|Colony of French |
Pondicherry served as a Frech colony till 1960s, before it was made a union territory and a part of the Indian Republic. Recently, its name was changed to Pudducherry, though the tourists still call it by the old name. One of the four enclaves of the union territory is also known as Pondicherry and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India. The city is frequently visited by the tourists from Bangalore and Chennai on weekends, though it has its own share of tourists from other national and international locations.
For being a coastal area, Pondicherry has beautiful beaches like Promenade Beach and Paradise Beach. Promenade Beach accommodates many popular monuments and landmarks like War Memorial and Old Lighthouse. There is no dearth of restaurants and resorts at this beach. The tourists also love to enjoy the fine golden sand, cool breezes and beach sports at the Paradise Beach which is also popular as Plage Paradiso. Auroville Beach in the close proximity is perfect for swimming.
An interesting destination in Pondicherry is the Auroville City which was deisgned by the renowned French architect Roger Anger. Mirra Richard, popularly known as ‘The Mother’, who was an ardent follower of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo laid the foundation of this city. The city is regarded as the place of communal harmony where people from different cultural and regional backgrounds live peacefully. An astonishing highlight of the city is Matrimandir, which is surrounded by a large open space. The huge sphere covered with golden discs is an enchanting structure and offers extremely soothing opportunities to perform yoga and meditation.
Another attraction associated with Sri Aurobindo and ‘The Mother’ is Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The flocks of tourists visit this place which is counted among the top spiritual centers of the world. There are many buildings, including libraries, and gardens that offer amazing peace and tranquility to the visitors. Pondicherry, because of its long association with the Europeans, bears a great Western influence. The city accommodates the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which features Gothic architectural style and is famous for its exceptional stained glass panels. The visitors are mesmerized by the scenes from the Jesus’ life depicted on these panels.
The city also has The Church of Our Lady of Angels has stunning design done with limestone and egg white. Some of the other churches in Pondicherry include the Church of Capuchins, The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and the Church of Our Lady of Good Health. In addition, there are other religious buildings in the city, the most famous ones being Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Kanniga Parameswari Temple, Meeran Mosque and Kuthba Mosque.
A noteworthy attraction of Pondicherry is the Botanical Garden and Aquarium. Apart from exploring a wonderful collection of floral specimen from different regions, the tourists can also relax and enjoy the chirping of the birds at this place. The layout of the botanical sections, featuring exotic and some of the endangered species, is easy to explore. The venue also has an aquarium exhibiting variety of ornamental fishes and a number of attractive fountains. Bharati Park is known for its greenery and a beautiful monument called Aayi Mandapam that was erected during the reign of French Emperor Napoleon III. Another enthralling destination for the tourists is the Ousteri Lake where avifaunal species can be explored.
Pondicherry has many museums, the popular ones being the Pondicherry Museum and Jawahar Toy Museum. The former has good collections of archeological items and sculptures and specimen of different dynasties of South India. The houses and residences of many eminent personalities have also been converted into museums. Some of them include Bharathidasan Museum, the house of the famous poet and playwright and Bharathi Museum, the house of another well-known poet.
French War Memorial is a beautiful monument which commemorates the bravery of World War I soldiers. The statue of French Pondicherry Governor, Joseph Francois Dupleix, is also worth visiting and so is the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the central figure of the Indian Freedom Struggle. The tourists to Pondicherry can also enjoy adventure sports like scuba diving and fishing in a Catamaran.