Pondicherry is a union territory inside the state of Tamil Nadu. It was Formerly a French settlement, something you can get a feel of when you walk around the city. Colonial buildings as old as the 18th-century line the streets and there is a touch of France in the atmosphere.
The French established a settlement in Pondicherry in 1673. They were the last European power to come to India for trade. The French handed over their territories to India in November 1954.
Pondy (as the locals call it) is a perfect base to explore the various destinations around it; Auroville, International City of Unity, the Gingee Fort, the holy temple towns of Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai, and Chidambaram, the heritage sculptures and rock temples of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) and the cool hill station of Kodaikanal.
Getting There :
- By Air: The international airport in Chennai is the closest.
- By Rail: There is a rail station in Pondicherry, but there are few and slow trains. It is better to take a bus to Chennai and a train from there.
- By Road: Pondicherry is connected by road from Chennai, Bangalore, and Kerala.
The best way to get to Pondy from Chennai and Bangalore is by taxi or bus.
Buses leave from Chennai at the Tamil Nadu State Express Bus Stand and take
about 4 hours to reach Pondy.
Fast Facts :
- Area: 500 Sq. Km
- Capital: Pondicherry
- Languages: Tamil, French, and English
- Religion: Christianity (major), Hinduism and Islam
- Literacy rate: 88.49 %
- Best Time To Visit: October to March
Tourist Attractions :
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Was established by Sri Aurobindo, a revolutionary turned poet and later developed by the Mother, a Paris-born painter, and musician who became Sri Aurobindo’s disciple and close companion. The Ashram has grown into a center for the practice of Integral Yoga. In the main building is the Marble Samadhi where Aurobindo and the Mother have been laid to rest.
The long promenade running along the beach is the pride of Pondicherry. On the seafront are several landmarks. Mahatma Gandhi, Jeanne d’Arc and Dupleix, an elegant war memorial raised by the French, the heritage building Mairie and the 27 m tall lighthouse which is the circular shaped structures on either side of Gandhi.
Located about 10 km north of Pondicherry, Auroville is described as “the City of Tomorrow“. Auroville was envisioned as a Universal Town, where people from different nationalities, faiths, and beliefs could live in peace and harmony. Here, an attempt is being made to copy the experiment being carried out in Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the evolution of a new society as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This society would be one where people “live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority – that of the Supreme Truth … a place of peace, concord, harmony“. The construction of Auroville was started in 1968, under the Mother’s direction. Several countries have set up pavilions here.
The Botanical Garden
Created in 1826. It’s collection of 1500 species.
There are about 32 temples in Pondicherry. Of these, Manakula Vinayagar temple, Sri Vedapureeswarar temple, Kamatchiammalle temple and Varadarajaperumal temple are famous. The Gokilambal Thirukameswarar Temple is architecturally the best.