Formerly known as Pondicherry, this coastal town is all about sun, sand, and spirituality. Since it was a French stronghold from the 15th century until the mid-20th Century, remnants of colonial architecture have an abiding presence in its cobbled streets. Explore this pocket-sized paradise in a day.

7.00 am
GET INTRODUCED ON A HERITAGE WALK

Sign up for a two-hour heritage walk by Story Trails, where a local expert unravels the history of Puducherry, offering anecdotes on nooks and corners of both the French Quarter and the Tamil Quarter. This is an excellent way to get your bearings before doing a deep dive into specific spots later. Stories of remarkable buildings, tales lost to time, secret spots, and famous landmarks will make you feel like an insider. storytrails.in

9.30 am
TREAT YOURSELF TO A SOUTH INDIAN BREAKFAST

A classic eatery for South Indian breakfast, Surguru Spot Restaurant is always packed and in high demand, The busy, no-frills outlet promises value for money, prompt service, and a delicious sprea1d, The authentic South Indian flavours compete with the laid-back vibe of the restaurant, sans eye-catching decor or celeb stature. Large ochre pillars and rattan chairs make for simple yet tasteful interiors. Near Vinayagar Temple, 72, JN Street, White Town

10.30 am
WALK AROUND SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM

Stroll in the peaceful erstwhile home and ashram of philosophers, Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (known as The Mother), and stop by their flower-draped samadhis in the courtyard. Founded in 1926. this is where the two spiritual gurus lived and spread ideas of higher spiritual consciousness. Books on the philosophy of the ashram, in international and regional languages. are available here to buy. sriaurobindoashram.org

12.30 pm
MEDITATE AT MATRIMANDIR

Visit the landmark symbol of Auroville (14 km from Puducherry), the Matrimandir, whose huge golden dome embodies the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The lotus-bud shaped marble structure stores soil from 124 countries and 23 Indian states, a symbolic gesture of Aurovillean unity, Meditation passes are given out a day in advance. The short walking route to Matrimandir from the Information Centre is dotted with an open exhibition, herbal garden, a coffee shop, and pavillions to meditate in. auroville.org

2.00 pm
TIME FOR A HEARTY MEAL

Grab a light and healthy meal at one os Auroville’s favourite spots that offers delicious Mediterranean cuisine. The simple but homely Naturellement Garden Cafe, set amid cool leafy surrounds, is the ideal place to unwind. Udyogam, Auroville

4.00 pm
TAKE SURFING LESSONS

Catch the last of the four surfing sessions at Kallialay Surf School run by the enthusiastic brother duo, Juan and Samai, at Bodhi Beach (near a small fisher village called Thandirayan Kuppam). If you’rn here only for the day, it’s best to join a beginner class, which includes sand surfing, followed by personal or group learning exercises in the shallow end of the sea. The fee includes rash vests and surfboards. surfschoolindia.com

5.30 pm
COFFEE AT LE CAFE

A vintage address on Gaubert Avenue which runs along the ocean. Le Cafe was originally the port office of Pondicherry. A few black and white photographs on the walls bear testimony to this. Enjoy the view of the endless ocean and the promenade beach from this 24-hour haunt as you sip on a cup of coffee. Don’t forget to try the chocolate cake, No 40, Gaubert Ave, Near Gandhi Statue, White Town

7.30 pm
PROMENADE WALK ON GOUBERT AVENUE

Evenings on the Goubert Avenue (Beach Road) are alive with hawkers lining up to engage locals and tourists with snacks, and toy vendors trying to catch the attention of kids. Benches line the walkway that is closed to motorised vehicles after 6 pm, You can stroll along the wide footpath that lies along the sea. Landmark monuments on this street include a towering statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the French War Memorial, Old Lighthouse, Joan of Arc Statue, a statue of Jawaharlal Nehru, a memorial for BR Ambedkar, and a statue of Marquis Joseph Francois Dupleix. who was the Governor of Pondicherry between 1742 and 1754.

9.00 pm
SKY GARDEN FOR DINNER
A coastal holiday demands at least one meal dedicated to seafood. Enjoy excellent seafood and continental dishes with a view of the sea at Sky Darden, the roodtop restaurent that serves up delicacies from around the world. skygardenpondy.com