Pondicherry has a glorious history. A lot of foreign rulers have been here including the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes, the English and the French. But out of all of them, the French have had the greatest influence with their rule spreading across centuries.
According to mythology, it is said that Pondicherry was the abode of Sage Agasthya and the place was known as Vedapuri. It is believed that Pondy had trade relations with the Romans, proof of which is found in the excavations at Arikamedu which is 7 kms from Pondy. The town fell into the hands of the successive rulers of the place which includes the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Pandyas.In 1673 the French started their rule over Pondicherry and were involved with regular conflicts between the English over the possession of the place. The disputes were however settled over an agreement between the French and the British. Subsequently the place was returned to India.
The union of Pondicherry consists of four places, namely Pondicherry and Karaikal in Tamilnadu, Yanam in Andhra Pradesh and Mahe in Kerala. However it is Pondicherry that has been most influenced by the French. After Pondicherry was handed over to India, the people here were given an option of holding French or Indian passports. There are a lot of citizens who opted for the French passports and there are over thousands of French citizens living here. The remnants of French rule can be clearly felt here. The town is planned in the French manner and the streets remind one of the French culture. The churches and the French consulate building etc speaks a lot of he French rule.
Pondicherry is a blend of spiritual institution, French colonial heritages, Tamil culture and a cosmopolitan form of life. The city is full of French colonial buildings, clean and wide streets and the sprawling premises of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This territory is important from spiritual as well as from cultural point of view.
Pondicherry’s beauty lies in its un-spoilt beaches and well laid out parks and gardens. The city’s temples and churches and imposing monuments of the colonial era are some of the worth visiting sites in this small port city.
With its distinct French connection, it is but natural that Pondicherry is a center of fashion. There are a number of top quality boutiques, antique furniture galleries and the likes. Pondy is particularly attractive as it is extremely accessible from Chennai and serves as a preferred spot for conferences and conventions of corporate houses. Altogether it is a remarkable place to spend some of the most memorable moments of your life. But today’s attraction of Pondy is due to the presence of Auroville, the city of Dawn. It is a perfect place to search for the Divine. The meditation experience in this spherical house (Matri Mandir) is really exciting
How to reach Pondicherry
By Air: Pondicherry does not have any airport with in its boundary. But it lies very close to Chennai, which has an international airport. Chennai is accessible from all over the country. Almost all public and private airlines operate regular flights to and from Chennai.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Villupuram (36 kms), which is connected to Chennai and Madurai / Trivandrum. One can also take a train from Bangalore to Cuddalore and then reach Pondicherry by road.
By Road: A good road network, originating from National Highway 45, covers Pondicherry. The most convenient way to Pondicherry is either from Chennai (150kms) and Bangalore (320kms).