Friday, July 06, 2007

visit pondicherry


Population ('000s in 1991)
Area ('000 sq. km)
Principal Languages
Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, English and French
Per Capita Income
(Rs. at current prices)


Situated on the Coromandel coast, about 160 kms south of Chennai, lies the Union Territory of Pondicherry. The French ruled this territory for 300 years, and today, it stands as a living monument of the French culture in India. It is bound on the east, by the Bay of Bengal and, on the other three sides by the South Arcot district of Tamil Nadu. About 150 kilometres south of Pondicherry, on the east coast, lies Karaikal, while Mahe is situated on the Malabar coast. Yanam is situated in the adjoining east Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

Pondicherry traces its origin to Saint Agasthya, the revered sage of the south. The excavations near Pondicherry reveal, that a Roman settlement existed here, 2000 years ago. It was also the site of many a battle between the British and the French, and was the capital of French India, before it attained its independence.

MonumentThis restored, attractive, former French colony exudes a Mediterranean aura, with its chic streets, elegant houses, ornamental gardens and the Hotel de Ville. Being a small and quiet enclave of Tamil Nadu, it has imbibed the Tamilian culture. Apart from the charming atmosphere, excellent restaurants and cheap beer, what attracts most travellers to Pondicherry is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot, Auroville, 10 km outside town. The ashram, founded by Sri Aurobindo in the year 1926, has brought international reputation to this coastal town. The ashram, the spiritual tenets of which, combine yoga and modern science, is quite popular within India, and abroad.

Festivals of Pondicherry differ from the rest of India, for the French influence still persists prominently here. Masquerade, held in March -April, is a popular mask festival, during which brilliantly costumed and masked people of Pondicherry, dance down the streets to the music of trumpets and accordions. During the Eve of the Bastille Day, retired soldiers parade the streets in war finery, singing the French and Indian National Anthem. French is still widely spoken, and the seaside villas and the cobbled streets are more reminiscent of the south of France than the south of India!!

Sama Koil Church

Sama Koil ChurchPondicherry is oval-shaped, with streets aligned at right angles. The skilfully planned township is distinguished by a 3 km long espalanade which skirts the town and encloses the tourist attractions. Raj Niwas, where Dupleix once lived, (now,the residence of an Indian Lt. Governor) has a garden with a sculpture of Lord Vishnu as the 'varaha avatar' (boar incarnation) together with the earth goddess Lakshmi. The Government Park is well-planned with flower beds and fountains, one of them dating back to the period of Napoleon III (1852-1870). The Botanical Gardens, conceived in 1826, boast a variety of rare and exotic plants from India and abroad, and the Sama Koil church, once a temple of Shiva is impressive with a grotto of Mother Mary. The beautiful unspoilt beach, the aquarium, Poet Bharathi and Bharatidasan memorial museums, First World War Memorial, Ousteri lake and Joan of Arc Square are the other spots of tourist interest.

Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

Church of Our Lady of Immaculate ConceptionThe Pondicherry Museum has whole suites furnished in the French style, in vogue, at the time of occupation. Marble sculptures include the Cupid and Psyche, Venus and Spring pieces. The Art Gallery contains invaluable archaelogical finds pertaining to Roman, French and Hindu cultures.The Arms Gallery is yet another fascinating feature of this museum. The Romain Rolland Library has over 60,000 volumes, including rare French books. The Manakula Vinaynagar Temple on Rue d'Orleans, the 12th century Sri Tirukameswarar Temple at Vilayanur and the 7th century Thiruvandar Temple are shrines built in the Chola period, in the 10th-12th centuries.The Sacred Heart Church, the Eglise de Notre Dame de Anges and the Eglise de Notre Dame de Lourdes are the other interesting historical sites.

How to Get There

Some important routes from Pondicherry are: Chidambaram (64kms), Madras (160kms), Thanjavur (177 kms), Tiruvannamalai (107 kms), Tiruchirapalli (209 kms). The nearest airport is Madras.

Resident Commissioner in Delhi

3, Sardar Patel Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Tel: +91-11-3011703

Fax: +91-11-3792331

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