In my previous blog, I have told you about White Town in Pondicherry which is basically the centrepiece of Pondicherry, a small locality located right next to the sea and stuck in a time warp. Logically this White Town is also home to some of the tourist spots in Pondicherry.
In this blog, I am going to tell you about eight of the key spots that you can visit while you are at White Town Pondicherry. These are mentioned in the order of the path that you can follow by which all of these can be covered within a walk of 1.2 Kilometres.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
People often confuse Sri Aurobindo Ashram with Auroville, these are two separate locations and separate entity. Sri Aurobindo Ashram was the place with Sri Aurobindo after retiring from politics settled here along with few of his followers and started a spiritual movement.
This is also the place where the remains of Sri Aurobindo and Mother (spiritual partner) are kept in a Samadhi (tomb). Many devotees and tourists visit this place and often can be seen standing in a long queue outside the house.
If you are really interested in the history then spend some quality time in this museum. Even though we associate Pondicherry with only French history but in reality it goes much beyond that and in this museum you will be able to see glimpses of the rich history of this region.
This museum has a vast collection of arms like old guns, muskets, swords, and knives. A collection of statues of stone and metals is something that can rival any large museum. The centre piece is the huge statue of Nataraj which is kept on the ground floor.
On the first floor of the museum, you will get a glimpse of the French Pondicherry, mirrors, grandfather clock, furniture, cutlery etc. There are some rooms which have been carefully decorated with a specific theme like the dinner table, bed all using authentic French era objects.
Romain Rolland Library
This is one of the few libraries in Pondicherry and one with a great history. This library was renamed to honour French scholar Romain Rolland in the year 1966. There is another library the old one which you can visit and the best part about the old library is that it’s still referred by its French Name “Bibliotheque Publique”
These libraries have a good collection of books and if you are in Pondicherry for few days then grab a copy and relax at the beach.
This is the Sunset Boulevard of Pondicherry, during the day time traffic is allowed but from evening onwards traffic is restricted to allow visitors to enjoy. This winding road stretches right across the White Town at the edge bordering the Promenade Beach. In fact, most of the important tourist spots are all located on this road itself.
Locally known as Gandhi Mandappam it’s a four meter black stone statue of M. K. Gandhi the most prominent freedom fighter of India and recognised as the father of the nation. The statue is surrounded by six pillars which were installed here later and originally were installed around the statue of Dupliex.
There was also a tunnel here which would take you to towards the end of the road near Dupliex statue but this has been closed after some people died due to suffocation.
This lighthouse is just diagonally opposite to the Gandhi statue, this is the old lighthouse and non-functional. Even though it’s non-functional still it’s a government property and entry inside the premises is restricted. This could have been a good tourist attraction if the local government could have a ticketing system to allow visitors to go up to the top and get a good panoramic view.
French War Memorial
This memorial is dedicated to the fallen soldiers of the Great War (World War 1) this memorial is known as Monument aux combattants des Indes francaises morts pour la patrie. Built in the year 1938 by the then French governor Horace Valentin Crocicchia this place also has a bronze bas-relief of Dupleix to commemorate his arrival in Pondicherry in the year 1742.
Joan of Arc Statue
Jeanne d’Arc or Joan of Arc is a patron saint of France and this is well represented with her statue in Pondicherry. The unique thing about this particular status is that it’s turning its back to the sea and facing the Our Lady of Angels Church (Eglise de notre Dame des Anges) in fact if you wish to enter the park then you have to come from the church side.
This statue was donated by Francois Gaudart in the year 1920 to the church, Francois Gaudart was a famous French industrialist of that era.
Marquis Joseph Francois Dupleix was a French general who was one of the key figures in bringing Pondicherry into the French trade map as a part of French East India Company.
He had an illustrious career travelling across the American and India. In 1742 he was appointed as the governor-general (French establishments) in India.
He was a key figure in the expansion of French influence in India during the British Raj, this expansion also led to several rifts ultimately leading to several wars and also further negotiations to reconcile between the French and the British. His role was never forgotten and this statue erected in his honour in 1870 one in Pondicherry and the other one in France the place where he actually belonged.
The statue that we see in Pondicherry was not its original place but was originally erected where the now Jawaharlal Nehru Statue stands surrounded by the pillars that we now see the Gandhi statue.
Apart from these, there are several old churches in White Town which is also a must. The list of churches and other related buildings are as follows:-
- Immaculate Conception Cathedral
- Archbishop’s House
- Hospice Convent
- Our Lady of Angels Church (Eglise de notre Dame des Anges)
- Former Norte Dame des Anges
- Our Lady of Angels Boys Home
- Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
I have written about these in details in a separate blog, please read Churches of Pondicherry to know more. All these places are in the White town and can be easily be accessed on foot.
Google Map (All the tourist spots are plotted for easy navigation)
Click here to open the map