Pondicherry or Puducherry, the capital of the Union Territory of Pondicherry, is located along the Coromandel Coast of Bay of Bengal. Pondicherry is also the largest coastal enclave in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, the others being Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Pondicherry is situated in Tamil Nadu at a distance of about 160 km to the south of Chennai.
According to mythology, Pondicherry was known by the name Vedapuri. This place is also believed to be the abode of the revered sage, Saint Agasthya. Pondicherry later came under the rule of various dynasties like the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Pandyas. As per Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Pondicherry had trade relations with Rome during 1st century AD. Roman pottery excavated from Arikamedu near Pondicherry, which dates back to the first half of 1st century AD, also points to this fact.
The unique location of Pondicherry captured the attention of Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes, the English and the French. Pondicherry came under the rule of the French in 1673 and since then it became the site for the battle between the British and the French. Pondicherry remained as the capital of French India for about 300 years, before it attained its independence in 1954. It was in 2006 that the name Pondicherry was changed to Puducherry, which means New Village in Tamil language. Tamil, English, French and Hindi are the languages used in Pondicherry.
The heritage city of Pondicherry, which is a living monument of the French culture, is a conglomerate of different cultural influences. The French part of Pondicherry still exhibits the streetscapes and the architectural style of the colonial era and the Tamil part is typical of the Tamil architectural style. Bordered by Bay of Bengal on the East and South Arcot District of Tamilnadu on the other sides, Pondicherry is a popular destination of tourists in the South.
The coastal city of Pondicherry is famous for its serene beaches. Hotel de Vile, French War Memorial, Puducherry Museum, Aayi Mandapam, Auroville Ashram, Shri Aurobindo Ashram, Promenade, Chunnambar Resort, Old Light house, Romaine Rolland Library, etc. are some of the major tourist attractions in Pondicherry.
The vicinity of Pondicherry to the temple towns of Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Chidambaram, the heritage town of Mamallapuram and the hill stations of Yercaud and Kodaikanal has made it popular among wayfarers.
Pondicherry, fondly called as Pondy, is a haven for foodies and shopaholics as well. Travellers to Pondicherry can buy anything that range from textiles to traditional dolls to aromatics. Renowned for palm-fringed beaches, scenic fishing villages, serene backwaters and French boulevard towns, Pondicherry is also a famous stage where several art festivals and cultural programs are conducted every year.