The Union Territory of Puducherry comprises the former French establishments of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam, which lie scattered in South India. Puducherry, the capital of the Territory was once the original headquarters of the French in India, is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and is about 135 kms. from Chennai Airport. It is bounded on the east by the Bay of Bengal and on the three sides by Tamil Nadu. About 130 kms. south of Puducherry on the East Coast lies Karaikal. Mahe is situated on the Malabar coast on the Western Ghats surrounded by Kerala and is about 70 kms. from Calicut Airport. Yanam is situated adjoining the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh and is about 200 kms. from Visakhapatnam Airport. The main languages spoken here are Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, English and French.
All the regions of Puducherry were under the French rule for 138 years. On November 1, 1954, the French possessions in India were de facto transferred to the Indian Union and became a Union Territory. But only in 1963, Puducherry became officially an integral part of India.
Pondicherry is a peaceful city. It is referred by names such as 'Quintessence of French Culture', 'India's Little France' and 'The French Riviera of the East'. Still it has the French flavor in it as one can see by the grand colonial mansions, beautiful boulevards, and placid promenades, spellings on sign boards and buildings, names of roads and public places.
Puducherry still has a large number of Tamil residents with French passports, whose ancestors were in French Governmental service and who chose to remain French at the time of Independence. Apart from the monuments pertaining to the French period, there is the French Consulate in Puducherry, several cultural organizations and the Foyer du Soldat for war veterans of the French Army. Of the cultural organizations, the French Institute, the Alliance Francais and the Ecole Francais d'Extrème Orient are noteworthy.
The uniqueness of Pondicherry town invariably lies in skillful town planning and Franco Tamil architecture. The town is built on the model of "bastide", a fortified French coastal town of the late 18th Century.
The Union Territory with legislature extends over an area of 479 Sq. Kms. Total population of the Union Territory is 12,44,464, with a literacy rate of 86.55, as per 2011 Census (Provisional).
- How to reach Puducherry
Winter - Runs from December through February. Daily temperature around 30° C and nights are pleasant, even cool.
Summer - From March through July has hot and humid climate. Temperature routinely touching 40° C in May and June. Normally around 35° C-38° C.
How to reach Puducherry
The closest airport is in Chennai, which is around 135 kms. from Puducherry (approx 2½ hours journey). Chennai has excellent connections with almost all cities in India and direction connection to Europe, USA, Middle East and South East Asia. Trichy airport (220 kms. away) and Bangalore airport (320 kms. away) are the other nearby airports.
Villupuram is the nearest railway junction, which is fairly well connected to places like Chennai, Madurai and Trichy.
Puducherry is well connected to all districts and major towns of various states like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andra Pradesh. Puducherry is best accessible by road. There are frequent buses, almost every 15 minutes in the day from Chennai (approx. 3½ hours journey). There are frequent buses to Puducherry from places like Cuddalore, Villupuram, Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Trichy, Coimbatore and Bangalore.