As Pondy is at a very central location one can make half-day and day-trips or over-night circuits to various locations around Pondicherry. Here are some of them with a short description of what they have to offer :
Villianur, Tiruvandar & Bahur: human scale temples with classic Dravidian architecture and lively, unusual early sculptures.
Chidambaram (74 kms): the Nataraja Temple at the centre of the town, sprawls over an area of 40 acres. With the roof of the Sanctum Sanctorum covered with gold plates. The presiding deity is represented by air - known as Akaasa Linga.
Gingee (75 kms): one of the finest forts in India, is built on 7 hills and still houses several interesting structures.
Kancheepuram (130 kms): A temple town with a history dating back to 23 centuries, Kancheepuram is called "The City of Thousand Temples". The Ekambareswaran Temple said to be the largest Siva temple has a 1000 pillared hall and one of the tallest gopurams in South India. Today, the town is perhaps more widely known for its lovely silks.
Mamallapuram (98 kms): Nestling along the Bay of Bengal, Mamallapuram was a 7th century port of the Pallava kings. The cave temples here were carved out of a granite hill mostly between the 5th and 8th centuries. Besides, you also will find the famous Shore Temple to the east and the Chariot Temples to the south.
Pitchavaram (70 kms): You can choose your picnic spot within thousands of acres of lush mangrove forests. A number of backwater canals criss-cross the area forming several islands.
Point Calimere: one of India's major sites for migratory wetland birds.
Tiruvannamalai (105 kms): The Arunachaleswara Temple, a renowned Siva Temple, is situated at the foot of a hill here. The ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi is only 3 kms away from the temple.
Karaikal is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It is the site of 17th century Danish fort and India's only temple to the planet Saturn. It also provides hop-over destinations.
Kumbakonam (60 kms): Famous for the Sarangapani, the Kubereshwara, the Nageswara and the Ramaswamy temples. The Mahamgam congregation takes place once in 12 years.
Nagore (12 kms): The Hazrat Meeran Sultan Sayed Shahabdul Hameed Daragh, attracts devout Muslims from far and wide.
Poompuhar (35 kms): On confluence of River Cauvery with the Bay of Bengal, lies this ancient historic port city of the Chola dynasty. Also known as Kaveripoompattinam.
Thanjavur (100 kms): Thanjavur rose to glory as a centre of learning and culture during the Chola reign between the 10th and the 14th centuries. Renowned for its 11th century Brihadeswara temple, the finest of its kind in South India. Moreover, the Fort Serfoji Musuem holds the richest collection of Chola bronzes.
Tharangambadi (12 kms): Also known as Tranquebar, this former Danish settlement, contains the fairy tale-like remains of a 400-year-old fort on the seashore.
Velankanni (29 kms): The healing powers associated with the Basilica of Our Lady of Health here, draws pilgrims across all religions and faiths.