Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Territoire Unione de Pondichéry Union Territory of Puducherry
Largest city :
1,979/km² (5,126/sq mi)
Tamil, French, Telugu, Malayalam
1 July 1963
Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) is a Union Territory of India. formed out of four enclaves of former French India and named after the largest, Pondicherry.The Tamil name is Puducherry which means "New Town". Historically known as Pondicherry the territory changed its oficial name to Puducherry in 2006. It is also known as "The French Riviera of the East".
Puducherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Pondicherry, Karaikal, and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé on the Arabian Sea. Puducherry(Pondicherry) and Karaikal are by far the larger ones, and are both enclaves of Tamil Nadu. Yanam and Mahé are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively. The territory has a total area of 492 km²: Puducherry (city) 293 km², Karaikal 160 km², Mahé 9 km² and Yanam 30 km². It has 900,000 inhabitants (2001).
History of Pondicherry
The earliest recorded history of Puducherry can be traced back to the 2nd century. Pondicherry was mentionned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, 1st century CE. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, of the early 2 AD, mentions a marketplace named Poduke which G.W.B. Huntingford identified as possibly being Arikamedu (now part of Ariyankuppam), about 2 miles from the modern Pondicherry. Huntingford further notes that Roman pottery was found at Arikamedu in 1937, and archeological excavations between 1944 and 1949 showed that it was "a trading station to which goods of Roman manufacture were imported during the first half of the 1st century AD".
A remarkable degree of French influence in Puducherry exists and can be observed from the design of the city and in architecture of the houses and villas of that time. Puducherry was designed based on the French grid pattern and features neat sectors and perpendicular streets. The entire town is divided into 2 sections, the French Quarter (Ville Blanche or 'White town') and the Indian quarter (Ville Noire or 'Black Town'). Many streets still retain their French names and French style villas are a common sight in Puducherry. In the French quarter, the buildings are typically colonial style with long compounds and stately walls. The Indian (Tamil) quarter consists of houses lined with verandas, and houses with large doors and grills. These French and Indian style houses are identified and its architecture is preserved from destruction by an organization named INTACH. If ever anyone wishes to demolish the existing house in the town area and rebuild, they need the permission from this organization and the new built house should resemble the same architectural beauty it possessed before destruction. The use of French language can be still seen in Pondicherry.
Puducherry still has a large number of Tamil and a small number of non-Tamil residents with French passports, these are descendants of those who chose to remain French when the then ruling French Establishment presented the people of Puducherry with an option to either remain French or become Indians at the time of Puducherry's Independence. Apart from the monuments pertaining to the French period, there is the French Consulate in Puducherry and several cultural organisations. Another important one is 'Le Foyer du Soldat'. It is a Legion hall for soldiers who served in the different French wars.
Of the cultural organisations the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Pondicherry Centre of the École française d'Extrême-Orient and a branch of the Alliance Française are noteworthy. A French-medium school system, the Lycée Français de Pondichéry, continues to operate under the aegis of the French Minister of National Education (France).
Official languages of Government
Official languages of Puducherry are French, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Status of each languages varies differently with respect to each district. When communicating between districts of different languages, generally English is used for convenience.
1.Tamil: Language used by the Puducherry Government, especially used when communicating within and between the Tamil majority districts of (Puducherry and Karikal) along with issuing official decrees. Also the official Language in Tamil Nadu state.
2.French: It is also the official language of Puducherry Union territory. It was the official language of French India (1673-1954) and its official language status was preserved by Traité de Cession (Treaty of Cession) signed by India and France on 28 May 1956.
Regional official languages
3. Telugu: Another official language of Puducherry, but used only within Yanam (Telugu district). So, more correctly, it is considered a regional official language of Puducherry while being official language of Yanam District. It also has an official language status in Andhra Pradesh State.
4. Malayalam: Another official language of Puducherry, but used only within Mahe (Malayalam district). So, more correctly, it is considered a regional official language of Puducherry while being official language of Mahe District. It also has an official language status in Kerala State and Lakshadweep Islands Union Territory.
Language spoken in numbers
As of 2001, number of people speaking in each official languages are.
220,749 (In Puducherry and Karikal Districts)
31,362 (In Yanam District only)
36,823 (In Mahe District only)
Government & administration
Pondicherry Legislative Assembly and Pondicherry Municipal Council
Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India, not a separate State, which implies that the governance and administration of the territory falls directly under the federal authority in New Delhi. However, along with Delhi, Pondicherry is one of the two union territories in India, which is entitled by special constitutional amendments to have an elected legislative assembly and a cabinet of ministers, thereby enjoying partial statehood powers. Under the special provision, the government is permitted to make laws with respect to specific matters. In many cases, such legislations may require the ratification from the federal government or the assent of the President of India.
The Centre is represented by the Lt. Governor, who resides at the Raj Nivas (Le Palais du Gouverneur) at the Park, the former palace of the French Governor. The Central government is more directly involved in the financial well-being of the territory, as against the states where financial administration, given a budgeted central grant is the responsibility to the state governments. Consequently, Pondicherry has at various times, enjoyed lower taxes, especially in the indirect category.
Places to Visit
Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Chunnambar boat house
Romain Rolland Library
Anglo-French textile mills