Puducherry, India

Puducherry, also known as Pondicherry, a place revealing ravishing energy and spirit, is one of the union territories of India. The initial name of the territory, Putucceri, is derived from the Tamil words putu (new) and ceri (village). Until 2006 it was known as Pondicherry and spelled as Pondichéry. 

Geography Of Puducherry

Pondicherry pier
The pier in Pondicherry.

Puducherry is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal on the east. The rest of the three sides are bounded by the Arcot district of Tamil Nadu. The Union Territory of Puducherry covers a total area of 483 km2. This entire area consists of four small separate districts: Puducherry district (293 km2), Karaikal district (161 km2), and Yanam district (20 km2) on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé district (9 km2) on the Laccadive Sea. Puducherry and Karaikal are the enclaves of Tamil Nadu, whereas Yanam and Mahé are the enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, respectively. Puducherry also has some regions that are themselves the combination of non-contiguous enclaves and are termed "pockets" in India.

Interestingly, this pleasant location results from eleven such pockets, out of which some are very small and wholly surrounded by the territory of Tamil Nadu. All four areas of Puducherry mentioned above are altogether situated in the coastal region. One can not only find lagoons and lakes in the region, but also the low hills on the northwest of the town. The significant rivers of Puducherry are Gingee and Penna, the Kaveri in Karaikal, Godavari and Koringa in Yanam, and the river Mahé in Mahé. Puducherry is home to a plethora of soil types. The most common types found include delta alluvium, coastal alluvial sentiment, red sandy, deep black, red laterite, and red loamy.

Climate In Puducherry

Puducherry is a port city along the sea coast. The regular climatic conditions reveal the presence of considerable heat and humidity in the atmosphere throughout the year. During the summers (March to June), the temperature can rise as high as 40 degrees Celsius making the conditions really hot. The incoming sea breeze, to some extent, acts as a respite from the heat. The monsoon rains on the western seashore result in comfortable conditions during July and August. The northeastern monsoon gives rise to the winter season in November. The region experiences rainfall from July to September and November to January. During the winters (from December to February), the temperature can be as low as 20 degrees Celsius.

History Of Puducherry

Puducherry
Rickshaws lined up in front of buildings in Puducherry.

Puducherry's recent history has come into the picture following the establishment of colonial powers such as the Dutch, Portuguese, English, and the French in the region. Formerly, Vedpuri was the Vedic name of the territory. As per Hindu mythology, this place was the ashram of Sage Agastya. During the Mughal rule, Emperor Aurangzeb was the one who allowed the French to trade in India. Due to this, in February 1673, the French established a 'loge' in Puducherry. The 17th century was a disastrous time for the people residing in the region as it came with two appalling struggles, first between the Dutch and the French, and the second between the French and the English. With time, the French people became victorious in solidifying their existence in Puducherry. This fact fostered the place to serve as the capital of the French colony in India. It took seven years of struggle for Puducherry to effectively unite with Independent India after 1947. 

Population And Economy Of Puducherry

A fishing village in Pondicherry.

According to the 2011 census of India, Puducherry had a population of 2,44,377. It consisted of 124,947 females and 119,430 males. It demonstrated an average literacy rate of 80.6%, with 84.6% male literacy and 76.7% female literacy. 

Puducherry has thriving tourism, agriculture, and marine product sectors. It is a fantastic tourist destination that upholds the mind-blowing show of beaches and French architecture. The recent report published on August 31, 2021, mentioned the arrival of 1,713,248 domestic tourists and 149,919 foreign tourists in 2019. The union territory is blessed with a freshwater area consisting of flexible ponds and tanks and encourages both capture and culture fishery. There are around 27 marine fishing villages and 23 inland fishing hamlets in and around Puducherry. Apart from this, Agriculture is the most vital occupation for the population of Puducherry. Approximately 45% of the community's population depends directly or indirectly on farming. The region is a major producer of bananas, flowers, tapioca, coconut, groundnut, and sugarcane in the country.  

Visiting Puducherry

Puducherry's Paradise Beach is famous for its stunning scenery. Also known as Plage Paradiso, it offers respite to those looking forward to a tranquil time in nature. Thick mangrove trees lining the beach, sparkling waters, and comforting sand are soul healers on the beach. 

temple in Puducherry
Worshipers sit at the foot of a holy shrine inside Manakula Vinayagar Temple. Editorial credit: Neil Bussey / Shutterstock.com

Connected to the city's soul, Arulmigo Manakula Vinayagar Temple, dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesha, is one of the well-known ancient temples in Puducherry. Impressive stucco figures and friezes enrich its architecture. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is another major cultural attraction in the region. 

Puducherry church, India
Church Basilica of the sacred heart of Jesus, Puducherry, India.

The 100-years old Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with its stained glass panels illustrate incidents from the life of Christ and saints of the Catholic Church. It serves as a prominent pilgrimage spot for Christians visiting Puducherry.

For those seeking activity, the Chunnambar Boat House offers water sports and sunbathing facilities while one can enjoy long, soothing walks at the Bharathi Government Park. Important landmark buildings like the Government Hospital, Puducherry Private Club, the Legislative Assembly, and Lt. Governor's place surround the park.

Culture And Lifestyle Of Puducherry

Woman selling vegetables at Goubert Market
Woman selling vegetables at Goubert Market in Puducherry. Editorial credit: Lucy Pinkstone / Shutterstock.com

Many of Puducherry's residents enjoy dual citizenship of India and France. They have a rich culture and celebrate many festivals year-round. Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu are the major languages spoken here. English and French are also widely spoken. While Hinduism is the religion of the majority, Christianity and Islam are also practiced. 

In Puducherry, one can relish numerous mouthwatering cuisines. French pastries, brioches, and baguettes are prominent among them. Pongal, Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas, Easter, Bastille Day, and the Villanur Temple car festival are some of the festivals enjoyed here with great devotion and excitement. Puducherry also has a thriving art and craft scene, with the bommai doll being a famous handicraft of the region. The central commodity that gives a detailed idea about this is Puducherry bommai, dolls made by the local people. 

The recent studies about Puducherry have disclosed the need to control the rate of pollution before the situation goes out of control. Considering this, we as humans should work towards this and understand the sensitivity of the same for a better tomorrow. 

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