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Home > Discover Coimbatore > Sightseeing > Pondicherry

PoncicherryThe legacy of over three centuries of French Colonial rule, Pondicherry is an idyllic town on the Coromandel coast just a few hours drive from Chennai. The French festivals - the Masquerade and Eve of the Bastille; the heavy French accent that goes with the Tamil or English that is spoken by the people are reminders of the French legacy in this town, where there are nearly 15, 000 French citizens. Apart from being a former French colony, Pondicherry is famous for the internationally renowned Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, the concept town that is an offshoot of the Ashram.

The first things that strike one on entering Pondy or Puducheri as it is otherwise known, are the streets that cut at right angles, the French styled villas and the picturesque beaches. A town that exudes the aura of a Mediterranean seaside village, it is the ambience of the beach that makes all the difference at Pondicherry. The beach has a relaxed atmosphere, with a French tang, thanks to the architecture of houses along the beach. They were built by the French, with high, white washed walls, large windows covered with bamboo blinds and lush gardens in the front yard. Walking down the by lanes one can find French styled restaurants, mostly run by French nationals, serving authentic French cuisine.

Mahatma Gandhi statueThere are many important monuments on the beach front like the statue of Mahatma Gandhi surrounded by exquisitely carved monolithic pillars, made by the famous sculptor Roy Choudhary who is from the Madras School of Arts and Crafts and the War Memorial raised by the French, commemorating the brave soldiers who laid down their lives in the First World War.

The beach has a main road parallel to it. The Secretariat, which houses the Pondicherry government is located on this road. Many important buildings are located in the vicinity of the beach, like the French Embassy, Alliance Francaise and Institute Francais. The Institute Francais, which was started in 1955 by French Indologist J Filliozat, does research in Indian culture, while the Alliance Francaise conducts French classes and also arranges cultural programmes. Some of the other important institutions and monuments in Pondicherry include, the Romain Rolland Library, statues of Joseph Francois Dupleix and Joan of Arc, Jawaharlal Institute of Post-graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), the houses of Tamil poets Subramanya Bharathi , Bharathidasan and Ananda Rangapillai.

Matrimandir, AurovillePondicherry also boasts of a number of churches, which again are yet another reminder of the French connection. Some of the notable churches among these churches dating back to the 18th and 19th century are the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, the Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception, the Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, the Eglise de Notre Dame de Lourdes and the Chapel of the Sisters of Cluny. Other interesting places for the tourist are the Pondicherry Museum, which was previously the Government Library; the botanical gardens laid by C S Perrotet which date back to 1826; the Varadaraja Temple and the Thyirukameswarar Temple, both dating back to the 12th century.

Distance :365 kms from Coimbatore

Nearest Airport - Chennai.

Nearest Rail Hub - Pondicherry

Accomodation - Numerous lodges and hotels are available in the town.

Easily accessible by road. Can take local buses and autorickshaws from Pondicherry Bus stand and Railway station. Bikes for hire are available near Auroville.

Text :Joseph Pradeep Raj R
Photographs : V Ganesan

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