Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East

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Puducherry is the Tamil explanation of “new town”. It mainly acquires from “Poduke”, meaning a port town or marketplace. In the 1st century, for Roman trade, the same is mentioned in The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. Later it gained importance as “The French Riviera of the East” after French colonization in India began. Thats Interesting! 

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
The Tamilian side of Puducherry

I woke up early morning and sat on my balcony, enjoying the morning weather and hearing the chants of the temple. It was 5 am, and the atmosphere was filled with incense fragrance. I quickly took a bath & got dressed to visit the Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple.

Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple

It was dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of the oldest temples in Pondicherry. I stood for a few mins looking at the Dravidian architectural patterns, five-tiered gopuram, sculptured towers and a granite wall surrounding the temple, enclosing all its shrines. It is presumed that the temple was built in the 12th century by the Cholas & later expanded by the Pandayas. 

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple

The temple follows the Vaikasana Agama tradition of worship. Venkatachalapathy is the chief deity revered here, and behind his idol is located Lord Vishnu’sVishnu’s avatar, Lord Narasimha’s idol. 

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
Lord Vishnu

Moreover, Lord Vishnu as Varadaraja Perumal and Goddess Lakshmi as Thayar avatars are also revered at the temple. The architecture is just stunning and remarkable to look at! I offered my prayers and spent some time in spirituality.

Interior of the temple

Later I walked to Arulmigu manakula vinayagar temple, it was a 15min walk from the Varadaraja Perumal Temple. The morning street was deserted; I checked my watch at 7.30 am. 

Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple

Dedicated to lord Ganesha, this temple is renowned for its significance, heritage, and culture. The temple’s history dates back at least 500 years, featuring traditional Dravidian Architecture with an array of friezes and stucco figurines that make the overall structure look impressive.

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple

I stood at the temple entrance gaping at the 18 feet of Kodi Kambam laminated in gold. I walked inside with other devotees, just to be astonished by the golden chariot on which Lord Ganesha Idol is placed. The chariot is made of teak wood and gold racks. 

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
Golden Chariot of Lord Ganesha

The golden chariot was created solely from the donations given by the devotees in the temple. It was fascinating! The beautiful architectural design also features a mandapam, a Prahara, and a Raja gopuram, where the statues of the deities are kept. 

Interior of the temple

I offered my prayers and sat in the temple for a while to vibe with the chants recited by the priest. Besides that, an elephant Lakshmi, blesses people with her trunk daily from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm. I saw her resting in the morning. Well, old temples always carry a history with them. And this temple has two tales attached to its name. 

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
The God & Goddess

It was said in 1688 that the French built a fort next to the temple. And they thought of removing the temple from its location to create an impact. Hence they decided to throw the idol of Ganesha into the sea. But to their surprise, every time they did, the icon used to reappear on its own. Seeing this, the French people gave up and became ardent followers of the Lord.

Lord Ganesha

Another ancient story around this temple states that, almost 300 years ago, a saint had glittering eyes and a broad forehead who attained samadhi at this holy site through his liberation. Since then, it has been considered a good place for newborn babies. Be the reason Lord Ganesha removes all the obstacles in your life and fulfils all your wishes. Hence people make out time to visit this temple.

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East

Finally, I was done with my temple hooping, it was 8 am, & my hunger pangs were hitting me hard. Therefore I walked to La Maison Rose, a 5 min walk from the temple. As I walked passed, I realized the dualism does not end with the colonial division of the Old Town into White and Black, French and Tamil—it remains the essence of Puducherry.

La Maison Rose 

It is a French architecture boutique-styled restaurant, a classic & premier in a white town. The backdrop of this cafe is a historical villa in French colonial style. 

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
La Maison Rose

The cafe might not have Michelin stars like Paris, but it offers a discerning gastronome. There’s plenty to appeal to more relaxed tastes, too. I was awed by the aesthetic of the cafe. I spent one-hour savouring delicacy & clicking some best Instagram pictures.

Interior of the Cafe

I next drove to Arikamedu, an abandoned city and a flourishing Indo-Roman trade centre during the 1st century BC. It is located 7km south of Pondicherry on the bank of the Ariyankuppam River.


Far from the din and bustle of a city, it is the only surviving historical place with a cultural continuity from 300 BC-1800 AD. My auto driver gave ample information about Arikamedu, a bridge between Roman and Indian architecture. It was approx 25min auto rides, and I have always been curious to visit the less explored places.

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
Entrance to the Old Fort

As I entered the site, I saw the relics of walls, columns and mortars standing forlorn along the bank of the Ariyankuppam River. It took me back to the glorious days of Roman trade. The dilapidated 18th-century Jesuit Mission is one of the striking relics of French architecture and a sight to behold!

Ruins of the fort

 The French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil indicated that the city had a fascinating urban settlement between 100 BC and 100 AD. And this archaeological evidence authenticates the writing.

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East

I walked further into the precincts of Arikamedu, marked by a fencing ASI. I saw a derelict structure of a thoroughfare standing amidst palm and coconut-fringed verdant meadows. It was the entrance to the leading site.

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East
Parts of lost port

Also, amidst the ruins, the feeble existence of a storehouse reminded me of the prosperous economy of the Orient and its exchange of riches with the Occident. It is the only port with a history of Tamilian trade with Imperial Rome. This beauty of history stupified me.


Next, I rode to Veerampattinam, one of the biggest coastal villages between Puducherry and Cuddalore. This village is surrounded by a river from both ends which protects it from the cyclone. And the coastline of the Veerampattinam beach is marked with beautiful lush greenery. Just Mesmerizing!

Veerampattinam Beach

I was amazed at the extensively long coastline immaculately covered with foliage. The Veerampattinam beach was once a port of trade with the Romans, the Arabs, the Greeks, and the Chinese.

Long Coast Line

I took coconut water & sat to witness fishermen working with traditional equipment and nets at dedicated spots on the beach. I even tried some local cuisine offered at the shops on the beach, then took a walk on the golden sands clicking memories made in flip-flops. 

Fishermen coast

My next place was Auroville – A township started by Mirra Alfassa, which was built to promote the teachings of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh. I visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram yesterday and was aware of Auroville’s history—a 40 mins ride from Veerampattinam.


It is an international town in Pondy, fondly called “Soul of the City”. And Matrimandir is one such place that gained people’s attention worldwide because of its spiritual significance. Matrimandir means “Temple of The Mother” or “Mother’s Shrine”, which welcomes people to practice integral yoga. They can silently concentrate on their inner self and discover mental peace from within the body.

Puducherry: The French Riviera of the East

The concept of Auroville came to the Mother as early as the 1930s, and Mirra Alfassa, one of her followers, developed it in 1965. This ideal township devoted to an experiment in human unity was affirmed by UNESCO in 1996. It was confirmed as an important project for the future of humanity. The primary purpose of Auroville was to highlight human unity and help society to advance to the next stage of supramental and spiritual consciousness from their present life of adventure.

Inauguration of Auroville

Around 5000 people assembled near the banyan tree on 28th February 1968, at the centre of the future township, for an inauguration ceremony. It was attended by representatives of 124 nations, including all the States of India. And they come from 49 countries of all age groups and various backgrounds, social classes, and cultures, representing humanity as a whole. The representatives brought some soil from their homeland to be mixed in a lotus-shaped urn white marble-clad, Amphitheatre. 

Banyan tree

Simultaneously, the Mother gave Auroville its 4-point Charter on the same day. Designed by the famous French architect Roger Anger, the construction of the Matrimandir started in January 1970. The Mother gave node to the final design in 1971, and it took almost 37 years to complete its structure. And finally, in the year 2008, it was officially inaugurated and opened to the public.

Entrance to MatriMandir

I wandered around the 12 gardens, a theatre, a Visitors Centre with an art gallery, and a video theatre. And I finally visited the boutique shops to indulge in some shopping.


My last destination of the day was Serenity Beach, a Calm and secluded. But before that, I walked into Bread & Chocolate, a small bakery cum cafe in Auroville. Although the offerings are limited, I had butter croissants & hot chocolate before heading out.

Serenity beach

It is around 8km from Auroville, and I reached the beach when sunset. And name serenity given is because of the tranquillity it exudes on all travellers. Though earlier known as Thanthirayan Kuppam Beach. Upon reaching, I saw the beach anchored with fishermen’s boats and other gear along the coast.

Serenity beach

However, the beach is made of white sand along a rocky stretch. I took the walkway made up of stones to sit & watch the sunset. It is a beautiful place for photography. 

Sunset Serenity beach

It was getting dark; hence I decided to drive & spend my evening at leisure at a hotel. The whole day excursion tired me, and the humid weather was sweaty. I needed a bath & good sleep. And also, plan for tomorrow as it’s the last day in Pondy.

How to Reach 

By Air: 

Puducherry does have an airport and can accommodate the landing of a small aircraft only. However, Chennai is the second nearest domestic, approximately 135 kilometres from Puducherry. Upon reaching, hire a cab to reach Puducherry.

By Rail:

Villupuram is the nearest railhead to Puducherry, about 35 kilometres away. This railway station is well-connected with New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, and Trivandrum. Upon reaching, hire a cab to reach Pondicherry.

By Roads:

Puducherry is connected via Chennai, Thanjavur, Trichy, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Madurai. Both private and state-owned buses frequently ply. Even one can self-drive from these cities to Puducherry.



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