The old French Colonial Town, Pondicherry, affectionately called Pondy, is famous for its beaches and temples. In the past, this town was invaded by several Europeans-the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes and most importantly the French, who ruled the town undisturbed for 138 years till 1954. Under the French rule, this small fishing village was changed into a grand port city.
Everything in Pondicherry still has a French flavor. Many people still speak French and the architecture boasts of a French heritage. But even in 1500 BC, centuries before the European invasion, Pondicherry had been a center of Vedic scholarship. Then called Poduke, and later Puluchery and Puduchery, the place first came to European notice from the accounts of Greek historian Ptolemy. Exquisite works of art that reveal the rich cultural legacy of Pondicherry are commercially available here.
About 160 km from Chennai, Pondicherry is an ideal getaway from the surging crowds of the metropolis. This tranquil city is famous for the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, an international institution for the teaching and practice of yoga. Other places of interest are the 18th century Government Place, the French Palace called Raj Nivas, Auroville or the City of Dawn (10 km from the city), the
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the ancient temples of Varadaraja, Manakula Vinayagar and Srimoolanthar.
The nearest airport is at Chennai which is connected to Pondicherry by rail and roads.