Pondicherry town is a surprise in India. This you'll realise as you pass through well-laid, wide streets carrying French names and kept unpolluted. Clean. A French past is still present.
Pondicherry cheers the heart of the romantic. With grand boulevards and quiet promenades. You'll be greeted with large bouquets of bougainvillea hanging over the ivory-coloured walls of colonial mansions. Pondicherry with its ashram charm, is sought out by the peace-seeker. And with its safe and secluded beaches, by the tan-seeker.
Pondicherry is richly cosmopolitan. A staggering number of 55 languages are spoken here. By an easy, relaxed set of people. Pondicherry is a favourite hunting ground for the shop-hopper. Where wonderful bargains are easy pickings. Pondicherry is a peaceful, easy feeling. That makes you want to put your feet up. And let your hair down.
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.
Places to See in Pondicherry
Located 10 kms north of Pondicherry town, Auroville is envisioned as a universal town, where people from different nationalities, faiths and beliefs, can live in peace and harmony.
The construction of this 'universal town' was started in 1968 under the guidance of the mother, a paries- Born painter-musician who become sri Aurobindo's disciple and close companion from 1924 till his death in 1950. The development of this Utopia is still in progress. Several countries have offered to set up permanent pavilions, reflecting the culture and ethos of their countries.
The French Heritage
Shri Aurobindo Ashram Shri Aurobindo, the great seer, poet and prophet of the twentieth century, made Pondicherry his home from 1910 till his death in 1950. His vision and ideals continue to draw People from all over the world. ·
On display are the findings of Arikamedu , the chola bronzes and sculptures, glimpses Of French heritage, specimens of modern and traditional handicraft, paintings, armoires, carvings and many other things of historical interest.
Water Sports Centre Known for its virgin beaches and backwaters, chunnaamber has water sports Centre which offers exciting boating experiences. It is also great tourist place.
Established by C.S perrotet in 1826, it preserves a large Varity of exotic species of plants from all over India and abroad.
Sri Gokilambal Thirukameswarar tamale, architecturally the finest in pondicherry, is located 9.5 kms away. During may- June, a ten - day annual festival (Brahmothsavam) is held here which attracts hundreds of devotees. The temple car rising to a height of 15.25 meters is profusely decorated, pulled out from its usual position and taken on a procession around the town. It is an awe - inspiring sight. ·
Mansion of Ananda
Rangapillai Built in 1773, this mansion is a fine specimen of indo - French architecture. Ananda Rangapillai was the courtier of Joseph francois dupleix , the governor. The dairy which Rangapillai maintained between 1736 - 60 is a book of great value as a source of information on the history of Pondicherry and the French in India. ·
Eglise de Sacre Coeur De Jesus
Dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus, this church is noted for its Gothic architecture and stained glass planes, which depict the entire life of Jesus Christ.
Anglo - french Textile mills
Establishment over a century ago, a visit to the Anglo - French Textile mills is an education in itself. The mill gives a ten percent rebate on purchases made by tourist who go on guided Tours. The acclaimed fabrics and products of this mill make ideal mementos and gifts.
How to get there ?
Chennai is the closest airport.
Pondicherry is linked by rail with Chennai, Trichy and Villupuram.
Pondicherry is connected by a good network of roads to all the important places in South India and is well served by frequent buses from Chennai.