Puducherry or Pondicherry is an Indian city with French flair; it was once the largest French colony within the subcontinent. There is a long history and unique culture to explore in what is nicknamed the French Riviera of the East. You can go to the beach in the morning, shop for hand-painted silk or go to a yoga class in the afternoon, and finish the day by sampling the best of French and Indian cuisine.
Where else can you enjoy the charms of the French Quarter, visit the beautifully ornate Varadaraja Perumal Temple, and take yoga or Bollywood singing and dancing lessons at the Sita Cultural Center, all within walking distance?
The combination of Indian and Mediterranean influences creates a wealth of options for foodies, including the best of Indian cuisine along with French wines and foods you wouldn't expect on the subcontinent.
The city offers a shop-till-you-drop experience, including local goods such as silk clothing, shoes, candles, jewelry, handmade paper, and many more local specialties, along with outlet shopping malls full of international goods.
The beach and promenade are among the city's most popular attractions, where you can swim and enjoy water sports, including scuba diving.
Just outside the city of Puducherry, Auroville is a utopian community founded as an experiment in universal living. You can visit and view marvels like the Matrimandir lotus-shaped dome gleaming with golden discs, shop, and much more.
With monsoon season from October to December, and summer temperatures that routinely hit above 100 degrees from April to June, many tourists choose to visit the city in the more moderate spring and fall seasons.
Chennai International Airport (MAA) is the closest to the city at a distance of about 84 miles. There are bus connections to Puducherry starting at ₹1,500.
The Puducherry Railway Station is one of India's oldest train hubs, with daily connections to Chennai and Tirupati, weekly service to Bhubaneswar, and overnight service to Bangalore.
The city is connected to other major centers throughout the region by well-maintained highways, including the picturesque ECR or East Coast Road to Chennai.
The Puducherry Road Transport Corporation or PRTC provides intercity bus service, with connections throughout Puducherry union territory and other major centers in the country, including Chennai and Hyderabad.
Enjoy the beach and seaside views in luxury at The Promenade Hotel. The Villa Shanti offers upscale accommodation with continental style in a convenient location in the French Quarter.
French Quarter - this is the main tourist area of the city, lined by charming Mediterranean-style buildings, with many places to shop and eat as you stroll along the street.
Indian Quarter - separated from the French Quarter by a canal, this is where you will find Indian/Tamil markets, shopping, and dining.
Promenade Beach - this is the city's most popular beach area, stretching for just under a mile along the Bay of Bengal.
Local bus service is provided by PRTC. Fares vary by zone, starting at ₹4.50.
Taxis are reasonably plentiful throughout the city, with fares that start at ₹6 per 0.6 miles.
The city is small, with most attractions within walking distance. There are a few local car rental companies, with rates that start at ₹300.
Mission Street is where you will find outlet shopping centers, including Kalki for local goods, and Casablanca and Titanic for international brands.
F&F and Go Pondy are two of the supermarket brands in the city. A gallon of milk costs ₹145 and a dozen eggs is ₹67.
You'll enjoy the menu of upscale Indian and Asian cuisine in the elegant rooftop dining room at Lighthouse, with views of the water. Mains start at ₹600. Enjoy the cafe atmosphere and French classics at Cafe des Arts, where main dishes start at ₹385.