Pondicherry town is the headquarters of the Union Territory of Pondicherry which comprises Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahe - four widely separated towns, the first two enclaves in Tamil Nadu, the other two enclaves in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively, made one by their French connection.
Legend associates Pondicherry town with the Sage Agastya, who travelled from the north and settled here. Recorded history talks of Pondicherry being, for almost 300 years, the centre of Anglo-French conflicts, and, later, the retreat of Indian freedom fighters, including Sri Aurobindo.
Pondicherry became a French colony in 1675 and stayed with them till 1954, when Pondicherry merged with the Indian Union. Pondicherry belongs to history - at one time an obscure village, later a centre of trade with the Romans, then a place of learning.. Francois Martin, Dumes and Joseph Francois Dupleix were the most famous Governors who administered Pondicherry, which still retains its French character.
Today, the Pondicherry of the French is to be found in the policemen's red kepis, on quaint signboards, in a few houses, in the statues of Dupleix and Joan of Arc, libraries and in the accented Tamil, English and French still to be heard. But this oval-shaped township, with the streets aligned at right angles is not like any other Indian town either. Its skyline from offshore is typical of the French-influenced Mediterranean settlement as is its town-planning.
Neat, pleasant, and charming, Pondicherry has a beautiful beach and a sea that is always warm and refreshing. It has been made world-famous by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot, Auroville. And in what still remains of its French connection there is a uniqueness that makes it different from the rest of India.