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PONDICHERRY                         General Information of Pondicherry 

Duplex became the Governor of French Territory in India on 15.1.1742 and brought Madras also under French control in September 1746. Madras was under French regime for 30 years. The attack of Pondicherry by the British in 1748 failed. Dupleix's help to Chanda Sahib and Musafer jung in 1750 added Villianur and Bahour, a group of 36 villages, to the French rule. This was the peak period of French regime and thereafter there was a decline in their sovereignty.

There was internal disturbance in Pondicherry and the British utilized this opportunity in August 1793 to gain Pondicherry under their control and it was administered as part of Madras till 1815. However, after the Treaty of Paris in 1814, the British restored the possession of the settlements, which the French possessed on 1.1.1792 back to the French in 1816. Since then the French rule continued till 31-10-1954.

Pondicherry helped in the freedom movement in British India since 1910. Sri Aurobindo Ghosh of Bengal came to Pondicherry in 1910 followed by patriots like Poet Subramania Bharathi, V.V.C Iyer and others. In 1918, the British demanded the extradition of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and other freedom fighters. The French government did not comply with this.

The father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi visited Pondicherry in 1934 and Jawaharlal Nehru in 1939.

With India becoming independent in August 1947, the citizens of French India hoisted Indian national flag all over the French settlements. The Jaipur session of Indian national Congress passed a resolution for peaceful merger of PONDICHERRY with mother India. The Indo French agreement of June 1948 was signed and the French gave freedom to the French Indian population to choose their political status by a referendum. While Chandernagar merged with India on the basis of referendum, Pondicherry could not enjoy that facility because of different system and practice of elections. On 23rd March 1954, Nettapakkam and Madukarai areas were liberated and a French India Liberation government was set up on 16.5.1954.

As per the understanding reached between the Governments of India and France, the question of merger of Pondicherry with Indian Union was referred to the elected representatives of the people for decision in a secret ballot on 18.10.1954, 170 out of 178 elected representatives favored the merger. This is de facto transfer of power took place on 1.11.1954 and de jure-transfer on 16.8.1962.

Barathi Memorial Museum

Subramaniya Bharathi, Bharathiyar to all, was a Tamil poet-patriot who arrived in Pondicherry in 1908 a fugitive from British India. The Free French air brought out the best in Bharathi and some of his finest patriotic and romantic compositions were born here. Bharathi's home No.20, Easwaran Dharmaraja Koil Street, is almost a place of pilgrimage today for the Tamil people.

Barathidasan Memorial Museum

Kanakasubburatnam, another great Tamil poet, was born in Pondicherry and assumed the name Bharathidasan, meaning `disciple of Bharathi'. He lived in No.95, Perumal Koil Street, another place of cultural pilgrimage. Bharathidasan's poems compare with Bharathi's in literary achievement and patriotic fervour.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Established by Sri Aurobindo, a revolutionary turned poet, a philosopher and later developed by the Mother, the Aurobindo Ashram has grown into a centre for the practice of Integral Yoga, a seat of learning and a training ground for sadhana. The activities of the Ashram include agriculture, industries, art and cuture. In the main building of the Ashram is the Marble Samadhi where Aurobindo and the Mother have been laid to rest and the houses they lived in.

Beach

Pondicherry's beach is virgin; its golden yellow sand is unpolluted, the continental slope is gentle and safe. Pondicherry has a lovely beach, 1.5 kms. long, where one can relax, sunbathe, swim or take a stroll along the promenade. The beach has historical connections too. These sands have witnessed some of the fierest Anglo-French battles. On the sea-front are two important monuments a) Statue of Mahatma Gandhi set amidst eight exquistely sculptured monolithic pillars and b) the War Memorial raised by the French to honour the soldiers who died in World War I. The Light house and the 284 metre long new pier are further south of these monuments.

Mansion Anandha Rangapillai

This is the beautiful house built in a curious mix of French and Indian architectural styles. However, it is not as a piece of art, but as the home of Anandha Ranagapillai that it is preserved. Anandha Rangapillai, the famous dubash (Indian representative of a Europian ruler) had access to high places and a lot of diplomatic information. All this he poured into his diaries that are a storehouse of knowledge about French-India between 1736 and 1760.

Raj Nivas

This grand palace-typically French - was once Dupleix's home. Today, the exquisite building, with its beautiful lawns in front decorated with sculptures, is the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Pondicherry (not open to Public).

Government Square

The XVIII Century Palais du Gouverneur (now Raj Nivas) the old Tribunal now housing the Legislative Assembly, the cercle de Pondichery, the hospitals, the Ashram Dining Hall, the UCO Bank are all lined up to form "Place de Gouvernement" (Government Square), with a monument Aayi Mandapam at the Centre of a well laid garden. Some exquisitely carved monolithic pillars adorn the "place". These pillars, ascribed to the XVII Century were brought from Gingee to Pondicherry after the capture of its fort in 1751.

Promenade

The 1.5 km long promenade running along the beach is the pride of Pondicherry. There one can relax or take a stroll at any time of the day. On the sea front are several landmarks the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Jeanne d'Arc and Dupleix, the elegant war memorial raised by the French, the heritage building Mairie, the 27 metre tall old lighthouse, the circular shaped two storied structures on either side of Gandhi maidan.

The Pondicherry Museum

Located opposite the Government Park, the Museum provides a glimpse into Pondicherry's rich past and present. The Sculpture gallery contains some specimens of Pallava and Chola art from Pondicherry and Karaikal. The Archaeological section displays a collection of the famous findings from Arekamedu, like Roman pottery, burial urns, etc. The French Gallery is the most interesting part of the museum which has an office and drawing, dining and bed-rooms with furniture typical of French India. The other sections of the museum are on geology, bronze images, arms, handicrafts and art. The Museum brings back to memory the glorious past of Pondicherry from the days of the pre-Christian era down to the present day providing glimpses of the art and culture of the people of this region during the Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagar days.

Auroville

Auroville is described as the city of Tomorrow where an attempt is made to replicate on much larger scale the experiment that is being carried out in Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the evolution of a new society envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother where people could live "freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority that of the Supreme Truth, a place of peace, concord, harmony". Under the Mother's direction it was launched in 1968 with the co-operation of many nations.

The small township of Auroville or the City of Dawn was designed by a French architect, Roger Arger. It is an entirely new concept in education and urban living. There are about 40 odd settlements located around a central focus called the Matrimandir. These settlements are engaged in a variety of activities, including afforestation, farming, education and handicrafts. The total area of Auroville is about 50 sq km. No local transport is available inside the township. A conducted tour of Auroville from Boutique d'Auroville, 12 Nehru Street, Pondicherry, takes interested visitors around settlements of Auroville.

The Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden in Pondicherry was created in 1826. When the garden came under the control of the eminent botanist Perottet "rare and interesting plants" were procured from Calcutta, Madras, Ceylon and Reumian and introduced. Now it is having a proud collection of 1,500 species.

Anglo-French Textile Mills

Visiting the century old Anglo-French Textile mills in Pondicherry is not only educative but also of tourism importance. The mill gives 10% rebate to the tourists who go on guided tours/buses on the purchases made. The world claimed fabrics and products of the mill will not only be a momento of Pondicherry but also can be used as gifts besides being products of utilitarian/aesthetic value in the houses

Manakula Vinayagar Temple

The shrine dedicated to "Manakula Vinayakar" existed even at the time of the arrival of the French in Pondicherry in 1673. This Ganesh temple is situated on MV Street. Every Friday, people gather here to seek divine blessings for their new ventures.

There are about 32 temples in Pondicherry. Of these Manakula Vinayagar temple, Sri Vedapureeswarar temple, Kamatchiamman temple and Varadarajaperumal temple are famous.

Cathedral churches

French missionary zeal in the XVII and XVIII Centuries saw a number of grandly embellished churches built in Pondicherry. The Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Cathedral, the Eglise de Notre Dame A'es Angles are particularly noteworthy.

Boat House, Chunnambar

Facilities for boating are available at a Boat House, on the River Chunnambar 8 kms from Pondicherry. The backwater and the lush greenery on both sides of Chunnambar provide an ideal setting for boating. Boats are available on hire on all days of the week. A most enjoyable hydroplane and facilities for boating and fishing make this an ideal site for relaxation and picnic.

Park Monument  (Aayee Mandapam)

Park monument built by the gallant French in the exuberant Graeco-Roman style to honour an oriented dancing girl stands as a symbolic landmark of all that is unique of Pondicherry and her distinct gracefulness.

Jawahar Toy Museum

The Jawahar Toy Museum is located in the old Light House building near Gandhi Maidan. Here toys and puppets from different parts of India are on display.

Eglise De Sacre Coeur De Jesus

This church on the South Boulevard is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is noted for its Gothic architecture, stained glass corridors and panels depicting incidents from the life of Jesus Christ.

French Institute

Established in 1955, it is a research centre for Indian languages and culture. The Scientific and Technical section prepares vegetation maps, maps of soil types, geology and lithology of India.

Arekamedu

It is about 20 km from Pondicherry town. Recent excavations at some sites in Arekamedu have unearthed Roman coins, wine jars, etc establishing it to be the earliest Indo-Roman trading centre (around 2nd century AD). Further evidence points to a Buddhist stronghold.

Mailam Murugan Temple

It is about 50 km from Pondicherry town. There is a Murugan temple atop a hillock. The Panguni Uthhiram festival held in March-April attracts devotees in large numbers.

Mandagupattu

It is about 50 km from Pondicherry town. This is the location of the first Pallava cave temple for the Hindu trinity-Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. Called Lakshitayatana, it was built during the reign of Pallva King Mahendra Varaman I.

Ousteri Lake

It is about 15 km from Pondicherry town. A popular picnic spot on the Pondicherry-Villupuram route.

Tiruvakkarai

It is about 30 km from Pondicherry town. Large fossil bearing areas fenced in to create the country's first National Fossil-Wood Park here. These petrified trees lying scattered on low mounds and stream sections, date from the Cretaceous Age (100 million years ago) The Chandramouliswara Temple, a monument of great architectural grandeur dating back to the Chola period, is an added attraction. Every Pournami (Full Moon Day), people gather here to worship Goddess Kali


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