For other entities called Puducherry or Pondicherry, see Pondicherry (disambiguation).
Union territory

Seal of Puducherry

Location of Puducherry (marked in red) in India
Coordinates: 11°54′40″N 79°48′45″E / 11.911082°N 79.812533°E / 11.911082; 79.812533Coordinates: 11°54′40″N 79°48′45″E / 11.911082°N 79.812533°E / 11.911082; 79.812533
Country  India
Formation 7 January 1973
Capital and Largest city Pondicherry
Districts 4
  Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi[1]
  Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy (INC) [2]
  Chief Secretary (India) Manoj Parida IAS[3]
  Director General of Police Sunil Kumar Gautam IPS[4]
  Legislature Unicameral (33*seats)
  Total 496 km2 (192 sq mi)
Area rank 33rd
Population (2011)
  Total 1,244,464
  Rank 29th
  Density 2,500/km2 (6,500/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Puducherrian
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-PY
Vehicle registration PY-01,PY-02,PY-O3,PY-04,PY-05,PY-05V
Official languages Tamil
Malayalam (Mahe area only)
Telugu (Yanam area only)[5]
^* 30 elected, 3 nominated

Puducherry (/ˌpɒndˈɛri/; literally New Town in Tamil),[6] formerly known as Pondicherry is a union territory of India. It was formed out of four exclaves of former French India, namely Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahe. It is named after the largest district Puducherry. Historically known as Pondicherry (Pāṇṭiccēri), the territory changed its official name to Puducherry (Putuccēri) on 20 September 2006.[7]

Puducherry lies in the southern part of the Indian Peninsula. The areas of Puducherry and Karaikal are bound by the state of Tamil Nadu, while Yanam and Mayyazhi (Mahe) are enclosed by the states of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively. Puducherry is the 29th most populous and the third most densely populated state/union territory in India. It has a GDP of 0.21 lakh crore (US$3.1 billion) and ranks 27th in India.[8]

Mahe Boat Jetty


Main article: History of Puducherry

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 suggested this might be a site about 2 miles from the modern Puducherry, 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 CE".[9]

In 1674, Pondicherry (Pondichéry) became a French colonial possession. Together with Chandannagar (already French since 1673), Mahe (Mahé) (since 1721), Yanam (Yanaon) (since 1731), Karaikal (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, becoming the present Indian constituent state of Puducherry, still combining four coastal enclaves.


Map showing the districts of Puducherry
Further information: List of rivers of Puducherry

The Union Territory of Puducherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Puducherry, Karaikal and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé on the Arabian Sea. Puducherry and Karaikal have the largest areas and population, and are both enclaves of Tamil Nadu. Yanam and Mahé are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively. The territory has an area of 492 square kilometres (190 sq mi): Puducherry 293 km2 and more than a 200 km2 of Tamil Nadu area in and around surrounded by puducherry region, Karaikal and 160 km2, Mahé 9 km2 and Yanam 30 km2. Its 2011 population was 1,244,464.

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. Mahé 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 Mahé and one in Yanam drain into the sea, but none originates within the territory.

The Four Districts


Religion in Puducherry

  Hinduism (87%)
  Christianity (6.2%)
  Islam (6%)

Hinduism is the major religion with 87% of the population adhering to it. Other religions include Christianity (6.2%) and Islam (6%).[10]

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.[11][12] 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".[13]

Official symbols

On 16 April 2007, the government of Puducherry announced that the following were to be its state symbols:[14]

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


French influence

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 villas in French architectural styles are a common sight. In the French quarter, the buildings are typically in colonial style, with long compounds and stately walls. The Indian quarter consists of houses lined with verandas and with large doors and grilles. These French- and Indian-style houses are preserved from destruction by an organisation named INTACH. The French language can be seen on signs and menus, and heard in Puducherry. Puducherry has 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 at Goubert Avenue, White Town, Puducherry

Several monuments in the city pertain to the French period. A French Consulate is in Puducherry, along with 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 Lycée Français de Pondichéry operates under the aegis of the French Minister of National Education.


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

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 [15]


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.


Main article: Tourism in Puducherry

Puducherry is one of the most popular tourist spots for national and international tourists. Puducherry was the residence of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram still operates from Puducherry. 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. 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.


Puducherry has a network all weather metalled roads connecting the territory. Puducherry has a road length of 2,552 km (road length per 4.87 km2), the highest in the country.

Yanam Draksharamam Road, Puducherry
Motorcycle and auto rickshaw in Puducherry
Road length comparison with Tamil Nadu and India as a whole
Total road length (in Puducherry) 2,552 km
Road length per 1000 km2 Puducherry Tamil Nadu India
4,575 1,572 663
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


Puducherry Airport

Puducherry Airport is situated at Lawspet. The Puducherry Government upgraded the airport in 2012[16] with a new terminal building and apron to accommodate larger aircraft. The new terminal building was inaugurated in January 2013 and scheduled flights to Bengaluru were launched.[17] A MoU has been signed with Airports Authority of India for expansion of Puducherry Airport in two phases.[18] Karaikal Airport is a planned greenfield airport and will be the India's first airport to be built entirely with private capital.[19]


Puducherry has a literacy rate of 86.55%.[20] Pondicherry University is a central university located in Puducherry.[21] Other colleges include Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute (Government of Puducherry), Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, National Institute of Technology, Puducherry, Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Institute of Engineering and Technology,[22] Pondicherry Engineering College, Rajiv Gandhi College of Engineering and Technology, Rajiv Gandhi College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Engineering College, Shri Krishnaa College of Engineering & Technology and Sri Venkateshwaraa Medical College Hospital and Research Centre.

In Popular culture

See also


  1. "Kiran Bedi appointed Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry". The Hindu. 22 May 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  2. "V Narayanasamy to be new Puducherry Chief Minister".
  3. Varma, M. Dinesh (2015-06-06). "New Chief Secretary assumes charge". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  4. "IG Sunil Kumar Gautam to assume charge after polls". The Hindu. 2016-02-18. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  5. "Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India: 50th report (delivered to the Lokh Sabha in 2014)" (PDF). National Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. p. 155. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  6. "South Asia | New name for old French territory". BBC News. 20 September 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  7. "National : Bill to rename Pondicherry as Puducherry passed". The Hindu. 22 August 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  8. "State Domestic Product and other aggregates, 2004-05 series". Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. 27 February 2015. Archived from the original on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  9. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century. Kessinger Publishing. July 2007. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-548-20943-1.
  10. "Population by religion community - 2011". Census of India, 2011. The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 25 August 2015.
  11. "The Government of Union Territories Act, 1963" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved June 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  12. "Puducherry code volume 1" (pdf). Government of Puducherry. Retrieved June 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  13. CIDIF. "06-Le français à Pondichéry, par Roland Breton". go1.cc.
  14. "Tamil Nadu News : Puducherry comes out with list of State symbols". The Hindu. 21 April 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  15. List of Indian states by GDP
  16. "Flight operations await new terminal". IBN Live. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  17. "First flight to Puducherry from Bangalore on January 17". Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  18. "Puducherry airport to go on stream in October". The Economic Times. 3 September 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  19. "Coimbatore firm to build India's first private airport in Karaikal". The Times of India. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  20. "Ranking of states and union territories by literacy rate: 2011" (PDF). Government of India.
  21. "Pondicherry University". Pondicherry University. Archived from the original on 25 April 2011.
  22. "Welcome to the Website of PKIET". Pkiet.edu.in. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  23. "Filming Locations". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 December 2012.

External links

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Pondicherry (union territory).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Puducherry.
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