Puducherry (Pondicherry)

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About Puducherry
About Aravind

Puducherry town is the headquarters of the Union Territory of Puducherry comprised of Puducherry, Karaikal, Yaman and Mahe - four widely separated towns. The first two enclaves in Tamil Nadu, and the other two enclaves in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively, are united by their French connection. Puducherry has recently been renamed to its original name, replacing the name Pondicherry which was used for many years.

Legend associates Puducherry town with the Sage Agastya, who travelled from the north and settled here. Recorded history talks of Puducherry being, for almost 300 years, the centre of Anglo-French conflicts, and, later, the retreat of Indian freedom fighters, including Sri Aurobindo.

Puducherry was a French colony from 1675 until 1954, when Puducherry merged with the Indian Union. Puducherry has a rich history - at one time an obscure village, later a centre of trade with the Romans, then a place of learning. Francois Martin, Dumes and Joseph Francois Dupleix were the most famous Governors who administered Puducherry, which still retains its French character.

Today, the Puducherry of the French is to be found in the policemen red kepis, on quaint signboards, in a few houses, in the statues of Dupleix and Joan of Arc, libraries and in the accented Tamil, English and French still spoken there. This oval-shaped township, with the streets aligned at right angles is not like any other Indian town. Its skyline from offshore is typical of the French-influenced Mediterranean settlements as is its town-planning.

Neat, pleasant, and charming, Puducherry has a beautiful beach and a sea that is always warm and refreshing. It has been made world-famous by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot, Auroville. And in what still remains of its French connection there is a uniqueness that sets it apart from the rest of India.

General Information
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  • Getting to Puducherry: Puducherry is connected with Chennai by railway and road (170 kms). There are regular bus services. Taxis can also be hired.
  • Languages:Tamil, French, English
  • Airports: Madras and Tiruchirappalli (I.A.), Puducherry (Vayudoot)
  • Climate: Rains occur principally in October, November and December with a few showers from July to September. The dry season lasts from January to July and the hottest period is from April to August . The most pleasant months are December, January and February. The mean monthly temperature varies from 24C (75.2F) January to 30C (86F) June. The maximum temperature reached in May or June is sometimes 43C (109.4F).

Restaurants

  • Don Giovani Italian Restaurant : Located in 170 Mission Street, Pondicherry which is one of the main streets for shopping in town. It provides the most authentic Italian food with the characteristic Italian kindness and bonhomie. Though it is a small place, Italian food served is good and tasty. The food served are with organic ingredients.
  • Satsanga Restaurant : Located in 13 Bussy Street, Pondicherry, India. It is a good place to relax. The restaurant is quite close to beach and peaceful. The place offers good service and lovely ambience.
  • Pizza Hut : It is located in No 4, Court, Lalbahadur Sastry Street Bussy Road, pondicherry. It is an ideal place where you get beverages (Shakes and cold coffees), Pizzas (Thin crust Pizzas and cheese bites), Pastas, Desserts (Gelatos, Ice Creams and Sharable desserts) and of course different varieties of soups and salads.
Sightseeing in the City of Puducherry
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Sri Aurobindo Ashram

About Aravind

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. The Ashram has become a centre for the practice of Yoga and a place of learning. The ashram activities include agriculture, industries, art and culture. The Samadhi in the Ashram premises is the final resting place of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (see below).

Auroville

About Aravind

Located 10 kms north of Puducherry 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 Paris - born painter-musician who become Sri Aurobindo disciple and close companion from 1924 until 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.

Chunnambar Resort

About Aravind

Water Sports Centre known for its virgin beaches and backwaters, Chunnaamber has a water sports centre which offers exciting boating experiences. It is also a great tourist attraction.




Beach

About Aravind

For sun-bathing, swimming or merely strolling, Puducherry beach and the 1 1/2 km-long promenade alongside, are the most delightful parts of the city. On the beach front is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi surrounded by eight exquisitely carved monolithic pillars and a War Memorial raised by the French in honour of those who died in World War I.

Botanical Garden

Established by C.S Perrotet in 1826, it preserves a large varity of exotic species of plants from all over India and abroad.

Puducherry Museum

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.

Houses of Bharathi, Bharathidasan and Ananda Rangapillai

About Aravind

Subramanya Bharathi, the Tamil poet-revolutionary whose pen was an important weapon during India freedom struggle, sought refuge in this French enclave when the British made life impossible for him elsewhere in South India. At No. 20, Easwaran Koil Street, where he lived in Puducherry, Bharathi composed some of his finest patriotic songs and such immortal works of Tamil literature as the Panchali Sabadham, Kannan Pattu and Kuyil Pattu.

Bharatidasan, another great poet, was inspired by Subramanya Bharathi, whom he regarded as his guru. He won the Sahitya Akademi award for his play Pisirandayar. He lived at No.95, Perumal Koil Street. The houses of both Bharathi and Bharathidasan are now maintained as memorials and are places of pilgrimage for Tamil-lovers.

Ananda Rangapillai lived at No. 69-C, Rue Rangapillai (Maison Ananda Rangapillai). His palatial house is an excellent piece of 18th century architecture, a unique blend of French and Eastern styles. Ananda Rangapillai is the famous diarist of Dupleix time. The records he maintained of the events between 1736 and 1760 are an invaluable source of information on the history of Puducherry and the French India of that age.

Raj Nivas

About Aravind

The former palace of Dupleix is now the residence of Puducherry Lieutenant Governor. Across the road from Raj Nivas is the Government Park.







Sightseeing Outside the City of Puducherry
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Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram (130 kms from Pondy)

About Aravind

Mahabalipuram is famous for its beautiful rock cut temples build over 12 centuries during the Pallava days. It is one of the greatest concentrations of temple art in India, with fourteen cave temples, eight monolithic rathas, and a host of the fragmentary sculptures and of course, the famous shore temples. Crocodile Bank (20km from Mamallapuram).



Tirukkalukkunram (near Mamallapuram)

Thirukkalukkunram, with its hill top Pallava temple, famous for the two eagles which come to be fed by a priest everyday. Legend has it that they are two ascetics who upset Shiva and were turned into birds. Everyday they start in Varanasi, and make their way south to Rameswaram making pit stops at several particularly favoured temples on route.

Crocodile Bank (150 kms from Puducherry)

Backed by the Worldwife fund, Crocodile Bank was set up in 1976 to provide a captive breeding program for the, rapidly vanishing species of native Indian Crocodiles. The Crocodile bank has around 2,000 crocodiles of six different species and a number of other reptiles, including tortoises, turtles and snakes. Open from 8.30am - 5.30 pm.