About Pondicherry


Pondicherry (also spelled as Puducherry meaning "new village" in Tamil or Pondichéry in French) is a Union Territory of India which covers a total area of 492 km? with 990 000 inhabitants and consists of four non-contiguous regions: Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahé. Pondicherry town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India


A brief history

There is evidence of a trade connection between ancient Rome and Greece and a fishing village on the Coromandel Coast called Poduke. In the 17th and the 18th century that area attracted many colonists from Portugal and Holland (they occupied other famous places in South India like Cochin in Kerala or Goa) as well as England, but finally Pondicherry became a French colony in 1673. François Martin became the first Governor of a colony ruled by La Compagnie française des Indes orientales (French East India Company) in 1674, followed by many well known successors like Joseph François Dulpeix, the Governor General from 1742 until 1754. Pondicherry remained under the French government even after India achieved independence in August 1947, until 1954 de facto and 1963 de jure.


Pondicherry town

Pondicherry town is divided into an old quarter, called ville blanche or "the white town" with strong French colonial vibrations and most of the sights (Bharadi park, Pondicherry Museum, statues, churches, Aurobindo Ashram and Sri Manakula Vinayaga Temple), net of narrow and neat streets named after famous French people, lined with old colonial houses. There are several French institutions such as Alliance Français (French Alliance) or L´Institut Français (French Institute) where French and Tamil classes, various cultural programs such as exhibitions, concerts and movie screenings are organised and it is possible to visit their well-equipped libraries. There are many small galleries, cafes and restaurants offering French cuisine too. The white town is divided from the Tamil town by an old channel. In the Tamil town there are most of the shopping areas, institutions, Pondicherry bus and train stations and The Botanical Garden founded in 1826. One shouldn´t miss a visit to one of the few preserved traditional Tamil houses, known as "heritage houses", with interesting exhibitions inside.


Famous Tourist sites in Pondicherry

arikamedu

Arikamedu is an archaeological site near Pondicherry, southern India, where Mortimer Wheeler conducted his best-known excavation in the 1940s. The site is located about 4 kilometers from Pondicherry along the right bank of the Ariyankuppam River. Arikamedu is a historic site which has revealed ancient Roman artifacts that are evidence of the thriving trade that existed between this region and ancient Europe. Among the artifacts found here are Roman pottery and grey painted ware. The area seems to have been a busy commercial hub, dealing predominantly in stone beads, glass beads and ceramics. The research and further excavations are going on. Some of the artifacts found here can be seen at the Pondicherry museum.


Auroville ("City of Dawn") is an experimental township located in the Viluppuram district in Tamil Nadu, about 12 km from Pondicherry. It is one of the tourist spots that can be visited on excursions from Pondicherry. The town was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, popularly known as 'the Mother'. She was the chief collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, a famous freedom fighter and spiritual leader of India whose ashram is one of the famous tourist spots of Pondicherry. Auroville is meant to be an ideal city where people from all communities will live together in harmony and look forward to spiritual enlightenment, setting aside their differences. The beautiful township is still to be completed as more land is being acquired by the Auroville Foundation, which governs the city and is controlled by the ministry of Human Resource Development. The Auroville town has been built in the shape of concentric circles known as "zones" (the "Residential Zone", "Industrial Zone", "Cultural (& Educational) Zone" and "International Zone") designed by a French architect Roger Anger, and is surrounded by greenery. Presently many countries of the world are collaborating on the project, and many foreign residents have already started living here. There are lot of interesting buildings architected by world famous architects and the most outstanding is the Matrimandir, a golden metallic sphere in the centre of town, which was conceived by the Mother as "a symbol of the Divine's answer to man's inspiration for perfection". It is necessary to make a reservation for a visit to the Matrimandir. There are several gardens and farms specialized in eco-agriculture and it is possible to buy eco-products in several shops within the town and even in Pondicherry.


auroville

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a well known and wealthy ashram in India with devotees from all over the world flocking to it for spiritual salvation. It is located on Rue De La Marine. Its spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga, western and eastern philosophical systems and modern science. The Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, an Indian controversial freedom fighter, poet, philosopher and yogi in 1926, when he retired into seclusion. His most famous follower was a French lady Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) who became the leader of the community forming around Sri Aurobindo. After his death in 1950 she registered The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. It is open to public daily between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Children below 3 years of age are not allowed into the ashram and photography is allowed only with permission of the ashram authorities. Some of the ashram's facilities like the Library and the Main Building (during collective meditation) can be accessed only after obtaining a gate pass from the Bureau Central or some of the Ashram Guest Houses.


Pondicherry has four main beaches which are very popular with the tourists and locals alike. They are Promenade beach, Paradise beach, Serenity beach and Auroville beach.,.

Promenade beach is the most popular beach in Pondicherry. A 1.5 km long road runs parallel to the beach.The whole city is in walking distance from the beach. On the sea front are several land marks such as The War memorial, The Statue of Joan of Arc, The Heritage Town hall, The Statue of Mahatma Gandhi, Dupleix statue, Old Light House, The Old Customs House etc.

Paradise beach is located 8 km from the town, along the Pondicherry - Cuddalore Highway. This beach can be accessed from the Chunnambar Resort. Flanked by a quiet flowing creek on one side, the beach can only be accessed by boat.

paradise-beach-pondicherry

Auroville beach is close to Auroville. It is right off the East Coast Road, opposite the road leading to Auroville. Located around 12 km from the main Pondicherry town, its shallow waters and small waves make it popular place for swimming.

Serenity beach is a ten minutes drive from Pondicherry to the north of the town.



Worship Places in Pondicherry

In Tamil Nadu as in most of the states of South India Hinduism is the main practised religion. There are many gods being worshipped, among the most important being Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva referred to as a "trimoorty" or trinity, then Ganesh and his younger brother Murugan, Hanuman and goddesses Sarasvathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi. Throughout the year there are many Hindu festivals being celebrated such as Deepavali (November), Pongal (January), Maha Shivaratri (March), Holi (March), Ganesh Chaturthi (August ­ September) and many others. Most of the temples in South India are squarish in structure with inner sanctum and several outer walls with gates and tall towers called "gopurams" decorated with colourful sculptures of gods, goddesses and mythological scenes. It is required to put off the shoes before entering any holy place in India and to take off the leather parts of clothing because they are considered polluting. Most of the temples don´t allow non-Hindus into the inner sanctum.

thirukaameeswarar-temple

Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple was in existence before the French came and settled in Pondicherry i.e. before 1666. It has a golden spire and walls portraying forty different forms of Ganesha. The temple also has a smaller shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan. There is also a temple elephant, Lakshmi, who gives blessing to the devotees.

Thirukaameeswarar temple is an ancient, beautiful and huge temple located in a beautiful rural town called Villianur, which is located about 10 km from Pondicherry town towards Villupuram. This temple is renowned in Pondicherry locality as "Periya Koil", which means "big temple" in Tamil.

Varadaraja Perumal temple is located on M. G. Road of Pondicherry and is believed to be the oldest temple in town, dating back to 600 AD. The temple was built in the typical Dravidian style, with brightly coloured "gopuram" and sculpted pillars. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

L´Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges (The Church of Our Lady of Angels), in Rue Dumas built in 1865, is notable for its masonry, which uses the finest of limestone mixed with white of the egg and therefore has a texture similar to that of white marble. The imposing façade presents paired doric columns below and ionic above. In front of the church is a statue of Our Lady with the infant Jesus in her arms. The interior design consists of eight barrel vaults and a central dome pierced with eight circular openings. It witnesses a rare oil painting gifted by French Emperor Napoleon III.

The Eglise de Sacre Coeur de Jesus (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), situated on the south Boulevard, is an oriental specimen of Gothic architecture. It contains rare stained glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ. This church was supposed to have been erected in 1700s by French Missionaries. Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a catholic church and is white and brown structure.

L´Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculee (the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception), in Cathedral Street, was first built in 1692. It took its present shape in 1791.

sacred-heart-church

The Church of Capuchins holds the distinction of being one of the first churches in Pondicherry. Though this church has lost its old charm it is still revered and houses an orphanage.

The other famous churches include the Church of the Assumption, the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, and the Church of Our Lady of Good Health.

There are several mosques in the muslim quarter near the Pondicherry Train Station, the oldest Meeran mosque built more than 350 years ago.



Famous Tourist sites around Pondicherry

thiruvannamalai

Chidambaram is a town located about 75 km to the south from Pondicherry. It is famous for the Nataraja Temple which is dedicated to dancing, one of the prominent classical arts of South India. The chief deity here is Lord Nataraja, the dancing form of Shiva, one of the trinity according to Hindu mythology. Details of the Natya Shastra, an ancient text dedicated to dancing, can be found engraved on the walls and gate of the temple. The interior of the temple is adorned by magnificent sculptures depicting graceful dance poses. The temple is greatly revered by the people of South India, and a dance festival is held here every year on the eve of Shivaratri, a major festival observed all over the country.

Thiruvannamalai is another temple town located about 107 km from Pondicherry to the northwest. This small place is famous for the Arunachaleshwara Temple. It holds special importance as one of the most prominent Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu. Every full moon thousands of pilgrims worship Shiva by circumambulating the nearby Arunachala hill barefoot. The circumambulation covers a distance of about 14 km. Thiruvannamalai is also famous for the ashram of Sri Ramanna Maharshi, a respected saint of South India. On the way to Thiruvannamalai there is the Gingee Fort complex on three hillocks known for its old forts and temples with origins dating back to the 9th century and many legends explaining the history of this exceptional place.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a town in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, located on the East Coast about 100 km from Pondicherry. It is famous for its various historic monuments (temples and statues) built between the 7th and the 9th century during the rule of a famous south Indian dynasty called Pallavas, which were classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Poompuhar or Kaveripattinam is a town located to the south from Pondicherry near the mouth of the Kaveri river. It is said to be one of the capitals of the early Chola kings during the Sangam period of Tamil history (300 BC ­ 200 AD). Cholas along with Pandyas and Cheras were most probably the ruling dynasties of the three main early Tamil kingdoms.

The other two Pondicherry districts located on the east coast, namely Karaikal and Yanam , are also interesting tourist sites with a few relics of the colonial times. Detailed guide book to Pondicherry and its surroundings along with the map of the town centre are available in Ayushman. Different guided sight-seeing tours can be organised on request.

Contact

  • Hotel Ayushman
  • 147, Villianur Main Road
  • Reddiyar Palayam
  • Near Kamban Nagar Bus stop
  • Pondicherry - 605010, India
  • 0413 2291 000
  • info@ayushman.in

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