Situated on the Coromandel coast in an enclave in Tamil Nadu's South Arcot district, Pondicherry is 162 kms. south of Madras. It is the capital of the Union Territory of the same name. Pondicherry has a long history dating back 2000 years when it was an important Roman trading post. The region was at various periods ruled by the Pallavas and Cholas. In the early 16th century, when it was known as Pulichery or Poocheri and under the rule of the Nayaks of Gingee.Places of interest
The 1500 metre long beach that borders the town on the eastern side is clean and is an ideal place for swimming and sun bathing. There are two monuments of historical importance on the beach. One is the 4m. tall statue of Mahatma Gandhi and the other is the War Memorial, built by the French in commemoration of the soldiers who died in the First World War. The Light House which stands 29m. high is further down the beach and is over 150 years old.
Opened in 1984, this museum has on display some fine antiques apart from sections devoted to archaeology, geology, sculpture, handicrafts, objects of art, printing and armaments. Among the exhibits on display are the bed used by Dupleix, a palanquin ......
Just off West Boulevard, the gardens planned by C.S. Perrotet in 1826, have a good collection of exotic flowering plants from India and abroad. There is also an aquarium here which has some rare species of ornamental fish.
This city of dawn was designed by the French architect Roger Arger and was started as an experimental commune where people of all nationalities irrespective of caste, creed or religion would live together in harmony.
About 550 people from different countries live in the 40 settlements of Auroville. It is advisable to hire bicycles to look around as the village is too large to wander through on foot. Surrounded by lakes and gardens, the sphere shaped Matri Information Centre at Promesse the first stop is Here, a 25 hectare farm and orchard where organic agriculture has been practised successfully. The produce is used in the kitchens of Auroville as well as the Ashram in Pondicherry. Excursions
Situated at the foot of a hill in Tiruvannamalai is one of the most important Siva temples in the south. The Arunachaleswara temple is dedicated to Lingodbhava or Jyothy Lingam i.e God incarnate as Fire. The tall imposing outer gopurams of the temple are a magnificent sight, conveying as they do, an impression of great dignity and majesty.
The dam here is built on the River Pennar and is situated amidst forested hills. Apart from its scenic beauty and cool climate, other attractions are a swimming pool and a crocodile park.
Gingee is one of the finest forts in South India. Its origin dates back to the 9th century when it was a stronghold of the Cholas but the fort as it looks today is the handiwork of the Vijaynagara kings who made it an impregnable citadel. The fortified city is built on the seven hills, the most prominent of which are Krishnagiri, Chandragiri and Rajagiri.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.