A wondrous history of this place is told by obliging Pondicherrians. As well as the striking grid-like street planning, buildings and monuments. About the arrival of the European maritime powers of the 16th century -the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes, the English and importantly, the French, setting foot first in 1670.
About the transformation of a tiny fishing village into a grand port city by the 18th century. About fierce Anglo-French battles. Ravages. And sieges. About brave generals. Friendly maharajas. And even, philanthropic courtesans. And about an undisturbed French rule for 138 years till 1954.
Table of Content
Monuments in Pondicherry
Park Monuments (Aayi Mandapam)
The most beautiful public space in town is the green and shaded Government Park, in the heart of Pondicherry. Standing smack in its centre is Aayi Mandapam. Built in Greco-Roman architecture, unsinfully white, during the reign of Napoleon III- Emperor of France.
A historical site, 4 kms south of Pondicherry, which revealed local trade with Romans as early as 2nd century B.C.
Ananda Ranga Pillai Mansion
Ananda Ranga Pillai was the celebrated dubash of Dupleix, the governor of Pondicherry while it flourished under French glory. Pillais compilation of diaries serve as a storehouse of information on 18th century French India.
His mansion, completed sometime in 1738, is one of the oldest surviving buildings on the west side- then known as “natives quarters.” Its architecture represents a curious mix of French and Indian styles.
The Statue of Dupleix
This is Pondicherrys tribute to Francois Dupe ix whose able governorship came to an end in 1754. However, French recognition came about a century later, when, in 1870, they paid homage by commissioning two statues -one in France and the other in Pondicherry.
The 2.88 m tall structure was erected over six carved ornamental granite pillars at the Place du Republique. It now stands restationed overlooking a childrens park at the southern end of the promenade, now named Goubert Avenue.
Place Du Government
The Place Du Government is a brilliant example of town planning in Pondicherry. Comprising the 18th century Palais Du Gouvernement -now the Raj Nivas (not open to the public) -and the old tribunals -now housing the Legislative Assembly – along with a neat three-sided line-up of other handsome buildings.
At the centre, surrounded by a well-tended garden, stands the Water Monument, sculpted to commemorate the introduction of good drinking water for the population. Latin and Tamil inscriptions bear out the story. Some exquisitely carved monolithic pillars, brought to Pondicherry from the Gingee Fort after its capture in 1751, adorn the place.