Pondicherry Museum, Pondicherry: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips

About Pondicherry Museum

The Pondicherry Museum is a wholesome cradle of artefacts that is located on St. Louis Street in Puducherry (erstwhile Pondicherry). The displays in the museum give visitors valuable insight into the rich history of India, especially South India, as well as world history. The museum is also known as the Pondy Museum or the Pondicherry Museum. While there are many notable artefacts housed in the museum, it is known for its collection of rare, exotic and fascinating relics from the Pallava and Chola Dynasty whose rulers reigned during the 3rd to 10th centuries. 

This museum has a number of exclusive displays consisting of stone sculptures and 81 bronze statues from the Chola periods, which has been obtained from the archaeological site of Arikamedu. This site used to be a trading centre located 7 km away from Puducherry and was known to have trade connections with the Roman Empire in the past. One of the main attractions of the museum is the fossilised remains of a prehistoric tree trunk that can be found in the courtyard and the foyer.

An ancient transport coach and an old palanquin are displayed in the centre of the ground floor of the museum. Another fascinating relic is the ‘pousse-pousse,’ an old, archetypal rickshaw which required two assistants, one for steering and the other for pushing the vehicle from behind. A perfectly preserved, fully functional and well-maintained model of the pousse-pousse can also be found on the ground floor.

The Pondicherry Museum is home to a rare collection of old and intricate bronze lamps and statues dedicated to different gods and goddesses, collected from almost all the dynasties that have ruled India through the centuries. Well preserved relics dating back to the ancient times of the Romans, Greeks and the Tsung Period of China, can also be found displayed in this Museum. The museum also has a Geology room which displays old coins, shells, fossils, French furniture and remains from ancient churches as well.

How to Reach Pondicherry Museum

It is a relatively easy commute between Pondicherry bus stand to the Pondicherry Museum. One has to travel a distance of 2.7 kilometres if travelling via Bussy Street, which will take you approximately 10 minutes to reach the museum. You can hire a taxi or even a two-wheeler for a comfortable commute.

If you are taking the public bus that goes via JN Street, you need to travel a distance of 2.8 kilometres, which will take approximately 11 minutes to reach the museum.

Best Time to Visit Pondicherry Museum

The city of Pondicherry is an ideal vacation spot. One can visit this place during any time of the year because of its year-round pleasant coastal weather. 

However, comparatively, the summers are hotter and temperatures can soar to 40 degrees Celsius. A visit to an old, historical place like the museum might feel uncomfortable during this season. 

The city looks romantic during the monsoon season as well, but the ideal time to visit this place is between the months of October to March. 

The temperature during winter remains between 15-30 degrees Celsius, which is pleasant and ideal for exploring the place in depth. The city also holds many festivals throughout the year. But the main festivals are celebrated during the months of October to January, making wintertime the most lucrative time visit Pondicherry and its museum.

What Not to Miss at Pondicherry Museum

Here are some places to visit near the museum:

1. Shri Aurobindo Ashram - 
The Aurobindo Ashram is one of the most sought-after spiritual ashrams in Pondicherry. It is located 3 km away from the Pondicherry Main Bus Terminus. This ashram was founded by Rishi Aurobindo and The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) in the year 1926.

This ashram is estimated to have 1,200 members, with 400 students and disciples who live on the campus.  Peace, tranquillity and discipline are strictly maintained in the ashram. This place is undoubtedly one of the best spiritual abodes in Pondicherry.

2. Botanical Garden- The Botanical Garden is one of the most popular tourist spots in Pondicherry. It is located 1.5 km away from the main Bus Terminus. It was established in the year 1826 by C. S. Perrotet, who included a number of rare and exotic plant species in the garden.

The massive garden covers an area of 22 acres and is divided into 28 segments with each segment consisting of unique plants and trees. The other major attractions of this garden are the toy train, the aquarium and the musical fountain.

3. Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus-
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most sacred and most frequented places in Pondicherry. It is 2.5 km away from the main Bus Terminus. The missionaries built the Basilica in gothic-style architecture in the year 1908, and it is one of the only 21 basilicas that can be found in India.

The walls are engraved with Biblical inscriptions in Latin and the stained-glass panel windows artistically depict the life of Jesus. The church is 48 metres wide, 50 metres long and there are 24 sculptured pillars which hold up the ceiling of the church.

4. French War Memorial- 
In a city so enriched with history, the French War Memorial is a befitting tribute to the French soldiers who fought from India and sacrificed their lives during the First World War. The memorial was set up in the year 1971 and can be found 3.5 km away from the Main Bus Terminus, on Goubert Avenue in the French Quarter of White Town.

Every year, on the 14th of July, this memorial is beautifully decorated and illuminated to celebrate Bastille Day.

5. Paradise Beach- 
Paradise Beach is the perfect place to unwind and relax with your friends and family after a rigorous tour of the museum. Also known as Plage Paradiso, this beach is located 8 km away from the Main Bus Terminus in Chunnambar.

The blue waters and the clean sand fringed with lush green palms make for the perfect respite from the crowd and noise of the main town. You can also find resorts and fine-dining restaurants lining the beach.

Activities to do in Pondicherry

Pondicherry is filled with several exciting activities you can participate in. Here are a few examples:

1. Scuba diving and snorkelling in Pondicherry- Pondicherry is one of the few places in India where you can enjoy an incredible scuba diving and snorkelling experience. The whole package is well planned to give visitors a safe and memorable experience. Before you have to go scuba diving, you are given a short lesson in a mock pool and also the right gear and safety instructions.

You can check out some of the exotic coral reefs and underwater sea creatures in the waters of the Bay of Bengal. A scuba diving stint in Pondicherry will cost you around INR 7,000 to INR 8,000.

2. Surfing- Adventure enthusiasts, sports lovers and adrenaline junkies can check out Surfing Point, which is the perfect place to go surfing in Pondicherry. Surfing Point is 6.6 km away from the main bus stand and can be reached easily by public and private transport. You don’t have to be an expert surfer to be able to enjoy this activity.

There are guides and trainers who can give you a short lesson, and you too can try out the gentle waves. Surfing packages start from INR 2,500.

3. Fishing with the locals - 
Despite Pondicherry being a relatively well-developed town, it is activities like this which make it a grounded, rural and memorable experience. Fishing with the local fishermen of Pondicherry includes making and weaving fishing nets and sailing in a boat to catch the fish.

You can also cook and eat the fish that you catch during your outing. During the course of the activity, visitors get to interact with the fishermen, their families and get an authentic taste of their livelihood. The experience is conducted as a private tour and the package starts from INR 999 per person. 

3. Cycling tour in Pondicherry- Equipped with sunglasses, a camera, sunscreen and a towel, tourists can savour the beauty of the city of Pondicherry with a cycling tour conducted by expert city tour guides. Cycling is a great way to discover the authentic feel of the city and discover all the hidden nooks and crannies without long and exhausting walks.

Tour packages start from INR 1,600 with complimentary Indian or French breakfasts. Children between the ages of 1 to 5 years can enjoy this trip free of cost.

Other Essential Information About Pondicherry Museum

: Eswaran Kovil Street, Canteen St, Puducherry, 605001

Tuesday to Sunday (9:00 am – 6:30 pm). Closed on Mondays and national holidays.

Entry fee:
The entry fee for the children is INR 5 per child. The fees for the Indian Nationals is Rs. INR 10 and for the foreign nationals are INR 50 per person.

Visitor's Facility: Every visitor is accompanied by expert guides and tour managers in the city as well as inside the museum. The museum itself is equipped with clean washrooms, an extensive security system as well as cameras. There are food stalls from where one can purchase snacks. You can also avail locker and storage facilities at the museum. 

Parking Facility: You can park your car in a separate parking area on the museum premises. 

Distance from Pondicherry bus stand: Visitors have to travel a distance of 3 km from the Pondicherry bus stand to reach the Pondicherry Museum.

History of Pondicherry Museum

The Pondicherry Museum was established in the year 1983. The building in which the museum has been built is over a hundred years old and is itself, a heritage site. It is, however, the newest museum in India, despite its vast and impressive repertoire. Arikamedu, which used to be an ancient trading port, is located merely 7 km away from the museum.
This archaeological site has been found to be an important trading post that used to conduct trade with the Romans, the Greeks and the Tsung dynasty from the Chinese civilization. This museum holds the record of having the highest number of bronze sculptures from the Chola Dynasty. A total of 81 bronze sculptures from the Chola period are displayed here. Pondicherry Museum is famous for its ‘lost wax’ bronze sculptures. 

This is a process by which a duplicate metal artefact is made from the original piece. Some of the oldest relics displayed at the museum date back to as far as the 1st and 2nd century. It is a hub of various interesting historical artefacts like the fossils, the coins, French furniture, old handicrafts, relics of ancient churches and even old French colonial details.

Archaeological, Historical and Scientific Importance of Pondicherry Museum

The city of Pondicherry has a rich and varied archaeological and historical heritage, which is adequately represented in the Pondicherry Museum. The Indo-Roman archaeological site of Arikamedu lies 7 km away from the main city. Sir Mortimer Wheeler excavated the site between 1947 and 1950 and found remnants of India’s trade with ancient Rome.

Relics from this significant excavation are displayed in the Museum. The Museum, despite being housed in an erstwhile house of law that is a hundred years old itself, houses relics and artefacts that date back to the 1st century AD. There is also a pre-historical, fossilized tree-trunks which is bound to fascinate visitors.

There are also many relics from when Pondicherry used to be a French colony, from before the reign of the British East India Company. While the entire town of Pondicherry reflects French sensibilities in its culture, architecture and environment, the Pondicherry Museum has preserved photos, relics, books and interesting facts about that period.

There are also many old gadgets and vehicles that have been discovered and assembled in their working state inside the museum, which would thrill anyone interested in science and engineering.

Places to Stay Near Pondicherry Museum

Pondicherry, being a popular tourist destination for people traveling from all over the world, has many places to stay, careering to all kinds of budgets. Here are a few examples: 

1. Le Dupleix -
Le Dupleix is a four-star hotel located on the Rue Dela Caserne Street, only 0.4 km from the Pondicherry Museum. It is a plush hotel with a flair of edgy, contemporary style mixed with traditional, colonial style. There are 14 spacious and luxurious rooms for a comfortable stay. You can also enjoy an in-house fine dining experience from their restaurant.  

2. The Promenade 
The Promenade is located on Goubert Avenue, 0.2 km away from the Pondicherry Museum. It is a four-star hotel with excellent fine dining options and stylish rooms overlooking the waters of the Bay of Bengal. The hotel also provides all the modern facilities you need, from LCD TVs to free Wi-Fi, to visitors.

3. Le Chateau - 
Le Chateau is located on the Rue Romain Rolland Street, 0.6 km from the Pondicherry Museum. It is a four-star hotel that provides world-class cuisine to guests and a wide range of wines and beverages.  You can choose from modest rooms to luxury suites when you chose to put up at this hotel. 

4. Villa Du Ocean - 
Villa Du Ocean is located on Romain Rolland Street, 0.5 km away from the Pondicherry Museum. It is a four-star hotel where all the rooms are exquisitely decorated and fitted with essential facilities like ACs, flat-screen TVs and minibars. The place is known for its incredible food and cocktails menu in their restaurant.

Places to Eat Near Pondicherry Museum

1. The Bull Restaurant - 
The Bull Restaurant is a tastefully decorated casual-dining restaurant which gives you a wonderful view of the ocean as you savour your meal. They serve up an impressive range of North Indian, South Indian, Asian and Continental dishes. It is popularly believed that the best fried-rice in Pondicherry can be found in The Bull.

2. Villa Shanti- Villa Shanti does complete justice to its name, offering visitors one of the most peaceful and satisfying eating experiences in Pondicherry. The café is situated in an open-air patio surrounded by lounge chairs and trees, where you can enjoy salads, cocktails, juices, sandwiches and much more while reading your book or listen to some soothing live music.

3. Bay of Budhha - 
Offering possibly one of the most luxurious dining experiences in Pondicherry, the Bay of Buddha is a place you must go to if you want to sample the seafood in the town. The restaurant serves up incredible dishes from Japanese, Malaysian, Asian, Koran, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian cuisines. Enjoy some of the best sushi in town with a panoramic, roof-top view of the beaches of Pondicherry.

4.Lighthouse - 
If you are looking for something a little more low-key and casual, then you can also check out the Lighthouse. It serves up a delicious range of North Indian and Continental dishes and is the perfect place to dine out with your family and friends without burning a hole in your pocket.

Tips Before Visiting Pondicherry Museum

1.Make sure you travel to the museum in the right weather. If it is too hot, it won’t be possible to tour the museum for a prolonged period of time.  

2. A lot of walking is likely to be involved so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and light, cotton clothes.

3. Do carry your essentials like sunglasses, your camera and sunscreen.

4. A small kit of necessary medical supplies is always advisable.

5. A general study of the artefacts and archaeological sites from beforehand might make your trip even more exciting.
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