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Puducherry

Travel Guide Asia India Puducherry

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Introduction

Bicycles Outside Shop in Pondicherry

Bicycles Outside Shop in Pondicherry

© All Rights Reserved claireh

Puducherry is one of the Union Territories in India, formed out of four enclaves of former French India and named for the largest, Pondicherry. It's also the name of the capital and largest agglomeration. Both were named Pondicherry until 2006. The total territory has around 1 million inhabitants, of which approximately one third lives in Pondicherry City.

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Geography

Pondicherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Pondicherry, Karaikal and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé on the Arabian Sea. Pondicherry and Karaikal are by far the larger ones and are both enclaves of Tamil Nadu. Yanam and Mahé are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively. The territory has a total area of 492 km²: Pondicherry 293 km², Karaikal 160 km², Mahé 9 km² and Yanam 30 km².

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Neighbourhoods

  • Mamallapuram - 7th century port city
  • Chidambaram - temple with golden roof
  • Pichavaram - Asia's second largest mangrove forest
  • Thiruvannamalai - Temple city
  • Kanchipuram - city of 1,000 temples and famous for Silk saris

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Sights and Activities

  • Aurobindo Ashram
  • Manakula Vinayagar (Ganesh) Temple
  • Beach Promenade
  • Museums
  • Churches
  • Colonial buildings
  • Chunnambar back waters
  • Aurovile
  • Fossil woods park

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Events and Festivals

  • Holi is quite popular in the Indian sub-continent and is traditionally celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna (early March), according to Hindu calender. Holi is a thanksgiving festival, where people offer prayer to God for good harvest and fertility of the land. Holi is a festival of freedom from social norms and caste inhibitions are shed for a day as people indulge in fun and merry-making. Colors and 'gulal' are showered on the people dressed up for the occasion and the whole community seems to merge into one big family under the guise of colors, without any distinction whatsoever. Children with face smeared with colors run around with 'pichkaris' (big syringes to splash colored water) and play amongst themselves. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Holi is also marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and drum beating. Parties are also organized where snacks and the traditional milk-based drink “Thandai” is served which is often intoxicated with “Bhang”. Of late, lots of foreigners have started taking interest in this festival and they even enjoy the colors and the intoxicating drink. It is advised to cover your hair with a cap and eyes with sunglasses to avoid the colors splashing the eyes and damaging the hair.
  • Republic Day - Republic Day is a national holiday in India every January 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution in 1950 and the declaration of independence in 1930. The capital of New Delhi is the focus of the celebrations, including a flag raising ceremony, wreath laying, 21-gun salute, Presidential speech, and presentation of awards for selflessness and bravery. A massive military parade includes elephants ridden by children who have received national accolades.
  • Gandhi Jayanti - Gandhi Jayanti is a national public holiday commemorating the birth of the peaceful activist, Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 1869. The celebration coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. In India, Gandhi is remembered through statues, flower and candle offerings, prayers and singing the devotional hymn Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. The Indian government issues special mint rupees and postage stamps bearing his picture.
  • Diwali - Diwali is the five-day festival of lights held in India in late October or early November each year. The widely celebrated Hindu event marks Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravan. Homes and streets are decorated with lights, candles and small clay lamps, and new clothes are worn and sweets are exchanged.

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Weather

Generally warm and humid, with monsoon season from June to October and drier weather from December to March, the best time for a visit.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max29.7 °C30.8 °C32.3 °C34.2 °C37.1 °C36.9 °C36 °C35.5 °C34.4 °C32.2 °C30.2 °C29.5 °C
Avg Min20.5 °C21.3 °C23.3 °C25.9 °C26.8 °C26.5 °C26.1 °C25.5 °C25 °C24.2 °C22.8 °C21.2 °C
Rainfall15.5 mm30.8 mm25.7 mm28.8 mm64.9 mm55.7 mm57.8 mm118.4 mm128.2 mm252.3 mm356.6 mm292.7 mm
Rain Days1.510.80.72.53.97.48.77.810.812.17.9

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Getting There

By Plane

Chennai has the nearest airport, about 150 kilometres away.

By Train

Pondicherry is connected to major cities in India via Villupuram (closest railway junction located 40 kilometres away).

By Car

Pondicherry is well connected by road to all the cities.

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Sleep

Budget

Fullmoon Guest house (in between Pondicherry Town & Auroville) - Phone 96 00 21 00 94

Upscale

View our map of accommodation in Pondicherry or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.

Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.

The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.

Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.

If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.

Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.

Post

India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.

If you want to send bigger packages/parcels, it might be better, faster and sometimes even cheaper, to contact a private company like DHL, TNT or UPS.

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Accommodation in Puducherry

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Puducherry searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Puducherry and areas nearby.

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This is version 12. Last edited at 3:46 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot. 1 article links to this page.

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