Walk through the history of Pondicherry

October 01, 2014

I am not a qualified historian, but do have a passion for the history and never miss to read through the history of the new places whereever I go. Below history is the excerpts of my reading from various sources.

I feel, Pondicherry doesn’t have  a long history to track-on. We have records only after the Colonial Age – arrival like the Dutch, Portuguese, English and the French. Though early archeological findings at Arikemedu, have confirmed an ancient Roman settlement at Pondy, the actual history begins with the French only. 
Old Tamil literatures say that, Pondy was one of the leading commercial ports during the Vijayanagar, Pallava, Chola, and Pandya periods. Then Portugese set up a factory but forced to leave by the Gingee Sultan, who was ruling Pondy region at that time. Soon after the Dutch invaded into India and set up their base in Porto Novo, Cuddalore. Gingee Sulatan was not able to fight against the Dutch and he invited the French to take over the Pondicherry   region in AD1673.

This was the key turning point in the History of Pondicherry. From then, The French and Dutch fought many wars over Pondy region and in 1699 the French regained Pondicherry with an amicable deal with the Dutch. As soon as the wars came to end (in 18th century), the town saw a significant growth in economy and Infrastructure, which stays stronger even today.

Many Governors, especially Dupleix laid the foundations for today’s Pondicherry and converted the town into an vital town. But Pondy’s good luck did not run long, since after the arrival of English man - Robert Clive.  Cliver distorted the existing French-Dutch deal and recaptured Pondy area and along with several key  territories like Madras, Arcot, etc. from the French.

Again, in 1765 Pondy was returned back to the French, but it was not permanent. The Britsh and French had several wars, and it was only in 1816, The French could gain stable control over Pondicherry. Even after India’s independence, Pondy was in the control of France and they handed over Pondy to India with certain requests and demands in 1954.From then,the Pondicherry continues as the Union Teritory of India.

The impact of the French is still stays in the town. To a new visitor the French influence is quite obvious. The French names for the streets, the French architectured buildings, French foods, the bicycles on the streets, and very importantly still a lot of French people in the town makes Pondy – truly  a “Mini-France” within India !!!

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