About Pondicherry

About Pondicherry, Pondicherry (or Puducheri) meaning ’the new settlement’ used to be a French settlement comprising of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam other than Pondicherry itself. A unique fact about Pondicherry is that it simultaneously spreads into several states. Karaikal is in Tamil Nadu while Mahe is in Kerala.Pondicherry Travel Guide Yanam on the other hand is a part of Andhra Pradesh. Today,Pondicherry India Travel Pondicherry is a union territory located approximately 2000 kms south of Chennai. However, its French connection is distinctly visible on the architecture and culture of the place. However, its fame lies in its relation with the saint-philosopher Aurobindo Ghosh, Pondicherry Travel Guidewho founded his ashram here. Today, the ashram is home to nationals from different corners of the world,Pondicherry India Travelwho come here in pursuit of peace and solitude. Unlike most other places in India,Pondicherry Travel Guide Pondicherry is a planned city. All the roads meet at right angles, adhering to the grid system and a long Petit Canal divides the city on the sea-ward side.

The Union Territory of Pondicherry lies 162 km from Chennai (Madras), on the east coast of India. It comprises of four coastal regions - Pondicherry and Karaikal in Tamil Nadu, Yanam in Andhra Pradesh, and Mahe in Kerala. Pondicherry is the capital of this Union Territory. Like most ancient cities, the origin of Pondicherry lies buried in legends. Excavations in the Arikamedu area near Pondicherry, have brought to light, the remains of a trading port, which had connections with the Greco-Roman world, more than a century before the dawn of the Christian Era. The glorious remains of Arikamedu are on display in the Archaeology section of the Pondicherry museum. Having remained capital of the erstwhile French India, the city's cultural legacy has a unique hue to it, not to be found anywhere else in the country.

Tourist Attractions in Pondicherry

Pondicherry City Information, The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for the major parts of their lives, is the greatest attraction for tourists in this little city.Pondicherry City Information The Pondicherry Museum houses some of the most exquisite collections of architecture and sculpture.Pondicherry also has a beautiful beach alongside a promenade and lots of historical monuments to peruse . Other interesting sites are the Bharti and the Bharthidasan Memorial museums and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Tourist Attractions around Pondicherry

Pondicherry is rich in architectural and cultural wealth.Pondicherry City Information One can find plenty of grand temples here. “Auroville” was established as a tribute to Sri Aurobindo. Chidambaram, a temple town in Tamil Nadu is famous for its Nataraja temple showcasing the dancing form of Lord Shiva. Thiruvannamalai is an important pilgrimage for Shaivites, worshippers of Lord Shiva, Pondicherry City Informationwho come here to pay their reverence at the Arunachaleshwara Temple.

Fact File

Area 19.54 sq. km
Population 203,065
Altitude Sea Level
Languages Tamil, French, English
Best Time to Visit October to March
Climate Summer - 41.C / 32.C
Winter - 32.C / 25.C
STD Code 0413

How to Reach Tamil Nadu

Accessibility Air The nearest airport is Chennai (Madras) 160 km connected to all the major cities Rail Villupuram 32 km is the nearest railhead connected directly to Chennai (Madras) which in turn is connected to major cities in India Road Pondicherry is connected by good motorable roads to major places in like Bangalore 503 km Chennai (Madras) 162 km Kanchipuram 113 km Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) 134 km Thanjavur (Tanjore) 170 km Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) 198 km

Pondicherry, from 1675 to 1954, was a French colony and joined Indian Union in 1954. Once an obscure village and later a center for learning, Pondicherry belongs to history. For historians, Pondicherry is an ocean of research, as the French and British fought many wars here. The excavations near Pondicherry disclosed a settlement of Romans existed 2000 years ago.

Pondicherry is enriched with its architectural marvel and cultural wealth. The main tourist draw in Pondicherry is Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother spent their time for the uplift of society. Pondicherry also has an amusing beach alongside Promenade and has some ancient monuments. Some of the other charming destinations include Auroville, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Bharti and Bharthidasan Memorial museum. In its credit it has the birth-place of Subramanya Bharathy, the great Tamil poet and also the birth place of world famous film director M. Night Shyamalan.

The French Heritage

Pondicherry has a rich French cultural heritage, having been the capital of the French colonies in India since the 17th century. Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam and mahe were transferred to the Indian union in 1954. This French legacy is visible in the well-Planned town, neatly laid roads, wide and vibrant beaches, beautiful promenades, architecturally imposing churches and public buildings and the statues of joan of ark and joseph Francois colonies in India from 1742-54. The town also has an alliance Francaise and the French institute. Among the notable French personalities who left their indelible mark on Pondicherry, four names stand out. Francois Martin who was appointment the administrator after the Treaty of Ryswick, brought stability and was responsible for its growth. Dumas, who succeeded him, built on Martin's foundation. The third notable Frenchman was joseph Francois Dupleix, the Governor of french india from 1742-54. The forth French Personality who made an impact on Modern day Pondicherry was 'The Mother', a paris-born painter musician and Sri Aurobindo's close companion from 1920 until his death in 1950. She was responsible for developing the Ashram as it is today.

The Land of Yoga and Spirituality

If you are tired of the rat race that today's world has become and are in search of inner peace, harmony and spirituality, then Pondicherry is the place to come to. It has been seat of learning and Vedic culture since ancient times and was also the home of the great Hindu sage Agastya. Pondicherry mystic spirit found a great resurrection in the twentieth century with the establishment of Aurobindo Ashram.

Travel Attractions of Pondicherry

Sri Aurobindo Ashram : Situated on Rue de la marine, Sri Aurobindo Ashram is the main attraction of Pondicherry. It is surrounded by many educational and cultural institutions of the Aurobindo Society. Sri Aurobindo who was the freedom fighter of the pre-Gandhian era came to Pondicherry in 1910 following spiritual order and remained here for ever. He was later joined by a French lady, Mirra known as the Mother. After Sri Aurobindo's death the spiritual authority was passed on to Mother. The main Ashram building enshrines the samadhis of Sri Aurbindo and the Mother.Established by Sri Aurobindo, a revolutionary turned poet, the Aurobindo Ashram has grown into a centre for the practice of Integral Yoga. In the main building of the ashram, is the Marble Samadhi, where Aurobindo and the Mother have been laid to rest.

Botanical GardenFrench Institute : The internationally renowned institute is situated on Dumas street. It was founded in 1955 by Dr. J. Fillozet, the famous French Indologist. This institute has a rare collection of books on science, technology, cartography, ecology, pedagogy, Indian languages and culture. The Romain Rolland Library has a huge collection of around 60,000 books some of them are rare French volumes.

Botanical Garden : The botanical garden is located near the old bus stand off the West Boulevard. It was planned by C. S. Perrotet in 1826 and houses exotic flower plants including the alien and indigenous. Toy rail and the Jawahar Bal Bhavan are the major attractions of the park.

Aquarium : The aquarium is located inside the Botanical Garden at the junction of West Boulevard and Lal Bahadur Street. It has a rare collection of some ornamental fish.

Temples : Pondicherry and its nearby village are dotted with several temples built by the Cholas between 10th and 12th centuries. Some of the famous temples are the Varadhraraja temple, Ambalathu Adigal Mutt temple, Kimbli Swami Mutt temple, Siddhanata Swami Samadhi temple, Thirukkameswara temple, Manakula Vinayagar temple etc.

Churches : Pondicherry is also home to a number of magnificent churches. The most popular church is the Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, located on South boulevard. The Gothic style church depicts the life of Christ with three stained glass panels that lies in a corridor. Another famous church is the Englise de Norte Dame des Lourdes in Villiyanur.

Bharti and Bharthidasan Memorial Museum :Situated on Dharma Raja Koil Street, Bharati Museum is the place where the legendary Tamil poet Bharathi took asylum after arriving in Podicherry in 1908. The museum has a good collection of rare photographs, manuscripts written in Bharathiar's own hand, volumes of his works and papers he published. Bharthidasan Memorial Museum is located at Perumal Koil Street where Kanakasubburatnam, a disciple of Bharathiar lived. The house has also been converted to a memorial, which attracts literary pilgrims.

Pondicherry BeachPondicherry Beach : Pondicherry is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The town has a 1500 m long beach. Pondicherry beach is ideal for adventure activities like swimming and sunbathing. Other attractions of the beach are the 4-metre-tall statue of Mahatama Gandhi, a lovely artificial mountain park, the statue of Pondicherry's illustrious Governor Dupleix, the 150-year-old light house and the War memorial.

Government Square :The 18th century Palais du Gouverneur, the old Tribunal now housing the Legislative Assembly, the cercle de Pondicherry, the hospitals, and the UCO Bank are all lined up to form the 'Place de Gouvernement' or the Government Square. Some exquisitely carved monolithic pillars adorn the place.

Promenade : The 1.5 km long promenade runnning along the beach is the pride of Pondicherry. On the sea front are several landmarks like the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, Dupleix, the elegant war memorial raised by the French, and the 27 m tall lighthouse.

The Pondicherry Museum : The museum evokes the impressive past of Pondicherry, from the days of the pre-Christian era, down to the present day. It provides insightful glimpses into the art and culture of the people of the region, during the days of the Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagar empires.

Boat House :Facilities for boating and canoeing, are available at the boat house, on the river Chunnambar, 8 km from Pondicherry. The backwaters and luxuriant greenery on both sides of the river, provide an idyllic setting for boating.

More great destinations can be found in the Explore India page.

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