes are spicy, but you can always let any Indian restaurant know about your spice tolerance level!
Les Alizes, White Town
When it comes to beautiful restaurants in Pondicherry, this one tops my list! Located on a rooftop, it offers spectacular views of the White Town. It offers a variety of cuisines, some of them being continental, seafood, and south Indian. Something as simple as appam (a famous south Indian pancake made of rice flour) and mutton curry is a bestseller here. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with breaks in between. A meal here will cost you around ₹800.
Fun facts about Pondicherry
- It has the third-largest Gandhi statue located in White Town, which is about 4 metres tall.
- It is the only place where you can go scuba diving on India’s East Coast. How cool is that?
- The famous Rock Beach has rocks, not sand.
- Pondicherry celebrates its own Independence Day on the 16th of August (the rest of the country celebrates it on the 15th of August!).
And it comes to an end…
Well, that’s it for this blog. I hope this blog helped you understand what Pondicherry has to offer. I would highly recommend you to plan a solo trip to Pondicherry because there is nothing like it, trust me! And if you would like to explore everything that Pondicherry has to offer, click here.
If you happen to travel to Pondicherry, I would love to know about your experiences in the comments section. And if you have any doubts regarding anything related to Pondicherry, feel free to ask about it in the comments section.
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.