Visit Pondicherry

Visit Pondicherry

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Book Specification

Item Code: IHL612
Author: Arun Mittal
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Edition: 2000
ISBN: 8172761899
Pages: 94 (15 Color Illustration with Maps)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch

Book Description

From the Jacket

Travelling, for the author of this book, is a passion, not a profession. Till date, he has visited places in the states of Kerala, T.N., A.P., Karnatka, Assam, Meghalaya, Andaman & Nicobar, J & K, H.P., Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, M.P., Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar, W. Bengal, Goa and Pondicherry. He has crossed over or touched the borders of Bhutan, Nepal, China and Bangladesh. He has trekked in the Himalayas, camped in wildlife sanctuaries and trekked along the coastline. Among his unique experiences are celebrating Holi at Rabindranath Tagore’s Shanti Niketan, experimenting with Yoga at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, getting lost with an elephant in the jungles of Manas in Assam and diving among the coral reefs of Andamans.

The author completed his engineering from Birla Institute of Technology, India and management studies from New York University, USA and has held executive positions in Tata Consultancy Services and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

The author has special interest in ancient Indian philosophy of the Vedic era. He plays squash and the guitar. He has even flown a glider.


How to best use this book

This book is written with the view of making one‘s trip to Pondicherry a living experience, an unforgettable, memorable episode in life. After reading this book and visiting Pondicherry, one will feel like a ‘native’ and will be able to narrate vivid experiences to friends and acquaintances for years to come.

While reading this book for the first time, please read it like a novel, sitting in an easy chair, preferably with a cup of tea or coffee at the elbow. Read it from cover to cover without pausing to memorize names of places or new terms. You would then have a general picture of Pondicherry in the mind and also an awareness of what information exists in which part of the book. Later, detailed information may be sought when required. For example, one may enjoy re-reading the kaleidoscopic history of Pondicherry, while travelling in the train towards Pondicherry. While in Pondicherry, one may want to consult the detailed route—description to Chunnambar boating complex on the morning of the day of making that trip. One may like to preview the sections on the Museum or the Botanical Gardens or Auroville before visiting them, to be sure of what to see and later to add any new discoveries of one‘s own, in the margin. One may even sit sometime in contemplative mood and reflect upon the aspects of life in Pondicherry, which have captivated the author and is sure to captivate you.

How to make the best of your holiday

Personally, I find it most enjoyable to visit a single place in a single trip, to live there for a week or more, experience it fully and then return. Not for me a package tour of two nights in Pondicherry, one day in Madurai, one day in Mahabalipuram, a day and a half in Chennai with an evening train to catch for home. That is not a vacation, that’s work. I would suggest a separate trip to Pondicherry and a separate one to Mahabalipuram sometime later and so on, unless one is on a very long holiday schedule, like a month or more.

Travel tips

On the bottom margin of several pages in this book, will be found some travel-tips’. These useful tips are based on my years of travel around the country and they might come in handy while travelling to other places also, besides Pondicherry.


Please feel free to share your experiences or other comments with us by writing to us. We look forward to hear from you. Thank you. This book is for tourists, but more importantly, for potential tourists.

Tourists are those, who may be planning a trip to Pondicherry. Potential tourists are ones, who would want to do so after reading this book.

After reading this book, you will fall in love with Pondicherry. After visiting Pondicherry, you will want to return there again and again. Few people know that a large portion of Pondicherry's population consists of those who came there as visitors and never went back.

Rediscover the science of Yoga at the world-famous Aurobindo Ashram and transcend to higher levels of consciousness. Experience life in a forest-city near the sea at Auroville, an international township. Enjoy the great open outdoors while boating in the backwaters, meeting with traditional craftsmen in nearby communities, shopping for exotic handicrafts and participating in festivities throughout the year. Experiment with ayurvedic massage, sauna, yogic-food and pranic healing. Marvel at the imposing architecture of churches and the sculptures of famous temples. Feast on a wide range of mouth-watering South-Indian dishes and a still wider range of fresh fruits.

Come, feel the magic of Pondicherry, which has attracted the Romans, the Danes, the Dutch, the Portuguese, the English and the French since the 2nd century BC. Imbibe the holy air of the land, which has been home to great sages since the Vedic era. Mingle with a cosmopolitan population from all parts of India and 30 countries of the world.


Two types of holiday experiences vii
Preface ix
A note for budget travellers xi
Maps xiii
A brief history of Pondicherry 1
The earliest periods 1
The European legacy of Pondicherry 2
Indian freedom movement in Pondicherry 5
Location and layout 7
Life in Pondicherry 10
Industries, crafts, agriculture 12
Witnessing craftsmen at work 13
Kolams 13
Unique festivals and celebrations in and around Pondicherry 14
Sri Aurobindo Ashram: the soul of Pondicherry 20
The land of no return 20
About Sri Aurobindo 21
About Mother 22
History of Sri Aurobindo Ashram 22
The vision behind Sri Aurobindo Ashram 23
Participate in a divine experience 24
Uncover the hidden Secrets 25
Enjoy the cultural extravaganza at the Ashram 26
The Ashram school: a unique experiment in education 28
Getting rid of one’s spectacles 29
Shopping for things exotic 29
Other places to visit in the Ashram 33
Other unique experiences in the Ashram 34
The Museum: a peep into the past 36
Manakulavinayagar temple (Ganesh temple) 39
Chunnambar boating complex: a nice place to picnic 42
Botanical gardens and Aquarium: a place of peaceful tranquility 46
Landmarks of Pondicherry 48
Aayi Mandapam: a monument for a dancing girl 48
Bharathi park and around 48
Along the Beach road 50
Churches of Pondicherry 51
Temples of Pondicherry 52
Houses of famous peop1e 53
French institutes 55
Educational institutes 55
The sea, the sun and the sand 57
Auroville: the city of the future 61
What Auroville is 61
The vision behind Auroville 61
The making of the international township 62
Matrimandir: the jewel in the crown of Auroville 63
The layout of Auroville 64
A unique cultural experience 64
Life in Auroville 66
Visiting Auroville 68
Staying in Aurovillen 70
Eating in Auroville 72
Enjoying the community life in Auroville 73
Staying in Pondicherry 74
Ashram guest houses 74
Living by the sea 78
Other private hotels 80
Government accommodation 85
Houses on rent 87
Eating in Pondicherry 88
A South-Indian paradise 88
Ashram dining hall: an experience unique 90
North-Indian delicacies 91
Chinese 93
Continental 94
Chats and snacks 95
Sweets, Ice-creams, Pastries, Juices 96
Shopping in Pondicherry 101
The main shopping mall 101
Bargain shopping on Sundays 101
The ‘hidden` bazaar 102
Mementoes, curios, handicrafts, gifts 102
The Khadi bhandars 106
Cashew-nut 107
Books 107
Essential services for visitors to Pondicherry 109
Internet browsing and email 110
Photographic films I Studios 110
Hospitals I Clinics 111
Hair-cutting saloons 112
Money-changers (to convert foreign-exchange) 112
Travel related services {ticket bookings, cab hiring, package tours) 112
2-wheeler and bicycle rental 114
Important phone numbers 116
Newspapers 116
Commuting within Pondicherry 117
Travelling to and from Pondicherry 118
Conducted tours in Pondicherry 120
By the Pondicherry tourism department 120
By Sri Aurobindo Ashram 120
Spiritual links to other parts of India from Pondicherry 122
Osho commune 122
Prajapita Brahma Kumaris 122
Tirupathi temple in AP [Lord Uenkateshwara Balaji] 122
Sabarimala temple in Kerala (Lord Ayyappa) 122
Coming soon

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