Ever thought about cycling in India? No, me neither, but it is actually super fun to do! In this article I will tell you everything about my experience of cycling in Pondicherry.
What to expect in this article
Cycling in Pondicherry
Like I said, did you ever think about cycling in India? I don’t think people do it normally, because there is this general opinion that traffic in India is crazy.
You might not have expected it, but Pondicherry is actually a very good city to cycle through, especially during the morning.
Yes, the traffic is crazy, but there is an organized craziness. When we were cycling and had to cross the road, it went very organised and other Indian people were very careful when they saw us cycling. So I actually felt safe while cycling with our guide Manisha.
During the tour with Sita Cultural Center, the guide lead us through the city centre and we covered all the areas such as the Heritage French town, the Muslim and Indian quarters as well as the fishermen’s village.
It was amazing to see all the differences and know that the inhabitants cooperate so well together. Unfortunately, this is not the case in some parts of the world, but in Pondicherry it is!
Lastly, I think it is amazing how fast you can get used to riding on the left lane. In the Netherlands we drive at the right lane and I was wondering how I would find it, but I instantly got used to it.
The Sacred Heart Basilica of Pondicherry
Our first stop during the tour was at the Sacred Heart Basilica, a huge red church. The church is created in Roman-Byzantine style and is the largest church in Pondicherry. Its stained glass windows are so beautiful.
What I found most funny is to see Maria in a saree (traditional clothing in India), which is not something I have seen before in the Netherlands.
Arabic quarter of Pondicherry
After continuing through the Arabic quarter in Pondicherry, we were able to stop at some beautiful houses with elements that cost a lot.
How are Arabic elements always that beautiful!?
It reminded me of some Arabic elements in Sevilla and Morocco. I can’t wait to visit more Arabic countries, but that is on a side note 🙂
Then we also crossed one of the mosques in Pondy, which I again, loved!
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White Town of Pondicherry
While cycling through Pondicherry, you see all the road names in French, yellow, white and grey walls, and many French bakeries, which feels surreal. Is this really India?! This is because Pondicherry used to be a French colony, which is still clearly seen on the streets.
In White Town, you will also come across the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which is a spiritual community. It’s a very important place for many Pondicherrians and you will see photos of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo (the individuals who started the community) everywhere, in restaurants, in homes.
When I asked our bicycle guide what her favourite place in Pondy is, she told me it is the Ashram. It plays a huge role in the life of the people in Pondicherry and you should know a bit about it, so guide Manisha will tell you a lot about it.
Lastly, you will also come across some of the Hindu temples that are here. Would you like to see an elephant? In the Ganesh temple, you can see Lakshmi, she has been a temple elephant all her life and she keeps blessing the people that come to visit the temple. It is sad, but this is also India.
Goubert market in Pondicherry
The next stop during the bicycle tour was the Goubert market, which is a huge local market.
If you are ever in Pondicherry on a Sunday, make sure you go to the Sunday Market! It’s a huge market, only open on Sunday and the whole Mahatma Gandi road is closed to traffic on that day.
I loved walking around the Goubert Market and seeing all the locals selling their goods. We got a delicious banana from an old lady. I tried to take some shots of the people that were selling fruits, vegetables, and also a lot of flowers.
This made the whole experience so colourful, and vibrant and I can’t wait to go back to this market. Check out the video below for a small impression of the market.
Fisherman Village of Pondicherry
After the Sunday Market, we continued our way to the Fisherman Village, by crossing the sea.
The area around the sea was so peaceful to cycle, that it made me instantly forget all crowds at the Sunday Market.
At this time of the day, we did not see many fishermen, but I did see a lot of locals and colourful streets again. Not just yellow which you mostly see in White Town, but also blue and pink streets.
So next to the Sunday Market, the Fisherman Village is another part of Pondicherry that I would love to return to!
View as a former tour guide
Having been a bicycle tour guide, I looked at the tour a bit different than the others maybe. If I compare this to the tours I gave very different kinds of tours in Sevilla (Spain). But different does not mean bad. I loved to add plentiful jokes and use the imagination of my guests so that whatever history I told, they would remember it more easily.
Our kind tour guide Manisha did not do that much, but what I loved about this tour is that we could enter so many places.
During my tours in Sevilla, I was limited to 2 places, where I could let the tourists get off our bicycles and explore the area. Next to that, there was also enough space if you wanted to make a picture. I loved that, as I love to take pictures. During my tours my guests didn’t have much opportunity for that, due to the time. Sometimes even just 1, also because we added a break of 15 minutes to it.
I did not miss a break at all during this tour. The tours are both very different, but just as amazing in my eyes and I am amazed by the knowledge of my dear guide as she has lived in Puducherry all her life. I was able to ask her all the questions I had.
Information about the bicycle tour
A bicycle tour around Pondicherry will cost you 1500 rupees (18 euros/ 19 dollars). You will cover most areas of Pondy.
The tours are at 7 am and 3.30 pm. During the summer I would suggest the 7 am one, as it is very hot in the afternoon.
My group existed out of 7 people. In the picture below you will see from left to right; our guide Manisha, me, a French intern, a guy from Bangalore, a couple from Australia and lastly Vinna, a partner of Sita Cultural center.
Other activities at Sita Cultural Center
As mentioned on their website, they also offer other activities next to the bicycle tour.
- Indian/ Creole / French/ Pastry or Snacks Cooking Class: There are so many options for cooking classes and this is expected as Pondicherry is so culturally diverse! Costs between 900 – 1500 rupees.
- Street art bicycle ride: This sounds so tempting as I love street art and trust me, there is a lot of street art in Pondicherry! I still need to discover them all. Costs 1500 rupees.
- Ayurveda massage session: A 1 hour massage session with the Ayurveda method, which was born in India. Costs 1500 rupees.
- Bollywood dance class: Bollywood dance is a fusion between many Indian dances. If you love dancing, this is a must-do!
- Pilates gym session: Learn about proper body posture, efficient core exercises to feel great and stay fit. Costs 400 rupees.
- Yoga session: Sivananda yoga (name of its inventor) was created in India in the 1960’s. Costs 500 rupees.
- Silk thread earrings DIY Workshop: You’ll learn more about Jimikkis, and how they are made with Silk threads. Costs 500 rupees.
- Mehendi henna workshop: Get to learn to make your own henna Mehendi design from A to Z. Costs 500 rupees.
- Sari wearing workshop: Learn the art of wearing a saree and discover all the tips and hints to wear it comfortably. Costs 600 rupees.
These activities are so cool if you want to learn more about South Indian culture!
I recommend you...
To do an activity at Sita Cultural Center. Not only is it super fun and educational, but the people at this center are sweet, professional and kind as well!
From the always laughing receptionist to the kind cycle guide who tells interesting stories!
I went here twice and felt very welcome both times.
The bicycle tour was absorbing and fun. I also loved to interact with the people in my group, so if you want to get to know more people in Pondicherry, this is a great opportunity!
Contact Sita Cultural Center
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