Touted as the French Riviera of the East, Puducherry is situated on the east coast of India, 135 kms south of Chennai. A former French colony, Puducherry was earlier known as Pondicherry.
Though the city is very much an Indian city, it has retained its French influence. Tree-lined avenues and Mediterranean style houses will encourage you to believe that you are in a different land. Puducherry became a Union Territory after its integration into India.
The Union Territory of Puducherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahé. Puducherry and Karaikal are bordered by Tamil Nadu, Yanam by Andhra Pradesh and Mahé is enclosed in by Kerala.
Auroville is among the prime magnets which attract tourists to Puducherry. The French Quarter, the creole food, the arts, crafts and music of the former French colony are added attractions.
Pondicherry is the French interpretation of the original name Puducherry meaning “new settlement”. Legend has it that the sage Agastya established his Ashram here and the place was known as Agastiswaram.
Excavations at Arikamedu, about 7 kms to the south of Puducherry, show that Romans came here to trade in the 1st Century AD. In 1674, Francois Martin, the first French governor, started to build Puducherry and transformed it from a small fishing village into a flourishing port-town.
In the 18th century, the town was laid out on a grid pattern and grew considerably. Clashes between the English and French changed the fortunes of Puducherry. In 1761, Puducherry was razed to the ground in revenge and lay in ruins for four years. Only after 1816 did the French regain permanent control of Puducherry. In 1954, the French handed Puducherry over to independent India.
WHERE TO STAY
Being a popular tourist destination, hotels in Puducherry tend to be booked throughout the year. It is advisable if you book your rooms in advance. The former French colony remains hot and humid throughout the year, so it would be advisable if you book AC room. Being a beach town, Puducherry has a considerable number of resorts which offer the best in luxury in addition to offering panoramic view of the ocean.
WHERE TO EAT
Puducherry offers a variety in terms of cuisines. From South Indian delicacies like idly and dosa to fresh, from continental cuisine to Creole, authentic French to Italian; Puducherry will spoil you with options. Creole food in Puducherry is not only a potpourri of French and Tamil cuisine, it also has influence of Portuguese and Dutch. French food is available in several restaurants especially those located in the French quarter. The restaurants typically offer non-vegetarian specialties. Some restaurants also offer exotic dishes like bébé octopus a l’Armoricaine. Vegetarians need not be disheartened as some chefs do prepare vegetarian dishes on demand. Some of the best, fluffiest and tastiest croissants, breads, quiches, pastries and baguettes can be found in Auroville.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Pondicherry is as given below. The best time to visit Pondicherry is also specified.