Pondicherry or Puducherry is a small union territory in the southern part of India. It is to date known for its leftovers of the French colonial era. The white town is one such town in Pondicherry. Standing close to the Arabian sea, this little town is the first place most people come to after arriving in Pondicherry.
In this blog, let me point out the “Things to do” in and around the White Town area.
To start exploring the place, there’s nothing better than renting a bike or motorbike. Bike rentals are cheap in Puducherry. There are motorbikes available from INR 350 and bicycles for INR 60 per day.
There are online services available. But, I always prefer booking it offline from here. They would require the IDs to get the bikes and a time period fixed for the price. The whole of Pondicherry other than the White Town can also be covered on a two-wheeler.
White Town and French colony
The White Town is where the french settlements or quarters are, and the difference in architecture is clearly noticeable. The many houses of those times are renovated into resorts and cafes. Some are kept as it is.
Its the colours of the houses and buildings caught my attention the most. Some of the pastels and some of them very bright. Out of all, yellow seemed to rule the most. A bike ride through different lanes of the White Town will help explore the place.
Each road and lane have a French name and recently given names. So, most boards carry Tamil and French names of the pocket lanes. Other than the rush of tourists, the normal life goes on in this town as usual.
Churches, Temples And Ashrams
There are different churches and cathedrals inside the lanes of the White Town. Notre dame des angles church, Immaculate Conception Cathedral are to name a few. They do have daily services too.
I don’t know what was going on, but, there were these ribbons decorated on one of the roads. Looked pretty cool.
There is a famous temple too, Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple is famous but I haven’t been to. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is also situated in the White Town close to the beach. Many come here to learn Sri Aurobindo’s teachings on Integral Yoga.
Normally called Rock beach or Promenade beach, it is the seafront part of the town. It stretches a long way with a well-paved footpath. Evenings get crowded with buzzing flea markets and people coming for a walk.
The waves crashing on the rocks is something refreshing. On a closer look, there were these dots on the rocks, clams maybe? We were standing on those rocks one day taking in all the good vibes when there was something moving in between the rocks.
It was a mongoose coming out for some fresh air. The school kids sitting on the rocks got a little scared with our not-that-loud screams. But, it was all normal it seems.
Parks And Botanical Garden
There is a park in the White Town which opens in the morning and evening. There is also a botanical garden that is much visited. I have never been to the botanical garden but it seems like a nice place for those who are interested in plants.
Archives, Theaters And Art Galleries
Finding Puducherry Archives was an accident. They have a great collection of books and newspapers. I was interested in their newspaper collection. The newspapers are kept in folders categorized based on the year.
It was interesting to see advertisements from the old times and the language. Compared to the colourful newspapers we have today, they were all so bland with only black and white and small font. But, there’s a beauty to the vintage stuff!
We also found this theater on the side of the road which is also an old building. There was another small place that showed indigenous pieces and from the colonial era. We skipped both but they seem to be great places to visit for art lovers.
Pondicherry is a famous weekend getaway from the nearby cities like Bengaluru and Chennai. This has a lot to do with the inexpensive alcohol available in Pondicherry. There are many cafes that offer a good place to relax and just enjoy the beach weather.
Most cafes also have colourful paintings and art which makes it a social media hotspot. Hope cafe has this huge angel wing right outside their cafe. There are other cafes, both courtyard ones, and closed ones.
Some of them are really cute with their colour choices. Some lanes have many cafes and It is always difficult to choose between them.
Baker street is one of the places everyone seemed to love. They have croissants, macarons, and other baked items. A little overpriced though. The same street has many street food options too.
The white Town also has many options to shop for art pieces and clothes. There are also brands from Auroville, which is a sustainable global township a little far from Pondicherry. I really love some of the pieces they displayed.
There was this handcraft exhibition center I liked. I always wanted such dream catchers and they had a good collection of them. There were many other craft pieces that would make a room alive.
Since it was not the weekend and election going on at the time of our visit, the shops just getting set up. It was a real test to not spend much on the tiny cute items here.
It is hard to find the streets of Pondicherry, especially the white town empty. With many colourful buildings and walls around, it is a perfect place for taking pictures.
The walls on most streets of Pondicherry is made interesting with the graffiti. Most of them convey awareness messages and quotes. Few building ruins are also painted to keep up with the rest of the street.
That is pretty much everything to explore in White Town. More than the activities, its the little things like the colourful buildings, windows and hanging verandas that make the place special.