Sometimes called the French Riviera of the East, the seaside town of Pondicherry operates at a slower pace than nearly any other Indian city. The small city was the largest French colony in India, and since the French only left in 1954, the town has retained much of its colonial flavor.
Practically everything worth seeing in Pondicherry exists within walking distance in the grid of streets and alleyways of the French Quarter; where whitewashed villas, colonial churches and gardens overflowing with bougainvillea are interspersed with quaint little French cafes. Cross over the Grand Canal and you’ll find yourself transported to a typical Tamil village.
The French-influenced local cuisine and variety of accommodation, both reasonably priced, make Pondicherry worthy of an overnight getaway from Chennai. For the spiritually minded traveler, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram teaches yoga and meditation to the ever-changing contingent of expats who come to Pondicherry and end up staying longer than anticipated.