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Pondicherry is a popular tourist destination in South India. It is located on the east coast, although one of its districts ( Mahe ) is located on the west coast. The history of Pondicherry goes back to the ancient ages, when traders would carry Roman goods to this area. Roman artifacts have been discovered at a place called Arikamedu near Pondicherry, indicating the presence of a flourishing trade between this region and Europe in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Present day Pondicherry is one of the most important tourist destinations on the east coast. Tourism in Pondicherry is growing at a steady pace, thanks to adequate support from the government. The erstwhile French colony has many colonial buildings and monuments that are covered by the tours to Pondicherry. Touristplacesinindia.com is your online tourist guide in Pondicherry, providing you information about the city, its history, tourist attractions and other facts about the city.

History : Anyway, on to more pleasant things and some good old-fashioned information – Pondicherry was occupied by the French in 1674. Apart from a brief period of dominion by the Dutch from 1693 to 1699, and later in 1761 by the British, the region remained under French rule till as late as 1954, after which the area became a part of the Indian Union.

The town still retains a distinctive French flavour with its red bonnet police force and the sprinkling of some beautiful colonial buildings. Pondicherry has a French Conciliate, a French Research Institute and a French Lycée or school, all of which are run by the French government. Pondicherry University also has some exchange programmes with a number of universities in France, the University of Rennes being one of them. Hence Pondicherry has a certain French population along with a sizeable number of Franco-Pondicherrians who had fought for the French during the World Wars.

Places to See in Pondicherry :

Aurobindo Ashram : Another well-known name associated with the town is that of the Aurobindo Ashram, the brainchild of the Bengali revolutionary and philosopher Aurobindo Ghosh and his ardent disciple Mirra Alfassa, popularly known as ‘The Mother’, who took over from Aurobindo after his death in 1950.

Founded in 1926, the Ashram is based on his philosophy of a harmonious community and draws a constant stream of visitors travel across the globe to India. You could visit the Ashram Centre at Rue de la Marine, which has the samadhi (tomb) of the philosopher and his living quarters amidst a pretty little garden of orchids and a variety of other flowers. The International Centre which occasionally screens a film, and the Library are just across the road. You can also visit the Ashram’s Hand Made Paper Factory outlet to pick up some excellent paper and diaries.

Not all seems fine between the Ashram and the locals. Perhaps the malaise stems from the fact that the affluent Ashram is mainly run by people from outside Pondicherry with a majority of Bengalis and Oriyas, and the Ashram, as an institution, seems to do little in terms of charity. Also, the nicest places in Pondicherry belong to the Ashram, and outsiders including the locals are strictly off-limits.

Auroville Village : Auroville – the International Village is situated amongst cultivated stretches of cashew nut plantations interspersed with wilderness, at a distance of about 6km from the town. The settlement is elaborated around the Matri Mandir or ‘the temple of the Mother’ which has sporadically been under construction for several years now. However, the white marble meditation chamber is now complete and contains a beautiful crystal on which the sun’s rays fall through a strategically installed mirror.

The foundation of Auroville was laid in 1968, with the aim to concretise the Mother’s dream of creating a settlement where people would live in peace, their colour, creed and nationality notwithstanding. The settlement drew a large number of people who travel across the continents, especially Europe, many of whom still continue to live in Auroville.

Promenade : The 1.5 km long promenade running along the sea beach is the prime attraction of Pondicherry. On the sea front are several landmarks like the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, famous French Governor Dupleix, the elegant war memorial erected by the French, and the 27 m tall lighthouse.

Pondicherry Museum : The museum displays a rich past of Pondicherry, since the pre-Christian era, down to the present day. It offers an insight into the art and social life of the region during the many dynasties which rules here.

How to Reach Pondicherry :

Air : The nearest major airport is at Chennai, 162 km away. Vayudoot Air service has regular flights from Chennai to Pondicherry.

Rail : Trains regularly from Chennai to Pondicherry.

Road : State Government buses as well as private buses, and taxis ply regularly from Chennai to Pondicherry.

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