“Pondicherry” is the French interpretation of the original name “Puducheri”, Pudu meaning ‘New' and Cheri meaning Settlement’. Pondicherry was part of the Pallavas, the Chola and there after it became a part of the Vijaya nagar Empire followed by Islamic rule. In 1521 the Portuguese were the first Europeans to return to trade in textiles. In the 17th century the Dutch and the Danes followed suit. The flourishing trade attracted the French to establish a settlement in 1674.In 1761 the British captured Pondicherry and crashed the town to the ground, sparing only a few structures. But the Treaty of Paris brought Pondicherry back to French.A storm water canal separated the French and Tamil quarters. By 1768 most of the old town of Pondicherry had been laid out and rebuilt on its former foundations.
When we drive from the Tamilnadu villages around Pondicherry, we will feel that we have landed in a different Country... The old town has a unique charm and the French Quarter is unique in its cleanliness, architecture, discipline etc. To experience the spirit of Pondicherry, its essential to walk through the old town and closely observe the nature of its architectural traditions. When we did this heritage walk through the French Quarter, our guide was from INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage) and he could really explain the status of many old French buildings and its restoration process. Its interesting to note that if someone wants an old building to be restored in Pondicherry, the local authorities ask for the approval of INTACH on priority. This is interesting and we could see how naturally those old buildings were restored in French style. WE walked through Town Hall (Mairie/Hotel de Ville), Notre Dame des AngesChurch, Ecole Francaised’ Extreme-Orient, Cluny Emboidery centre, Alliance Francaise, INTACH Heritage Centre for Exhibitions, Lycees Francaise and lot more.
The beach close to the French quarter is landscaped with wide stone paved pathways and the vehicular traffic is banned from 6 PM till 7.30 AM. its strictly maintained and the pedestrians enjoy their walk in the evening. Many of the old heritage buildings are now getting converted to hotels and guest houses. All kinds of restaurants with international cuisines are seen everywhere. A walk through the market place on M G Road is also amazing. Hotels like Palais De Mahe and Maison Perumal give an idea on how the Tamil and French architecture differs in style. CGH Earth Group takes an extra care to maintain the traditional Tamil style and experience to Maison Perumal but a totally French taste to Palais De Mahe. Dune Pondicherry is a place for artists from the world over to stay back to deliver their best ever creations. The resort has an inhouse embroidery training centre with a sales outlet. Spread over 40 acres of land 52 rooms are not to be seen each other.
The main attraction in terms of the universality of Pondicherry is Auroville belongs to no religion, nation, colour etc but to all men of goodwill, all those who thirst for progress and aspire to a higher and truer life. The dream behind this divine destinations is “A place on earth which no Nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme truth; a place of peace, concord and harmony where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and in capacities, a place where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the search for pleasure and material enjoyment. The shopping plaza at the Auroville is a paradise for shoppers where you find a unique range of eco products made in the local villages.
Pondicherry is just 2 hours drive from Chennai International Airport which is well connected globally. To know more about the itineraries related to Pondicherry and related attractions, please log on to www.keralavoyages.travel and to the link “Tour Packages”. Kerala voyages (India) Pvt Ltd is a South Indian DMC with a special focus on custom made tours on South India.