Pondicherry (now known as Puducherry) is part of the Pondicherry union territory of India. An old French occupied colony which was aggregated into India later, and now a laid back town. Pondicherry (known popularly as Pondi) is about 150km from Chennai. The ECR (East Coast Road) that connects the two makes for a quite scenic drive along the coast, passing through Mammalapuram. Pondicherry is well connected by road to other major cities including Bangalore. The city has no taxes on alcohol, making it a cheap shopping ground for spirits, and attracting people from neighboring states.
Places to visit include old town, Auroville, Aurobindo ashram, Chunnambar boat house and closeby paradise beach, churches, botanical garden, Oustery lake. The city is surrounded by many calm clean beaches and clear waters, also few backwaters. Find simple lodging inside the city, or venture out to the outskirts for accomodation in "shacks" set along the beach.
Pondicherry was a French colony for many years, and there is still a strong French influence in the city particularly in the old French quarter where one can see street names in French. In fact, Pondicherry is sometimes known as the French Riviera of the East.