Puducherry, formerly and more popularly known as “Pondicherry”, is the “French capital of India”. It is a union territory town that was a French colony until just decades ago. Definitely, a place that is almost on every solo woman traveler’s bucket list, whether Indian or travelers from abroad. The reason is the diverse and rich experiences it has on offer. Be it the charm it exudes reminiscent of the remnants of colonial times, or the promenade that boasts of European architecture, the extremely alluring old architecture of churches and mouth-watering french cuisine.
The top five must-do’s in Pondy, the mononym that is stuck with it due to the influx of international tourists are:
5 Must-Visit Places Near Puducherry with solo women travel groups
1. Auroville: Pondy or “Paris of the East” is synonymous with Auroville. A unique blend of simplicity and modernism, this place is best for solo trips for women in India. With or without a spiritual bend of mind, one should visit it for the awesome “Matrimandir” which is the brainchild of Mirra Alfassa, who also founded Auroville, named after Shri Aurobindo ashram situated nearby. This is a place to free yourself from all the stresses of the world and partake in some yoga and meditation. This township was set up to be governed by no law and as an experiment in human unity as a whole.
2. French Quarter: This quaint little city boasts of French and Tamil medley, two different quarters of backgrounds that have melded so beautifully. The duality of the two characteristics is seamlessly woven into the cosmopolitan aura peppered with native traditions. The spoken languages are English, French and Tamil here and the hospitality that the locals greet you with lies in the simplicity of the people. The French influence can be seen in the flower-lined streets as well as the upmarket or quirky cafes that serve classic french cuisine. The same goes for accommodation, there is something for every solo woman traveler.
3. Pitchvaram Mangrove Forest: When you are this close to it, it is definitely a must-visit. Pitchvaram forest is the second largest mangrove on the planet. This is a natural marvel with almost 400 water pathways that take you inside it and you can take your pick of the activities, whether you would like to be part of rowing the boat that takes you in, or you want to partake in fishing or many other leisurely activities that are promoted actively by the tourism board here.
4. Nataraj Temple in Chidambaram: Just under two hours away from Pondy is the famous Nataraja temple which is a must-see, breathtaking temple that is an ode to Nataraja, who is an avatar of Shiva as “The Lord of dance”. This temple was built by the Chola dynasty in the 10th century which makes it the oldest temple that is still functioning. Whether you are religious or not, this is a place that has to be seen for its architectural wonder and the five different halls with historical facts and awe-inspiring details that are fashioned after the cardiovascular and nervous systems of the human body.
5. Mahabalipuram: Another such similar place to visit is the famous Mahabalipuram temple which is situated at the beach and as such, is known as the shore temple as it valiantly looks over the Bay of Bengal. A major tourist attraction, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, made with blocks of stone in the 8th century AD. The beautiful and larger-than-life statues at the beach make it more alluring and is a perfect place to meditate or just sit and unwind.
Besides all of this, there are plenty of beaches in and around Puducherry that are alluring at most because of the cleanliness and hygiene that are maintained throughout this beautiful union territory. Also, if you are a history aficionado, there is a museum that houses artifacts dating from the 3rd to the 13th century from the Chola and the Pallava dynasties. There are several churches and temples that have architectural value unique to each that are rooted in the deep history of Puducherry.
Touted as one of the safest places for women’s solo travel groups in India, Puducherry has something for everyone. You can stroll around or bike your way through the town, sit and sip a cuppa at the street-lined cafes or just go shopping for the various products that are exclusive to the place. This is a place for everyone especially, solo women travel groups.
Pondicherry has a vibe that makes it a world of its own with the diversity that is entrenched deep into its system. It is an experience that will be cherished for a lifetime and to reiterate, this place with its colorful assortment of rich experiences makes it a place for the best solo trips for women.