The Union Territory of Pondicherry encompasses of 4 coastal regions viz- Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. The area of Pondicherry is scattered over three different states in the country -Pondicherry in Tami Nadu, Mahe in the west coast of Kerala and Yanam in Andra Pradesh.
‘Frequently referred to as “A little piece of Medieval France in India” and “… a sleepy provincial French town“, Pondicherry has managed to preserve its French characteristic. Peaceful Pondicherry ’ has a rich French cultural heritage, having been the capital of the French colonies in India since the 17th century. From its charming eating places offering French food and boulevards bearing French names, Pondicherry’s French association is very much alive – yet, very faint. In Pondicherry you will find a ‘West Boulevard’ parallel to a ‘Chinna Subbraya Street’ and a ‘Des Bassyins de Richmont Street’ crossing over ‘Mahatma Gandhi Road’.
Having once been the center of former French India, the legacy of this town has a unique tang not found anywhere else in the Indian sub-continent. The French town-sense, tidily laid roads cutting each other at ninety degrees, wide and vivacious beach esplanade, French colonial record, the action-packed life of Joseph Francois Duplex – whose imposing sculpture overlooks the Goubert Avenue broodingly, architecturally splendid churches and civic constructions of a long-gone era, all of these band together to give Pondicherry its unique locale.
The territory is currently undergoing a name change to the original name of the city, Puduchery meaning “new village” in the official Tamil language. Pondicherry is an enchanting and fascinating place.
Pondicherry is an enthralling and mesmerizing place. Whether you are looking for a quixotic date or an amusing resort holiday, Pondicherry can contain all of your opening wishes. Honeymooners can find miles of sand-kissed shores while the sun-weary can pamper themselves at unbelievable restaurants and delight themselves to exclusive shopping experiences.
Renowned associations hint the origin of this city to Rishi Agastya, the respected sage of the south. And excavations near Pondicherry disclose that a Roman settlement existed here 2000 years ago. Pondicherry has been the theatre of many battles in the wars between the British and the French, and was the capital of French India before it accomplished independence in 1954. Pondicherry is prominent as a centre chosen by late Sri Aurobindo, activist turned saint, who built his Ashram, which draws huge crowd of tourists.
Places of Tourist Interest in Pondicherry
Pondicherry has a beautiful beach, 1.5 kms long, where one can calm down, bask, bathe or take a saunter along the walkway.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Established by Sri Aurobindo, a revolutionary turned poet, a philosopher and later developed by the Mother, the Aurobindo Ashram has grown into a centre for the practice of Integral Yoga, a seat of learning and a training ground for sadhana.
The Museum provides a peep into Pondicherry’s rich past and present. It has the Sculpture gallery, an interesting French Gallery.
The Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden in Pondicherry was created in 1826. The garden has rare and appealing plants acquired from Calcutta, Madras and Sri Lanka. At present it possesses a proud collection of 1,500 species.
Anglo-French Textile Mills
Visiting the century old Anglo-French Textile mills in Pondicherry is not only educative but also of tourism importance. The mill gives 10% rebate to the tourists who go on guided tours/buses on the purchases made.
French missionary zeal in the XVII and XVIII Centuries saw a number of splendidly embroidered churches built in Pondicherry. The Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Cathedral, the Eglise de Notre Dame A’es Angles are particularly noteworthy.
Boat House, Chunnambar
The backwater and the lush greenery on both sides of Chunnambar provide an ideal setting for boating.
Jawahar Toy Museum
The Jawahar Toy Museum is located in the old Light House building near Gandhi Maidan. Here toys and puppets from different parts of India are on display.
Eglise De Sacre Coeur De Jesus
This church on the South Boulevard is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is noted for its Gothic architecture, stained glass corridors and panels depicting incidents from the life of Jesus Christ.
Mailam Murugan Temple
It is about 50 km from Pondicherry town. There is a Murugan temple atop a hillock. The Panguni Uthhiram festival held in March-April attracts devotees in large numbers.
It is about 50 km from Pondicherry town. This is the location of the first Pallava cave temple for the Hindu trinity-Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. Called Lakshitayatana, it was built during the reign of Pallva King Mahendra Varaman I.
It is about 15 km from Pondicherry town. A popular picnic spot on the Pondicherry-Villupuram route.