Several years ago Director Ang Lee made a movie called “Life of Pi” based on the 2001 Canadian fantasy adventure novel of the same name. Mr. Lee brought the book to life and the Indian village featured in the film became a fantasy destination for many travelers. That village, Pondicherry – also known as Puducherry – is the capital and largest city of India’s union territory of the same name. It is also the central city in what was a French territory until 1954. Today, it is a destination for those seeing spiritual fulfillment and its well-preserved French quarter is different than any other city or village in India.
The Best of Both Worlds
Sometimes thoughts of spiritual journeys are thoughts of discomfort and meager accommodations. You will not find that to be true in Pondicherry. While they do have some meager accommodations, they also have a host of beach resorts that will allow you to hone your spiritual side while you’re basked in comfort. Our favorite in the area is the Ocean Spray Resort. Here you will find an island pool, jacuzzi, wet bar, floating restaurant, coffee lounge, disco, amphitheater, and so much more. Ocean Spray Resort will soothe your mind and body while you’re in town soothing your soul.
Throughout and around India’s French colony there are places that are off the beaten path, not well-known, and not crowded with tourists. These places are for those who are more serious about their spiritual journey and more serious about connecting with Pondicherry. You can find an Italian restaurant called Tanto (in Aurovelo). They are serving some of the best pizza you’ll ever find to the Pondicherry Sunday Market. This market runs all afternoon into the evening with vendors selling everything from shoes and clothing to books and kitchenware. This is not a place you’ll want to find yourself if you’re looking for peace and quiet as it gets quite busy and boisterous.
On the more peaceful front, however, you’ll encounter places like the secret pool, another gem of the Aurovelo community. You won’t find it on your map and you won’t see signs. If you’re polite, smile nicely, and ask a local for the secret pool, you may just find yourself lounging in the water (for about $100). The most recognizable icon you’re likely to spot in your quest for the hidden gems of Pondicherry is the Matrimandir (Sanskrit for Temple of The Mother). This edifice holds much spiritual significance for yoga practitioners. It is located in the center of Aurovelo (also known as Auroville).
Legacy & History
With its French colonization origins, Pondicherry is unlike any other place in India. The city’s well-preserved French Quarter boasts bold, mustard-yellow villas and tree-lined streets. This mix of French and Indian style and culture expands to other areas as well. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a neo-Gothic Catholic church dating back to the early 20th century. Nearby at the entrance to the Manakula Vinayagar Temple, you will find an elephant provides blessings. During a stroll along the promenade by the Bay of Bengal, you will encounter a wealth of statues including one which serves as a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Fitting as you make your way to the nearly 100-year-old Sri Aurobindo Ashram to study and practice integral yoga at the world-famous spiritual center. The city is also home to several museums that celebrate both the city’s history as well as its legacy. This legacy is still flourishing today as people make their way to Pondicherry to find their spiritual center.
Are you ready to venture out on your spiritual journey to Pondicherry? You will have an amazing time in India’s French colony. While in India you may also want to visit a spa that made our list of must visit eco luxury spas around the world, it could be the perfect ending to your spiritual getaway.