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Pottering in Pondi

Pondicherry Travel Blog

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Pondi - French War Memorial

We took a taxi the 100km from Mamallapuram to Pondicherry, now officially Puducherry, but universally called Pondi. We followed the coast on a good road through lush vegetation, small villages, rice paddies, lagoons with a few fishermen throwing nets, and huge salt pans. Pondi was  French until 1954. Some public buildings are still  labelled in French - Hotel de Ville, Travaux Publics, and there's a huge memorial to "Les combattants des Indes Francaises morts pour la patrie, 1914-18" In the south east of the town, streets are named  in French as well at Tamil. The heritage trail takes you along  wide clean tree-lined roads flanked by early 20th century villas. It's not India as we've known it so far, but has a vague similarity to southern small town France. The Cathedral of the Immaculate  Conception, and the huge Sacred Heart Church are well kept.

Sacred Heart Church
Four Masses each Sunday, 3 in Tamil, one in English. There are gaudily decorated statues in each. Cafes sell baguettes, croissants, good pastries and ground coffee. As well as a  western clientele, middle class Indians use them. As it's a Union Territory, governed from Delhi (the old French Governor General's residence now houses the Indian Lieutenant Governor) and not part of Tamil Nadu, alcohol is much cheaper and is widely available. At weekends, the middle class of Chennai and Bangalore descend for a boozy time by the sea. The promenade runs for 1m or so, always busy with strollers, but there is no swimming. The rest is a busy Indian town, though cleaner and tidier than most.

So Pondi certainly attracts because of its curiosity value. And it is an attractive relaxing place to stay before attacking the temple trail in Tanjore, Trichy and Madurai. They're next.

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Pondi  - French War Memorial
Pondi - French War Memorial
Sacred Heart Church
Sacred Heart Church
The Midi in India
The Midi in India
Pondi Prom
Pondi Prom