White Town, the best area to stay in Pondicherry
First time, tourist, with family
For first time visitors, family, well-heeled, or guests looking for a spiritual retreat, then Pondicherry’s White Town is your best stay option. The former French headquarters is a residential area known for its interwoven culture of the Tamil and French families. Flaunting cobblestone streets and mustard yellow houses, the colony retains the old world charm, and daintiness of ancient French quarters.
With most of these converted into heritage hotels, fine dining restaurants, quirky cafes and art galleries, the beautifully whitewashed buildings and the well paved cobbled pathways lined with shady trees are considered a photographer's dream come true. It is also a shopper’s paradise with boutiques, high-end brands and personalized goods’ stores, most of which are still run by French nationals, showcasing home decor and priceless antiques. And don’t forget to visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual retreat, offering meditation and yoga sessions for those seeking a peaceful state.
Hotels in White Town
Other areas to stay in Pondicherry
Architecture, temples, culture, walks
Less than a mile away from White Town is Heritage Town, also known as the Tamil quarters of Pondicherry and is a more budget and practical stay option for travellers within the main city. It’s an ideal stay option for families, as well as the solo traveller looking to soak into the local culture and architecture. Originally built around a nucleus of shrines, Heritage Town is separated from the French quarters by the Grand Canal that bisects downtown Pondicherry.
The lively, multicultural area is known for its grand mansions and brightly painted traditional houses, such as the restored Tamil mansion of Hotel La Maison Tamoule and the house of Anand Rangapillai. The Varadaraja Perumal temple has a colourful, elaborately carved entrance tower and houses a Vishnu idol. The Police Museum exhibits vintage firearms. And shops around Mission Street sell ceramics, handmade paper, clothes, and simple eateries serving delicious South Indian food.
Hotels in Heritage Town
Memorials, waterfront, cafes
A leisurely stroll along the sea at sunset or sunrise is surely one of the best things to do in Pondicherry, and hence a stay in the scenic sea-facing promenade that runs parallel to the Goubert Avenue is highly recommended. The Promenade offers both, high-end boutique hotels, as well as several no-frills guest houses preferred by visitors to Aurobindo ashram. Just a stone’s throw away from White Town, the mile long stretch of the promenade, witnesses the whole town gather every evening to catch the sea breeze and the blue vista of the moon rising over the Bay of Bengal.
The promenade is buzzing with food vendors, and the iconic south Indian coffee served at the beach front café. The other side of the avenue is lined with a row of heritage buildings and the austere WW1 memorial commemorating the combatants. Diagonally opposite is the statue of Gandhi occupying the centre stage.
Hotels in Promenade Beach
Eco-tourism, spiritual, international community
Located about nine-miles from Pondicherry’s French quarters, lies the ecological township of Auroville, which is a unique stay option for foreigners, backpackers, and solo travellers on a budget. Also called the City of Dawn, it’s a universal town where people from across the world, irrespective of race, religion, creed, culture or country, live and work together in harmony and peace. The township is divided into several zones including the Peace Zone, known for the stunning Matrimandir, a meditation temple and an architectural marvel.
The Residential Zone is where one can stay among the Aurovillians and share in their daily activities and learn about their sustainable lifestyle. The International Zone consists of community halls, vegan restaurants and bakeries where several events are held. Apart from Auroville farms and the youth hostel, one can also stay at affordable guest houses, and beach huts that line the edge of Auroville, opposite the Auroville Beach.
Hotels in Auroville
Beach, resorts, surfing, nature
Kalapet is located eleven-miles away from the White Town, and is a great alternative stay option from the main city for someone looking for a relaxing beach-front stay with family or friends at either a luxury resort & spa or budget beachfront hotels and homestays. The area is known for its picture-perfect beaches like the Pondicherry University Beach and Kalapet Beach, which is one of the least commercialized, secluded, and pristine beaches in Pondicherry.
Known for its golden sands and a string of popular beach resorts such as Tanto, The Dune Eco Village, and The Ashok Beach Resort, which offer spa, pool, dining and other amenities, the area is also known for a slew of affordable and welcoming homestays. It is extremely popular with foreign tourists, and is best suited for swimming, surfing, water sports, and sunrise strolls. One can also visit nearby Auro Beach, Auroville Beach, and Serenity Beach.
Hotels in Kalapet
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