The most obvious legacy of Pondicherry’s colonial past is the French and Tamil quarters of town, separated by a canal. While the town can be explored on foot, a ride with a knowledgeable cycle rickshaw wallah is much more fun and will take you to places you might otherwise miss. And of course they know all the best places for a tasty roadside snack and cup of steaming chai.
Tree lined avenues named in French and Tamil keep you shaded from the sun as you pass by crumbling mansions rubbing shoulders with the beautifully restored French governor’s residence, l’eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, and Lycee Francais. Cross the canal and you’re in ‘Black Town’, originally built around a nucleus of shrines. Markets spill on to streets and 18th century Tamil mansions have semi-public street verandahs for visitors outside the house, and inside, a central courtyard with grand columns. Before you return to your hotel stop for a satisfying lunch of a crispy dosa pancake washed down with some of the best coffee you’re likely to drink in India. Your rickshaw-wallah will know exactly where to take you.
Posted by: Andrea Hulme