The name “Pondicherry” is a Westernized version of the Tamil “puducherry” meaning “small hamlet

This city is divided into French and Tamil localities with both sections displaying architectural details peculiar to each culture. In the French Town, the streets are lined by imposing colonial buildings with stately gates and huge compound walls. The facades are usually painted cream or light pink. In the Tamil Town, houses are typically painted green, blue and brown and have large, expansive verandahs ideal for a quick chat with passers by or even to be used as an impromptu guest room for unexpected travelers

Our travel to Pondicherry revolved around the Aurobindo Ashram, the Auroville, a nearby corner street for water or snacks replenishment, and the local diner - café which we frequented often for lunch and dinner. This diner place was called Le Club that retains much of that old world grandeur even today. Am not sure if it is a new place built to look like from olden times, or a genuinely olden place. The restaurant tastefully lights up at night in the garden of the old French villa. Located on Dumas Street very close to where we were staying it had some very authentic French food that had us returning regularly.

Auroville was the other place we found ourselves gravitating towards - conceived as a utopian city where people of different nationalities from all over the world could live in harmony. Around 1900 people, most of them non Indians live here in communes. During the inauguration of this community, soil from 124 countries was poured into an urn symbolizing the oneness of humanity. One can buy beautiful hand crafted arts in here. From perfumed candles, to hand made chappals, to necklaces, exotic silver ware, lamps, ceramic pottery and hand made paper, to antiques from Tamilnad and Kerala- this place became another destination for us to visit regularly during our stay there with the hope of shopping real ‘finds’ here

Although not in the same league as Goa, Pondicherry has its share of small, uncrowded beaches. The small promenade by evening finds many strollers largely tourists , taking in the salty sea breeze. The beach is relatively free of mankind, rather rocky and unsafe for swimming.

The impressive French architecture living alongside Indian culture in harmony is a prime example of how everybody gets along in this tiny town. The serenity and relative quiet of Pondicherry is worth having a sample of – don’t go there expecting action, else you will be disappointed.