Pondicherry is a city, an urban agglomeration and a municipality in Pondicherry district in the Indian union territory of Puducherry. It is affectionately known as Pondy, and has been officially known by the alternative name Puducherry since 2006.
The City of Pondicherry have recorded history after the advent of the Colonial Powers like the Dutch, Portuguese, English and the French. Though nearby places like Arikamedu, Ariyankuppam, Kakayanthoppe, Villianur, Bahur which were annexed by the French East India Company over a period of time and which became the Union Territory of Pondicherry after Independence have history predating the Colonial History.
A marketplace named Poduke or Poduca is recorded as a Roman trading destination from the mid 1st century. The area was part of the Pallava Kingdom of Kanchipuram in the 4th century. The Cholas of Thanjavur held it from the 10th to 13th centuries, only to be replaced by the Pandya Kingdom in the 13th century. The Vijayanagar Empire took control of almost all the South of India in the 14th century and lasted until 1638, to be supplanted by the Sultan of Bijapur. The French acquired Puducherry in 1674 and held control, with occasional interruption from the British and Dutch, until 1954 (de jure in 1956), when it was incorporated into the Indian Union along with the rest of French India.
Pondicherry is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India. The city has many beautiful colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues which, combined with the systematic town planning and the well planned French style avenues, still preserve much of the colonial ambiance. Pondicherry is also a popular weekend destination. It is a blend of spiritual aura, French colonial heritage, Tamil culture, virgin beaches and the cosmopolitan flair of many nationalities in a small but varied city.
The most popular tourist destinations are the four beaches in Pondicherry, which are Promenade Beach, Paradise Beach, The Auroville Beach and Serenity Beach. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, located on rue de la Marine, is one of the most well known and wealthiest ashrams in India. Auroville (City of Dawn) is an "experimental" township located 8 km north-west of Pondicherry. It is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.
There are a number of old and large churches in Pondicherry, most of which were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. A number of heritage buildings and monuments are present around the Promenade Beach, such as the Children's Park & Dupleix Statue, Gandhi statue, Nehru Statue, Le Cafe, French War Memorial, 19th Century Light House, Bharathi Park, Governors Palace, French War Memorial, Romain Rolland Library, Legislative Assembly, Pondicherry Museum and the French Institute of Pondicherry at Saint-Louis Street.
Pudducherry Botanical Gardens
Pudducherry Botanical Gardens is located south of the New Bus Stand. Chunnambar Backwater resort is situated 8 km from Pondicherry, along the Cuddalore Main Road. This tropical resort is flanked by a quiet-flowing creek on one side. Boating and tree house are very popular.
Auroville is a universal township in the making for a population of up to 50,000 people from around the world. The concept of Auroville - an ideal township devoted to an experiment in human unity - came to the Mother as early as the 1930s. In the mid 1960s the Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry proposed to Her that such a township should be started. She gave her blessings. The concept was then put before the Govt. of India, who gave their backing and took it to the General Assembly of UNESCO. In 1966 UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution commending it as a project of importance to the future of humanity, thereby giving their full encouragement.
Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Devasthanam on Manakula Vinayagar Street is a very famous Hindu temple, which houses Lord Ganesha. Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple was in existence before the French came and settled in Pondicherry i.e. before 1666. According to Sasthra, Lord Ganesha is named in 16 types based on his various forms, out of which this god facing the east coast near the Bay of Bengal was named as Bhuvaneshar Ganapathy, now called as Manakula Vinayagar. In Tamil, 'Manal' means sand and 'Kulam' means pond near the sea. Earlier, there was full of sand around the pond. So, the people called the god as Manal Kulathu Vinayagar [means God near the pond of sand]. Later, it was named as Manakula Vinayagar.
Shri Pathala Pratyankara Devi Temple, Morattandi
The Pathala Pratyankara Devi Temple is about 3 kms from JIPMER. The Prathyankara Devi temple was constructed in middle of five graveyards. As the name indicates the temple is located beneath the earth.
Tirunallar Saniswaran Temple
Tirunallar Saniswaran Temple or Dharbaranyeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Sani(saturn) located in Tirunallar in Karaikal district of Pondicherry. The presiding deity is Lord Siva, Dharbaranyeswar and the place Tirunallar was historically called Dharbaranyam. The temple is revered by the hymns of 7th century Tamil saivite poets, Appar, Cuntarar and Campantar and is classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.
Vedapuriswara Temple, built in the 18th century is another ancient temple that lures hundreds of pious minded everyday. The four pillars of the main temple, exhibit the various poses of the dance of Shiva. Vedapuriswara (Lord Shiva) was the presiding spirit of Vedapuri by which name the present Pondicherry was once known.
Shri Vishwaroopa Maha Saneeswara Temple
This temple is located Pathala Pratyankara Devi Temple. The main attractions of the temple is idol of Saneeswara. There is also an idol of Maha Ganapathi which is 27 feet tall. The temple also has idols of Navagraha, with idold 6-10 feet tall.
Panchavati Panchamukha Anjaneyar Temple
Panchavatee is famous for Panchamukha Hanuman Temple and is located 9 km from Pondicherry. The main deity is 36 feet high making it one of the tallest Hanuman idols. The temple is run by Pamchamukha Sri Jayamurthi Seva Trust, consisting of staunch devotees like Parama Sri Ramani Anna. The temple land was donated by Mr. Santhanam Iyengar.
A stone weighing 15 kg which is brought from Rameshwaram is displayed here. The rock floats in water and is belived to be used by Lord Rama to create 'Rama Sethu' from India to Lanka.
There is another Anjaneyar temple which lies in between Tindivanam and Pondicherry main road. The mmain attraction of this temple is the Hanuman idol which is almost 12-15 feet tall.
Varadharaja Perumal Temple
This temple was built in Dravidian style. It is one of the most famous and the oldest temples in the Town. It is located within the Bouleward on the M.G.Road, Puducherry. The Gopuram and the sculptured pillars in the temple are with bright colours and it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Sithananda Swamy Temple
A famous shrine of Pondicherry where Guru Sithanandar a saint was burried alive (Jeeven Samadhi). Lord Shiva Temple has been constructed over his samadhi and is a best place for peace lovers.
Swamy Sithananda was born and lived in a small village called Vandipalayam near the historical place of Thirupathiripuliyur, and also served as Garland man and "Sadhu" to God at the Sri Padaleswarar temple. Muthukumarasamy pillai who lived at Muthialpet, Pondicherry, came to know about Swamy Sithananda. The wife of Pillai was suffering from a disease for a long time. He believed if his wife was blessed by Sithananda Swamy she would recover from her illness. So Pillai requested Swamy Sithananda to visit his house at Pondicherry. A miracle had happened. When he entered into the house of Pillai and blessed his wife, she recovered from her illness. From then onwards he stayed in Pondicherry. People far and near daily came to Him to get his blessings. One day Swamy Sithananda and Pillai were walking along the village Karuvadikuppam. Then Swamy Sithananda showed a place to Pillai which was suitable to be for his Samadhi-People strongly believed that the blessings of Swamy Sithananda would bring peace, prosperity and happiness in their life. He attained Jeevasamadhi on 28th May 1837. People hope and trust that a visit to Swamy Sithananda temple would shower what they aspire to achieve in their life.
On Thursdays special poojas are offered to Guru Dakshinamoorthy statue in which devotees from all over Pondicherry take part in large nos. This is an important pilgrimage for tourists visiting Pondicherry.
Kamatchi Amman Temple
The Kamatchiamman Temple is situated in the Bharathi Street of Pondicherry and is an important Pondicherry pilgrimage spot. The singularity of the temple lies in the unembellished form of the temple structure. The place of worship is frequently visited by the tourists and the local people who arrive in the temple to offer their prayers to the temple deity.
The temple is devoted to the worship of Goddess Durga who is representative deity of war. The temple is decorated in the interiors on occasions when special prayers are offered to the Goddess. However, the exterior walls of the temple are dark and rust in color. The architecture of the temple is deprived of the furnishings that are present in the other temples of the region. The temple withstood the atrocities of time and still stands in its magnificence in the region of Pondicherry. With time, the ancient temple has been further deprived of its initial luster and sheen. Although bereft of any ornamentation, the temple never lacks the devotees and pilgrims who gather in large number every year to offer their prayers to the goddess.
The austere Kamatchiamman Temple is one of the chief tourists attraction of the territory of Pondicherry although the temple is different from most of the other temples of South India. On the festive days, the temple is flocked by pilgrims who arrive from the different parts of the region and from all corners of the country to participate in the celebrations and to seek the blessings of the Goddess Durga.
Thirukaameeswarar Temple is one of the ancient, beautiful, and huge temples that is located in a beautiful rural town called Villianur (the ancient name is Vilvanallur, meaning "vilva marangal niraindha nalla vur"), which is located about 10 km away (towards Villupuram) from Pondicherry town. This temple is renowned as Periya Koil "Big Temple". The prime god is Lord Shiva and the prime goddess is Goddess Kokilambigai. In addition, there are also other Hindu gods such as Murugan, Vinayagar, Thakshanamoorthy, Perumal, Bhramah, Chandikeshwarar, Natarajar, Navagrahah, and 63 Naayanmaars. The pioneers[clarification needed] in this temple say that the age of this temple is about 1000+ years. It is thought to have been built by one of the Chola kings. There is also a huge "temple pond". The "Ther Thiruvizha" (Car Festival) is celebrated at this temple.