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Union Territory of Puducherry
Union Territory
Official logo of Union Territory of Puducherry
Seal of Puducherry
Location of Puducherry (marked in red) in India
Location of Puducherry (marked in red) in India
Country  India
Formation 7 Jan 1963
Capital and Largest city Pondicherry
District(s) 4
 • Lieutenant Governor A. K. Singh (additional charge) [1]
 • Chief Minister N. Rangaswamy (AINRC)
 • Legislature Unicameral (33seats)
 • Total 492 km2 (190 sq mi)
 • Total 1,244,464
 • Rank 2nd
 • Density 2,500/km2 (6,600/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Puducherrian
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-PY
Official languages Tamil
Website [2][3]
^* 30 elected, 3 nominated

Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry , is a Union Territory of India formed out of four exclaves of former French India (being its capital, hence also known informally as Pondicherry) and named after the largest Puducherry district.

The Tamil name is (Puducherry), which means "New Town".[4] Historically known as Pondicherry (Pāṇṭiccēri), the territory changed its official name to Puducherry (Putuccēri) on 20 September 2006.[5]


  • Geography 1
    • Rivers 1.1
  • History 2
  • French influence & legacy 3
  • Government and administration 4
    • Special administration status 4.1
    • Official languages 4.2
    • Official symbols 4.3
  • In culture 5
  • Economy 6
    • Output 6.1
    • Fisheries 6.2
    • Power 6.3
    • Tourism 6.4
  • Transport 7
    • Rail 7.1
    • Road 7.2
    • Air 7.3
  • Education 8
    • Pondicherry University 8.1
    • Colleges 8.2
  • Demographics 9
    • Religion 9.1
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The union territory of Puducherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Puducherry, Karaikal and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahe on the Arabian Sea. Puducherry and Karaikal have the largest areas and population, and are both enclaves of Tamil Nadu. Yanam and Mahe are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively. The territory has an area of 492 square kilometres (190 sq mi): Puducherry 293 km², Karaikal 160 km², Mahe 9 km² and Yanam 30 km². Its 2011 population was 1,244,464.

Map showing the districts of Puducherry

Some of Puducherry's districts are themselves amalgamations of non-contiguous enclaves, often called pockets in India. The Puducherry district is made of 11 such pockets, some of which are very small and entirely surrounded by the territory of Tamil Nadu. Mahe district is made up of three pockets. This unusual geography is a legacy of the colonial period with Puducherry retaining the borders of former French India.


All four districts of Puducherry are located in the coastal region. Five rivers in Puducherry district, seven in Karaikal, two in Mahe and one in Yanam drain into the sea, but none originates within the territory.


Sri Potti Sri Ramulu Yanam Bridge

The earliest recorded history of Puducherry can be traced to the 2nd century CE. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions a marketplace named Poduke (ch. 60). G. W. B. Huntingford identified suggested this might be a site about 2 miles from the modern Pondicherry, which was possibly the location of Arikamedu (now part of Ariyankuppam). Huntingford noted that Roman pottery was found at Arikamedu in 1937. In addition, archaeological 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".[6]

In 1674, Pondicherry (Pondichéry) became a French colonial possession. Together with Chandannagar (already French since 1673), Mahe (Mahé) (since 1721), Yanam (Yanaon) (since 1731), Karikal (since 1739) and Masulipatam (1760), it formed the French colony French India, under a single French governor in Pondicherry, although French rule over one or more of these enclaves was repeatedly interrupted by British occupations.

Pondicherry was transferred to the young republic of (ex-British) India de facto on 1 November 1954, legally on 16 August 1962, when French India ceased to exist but became the present Indian constituent state of Puducherry, still combining four coastal enclaves.

French influence & legacy

French architectural styles are common, a reminder of the years that the territory was part of French India.

The plan of the city of Puducherry is based on the French grid pattern and features perpendicular streets. The town is divided into two sections: the French Quarter (Ville Blanche or 'White town') and the Indian quarter (Ville Noire or 'Black Town'.) Many streets retain French names, and INTACH.

The French language can still be seen on signs and menus, and heard in Puducherry.

Puducherry has a number of residents with French passports: most are of Indian descent and a small number are of non-Indian descent. At the time of Puducherry's transfer to India in 1954, residents were given a choice to remain French or to become Indian citizens. Those with French passports today are generally descendants of residents who chose to keep their French citizenship.

Consulate of France located at Goubert Avenue, White Town, Puducherry

Several monuments in the city pertain to the French period. A French Consulate is located in Puducherry, along with several cultural organisations. Another important building is Le Foyer du Soldat, a veterans legion hall for soldiers who served in French wars.

Among the French cultural organisations, the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Puducherry 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.

Government and administration

Puducherry Legislative Assembly

Puducherry is a Union Territory of India rather than a state, which implies that governance and administration falls directly under federal authority. However, along with Delhi, Puducherry is one of two union territories in India that is entitled by special constitutional amendments to have an elected legislative assembly and a cabinet of ministers, thereby conveying partial statehood.

The Centre is represented by the lieutenant 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 territory's financial well-being unlike states, which have a central grant that they administer. Consequently, Puducherry has at various times, enjoyed lower taxes, especially in the indirect category.

Special administration status

The territory changed its name to Puducherry in 2006.

According to the Treaty of Cession of 1956, the four territories of former French India territorial administration are permitted to make laws with respect to specific matters. In many cases, such legislation may require ratification from the federal government or the assent of the President of India.

Article II of the Treaty states:

"The Establishments will keep the benefit of the special administrative status which was in force prior to 1 November 1954. Any constitutional changes in this status which may be made subsequently shall be made after ascertaining the wishes of the people."

Official languages

French remained the official language according to the "Traité de Cession" (Treaty of Cession) 1956 and the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963. According to the treaty, "the French language shall remain the official language of the Establishments so long as the elected representatives of the people shall not decide otherwise". Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam are the three official languages used region-wise.[7][8] French lost its official status with the adoption of "The Pondicherry Official Language Act 1965" (Act No. 3 of 1965) in which it is stated that "the Tamil language shall (...) be the language to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the Union territory." It also provides for the use of the Malayalam and Telugu languages in the Mahé and Yanam districts. The law also states that English "may be used for all or any of the official purposes of the Union territory". [9]

Official symbols

On 16 April 2007, the government of Puducherry announced that the following were to be its state symbols:[10]

State symbols of Puducherry
Song Invocation to Goddess Tamil (written by Bharathidasan)
Animal Squirrel
Bird Koel
Flower Cannonball tree's flower
Tree Bael fruit tree

In culture

Puducherry was the residence of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950). The Sri Aurobindo Ashram still operates from Puducherry. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother stayed here. Their writings remain a tremendous source of spiritual awakening that emphasises the progress of humanity and its spiritual brotherhood. A unique experimental city, Auroville, the brainchild of the Mother, whose inhabitants are drawn from all parts of the world, is situated on the outskirts of the city.

Puducherry was the setting for Yann Martel's first third of his Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi (2001). A portion of the subsequent film adaptation of the same name was filmed there.[11]

Lee Langley's novel A House in Pondicherry (1996) was set there.

"Prince Pondicherry" is an Indian character from Roald Dahl's children's novel Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (1964). The prince orders Willy Wonka to build a palace of chocolate in India; the palace melts in the hot sun.

Puducherry was where the national poet ShriSubramania Bharati wrote several of his masterpieces. His local disciple Bharathidasan wrote poems dealing with social revolution and emancipation of women.


The Promenade in the main town Puducherry is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Union Territory


The gross state domestic product of Puducherry, at market prices estimated by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in crores of Indian rupees grew from 184 to 25,819 crore rupees from 1980- 2014.
Year Gross State Domestic Product
1980 184
1985 342
1990 603
1995 1,320
2000 3,781
2010 13,092
2014 25,819 [12]

Puducherry's gross state domestic product for 2004 was estimated at $2 billion in current prices.


The potential for fisheries is substantial in the Union Territory. The four regions of the Union Territory have a coastline of 45 km with 675 of inshore waters, 1.347 hectares (3.33 acres) of inland water and 800 ha of brackish water. 27 marine fishing villages and 23 inland fishing villages host a fishermen population of about 65,000 of which 13,000 are actively engaged in fishing. Tanks and ponds are also tapped for commercial fish rearing.


The present availability of power is about 400 MW.


Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry

Puducherry is one of the most popular tourist spots for national and international tourists. There are several beaches here. There is also Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo spent his last years. There are several temples,churches,monuments, parks and mosques which attract tourists.



Puducherry is connected by a railway branch line from the five-way junction at Viluppuram and Chennai. The railway line is a broad gauge line. Express trains come from Chennai, Bangalore, Viluppuram, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Howrah and other cities. It takes approximately four hours to reach Puducherry from Chennai by train.

A new broad gauge line from Karaikal to Nagore is underway.


Puducherry is endowed with excellent infrastructure on par with India's best. A network of all weather metalled roads connecting every village exists in the territory. Puducherry has a road length of 2552 km (road length per 4.87 km²), the highest in the country.

Road length comparison with Tamil Nadu and India as a whole
Total Road Length (in Puducherry) 2552 km
Road Length per 1000 km² Puducherry Tamil Nadu India
4575 1572 663
Classification of roads
Sl. No. Type of road Length in (km)
1 National Highways 64.450
2 State Highways 49.304
3 District & Other Roads
Puducherry – 173.384
Karaikal – 55.162
Mahé – 19.622
Yanam – 26.460
274.628 274.628
4 Rural Roads
Puducherry – 164.964
Karaikal – 83.470
248.434 248.434
Grand Total 636.816


  • Pondicherry Airport is situated at Lawspet. The Puducherry Government upgraded the airport in 2012[13] with a new terminal building and apron to accommodate larger aircraft. The new terminal building was inaugurated in January 2013 and scheduled flights to Bangalore were launched.[14] A MoU has been signed with Airports Authority of India for expansion of Pondicherry Airport in two phases.[15]
  • Karaikal Airport, a greenfield airport to be ready by 2014, will be the India's first airport to be built entirely with private capital.[16]

Once again, from 14 April 2015 as PM N.Modi announces the city to be a Smart City - Pondicherry (PNY) is now connected by Air India with an ATR aircraft service 6 times a week except Wednesday, its an afternoon service departing from Bangalore returning by evening to Bangalore. One can earn & redeem Star Alliance miles on the route.


Puducherry has almost a hundred per cent literacy level.

Pondicherry University

Pondicherry University is a Central University.[17]




Religion in Puducherry (2011)[24]

  Hinduism (87.29%)
  Islam (6.05%)
  Christianity (6.29%)
  Sikhism (0.02%)
  Buddhism (0.03%)
  Jainism (0.11%)
  Other Religions (0.01%)
  Atheist (0.001%)

See also


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  4. ^
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  6. ^
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  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ List of Indian states by GDP
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  14. ^
  15. ^
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  18. ^
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  20. ^
  21. ^
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  23. ^
  24. ^

External links

  • Official website of the Government of the Union Territory of Puducherry
  • Treaty establishing De Jure Cession of French Establishments in India
  • Official website of Department of Tourism, Pondicherry
  • Official website for Tourism Development, Pondicherry
  • WorldStatesmen - French India
  • Pondicherry's City Guide - Hotels
  • Puducherry travel guide from Wikivoyage
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