Once the largest French colony in India, Pondicherry today still maintains much of that influence with its architecture, street names, and chic boutiques that line the streets and boulevards. You can shop for handcrafted paper goods, hand dyed silks, pottery and carved wood that blend Indian and French cultures.
Sundays come alive at the Pondi Sunday Market with colorful stalls, vibrant shoppers, and aromatic smells. It is very much a local’s market divided into sections of fresh fish, meat and vegetables, handmade arts and crafts, and vintage collections of old books, records, and magazines. Some of the stalls have artisans carving wooden amulets, dying silk fabric or infusing exotic oils with flowers or herbs. While it is a small marketplace by Indian standards, it is busy with both locals and tourists..
Pondicherry has small boutiques and Ashram shops. Many are similar to those found in the Paris neighborhoods of Saint Germaine or Montmartre known for their micro-shops within the boutiques. Specialty products include homemade paper and paper mâché products (especially dolls), handicrafts, terracotta pottery, hand-dyed silk fabric, painted scarves, or an Appliqué’ Saree tailored while you wait.
Splendour is a favorite shop located at 16 Goubert is one of the sales outlets for Ashram products with nice selection of Hindu gods like Vishnu, Shiva and Ganesha (at least half the price of what it would cost in Mumbai), pottery, and clothing.
Pondicherry is home to the leather manufacturer HiDesign with a three-story flagship store filled with wallets, belts, bags, and shoes and located on Mission Street in the old French part of the city. Don’t miss the charming cafes, bakeries and French colonial style buildings with distinctive Mediterranean architecture while there.
The Boutiques at Auroville: Fantastic assortment of products in the multiple boutiques at Auroville. Shop here for paper mâché, clothing, aromatics and hammered jewelry.
On your way, you’ll pass the Auro Wood Works. Using the contours of the raw woods like oak and teak, they fit the pieces to the wood rather than force the wood into their concept. Bowls, desk accessories, elephant sculptures, Hindu gods like Brahma inspired masks are all on display. You can also commission work from them. The finished pieces are polished by hand then sealed to preserve their beauty.
Niligiri Supermarket located near Mission Street in the Old Town area is great for stocking up if you’re staying in a self-catering guest house. They stock all the necessities including many western items like soda and chips. The Goubert Market is a stall-run grocery style market with fresh meat, fish, vegetables, and a variety of pre-packaged soups and sweets.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about shopping in Pondicherry.