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Escorted Rail Tours to Puducherry

Find authentic French colonial chic at the heart of Southern India

If Puducherry (sometimes still affectionately nicknamed 'Pondy', after its former title of 'Pondicherry') can be described as having a split personality, this is definitely a compliment. Wide tree-lined avenues, Mediterranean-style architecture and the presence of restaurants with names such as Le Maison Rose and Café des Arts bear testimony to the town's French colonial heritage, but in every other respect Pondy is an authentically Indian coastal resort.

Records indicate that the location of modern-day Puducherry, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in south eastern India, was the site of a first-century Roman trading post. Successive Indian dynasties claimed ownership of the town until the seventeenth century when colonists representing the French East India Company arrived and seized control. Despite attempts by both the British and Dutch Empires to capture Pondicherry it remained French territory until returned to Indian ownership in 1954.

Almost two centuries of French occupation have left an indelible footprint on Puducherry in buildings such as the Church of Notre Dame and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which are notable for their architecture and decoration. But Puducherry is also a charming and popular seaside resort, its long modern promenade overlooking clean, sandy beaches and offering delightful sea views.

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Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple

Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Supreme God of the Hindu faith, this magnificent sixth-century temple is an excellent example of ancient Dravidian architecture, and is finished with gold ornamentation.

Paradise Beach

Although situated five miles to the south of Puducherry's town centre, most visitors agree that the uncrowded and pristine sands and shallow waters of Paradise Beach, accessible only by speedboat or ferry service, are worth the journey.

Bharati Government Park

This attractive green space close to Pondicherry's promenade takes its name from the various government buildings that surround it. A shady and relaxing place to seek respite from the Indian sun, Bharati Government Park features a play area for children and a number of sculptures and monuments.

Goubert Market

This authentic Indian market occupies a maze of streets and alleyways at the edge of Puducherry's French Quarter. Constantly busy and atmospheric, Goubert Market is perhaps best appreciated earlier in the day before the temperature rises and is the perfect place to seek bargains and souvenirs among colourful stalls that sell everything from clothing and jewellery to local handicrafts and fresh fish. 

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