Pondicherry, Information about Pondicherry, Pondicherry Tour

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Information about Pondicherry
Pondicherry, Pondicherry Tour

“Pondicherry” is the French interpretation of the original name “Puducheri”. The word “Puducheri” means the new settlement. Many pilgrims have shared the town’s hospitality on their way to the temple town of Rameshwaram, thus enriching its culture. Pondicherry is the tiny union territory which covers an area of 494 square kms. Situated on the south coast of Madras, Pondicherry was a French town from 1674 to 1954 when it became part of India. Earlier Pondicherry was the major French trading post but later it became part of the Anglo-French hostilities. Today, it is a provincial town with a distinctive French character. The new city of Auroville, built by the followers of the 20th century saint Sri Aurobindo is located nearby Pondicherry. Tamil and French are the common languages which are spoken in Pondicherry.

History of Pondicherry

Pondicherry also had a flourishing history. The Romans came to Pondicherry in the 1st century AD for the trading purpose. The trade included dyed textiles, pottery and semi-precious stones. The findings are now displayed in the Pondicherry Museum. In the 16th and 17th centuries the flourishing trade by Portuguese, the Dutch and the Danes attracted the French to establish a settlement in 1674. Under the rule of Francois Martin and Dupleix, it grew into a prominent fortified town and an important sea port. In 1746 the British lost the St. George fort in Madras to Dupleix, and retaliated by capturing Pondicherry in 1761 and razing the town to the ground, sparing only a few structures. However the Treaty of Paris returned Pondicherry to the French. A storm water canal separated the French and Tamil Quarters, and Streets were laid in the form of grid. By 1768 much of the old town of Pondicherry, had been laid out and rebuilt on its former foundations.

Pondicherry Church, Pondicherry

Tourist Attractions in Pondicherry

Pondicherry is rich in architectural and cultural wealth. The major tourist attraction in Pondicherry is Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for the most part of their life. The ashram houses the samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the mother. Pondicherry also has a pleasant beach alongside Promenade and historical monuments. Some of the other interesting sites include the Bharti and Bharthidasan Memorial museum, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Auroville. 

Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pondicherry

Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is built in the Gothic style. This massive church is one of the most beautiful churches in Pondicherry.

Pondicherry also has a pleasant and lovely beach alongside Promenade. This lovely beach is located within a short distance from the city centre. With a 1.5 km long Promenade, this is the most delightful part of the city. The people can have a stroll, sunbath, and swimming. On the beachfront are located many sites such as a statue of Mahatma Gandhi surrounded by eight exquisitely carved monolithic pillars and a war memorial.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Sri Aurobindo Ashram is the place where the Sri Aurobindo and Mother lived for the most part of their life. This Ashram attracts thousands of tourists every year. This ashram was founded in 1920 when Sri Aurobindo reached Pondicherry and put in place his ideas of peaceful community. This ashram was run by his French companion Mirra Alfassa, universally known as the Mother for a long period of time. The ashram is a diversified community with more than 1,200 members out of which 400 are the students of the Centre of Education. This ashram has various departments to look after basic needs of the members. There are various farms, gardens, printing press, libraries, and a number of small-scale industries in the Ashram. The ashram also houses the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the mother.

Sri Aurobino Ashram, Pondicherry

Pondicherry Museum
The Pondicherry museum is situated in the Government Park. The Pondicherry Museum is home to some of the most exquisite collections on architecture and sculpture. This museum has a good sculpture gallery and a section of archaeological finds from the Roman settlement at Arikamedu. There is also a French section which tells about the history of the colony. There is also a superb collection of snail shells from the Pondicherry region

Aayi Mandapam (Park Monument)
The magnificent white monument at the lush Government Park in the heart of city is the most recognizable monument of Pondichery. It was built in 16th century in Greco – Roman architecutal style during the reign of Napoleon III – the emperor of France and commemorates a 16th century courtesan named Aayi. The Government Park in (Bharati Park) is also noted for its lush green lawns, flower beds, fountains and fine sculptures. It is surrounded by many stately buildings like-Raj Nivas, the Museum, Pondicherry Art Gallery etc.

French War Memorial
The fine memorial on the Goubert Avenue (Beach Road) was erected in the honour of the soliers who laid their lives during the First World War. It is beautifully illuminated during the annual commemoration held on Bastille Day, the 14th of July.

Bharti and Bharthidasan Memorial Museum
Bharti Museum is located at Eswaran Koil Street, the place where the legendary Tamil poet lived after arriving here in 1908 in search of refuge. Bharthidasan Memorial Museum is situated at Perumal Koil Street where Kanakasubburatnam, a disciple of Bharti, lived. He changed his name to Bharthidasan, meaning the disciple of Bharti, and his home is now the second important place of literary pilgrimage in Pondicherry.

Auroville is situated just across the border in the state of Tamil Nadu, about 10 km away from Pondicherry. The place is also known as 'City of Dawn,' and was founded in 1968 as a tribute to Sri Aurobindo. It is a lush green cover created over 25 years by sheer hard work and dedication. The place is spread over 50 square km and has a population of over 900. The Mata Mandir situated in the centre of the town is the spiritual centre with a 30 meter high globe with lotus-shaped foundation urn.

Dupleix Statue
Statues of Francois Dupleix, the French Governor were commissioned in Pondicherry as well as in France in honour of this able administrator in 1870

19th Century Light House
The imposing light house near the sea at the Place du Government, was first lighted on 1 july, 1836. the light house was abandoned after the commissioning of the new light house in 1979.

Jawahar Toy Museum
The small museum near the old Lighthouse exhibits 130 dolls, representing different states of India.

Botanical Garden
The beautiful garden was planned and laid out in 1826, by C.S. Perrotet. It has a rich and varied collection of plant species not only from different parts of India but abroad as well. There is also an aquarium here.

Serenity Beach
The beautiful 1.5 kms. Long beach is idally suited for relaxation, sunbathing and swimming. The sea front is graced by an impressive statue of Mahatma Gandhi set amidst eight exquisitely carved pillars and wonderful War Memorial.

Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
The magnificent building was built in 1791, at the site of a former church at Cathedra Street. It is a fine example of medieval architecture and is noted for it imposing entrance and majestic interiors.

Sri Manakula Vinayakar Temple
The famous 18th century shrine of Lord Ganesha is located just behind the Raj Bhavan. The presiding deity is also referred as Vellakkaran (White Man) Pillai (Ganesha). It is said that a Frenchman residing near the shrine desperately tried to remove the idol of the deity from here. But, the idol kept on reappearing miraculously and convinced by the prowess of the deity, the Frenchman became a devotee of the Lord. The temple walls are adorned with forty fabulous friezes in honour of Lord Ganesh. Other important shrines are – Varadaraja Perumal Temple and Vedapureeswarar Temple.

The archaeological site about 4 kms. South of Pondicherry reveals the ancient history of the region. Excavationson the right bank of the river Ariyankuppam reveal that a port town flourished here about 2,000 years ago. It had trade links with and Greece as early as 2nd century B.C. and Roman settlements are said to have existed here. Textiles, precious stones and shell jewellery were the main items for export, while wine is thought to be imported. Ruins of an 18th century French Jesuit Mission House can also be seen here.

Paradise Beach, Chaunnambar (8 kms.)
The Picturesque beach lies near the mouth of the backwaters, along the Cuddalore Main Road. It is a perfect place for a leisurely holiday and beach sports. The Pondicherry Tourism (PTTDC) runs Chunnambar Beach and Backwater Resort and provides facilities for boating, backwaters boat tours, trekking, beach sports and picnics etc. the famous multicuisine restaurant – Seagulls is located near the Backwaters.

Shopping in Pondicherry

The Aurobindo Ashram makes and sells ceramics, handicrafts, perfumes and handmade paper. In the city you can also buy attractive papier mache toys, colourful bedspreads and rugs.

How to reach here

By Air:
Pondicherry is well connected to Chennai by air. The nearest airport is located at Chennai which is about 162 kms. 

By Rail and Road:
Pondicherry is well connected to Chennai and other cities by rail and road.

To know the distances from Pondicherry click here.

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