Pondicherry is affectionately known as Pondy, and has been officially known by the alternative name Puducherry since 2006. 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. Pondicherry was designed on the French grid pattern and features neat sectors and perpendicular streets.

During ancient times, it is known as Poduke or Podukai. Ancient Greeks referred to this place as Poduke and Aryans referred to as Vedapuri. 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. By 1850, the British had secured their grip on India. They allowed the retreating French to remain in four small pockets of South Indian territory. Pondicherry was pocket central. 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.

75780_1722605590896_3712248_n

We were planning to visit Pondicherry for long. This time the plan materialized. En route to Pondicherry, we reached Chennai airport via Kolkata from Ranchi. We took a cab from Chennai airport for Pondicherry.

75708_1722623391341_871949_n
148501_1722606150910_554350_n
75820_1722607510944_5140198_n

The approach to Puducherry from Chennai is through East Coast Road running beside the Bay of Bengal. The road runs parallel to the sea and one can enjoy the beautiful Bay of Bengal while driving through East Coast Road. We had our lunch at Mahabalipuram, another ancient township, on the coast of Bay of Bengal. There are several ancient caves with paintings etc.

76371_1722606790926_4368038_n
We stopped at this motel at Mamallapuram for “Thali” lunch

We had our hotel reservations at The Promenade. It is on the Seaside Promenade beach in Pondicherry.

77095_1722648271963_4551881_n
156152_1722626551420_4977137_n
156559_1722608550970_2419870_n
View from window
150271_1722630271513_5958615_n
154799_1722649631997_830297_n
155877_1722625871403_5592133_n
Roof-top restaurant

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. 

149212_1722624951380_1003366_n
Promenade beach
76329_1722597230687_8166169_n
Walking on the Promenade beach
150378_1722623711349_7602531_n
Le Cafe – a 24-hour cafe on the beach
76573_1722624671373_947252_n
Remnants of Old Pier

The Gandhi statue is the prominent landmark of Pondicherry on the sea beach. The 4 m black marble statue of Gandhiji here is his tallest statue in Asia. The statue was constructed by the famous artist Debi Prasad Roy Choudhury. Gandhi Mandapam is surrounded by eight magnificent granite pillars, which were from brought from Gingee, a fort some 70 km away from Puducherry. There’s a tunnel beneath the statue that leads all the way to Gingee, but this tunnel has been closed in the 1960s.

149978_1722624311364_6729160_n
Gandhi Mandapam
155337_1722628111459_8383341_n
A pillar besides the canopy covering Gandhi statue

There is an old lighthouse just across the beach. Although abandoned, but it is still a landmark of the town. 

154622_1722627311439_2543551_n
Lighthouse
Lighthouse
Lighthouse
155864_1722625111384_4698061_n
A pier
150239_1722630711524_5543234_n
Pier at night
154631_1722630471518_4309353_n
Bay of Bengal at night
Beach

Puducherry still retains much evidence of it being a French settlement. It is surrounded by Tamil Nadu from three sides. Mediterranean style houses and bakeries, although the city remains very much Indian.

We had a nice, pleasant three-day stay at Pondicherry (Puducherry).

Please add a comment if you enjoyed this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: