On the extreme right coast of the country, between Chennai and Kumbakonam lies a quaint little town which has existed since Roman times and became popular when the French took over in 1693. They occupied it for two and a half centuries and built it to its present form. This little white washed, sun bathed town is Pondicherry in Tamilnadu.
History books reveal that the first Frenchman set his foot in `Puduchery` on 4.2.1673 and till 1690 the French were interested mainly in trade and commerce activities. The name of the place was changed to `Pondicherry` from `Poudoucheri` by the French. In a war between the French and the Dutch, the former was defeated and Pondicherry came under Dutch rule between 1693 and 1699. In September 1699, the French became the legal owners of the Pondicherry town on payment of 16000 pagodas to the Dutch.
Pondicherry is now a charming little town with impressive French Colonial buildings which recall memories of a bygone era. Even the streets which are clean and neat have unusual French names.
Auroville, established by Shri Aurobindo Yogi who was a freedom fighter and a spirituelle, is a major attraction of Pondicherry. Many people , especially the aged come to live and spend their time in Auroville. Auroville means the City of Dawn and it was established by a French architect named Roger Arger. It is a novel concept in education and urban living where there are about 40 odd settlements located around the Matrimandir. They are engaged in various activities which include aforestation, farming, education and handicrafts.
The sun bathed town of Pondicherry has beautiful beaches and local cuisine to offer. The people are warm and friendly and there is an aura of calm and peace. Vehicular traffic is little and one can amble along its quiet streets savouring an old world charm. French , Tamil and English are spoken in this town.
How to Get There :
- To get to Pondicherry from Chennai which is the closest Airpor, the best choice for getting to Pondy from Chennai (150 km) and Bangalore (320 km) is by taxi or bus. Buses depart from Chennai at the Tamil Nadu State Express Bus Stand (also known as the Thiruvalluvur Bus Stand) at Parry`s Corner on a regular basis and take about four hours to reach Pondy`s bus stand. If you have a choice of buses, the East Coast Road is more scenic than National Highway 45 through Tindivanam.
- Pondicherry is connected by rail to Villupuram (36 kms), which connects to Chennai and Madurai/Trivandrum. The trains to and from Pondy are slow and few.
- Another possibility is to take a train from Bangalore to Cuddalore. But you`ll end up having to take a taxi or bus to reach Pondicherry.