Known as ‘Poduke’ to the classical
geographers of Greece and Rome, the ancient
port of Pondicherry flourished from the
2nd century BC. It has now been established
that the place had a Roman settlement
about 2,000 years ago. Excavations at
Arikamedu, near Ariankuppam, on the outskirts
of the present city prove that the Romans
settled here and regular commerce was
carried on between the port of Pondicherry
and the Roman cities. The area later formed
part of the kingdom of the Pallavas, the
Cholas, the Vijayanagar rulers and the
Legend has it that the great sage Agastya
came to Vedapuri, by which name the present
Pondicherry was once known, only to worship
Vedapuriswara, one of the oldest deities
worshipped here. The deity, Lord Shiva,
the presiding spirit of Vedapuri, was
also known as “Agatiswara”
the Lord of Agastya. Pondicherry was traditionally
a seat of learning and Vedic culture.
Such a tradition must have developed from
the presence of a great sage in a remote
past, surrounded by seekers and disciples
living in his Ashram.
Unity In Diversity
Pondicherry is the corruption of “Puducherry”,
which means a new hamlet. The fact that
people speaking 55 different languages
reside here and that Tamil, Telugu,
Malayalam, French and English are the
five official languages certainly raises
eyebrows. In spite of this linguistic
plethora, there is no confusion but
Pondicherry is oval-shaped with parallel
streets cutting each other at right
angles. The long canal street, that
runs from north to south was constructed
on purpose to separate the Black town
lead to the Promenade, via the White
Town. The Promenade, one of the finest
in the whole country, is 1,500m long.
It is an irresistible attraction for
the young and the aged alike.
To Sri Aurobindo, one time National
leader, Pondicherry was something more
than a political asylum. It was here
he did his Integral Yoga and wrote his
literary and philosophical works. With
the advent of a French lady, Madam Mirra
Richard, later known as the Mother,
who had followed the same spiritual
path on her own, Sri Aurobindo started
his Ashram to train others in his comprehensive
and world-accepting system of spirituality.
The Samadhi that houses the bodies of
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, in the
main premises of the Ashram, is always
decorated with a wide variety of flowers
in charming patterns hundreds of devotees
visit this holy place every day.
Auroville - Pondy’s Other
8-km north of Pondicherry is Auroville.
The foundation was laid on 28th February
1968, when a boy and a girl representing
each of 124 countries of the world poured
a handful of their native soil into
a concrete lotus, symbolic of their
support of the project. The purpose
of Auroville is to realise human unity.
celebrated for its Meenakshi temple, is
one of India's oldest cities with a history
dating back of the 6th century BC. Madurai's
trade with the ancient Greeks and Romans
is well known. It was the capital of the
Pandyan empire till the 14th century and
is now an important commercial centre of
Summer (Mar. to Jun.): Warm
Winter ( Nov. To Feb.): Mildly warm and
Throughout the year-Cottons
Getting There :-
Connected by road to Madras (461 km) and
to all major towns of South India.
Regular bus services.
Madurai is connected to Madras and other
southern towns by express trains.
Madurai is connected by air to Madras.
|Where to Stay :-
- Luxury Hotels
- Hotel Supreme
- Madurai Ashok
- Pandyan Hotel
- Taj Garden Retreat
|What to see :-
A temple at the foot of the Algar Hills
(20 km). It has exquisite sculptures in
the hall that faces the sanctum sanctorum.
A superb example of Dravidian architecture
and sculpture, and the focal point around
which the city has developed.
The temple has two sanctra, one dedicated
to Shiva and the other to his spouse Meenakshi.
The highlight of the
Meenakshi temple is the "Hall of a
The curved dome, standing without the support
of a girder or rafter, is an architectural
feat.Vandiyur Mariammant Tank
A huge temple tank measuring 304.8 metres
on each side, with a mandapam in the centre.
Glass bangles and other trinkets. Palm baskets,
jaggery from palm trees are some of the
specialities.The streets around the Meenakshi
temple in Madurai are the best places to
shop. The areas are Chitirai, Avanimoola,
Masi Street, Pudumandapama and Thevangu
Chetty Choultry, all in and around the Meenakshi
temple and Town Hall road.
Madurai is a city more known for its typical
vegetarian South Indian cuisine particularly
idlis and dosas.
Egg parota and kothu parota are two non-vegetarian
specialities in Madurai other than biryani.
Important festivals are Jallikattu Rekhla,
The Float Festival and Chithirai Festival.