Historic Monuments and Buildings in Pondicherry

  A place looks beautiful and neat only if there are good buildings with special artifacts. Some of the monuments, memorials and museums in Pondicherry are briefed below. They are Aayimandapam, French War Memorial, Ananda Ranga Pillai Mansion, Bharathi Memorial Museum, Bharathidasan Museum, the Statue of Dupleix, The Statue of Joan of arc, 19th Century Lighthouse, Place Du Gouvernment, Jawahar Toy Museum, Pondicherry Museum and Library and Arikamedu. The magnificent Aayimandapam is a white monument and is elegantly set at the lush Government Park in the heart of the city.

It was built in the 16th century in Greco-Roman architectural style during the reign of Napoleon III the emperor of France and this is the most recognizable monument of Pondicherry. It commemorates the 16th century courtesan named Aayi. This is a historical place. The Greeks are known for their minute architecture. They have put a lot of effort in the growth of the place. This is a great honour to Aayi.

The elegant French War Memorial on the famous Goubert Avenue was erected in honour of the soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War. The war memorial is beautifully illuminated during the annual commemoration held on Bastille Day, the 14th of July. Its sounds really great when a tourist hear that people are remembered for their services. The soldiers have fought for the safety of their place and people. We must respect and honour those who really strove hard for the safety of the place and the people.

The magnificent mansion, Ananda Ranga Pillai Mansion, the famous Dubash (Indian representative of a European ruler) of the French Governor Francois Dupleix is one of the oldest surviving buildings of the west side - then known as Ville Noire or the Black Town. The mansion was built around 1738 and is a unique combination of French and Indian architectural styles. Pillai’s diaries are preserved here and provide good information of the 18th century French India.

Tamil poet-patriot, Subramanya Bharathi came to the French ruled Pondicherry and found it to be peaceful. He penned down some of his finest patriotic poems and romantic compositions. His residence is converted to a museum and is literally a pilgrimage for the Tamilians. He too has struggled for the freedom of India through creating enlightenment among people as to know what is going on.

Kanakasubburatnam was born in Pondicherry and was yet another great Tamil revolutionary poet. He was a great disciple of Bharathiyar and in remembrance changed his name as Bharathidasan. He wrote scripts for many movies on issues such as Dravidian culture and Rights of women. His residence too is now converted to a museum containing the collection of his works.

Statues of Francois Dupleix, the Governor, were commissioned in Pondicherry and in France in honour of his able administration. Originally, the2.88 meters tall structure was erected over six exquisitely carved granite pillars. The statue of Joan of Arc, a typically French marble statue commemorates the heroic spirit of French damsel, Jeanne d’ Arc. It is set in triumphant posture as well as laid out garden in front of the L’Eglise de Notre dame des anges, the famous church of Pondicherry.

The imposing Lighthouse near the sea at the place du Gouvernment was first lighted on 1st July, 1836. The beacon placed on a masonry tower, 29 meters above sea level could be seen up to a distance of 29 kilometers. The excellent example of town planning in Pondicherry comprises of Palais Du Gouvernment, the old tribunals, and well laid three line roads and other magnificent buildings. Raj Nivas, a magnificent palace built in 1742 is a harmonious blend of Indian and French architectural styles. Now this is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry union Territory.

Jawahar Toy Museum which is a small one exhibits 130 dolls representing different states of India. It was named after the first prime Minister of India who was very popular among kids. Pondicherry has an excellent museum which showcases the glorious past. The sculpture of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagar empires are found here. There are also rich collections of Gods, Goddesses and temple lamps of various dynasties. In the Library we can find books related to English and French. Some of the books are rare editions.

Arikamedu, an archaeological site about 4 kilometers south of Pondicherry reveals the ancient history of the region. Textiles, precious stones and shell jewellery are said to be the main items for export, while wine is thought to be imported. Amazing ruins of the 18th century French Jesuit Mission House, which was abandoned in 1783, can also be seen here.