The Union Territory of Pondicherry is just a few hours drive from Chennai along the scenic East Coast Road. It is imbued with all the charm of a seaside town in France, yet Pondicherry is both Tamil to its roots and sublimely cosmopolitan - the Auroville community here draws its members from around the globe.
Puducherry famous for its brightly painted houses with bougainvillaea laden walls, large boulevards, streets and road signs boasting French names, gothic churches and colonial buildings, serene backwaters and pristine beaches, topped with authentic French cuisine.
In Tamil 'Manal' means sand and 'Kulam' means pond near the sea, earlier which was full of sand around pond. So the people called the god as Manal Kulathu Vinayagar which translates as 'God near the pond of sand'. The temple is dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha. The monumental interiors of the temple are decorated with forty incarnations and forms of Lord Ganesha, carved on the stone walls of the temple. The golden spire forms the superstructure of the temple and is the steeple that crowns the place of worship. Within the premises of the temple lies the shrine devoted to Lord Murugan. (Timings 6am to 12:30pm and 4pm to 9:30pm)
This Museum has a wide collection of impressive things from the Pallava and Chola dynasties like rare bronzes and stone sculptures. It also has objects found in an ancient port site Arikamedu 7km from the main city. Slos, you can find wide collections of Greek and Roman Jars, collection of temple lamps, 200 year old beads and precious stones and also some Chinese objects from the Tsung period. (It remains open between 10.00 to 05.00 pm all days except Mondays and national holidays)
Admire the colonial architecture and historic landmarks as you stroll along Seaside Promenade in the former French territory of Pondicherry, and spend some time at the Rock Beach, Statue Of Mahatma Gandhi is 13 ft height stands on the Beach Road, surrounded by eight magnificent granite carved monolithic pillars, French War Memorial is dedicated to those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country during World War I. It was built in 1971.
The Botanical Gardens were laid out in 1826 in ornate French style, with pruned trees, beautiful flower beds and gravel lined paths and fountains. The French introduced many exotic plants from all over the world, many of which thrived. The sprawling 22 acres garden houses more than 1500 species of plants with placards indicating the species, common name and interesting information like the uses of the tree, amount of oxygen generated and its medicinal value; this could well qualify as one of the best botanical gardens in South India. This garden adds great educational and recreational value to Puducherry.
Auroville is an experimental community in southern India. It was founded in 1968 by the spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa as a town where people from all over the world could live in harmony. Its focal point is the Matrimandir (prior appointment required if you want to get into Martimandir inside), a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs. Auroville Botanical Gardens protects the region’s tropical dry evergreen forest.
The Government Park or Bharathi Park is in the green centre of the French Town and its lush trees provide ample relief from the scorching sun on a hot summer day. Strolling under the cool trees is as dynamic as it gets unless people rush to the spot when an occasional movie is being shot.
The Aayi Mandapam has become the unmistakable centre from which four lanes divide the Park in almost equal parts. The area is dotted with ancient sculptures and not so ancient statues.
The Ashram was set up in 1926 by Aurobindo Ghosh (Sri Aurobindo), one of India's greatest philosopher-poets, who originally came to Pondy to escape persecution by the British. It was after arriving in Puducherry, that he immersed into the spiritual realm and discovered the power of yoga. His philosophy was deeply rooted in yoga and his writings inspired a number of followers. It is open to the public daily between 0800-1200hrs and 1400-1800hrs. Children below 3 years of age are not allowed into the Ashram and photography is allowed only with permission of the Ashram authorities.
The church of Our Lady of Angels stands in the former Capuchins' square, surrounded by the streets Dumas, Surcouf and Romain Rolland. Between the church and the sea lies a little garden, in the middle of which stands a statue of Joan of Arc, armoured and carrying a battle standard. The statue and the garden bearing her name, were acquired and gifted by Francois Gaudart, politician and industrialist, shortly before his return to France in 1919. The statue was installed in April 1923.
One of the most beautiful and revered church in Pondicherry and its about 300 years old church, built in the Portuguese style and the residence of the Bishop. Very well located in a strategic place, the church is popular among local catholic Christians. The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is a magnificent structure with beautifully constructed interior and exterior designs and worth visiting to understand the rich Catholic religious heritage the French passed on in Pondicherry (presently known as Puducherry) of India.
This 100 years old historical church is 50mts. long 48mts. wide and 18mts. high with Latin rite cross shape in aerial view is in Gothic style. 24 main columns hold the structure. A biblical verse from 2nd Chronicles 7:16 is written above the entrance door in Latin "sanctificavi locum istum, ut sit nomen meum ibi" which means "I have consecrated this house, that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there forever."
Inside the church there are glass pictures of 28 saints who were related to the devotion of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Statues of the four evangelists were erected, beneath which there are four lamp posts describing their lives and inviting Jesus and the twelve apostles, on the front facade. The Grotto for Sacred Heart of Jesus facing the City Railway Station were added and the church illuminated inside and out with chandeliers, focus and flood lights.
The French War Memorial (Monument aux combattants des Indes francaises morts pour la patrie) on Goubert Avenue is a solemn reminder of those brave soldiers who laid down their lives, for their country during the First World War. It was erected in 1937 and inaugurated on April 3, 1938 by the governor Crocicchia. Behind the memorial is a bronze bas-relief representing the arrival of Dupleix in Pondicherry in 1742.
Every year on the 14th July (Bastille Day) the memorial is beautifully illuminated and homage is paid to those brave martyrs.
(Entry into the grounds of the war memorial is restricted.)
Puducherry town is also known as Ved Vaphari and Vidhuwannam. This temple dedicated to Lord Shiva - also known as the Eashwaran Dharmaraj Koil - is located on M.G. Road, adjacent to the Varadaraja Perumal Temple. Its 75 feet tall colourful 'gopuram' is adorned by statues of gods and goddesses like most temples in South India.
Pondicherry Sightseeing Tour
Tour to Tranquebar (Tharangambadi)
Divya Desam Tour (41 & 42nd) from Pondicherry
Pancha Bhoota Stalam - Thillai Natarajar (Space)
Tour to Pitchavaram & Chidambaram from Pondicherry
Tour to Visit Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville in Po
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