The History of Puducherry can be traced back to the 2nd century. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, of the early 2nd century, mentions a marketplace named Poduke (ch. 60), 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 to this date. Puducherry was designed based on the French (however originally Dutch) 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 quarter consists of houses lined with verandas and houses with large doors and grills. These French and Indian style houses are identified and their architecture preserved from destruction by an organization named INTACH. The use of French language can be still seen in Puducherry.
Pondicherry still has a large number of Indian and a small number of non-Indian descent 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 transfer to India in 1954. 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.
Day 01: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
In the morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Pondicherry (approx 96 Kms / 2-3 hrs). Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Rest and refresh. Later you visit the Aurbindo Ashram. This ashram promotes Aurbindo’s ideas in bringing about a synthesis of Yoga and modern science, so as to unite the material and soul. Later go on for a visit to Auroville – a unique experiment in international living and in creating a new environment where men and women of all nationalities live together in harmony.
Day 02: Pondicherry – Thanjavur
In the morning after breakfast you are driven by car to Thanjavur (approx 189 Kms / 3-4 hrs). Upon arrival check in at the hotel. Rest and refresh. Rest of the day is at leisure. Thanjavur was once the royal city of the Cholas and the Nayaks. It is still considered the centre of all the classical arts and music, and is also well known for its unique painting style called Tanjore Painting