A Religious Retreat in India

Pondicherry: History and Culture

Incredible India is very well known for its mixed culture and rich heritage. Moreover, peninsular India contains noteworthy religious destinations that attract millions of devotees across the world. Many visitors from around the world are influenced by the religious ethics Indians have displayed in the past. Further, some places are popular for tranquility and divinity. You feel relaxing as well as self-motivating.

Pondicherry: A Religious Retreat in India
Pondicherry: A Religious Retreat in India

Our Verdict

In India, there are three water bodies and one portion of land. The notable is the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Indian Ocean to the south. Subsequently, notable beaches have come up. Additionally, few notable beach colonies developed. One such famous colony is Pondicherry or Pondy or Pondicherry which is a French colony existing in the Southern part of India.

Geographical Location of Pondicherry

One of the renowned French colonies is Pondicherry or Pondicherry you may call. Furthermore, it is also a union territory of India. However, this territory shares its border with Tamil Nadu, which lies north of Cuddalore. You get an opportunity to experience the beauty of the sea breeze of Coromandel Beach present in southeastern India. Moreover, the territory is bordered by Andhra Pradesh in the north.

Furthermore, Pondicherry is an English name kept by the French. However, its old Tamilian name was Putucceri. This Tamil word means new village. It occupies an area of four-ninety-two square Kilometers. The population is around one lakh twenty-four thousand.

Landscape of Pondicherry

The Sea resorts have been built at four seaside locations of the territory. Moreover, there’s a canal running which has divided the territory in two. The major roads are created parallel to one another and end at a roadstead. Moreover, this roadstead was considered the best on Coromandel Coast. Further, the Pondicherry shore does not have any ports. The ships and vessels on the sea are harbored one to two kilometers away from the shore.

Notable Conditions on Economic Front

Pondicherry was renamed Puducherry in 2006. The artesian wells across the city supply a huge amount of irrigation water. Further, the main crops grown locally are sugarcane, rice, peanuts, and cotton. Moreover, there are industries like textile, lumber, paper, and electrical goods. Today Pondicherry consists of three hundred hamlets and villages.

Ancient History of Pondicherry

All through the period while Pondicherry existed, it witnessed long historical events. Moreover, history can be classified into three categories. First the ancient history, second the medieval history, and lastly the modern history. Last but not the least, you can know how it is in modern times. However, in ancient times Pondicherry was ruled by Pallava Dynasty. During medieval history, the Chola Kingdom reigned. Moreover, during modern history, though the sultans of Bijapur took control, this place came of interest for French invaders and the French colony was set up. The French changed the social, political, and economic situation of the territory.

Pondicherry in Ancient Time

Before the development of any major town or city in India, this territory was commercially much more developed. Moreover, the Roman traders were closely related to a place Arekdumu, a place just seven kilometers away from Pondicherry. Further, Roman ancient doctrines mention a region quite effective in trading situated along the southeastern coast. They mentioned “Poduca” which archeologists believe refers to Pondicherry. Hence we can conclude the Romans were involved with India from the 1st century.

From the 4rth century onwards the Pallavas began ruling. Moreover, the Bahur plates narrate the level of education prevailing in this region. Further, from inscriptions on the walls of Vedapureeswarar temple, it can be assumed that the wise sage Agastha built an ashram in this area.

Pondicherry in Medieval Time

In the medieval time of Pondicherry, we find the rise and fall of rulers. As per history, up to the 10th century, the Pallavas reigned. However, the Pandyas and Cholas were in continuous conflict with the Pallavas. By medieval time, the Cholas began ruling. Further, Pandyas began ruling by the 13th century. Moreover, after Pandyas, there was a Muslim invasion. They took control of Pondicherry and additionally spread their power in the north as well as south India. Madurai became the center of administration. Last but not least the sultans of Bijapur took over, the modern time in Pondicherry began.

A Religious Retreat in India
A Religious Retreat in India

Pondicherry in Modern time

Foreign association in terms of trading became prominent in the modern era. Further, everyone understood how this area can benefit in trade from this port city present is the southeastern seafront in India. Furthermore, colonies began sprouting across the region. Besides Portuguese, Danis, Dutch even British colonies started sprouting up. Because of foreign indulgence, economic as well as commercial development could be sighted. The Portuguese were first to set up their colony. However, Gingee rulers didn’t find confidence in Portuguese activities. Hence, they invited the French people to set up a colony at Pondicherry. French ruling continued before this area became an Indian union territory i.e. in 1954.

French Contribution to Pondicherry

The French East India company left most prominence of cultural upliftment. The Portuguese, Dutch, or the British who came earlier were not as popular. The fresh vibes of the French colony still can be felt after conversion into Union territory. If tourists wish to visit France colonies originally, it may be a costly option, if you want to have the same glimpse you can visit Pondicherry. Subsequently while leaving, they left a lot of splendid architecture that replenishes the fantasy of visiting France.

Briefing About French Quarters

The influence of the French predecessors can be captured if you take a stroll along Pondicherry streets. Moreover, the buildings, cathedral, shops, and even the signboards represent French culture. Painted brightly in yellow, orange, grey and more the quarters have added to the glory of the territory. Further, the silence accompanied by the sound of sea waves crashing on the beach creates a mystic vibe. Consequently, a little bit of Tamil culture and French architecture created a whole new dimension to the colony. It would be a blissful getaway if you walk through this area. Finding French ex-pats and residents walking along with you, France in reality can be felt.

More About French Rule

History states, Jean-Baptiste Colbert in 1666 formed the French East India Company. Moreover, after entry to India, they set up two establishments. Surat in 1668 and Pondicherry in 1674. Under the directorship of Francois Martin, the capital of French posts was Pondicherry. Further expansion of the French domain expanded till Mahe was founded in 1725. Besides, the French founded Yaman in 1731. Additionally Karaikal in 1739. 

It can be noted that the French intention of expansion of settlements began around1730 under Joseph-Francois Duplex. They expanded their settlement in Bengal especially Chandannagore. The conquest by the British in 1778 and 1793 hampered French business a lot. However, the territory of Pondicherry was returned to the French in 1816. Further second innings of french rule began. However, till 1954 French rule existed before Pondicherry and associates were handed over to become union territory of India. Finally bi 1956, the French people left India.

People in Pondicherry

Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada are the main languages spoken here. Besides you can also hear French, Hindi, Urdu, and Marathi. The Hindus occupy a majority position, followed by Christians. However in Mahe, Yaman and Kodikkal you can find minority groups of Muslims are residing there. Additionally, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhists can be found.

Why Visit Pondicherry

If you want to turn your interest into exploring French culture, visit Pondicherry. Moreover, a stroll along the shady lanes within the colonies. With brightly painted mansions and shops and signs, boards give you a feel somewhere in a small town of France. Further, you can enjoy meals at French restaurants. Moreover, there are chances you meet french-speaking mates. For site seeing and learning the depth of French influence, you can visit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, French war memorials, and the botanical garden. Each has its charming value. The sea beaches are mesmerizing. Walk on sands barefoot and realize how beautiful they are.

Old Lighthouse, Goubert Avenue, White Town
Old Lighthouse, Goubert Avenue, White Town

The greatest attraction of this place is the Holy ashramas. Millions of people all over the world visit these ashrams for peace of mind and meditation. One such ashram belonged to Sri. Aurobindo. He was a great patriot known for his contribution to revolt against the British. He was a yogi. Sri. Aurobindo shifted to Pondicherry at a very young age. Moreover, after 1914 his writings got impetus. It was the French couple Paul Richard and his wife Mirra Alfassa. By the 1920s, Sri. Aurobindo had finished writing about his psychology and cultures of India. He was a great yoga specialist about which was discovered after his death. Mrs. Alfassa became a disciple of Sri.Aurobindo. She created Auroville, a well-known institute for meditation and yoga. Later she was known as Sree Ma or Divine Mother. If you visit Sri. Aurobindo Ashram, you can learn how respectful the person was.

Favorable Time to Visit

The temperature of Pondicherry remains warm throughout the year. However, the best time you should target for a visit would be October to March. Then temperature varies between fifteen and thirty degrees. Further, July to September is still better though rainfall and monsoon may hold you. Furthermore, avoid summers that lie between April and June. It becomes too hot. However, tourists prefer visiting Pondicherry during festivals. Hence, irrespective of season and month, Pondichhery receives visitors all year round. If you want a comfortable climate visit in peak season i.e. between October to November.

Reaching Pondicherry

This Union Territory located on the Coromandel coast of South India shares its border with Tamil Nadu. Moreover, it is very near to Chennai. This is a famous location in India well connected to other states by road, rail as well as air. Further, the Chennai Airport is the nearest just 125 km away. Additionally, Puducherry has its airport at Lawspet. Last but not least you can try Karaikal airport if you want. The most favored is having a drive on the roads. Exotic scenery will make you spellbound. You can travel by bus also. Moreover, plenty of buses are available from Coimbatore, Bengaluru, or Chennai. Further, if you wish to travel by rail, you have to approach Villupuram Railway Junction and travel 37kms.

Foods at Pondicherry

You can taste cuisine as preferred in a neighboring south Indian city or state. However, if you try local cuisine it has a French taste to garnish. Moreover, some restaurants serve authentic French food. If you want French food varieties, Pondicherry is the best venue. The French categories of food are Italian baked beans, stuffed cabbage, croissants, and many others. There are many top-class restaurants. Respectively

  • The La Coromandel
  • The Maison Perumal
  • The Le Club
  • The Le Hidesign
  • The Satsanga. Etc.

Accommodation to Stay

This French customized territory has varieties of places for visitors to stay. Further, it is the budget that guides the choice. You can board a resort, a royal hotel, a budget hotel based on your preference. Moreover, the beaches are prime intention to stay. Some example

  • The La Maison Radha
  • The La Closerie- Bay of Bengal
  • The Treebo trip Prakasam Residency
  • The Bull Boutique hotel. Etc.

Places of Interest

There are forty-four destinations we would advise you to visit 

  • The French War Memorial
  • The Botanical Garden
  • The Serenity beach
  • Scuba diving
  • The Aurobindo Ashram
  • The Auroville
Rock beach, Pondicherry
Rock beach, Pondicherry

Bottom Line

France is a dream destination for many. But India has a mini version of the same. French colonies were set in Pondicherry. French architecture and cultural influence here are irresistible. It became a union territory in 1957. However, traders visited the place and Pondicherry has faced numerous wars. Due to foreign influence, the Pondicherry territory became a prosperous city. It was an important trade city in southern India. Moreover, adorns the famous Coromandel coastline. Additionally a destiny for peace of mind and meditation.

Leave a Reply