has a special ambience and charm
unlike any other city in India.
Once a French colony, it is now
a Union Territory of India that
lies 160km away from Chennai (Madras)
along the Coromandel Coast of the
Bay of Bengal. Pondicherry is located
near by the state of Tamil Nadu
on the South-East coast of India.
The city of Pondicherry is the Capital
of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
Pondicherry is officially known
as Puducherry today. The city is
also referred and spelled in many
different ways such as Pondichery,
Pondichéry, Pondy and Pondi.
Main languages spoken in the region
are Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi
and English. French is still spoken
by a considerable number of people
because of the colonial past and
the rising number of expatriates
from France, French businessmen
and new settlers.
as the French Riviera of the East,
Pondicherry is unique for its number
of influences that have shaped its
culture. The French were present for
centuries, but the Danes, the English,
the Portuguese and the Dutch have
all stopped by, giving rise to a heady
mix of European flavours allied with
the local Tamil culture.
is one of the few cities in India
planned in the model of a chessboard
(streets parallel to one another).
The city is divided in two parts by
the Canal which separates the French
Quarter-White Town (in East) from
the rest of the city (in West). The
West Part consists of the Muslim Quarter
in the South, the Tamil Quarter in
the North and the Catholic Quarter
in the Middle.
In the French Quarter, the streets
are wide and facades are usually characterized
by continuous wall to wall construction
with high walls and elaborate gates.
ambience of Pondicherry becomes most
evident in the oldest part of the
town which flanks the seashore boulevard.
Colonial buildings, some which trace
back to the 18th century, line along
a grid of straight clean streets and
house the French institutions, private
homes and businesses, and the famous
Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The visitor
is greeted by mellow colours of cream,
yellow, pink and grey with flamboyant
A large canal separates the French
Quarter and the Tamil Quarter. The
Tamil Quarter is where all the major
commercial activities take place (markets,
showrooms and shops). There are numerous
temples and houses which reflect Tamil
architecture. The exterior facades
of the houses often feature a veranda
and a semi-public portico supported
by wooden pillars.
The long commercial Nehru Street separates
the Tamil Quarter (North-East) from
the Catholic Quarter (Central). The
Catholic Quarter consists of the Cathedral,
the archdiocese and the catholic schools.
The Muslim Quarter
Lal Bahadur Shastri Street (Bussy
Street) separates the Catholic Quarter
from the Muslim Quarter. The Muslim
Quarter consists of houses with its
characteristic and unscathed architecture.
The narrow streets, the small houses
with their beautifully painted facades
and balconies, the mosques and the
small prayer houses add an additional
charm and a sense of calmness to this
Today, Pondicherry exudes a charming
picture of a quaint French town with
its neat, cobbled streets, elegant
houses, policemen with red kepis,
street signboards, statues of Dupleix
and Joan of Arc and pretty gardens.
The Sri Aurobindo Ashram founded by
Sri Aurobindo in 1926 and Auroville
(10km from Pondicherry) with its spiritual
experience, draw people from all over
the world to this charming little