Pondicherry or Puducherry is an Indian Union Territory in the south-eastern part of the country. It is affectionately called as Pondy and has been officially known by the alternative name Puducherry since 2006.
It faces the Bay of Bengal to the east and is bounded by the State of Tamil Nadu on all three sides.
In the mediaeval period, the Cholas of Thanjavur held the region from the 10th to early 13th centuries, and then it came under the Pandya Kingdom in the late 13th century. The Vijaynagar Empire took control of almost all South India in the 14th century and lasted until 1638, to be supplanted by the Sultan of Bijapur. The French acquired Pondicherry in 1674 and held control, with the occasional interruption from the British and the Dutch, until 1954, when it was incorporated into the Indian Union along with the rest of French jurisdiction.
Puducherry’s average elevation is at sea level, and a number of sea inlets — referred to as ‘backwaters’—can be found here. The region experiences usual coastal erosion. Hence the city is protected against the sea by a 2 km long seawall, first completed by the French in 1735, which reaches a height of 27 feet above the sea level. It is protected from the direct onslaught of waves by rows of granite boulders which are reinforced every year to stop erosion. Whenever gaps appear or the stones sink into the sand beach, the government adds more boulders to keep the sea wall strong enough.
The climate of Puducherry is almost similar to that of coastal Tamil Nadu. Usually, summer lasts from April to early June when maximum temperatures frequently hit 41°C. The average maximum temperature is 36°C and minimum temperatures are between 28-32°C. This is followed by a period of high humidity and occasional thunderstorms from June to September. The north-east monsoon sets in during the middle of October, and so Puducherry gets the bulk of rainfall from October to December. The annual average rainfall in the region is 1,240 mm. In Puducherry, winter is mild and varies from 18-30°C.
The total population of Puducherry is 6,54,392 as per 2011 census. As for sex ratio, males constitute 50% and females 50% of the population. The literacy rate is 76% which is higher than the national average. The Tamils consist of the majority of the populace. There is also a sizeable community from other states of India, notably from West Bengal, Gujarat, and Odisha.
As for religion, Hindus are predominant, and next are Christians. As for governmental status, Puducherry is an Indian Union Territory. It consists of 42 wards, of which wards 1-10 are located in the north of the city, wards 11-19 are located in Boulevard Town, and the remaining wards 20-42 are in the south-west of the downtown. The majority of the people speak in Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam. There is a community of French people, and a number of French institutions such as a Consulate, the French Institute and L’ Alliance Francaise. And besides Hindu culture, especially Dravidian, there is a cosmopolitan culture in the city.
As for transport, Puducherry has road, rail, and air services. It is connected to Chennai via the East Coast Road through Mahabalipuram. The Puducherry Road Transport Corporation arranges buses within the city. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operates Volvo air-conditioned services from Chennai to Puducherry. It is also connected by train to several places including Delhi and Mangalore. Puducherry Airport has scheduled commercial flights to and from Bangalore.
Puducherry is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India. The city has systematic town planning and the well planned French style avenues that still preserve much of the colonial ambience. There are many beautiful colonial buildings, churches, temples and statues. It is a blend of spiritual aura, French colonial heritage, Tamil culture, and the cosmopolitan flair of many nationalities in a small but varied city. The Ashram of Sri Aurobindo in Puducherry is a special attraction for the tourists and devotees from all over India and abroad.