Who doesn’t love a restaurant that lets you dine under the sky? A hint of sunshine, gentle breeze, a sound of a fountain – it really brings on those vacay vibes. So does Pondicherry, for that matter, and its here that I found a lot of courtyard restaurants sprinkled around the popular White Town.

But a great outdoor restaurant is more than just patio furniture and umbrellas, right? The outstanding ones have a sense carefully created sense of personality and character. Restaurants like these are where guests come to savour the experience, and not just gobble up a meal.

courtyard le dupleix


The Courtyard, one of the restaurants at the Le Dupleix Hotel has charm. You’d be interested to know that, what now is a hotel, was once the residence of the Mayor of Pondicherry in the 18th century – Joseph Francois Dupleix. The original building has been expanded, renovated and modernized, leaving the timelessness intact and is now run by the Hidesign Group, who also own the Promenade Hotel a few minutes away. The Courtyard is the heart of the hotel and a huge mango tree as you enter is one of the highlights. All around, white archs lead away from the square, while tables and chairs are laid out in the hall as well as the corridor between the two. Heritage buildings like these leave me with a sense of awe. I wonder if Mr. Dupleix would have ever imagined there would be people sipping on wine in his courtyard, centuries ago.


I sat in the corridor area since there was better lighting and the staff were pretty attentive, probably more so because they had to walk past the area to go from the indoor dining area to the courtyard. Chef Sathish Rajasekaran, the Executive Chef at the Promenade also heads the kitchen here at the Courtyard, and after a spectacular meal at the former, I was set to be blown away!


The Courtyard at Le Dupleix has a menu featuring both, French and hearty South Indian mains. I’d already had European food that morning, as well as at BlueLine, a restaurant run by the same chef at the Promenade hotel, as mentioned above, so I decided to tuck into the South Indian food.

Rasam aux crevettes – Rasam and Prawns are rarely seen in the same sentence, let alone the same dish. But it worked marvelously in this luscious dish. Rasam is a watery, South Indian soup that’s prepared using tamarind juice, chilli, pepper, cumin and spices with bottle gourd or drumsticks added in. In this fusion dish, big, juicy, minimally spiced prawns and coconut milk added a whole new dimension to rasam, bordering it on the verge of South India and perhaps, the Orient. Loved how it teased my taste buds!

the courtyard le dupleix pondicherry

Poricha Kozhi and Tawa Pepper Lamb – I tried two other dishes from the Pondicherry Fusion Cuisine section of the menu – some sample portions of Poricha Kozhi (deep fried chicken marinated with Pondicherry spices), and Tawa Pepper Lamb. Neither of these were extraordinary, but I’d tip the scales in favour of the lamb because of its playful spice mix.

le dupleix pondicherry

Chicken Chettinad – This was definitely one of the better dishes of the evening. It’s deliciously fragrant spicy curry, with yogurt mixed in for balance. The soft, succulent chicken was absolutely perfect, simmered in a medley of roasted spices and coconut. SO filling! Definite must-try with rice or naan!

chicken chettinad pondicherry

Tiramisu – I picked the Tiramisu off the dessert menu but wasn’t very pleased with it. It was akin to eating pure cream. While a hint of coffee was present, the flavour of marscapone cheese lacked completely. I sorely missed the coffee dipped ladyfingers – few of those would be a great idea.

le dupleix courtyard pondicherry

Overall, a few hits and misses here. If you’ve visited The Courtyard, Le Dupleix in Pondicherry, comment below and let me know what your experience was like.

Don’t forget to read my review on the best places to eat in Pondicherry! And follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, view, as always, are my own.

Hey guys!

Hope you’re enjoying the Pondicherry Series! As you probably know by now, Pondicherry is tantalizing mix of South India and France and so one of the reasons I visited was to see what the culinary scene was like. Would French food and South Indian food maintain their identities, both of which are poles apart from each other? Or would there be instances where they merged into something ultra mod? Are the glorified places really worth the hype and are there undiscovered restaurants waiting to be found?

I’ll get right to business! Here’s a list of places I ate at and a snippet of what I thought of them.

Zuka – This place is a candy store – literally! Chocolate lovers, you’re in for a treat with their decadent hot chocolate served with a chocolate spoon on the side! Take your pick from a variety of cakes, cookies, chocolates and pastries in the gleaming display case, all of which will ensure your sweet cravings are satisfied before you walk out the doors. For the amount of patrons they have, 3 tables fall short of requirements. So prepare yourself to gorge on chocolate while standing up.

zuka pondicherry

The Courtyard, Le Dupleix – A palatial French bungalow converted into one of Pondicherry’s finest hotels also has a breezy restaurant in the courtyard with a name that defines it. I sampled the rasam aux crevettes which is a curious mix of south Indian rasam (a tangy tamarind-tomato-pepper soup) and juicy prawns, an ingredient that definitely doesn’t belong in it, but works wonderfully! I chose to try the famed Tamil Nadu dish Chicken Chettinad here, for its authenticity and it didn’t disappoint either. I’ll share more about my meal at Le Dupleix in my next post.

courtyard le dupleix

Biker Stall – I don’t think this food stall has a name, but you’ll find him parked just a few lanes away from the Promenade with his motorcycle turned into a makeshift kitchen. A grill attached to one side is sizzling with chicken wings, chicken cubes, paneer and pineapple while hungry patrons eagerly await their plate of food, eyeing patiently at the men at work, basting and turning over the meat on the grill. The food is nothing spectacular, but if you have time, visit for the novelty of it all.

india's first food bike

Xtasi Pizza – Undoubtedly one of the best places to eat in Pondicherry! A small diner with a larger than life reputation for having the finest wood fired pizzas in town. Start with some onion rings and a brownie milkshake until you decide which of their 50 pizzas you’d like to sample – and if you can’t, simply order a half-and-half! All their pizzas have a generous amount of toppings, but if you’re really hungry, order the 18 inch one – it’s as large as a tyre! I tried the Xtasi special, and would definitely order it again!

xstasi pizza pondicherry

Baker’s Street – If you want a real taste of French confections, this is where you’ll strike gold. From melt-in-your-mouth chocolates and croissants that bring on that twinge of guilt to light, fresh quiches, salads and baguettes, the selection of goodies they offer will have you agonizing over what to order. Visit for an early morning breakfast, late brunch or evening pick-me-up and admire the authentic red diagonal tiles set diagonally and patterned ceiling. It doesn’t take much imagination to transport yourself to those little cafés off the pavement in Paris.

bakers street

Kamatchi Biryani – Another highly recommended place for its biryani but it’s had a definite quality drop. The service is prompt, however, the food was served cold, rice devoid of flavour and very little meat. The briyani came with a side of rasam, of all things, and another bowl of steamed rice, which was quite confusing – but if you’re looking for a tummy-filler, try it out. If you want taste and quality, look elsewhere or try your luck and order something else.

kamatchi biryani

GMT Gelato – OMG! I’d go back to Pondicherry just for a taste of this gelato! Located at the start of the promenade, this tiny parlour has artisanal flavours at reasonable prices. From rich, velvety vanilla to playful sorbets, dark chocolates and boozy flavours, pick up a creamy treat before your jaunt through Pondy! I loved the Himalayan Salt-Caramel flavour!

GMT gelato

Villa Shanti – An institution in itself, Villa Shanti is a hotel with a restaurant serving exquisite French food. Partly indoors and partly outdoors, this fine dining restaurant delivers consistent Continental/French cuisine and a bit of Indian fare. It doesn’t fit into any boxes, per se and has a soothing ambience with a European feel that reflects in the décor and menu. Imported beer, attention to detail when it comes to presentation, good service and a pricing that tilts towards the higher side with food to match are some of its prominent features. Go for an early/late lunch or dinner to avoid waiting for a table.

villa shanti pondicherry

Café des Arts – Given the amount of people that recommended this place to me, I was sure I was in for a treat, and didn’t snack all day in order to do justice to Café Des Arts.  Ugh!! Dismal! Absolutely dismal! It baffles me why so many people recommend this restaurant, with its wobbly chairs and indifferent staff. I’m not sure if they’re just resting on their laurels and allowing the quality of food to slip, or are overconfident that no matter what they serve, patrons will come calling. The mustard chicken sandwich lacked any kind of presentation (or even effort) and the dryness was the least of its problems. The Bacon and Egg baguette came in bread so hard that I had to gnaw at it like a bone. They didn’t even bother to cut the edges off. I wouldn’t spend another rupee here, but if you want to give it a shot, I’ll leave the decision to you.

cafe des arts

Bread and Chocolate – This adorable café in Auroville is definitely a must visit for excellent confections, bread and great energy! I regret not trying the large, delicious looking chocolate croissants on display! You will find clean, raw, fresh ingredients in your lunch bowls, sandwiches and salads! I had the sourdough bread with layers of sliced banana, a drizzle of honey and a slather of homemade peanut butter and it was marvellous! Don’t miss this gem for anything!

Naturellement – Getting here is a bit tricky as need to make your way through red, dusty, unpaved roads through patches of forest but using GPS, you will eventually get there. This large, outdoor café in the midst of nature serves organic, gourmet European fare and every dish I tried was hearty and delicious. The tuna salad was the best I’ve tried so far – packed with flavour and with generous heaps of tuna! The Raviolli and Penne Pasta was delicious too, but what stole the show was Martina’s Special Cake – layers of chocolate and a biscuit-y crumb, served cold. You will literally lick the spoon! Visit for an unforgettable experience.

naturellement cafe pondicherry

Eat my Cake – You’ll feel like you walked into a cozy little dollhouse when you put your foot in the door! This darling little café lists their specials on a pink board outside, that’s placed alongside cute wooden chairs and teal tables. You can place your order downstairs (they have a display case with knockout desserts) and head up to the al-fresco seating area that overlooks a street lined with bougainvillea. It’s a great place to spend a few hours, sipping a cuppa and indulging in waffles, brownies, apple pie and fresh juices. They even have free wi-fi so you can work, although all you’ll want to do here is take pictures for Instagram!

eat my cake pondicherry

Coromandel Café – This is the kind of place you want to spend hours in! Like Café Des Arts, this one is also a house converted into a restaurant, but oh, how exquisite!! A magnificent chandelier hangs from the ceiling in the main hall and stands out against the pale green wallpaper and antique furniture. Every room has 3-4 tables and the outdoor seating is prettier than inside, however the humid weather made us pick a table in one of the a/c rooms of the house. The service is extremely slow, but I didn’t mind since I wanted to spend as much time there as possible. The menu is limited, comprising of a handful of dishes under starters and mains. I tried the pink taggiatelle and penne paste and was bowled over! The portions were huge and the pink pasta was exquisite – big chunks of sweet caramelized onions, distinct creaminess of goats cheese, crunchy red cabbage and sprouts and a mind blowing dollop of Auroville Parmesan sauce. Insanely yum!

coromandel cafe

BlueLine, Promenade – The prominent Promenade hotel has 4 restaurants, out of which I tried BlueLine, a 24 hour establishment overlooking the sea. They serve lavish Indian, Oriental and Continental cuisine. I ordered the Double Baked Three Cheese Souffle and it was exquisite! Gouda, Parmesan and goat cheese was light, airy and every bite was rich in cheesy goodness. I picked my mains from the French section of the menu as well – Sole Meurinere – which was a pan fried sole fish cooked in brown butter, parsley and lemon. Another win! Simple ingredients accentuated the delicate flesh of the fish beautifully without too much fanfare.

blueline promenade

Sicily’s – This is another restaurant on the Promenade that overlooks the beach and provides value-for-money Continental fare such as Pastas, Pizzas and steaks. The interiors are cool and colourful but they also have pleasant outdoor seating. I tried the pasta which was a little monotonous, while the pizza was fairly good. There’s definite room for improvement.


Surguru – There are quite a few of these around but I visited the one near Xtasi Pizza place. No frills air-conditioned restaurant with AMAZING south Indian food! I really enjoyed my crispy medhu vada and fluffy idli (although I’m not really into idlis.) The restaurant was empty and I had a lot of work to do, so I sat there for an hour, drinking filter coffee + working and the courteous staff made me feel at home. Head over for a great breakfast!

surguru pondicherry

That’s it from me for now! Hope this post helps you make the most of your time in Pondicherry and eat your way through its best restaurants. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more deliciousness!

See you next time!

What Goa is to the West Coast, Pondicherry is to the East. Its beaches, impressive churches, bougainvillea-lined streets and colourful walls are quite similar to Goa, more precisely, the Fontainhas area of Panjim. While many travel to the ‘Riviera of the East’ for Instagram-worthy pictures, others make a bee-line for the dirt-cheap alcohol.

I’ll get into my reasons for visiting in a later post. For now, this is about how to travel from Chennai to Pondicherry, or Puducherry (sigh) as it is now called.


Pondicherry is around 150 kms from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu.

There are two routes to get there – the ECR (East Coast Road) will take you by the seaside, and quite scenic, whereas NH45 is around 10 kms longer, but is a better road to drive on, if you’re on a road trip. Either way will take you around 4 hours to reach.

thatgoangirl pondicherry


Two things struck me on my visit to Chennai. One, how incredibly clean it was as compared to the other metros in India. In many crowded areas such as bus stops and markets, it was spotless. Secondly, and more importantly, it is very well connected. For someone who is visiting for the first time and cannot speak Tamil, I had no problems getting around.

Are you travelling to Pondicherry from Chennai Airport? Simply exit the airport and walk 100 meters to the right, on the same paved, shaded road that leads to the airport. You will see the Meenambakkam Metro Station on your left. On entering the building, you’ll find an elevator a few steps away that will take you to the metro station. The Chennai metro is fairly empty and the station is as good as deserted, but the metros are fast, clean and efficient.

Buy a ticket to CMBT which will cost you Rs. 50 and board the train. You will have to change the metro line you’re on after a couple of stops at Alandur, but with the signboards present everywhere, you won’t have any difficulty finding it. At CMBT, exit the metro station and you will find yourself right at the bus terminal! How convenient!

Here, you have two options of buses (a/c and non a/c) as well as routes, which I have specified above. Both buses will drop you to Pondicherry bus depot. I took the non a/c bus and the ECR route which cost Rs. 130/- While it was empty when it left, it got really crowded mid-way, before emptying out again towards Pondicherry. The seats were uncomfortable and there was barely any leg room, plus, it got really hot after a point.

Also, this bus did not go by the ECR route as promised.  After exiting Chennai, It took me on narrow mud roads through rural Tamil Nadu for a good 2 hours and finally got on to ECR a few kms before Pondicherry. I figured that this was to avoid the toll tax the buses have to keep paying on the highway. Obviously, my journey stretched to almost 5 hours. So if you choose this option, double check with the conductor that the bus goes on ECR the whole way.

On the way back to Chennai, I chose the a/c bus via ECR road and man, what a difference. Volvo buses with recliner seats offered a very comfy journey and only cost Rs. 230/- per ticket. I try to avoid a/c buses as the congested air inside makes me sick, but there was no weird bus-smells or anything! Grab a snack, doze off and you’ll find yourself at Meenambakkam before you know it. There are no stops on the journey, either.

The frequency of both buses is great – with one leaving every 15-20 minutes.

You could also choose to travel from Chennai to Pondicherry by booking a pre-paid taxi at the airport or by calling an uber. Both these options cost Rs. 2500 and over and the travel time is the same.

Lastly, you could travel by train from Chennai Railway Station to Pondicherry Railway Station, which is very close to White Town. This may be cheaper than the bus, but it is definitely a longer journey that can go up to 5-6 hours.

Hope this helps you plan your travel! If you have any questions, comment below! You can also drop me a message on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


My mother always calls me up like clockwork every Saturday I silently mouth the words of a sentence I’ve been hearing every weekend for the last God-knows how many years. “Don’t forget to go to Church on Sunday!” she says.

So one Sunday in a sunny little French town in South India, I decided to take her advice (P.S. Mum, if you’re here, I take your advice every week, really!)

I visited 3 out of the several churches in quaint, little Pondicherry. Being from Goa, a land with beautiful churches every few kilometres, I wanted to see if the ones here were any similar to the ones back home. So here are the ones I picked to visit:

Domus Dei – While you will pass by many Churches on your rides around Pondicherry, this one will immediately make you stop and get your camera out. In pastel shades of blush and lime, Domus Dei Cathedral (or Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges in French and ‘The House of God,’ in English) looks over the Bay of Bengal. Whether or not you see it as the rising sun shines upon it, it is always beaming with radiance.

domus dei pondicherry

domus dei

The façade is made up of a giant triangular pediment and two bell towers, each with the statue of two saints in nooks of i own. Two prominent inscriptions over the doors read ‘House of God,’ over the main entrance and above it, ‘To the Lord, the best and greatest, under the protection of Our Lady of Angels.’

As you step inside, 3 things are apparent right away – how gorgeously luminescent it is, how vast in size and how EVERYTHING is symmetrical, just like the outside. A soft glow of light beams through 8 stained glass windows on the dome above as well as all along the sides of the pews. The slightly elevated white-marble altar stands shielded behind a gallery. The Cross with crucified Christ is adorned with flowers. You can spend hours soaking in the sheer tranquility here and trust me, you’ll want to look at everything twice!

inside domus dei

domus dei window

domus dei church

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Located right in the middle of Pondicherry, close to the railway station and main bus stop, this Church is in stark contrast to the elegant Domus Dei. It was built just over 100 years ago and seems to be in the style of South India, especially since a gold plated garuda sthamba-like structure is placed right in the middle of the courtyard.

basilica of the sacred heart of jesus pondicherry

basilica of sacred heart of jesus

It was interesting to see the way South Indian churches are. Leave your footwear outside and step in to a myriad of colour and gold everywhere you look. White and brown arches with circular stained glass designs on top coupled with brown streaks stretching across the dome make the place look very busy and kitschy. Still, architecture lovers will enjoy marvelling at its Neo-Gothic Architecture. If you’re pressed for time, consider skipping it. If not, take a moment to look at the unique stained glass paintings they have inside.

churches in pondicherry

Immaculate Conception Church – Dating back to 300 years ago, this church has paintings that have been gifted by Napoleon III and has been visited by Mother Theresa! But that’s not all that’s cool about it. The Immaculate Conception Church was built in 1692 and thereafter was demolished and rebuilt several times by the Dutch and British. This is the only church in Pondicherry that resembled those in Goa, with it’s blue, yellow and white façade.

mmaculate conception pondicherry

immaculate conception church

The interiors of this 17th century church are so much more toned down and understated. Simple whitewashed walls, the typical arches and dome at the end and a wooden railing to separate the altar from the pews. Statues and altars in various corners of the church are dedicated to St. Joseph, Our Lady of Good Health, St. Theresa and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, but apart from these, there isn’t much to look at.

pondi church

immaculate conception church pondy

There are around 10-12 churches to visit, and while you can spend a few days covering them all, these 3 are the most impressive ones. Hope you enjoyed this post! More on Pondicherry coming up soon!



Welcome back! It’s been an exciting week since I returned from Pondicherry! If you’re following me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, you’ll know that ThatGoanGirl just won an award by the Food Bloggers Association of India for the Best Culinary Travel Blog in India for the 2nd year in a row! Woohoo! AND that very morning, I was around 200 kms away, watching baby turtles make their way to the sea for the first time in a quiet little beach town called Velas! But I’ll save that story for another time!

thatgoangirl matrimandir

Anyway, if you’ve heard of Pondicherry, I’m pretty certain you’d have heard about Auroville – a serene little township that is dedicated to the philosopher, Aurobindo. The site was founded by his spiritual collaborator and devotee, Mirra Alfassa, also called ‘The Mother,’ and her vision was to create a sort of utopia where men of all nationalities and beliefs could call home, while living in peace and unity.

Auroville is a fascinating little place. It almost seems like it belongs to no one, and yet, to everyone at the same time. As if the world-weary have left their troubles at the border and come in seeking spiritual solace. Dirt roads covered in red, dusty soil lead you through forested patches with lush tall greenery on either side, making you wonder where on earth you’re headed, before suddenly coming face-to-face with a bungalow, boutique or café time and again.

Getting to Auroville

Auroville is around 165 kms from Chennai and 13 kms from White Town in Pondicherry. If you’re travelling to Auroville from Chennai, a bus would be a cheap way to get there and take around 3-4 hours. Simply get off at the East Coast Road Junction and take an auto or taxi to Auroville. The entire journey should not cost you more than Rs. 500. You can also book a cab from Chennai Airport which will take more or less the same time as the bus and will cost around Rs. 2500.

On the other hand, if you’re already at White Town in Pondicherry, then travelling to Auroville is a breeze if you have your own two-wheeler. You can rent for around Rs. 300-350/day, with petrol being extra. It will take you around half an hour and is quite a pleasant drive, from the ECR road into the little lanes. GPS is quite accurate.


It was the onset of Tamil Nadu’s blistering summer and gauging from the last 4-5 days I’d already spent in Pondicherry, it was wise to stay indoors in the afternoon. So we set off to Auroville from White Town after a quick breakfast at 8 am, hoping to be done with our visit by 10.

matri mandir intro

Literally translating to ‘Temple of the Mother,’ Matri Mandir was high on my list of things to do in Auroville, because it is, quite literally, the heart and soul of the place. This giant golden globe that resembles a Ferrero Rocher, has always been a symbol of meditation… somewhere seekers of peace go to cut off from noise and distraction; to contemplate.

On entering the premises, visitors are first led through gallery comprising of 3-4 rooms where displays of the monument, paintings, quotes from Aurobindo and the Mother are put up. Another small room plays a short clip about Auroville, Matri Mandir, the construction, architecture and more. Once done with this gallery, you can request for a free pass and begin your walk towards the Matri Mandir. We learnt that one can go and meditate INSIDE the Matri Mandir on the first available day – which, when we asked, was the following day. We decided to register for this surreal experience on our way out.

matri mandir gallery

matri mandir displays As you walk down a shady 2 km path to Matri Mandir, you’ll come across 12 slabs of rocks, each with a painting of a different coloured flower, symbolizing a human quality – sincerity, peace, equality, generosity, goodness, courage, progress, receptivity, aspiration, perseverance, gratitude and humility. The number 12 is of deep significance here. Twelve gardens individually named ‘bliss,’ ‘light,’ ‘life,’ ‘power,’ ‘wealth,’ ‘utility,’ ‘progress,’ ‘existence,’ ‘consciousness,’ ‘perfection,’ ‘harmony,’ and ‘youth,’ signify the 12 attributes of the mother. 12 red stone petals, having the same significance hold up the golden sphere, under which a marble lotus pond lies.

matri mandir flower

thatgoangirl auroville

As we walked along the dusty, red path, the Matri Mandir rose up in front of us. Sadly, one cannot get up close to the monument and the viewing point is at quite a distance away. Apart from a huge bunch of school kids, around 50 tourists clicked selfies and pictures galore – some even doing a video chat to show their loved ones far away what the Matri Mandir looked like. I’ve got to say, this new style of virtual travel was quite amusing!

matri mandir auroville

matri mandir

thatgoangirl matri mandir

On the way out, the rise in mercury was quite apparent, and it easily touched 35 degrees Celsius. We were grateful that we sacrificed an hour of sleep in the morning to view the monument in comfort, however annoying it was to have to see it from so far away. When we finally reached the reception building again, we were sent to another building for a pass to meditate inside the Matri Mandir. And then… another let-down.

Now, just one hour later, the next available day to meditate inside the monument was pushed to four days away, and that didn’t fit into our schedule. Ugh!! The search for inner peace is quite aggravating. I heard so much about how a single ray of sunlight that filters through the top of the Matri Mandir, diffuses and lights up the place – I really wanted to see it first hand! On a side note, if you want meditate, you will need at least 2-3 days in Auroville – one day to book your slot and another to meditate inside. So plan accordingly!

matri mandir cafe

dreamers cafe matri mandir

Anyway, I quickly got over it on seeing a lot of amazing outdoor cafes – including Auroville Café and Dreamer’s Café on the premises. An indulgent cold coffee and the best chocolate cake at Dreamer’s Café was just the antidote to perk my spirits! A couple of gift shops, a boutique and other touristy things were present, too and the commercial hubbub of it all didn’t really vibe well with the serenity that the place embodies, but oh, well.

dreamers cafe auroville

dreamers cafe

This is definitely a thing you must do in Auroville and Pondicherry. If you’ve managed to get the elusive pass to meditate inside the Matri Mandir, comment below, I’d love to hear all about it.

For more Pondicherry adventures, tune in to my next blog post.