The union territory of Pondicherry has three other enclaves: Karaikal, in
; Yanam, in Andhra Pradesh; and
. This former French colony came under the rule of the Indian Government in 1954. Situated on the
, the town of
is 162 km south of
There is an amusing story behind the name, Pondicherry. In Tamil 'puduchery,' means 'new village.' The French spelt it 'Poudichéry.' Later the hand-written 'u' was mistaken for an 'n', and the misspelling 'Pondicherry' stuck.
The quaint old French town of Pondicherry is the place where
Sri Aurobindo, the well-known philosopher, patriot and savant established his
'ashram.' It is also the birth-place of the great Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathy and the renowned film director M. Night Shyamalan.
There are many monuments in Pondicherry, which are the remains of French and Indian heritage. These include the statues of Francois Dupleix, the famous French General and Governor of Pondicherry, Joan of Arc, Notre Dame des Anges, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.
There is also a French War Memorial, on Beach Road, which is a tribute for those who sacrificed themselves for the country during the First World War. The Aayi Mandapam is a famous monument which lies at the center of the Bharati Park.
Pondicherry shelters an International Peace Center called
Matrimandir at Auroville, run by
Aurobindo Ashram. It is often described as 'the soul of Auroville.' Matrimandir is a beautiful meditation spot and it houses the world's largest crystal.
The nearest airport is at Chennai. The main railway station is Pondicherry Railway Station.