History of Pondicherry
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.
This 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!
Pondicherry is located at 162 Kms
south of Chennai, the capital of Talmilnadu and 22 kms north of Cuddalore, the capital of South Arcot District of Tamilnadu.
Pondicherry is surrounded by Bay
of Bengal on East, and on the other sides are the South
Arcot District of Tamilnadu.