South India Holiday Tours PONDICHERRY TOURS Museums in Pondicherry, Pondicherry Museums
Museums in Pondicherry |Pondicherry Museums
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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. Museums in Pondicherry, Pondicherry Museums, Museums of Pondicherry, About Museums of Pondicherry 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.
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.
It bears the name of Aayi -a 16th century courtesan. Who razed down her home and replaced it with a reservoir. To appease a passing king, angry at having mistaken her candle-lit residence for a holy place.Museums in Pondicherry, Pondicherry Museums, Museums of Pondicherry, About Museums of Pondicherry It was from this lake that Napoleon`s men quenched their thirst, some 300 years later. Napoleon, charmed by the story, ordered a monument to Aayi.
A historical site, 4 kms south of Pondicherry, which revealed local trade with Romans as early as 2nd century B.C. Some even believe Roman settlements existed. Wine seems to have been a major import as excavated amphora jars suggest. In return, textiles, precious stones and shell-jewellery left these shores.Moreover, you`ll still find the amazing ruins of an 18th century French Jesuit Mission House here. It was abandoned in 1783.
Ananda Ranga Pillai Mansion
Ananda Ranga Pillai was the celebrated dubash of Dupleix, the governor of Pondicherry while it flourished under French glory. Pillai`s 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 Pondicherry`s 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 children`s park at the southern end of the promenade, now named Goubert Avenue.
Place Du Gouvernement
The Place Du Gouvernement 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.
19th Century Light House
The early sea-farers to Pondicherry were guided by a beacon kept burning on the Red Hills (Gorimedu), about 5 kms west of the town. The now-abandoned light house standing on the edge of the sea near the Place Du Gouvernement was lighted for the first time on 1 July, 1836. The light was placed upon a masonry tower, 29 m above sea level and was visible upto a distance of 29 kms into the sea. In 1931, the fixed light was replaced by a revolving lantern. It fell into disuse with the commissioning of the new light house in 1979.
French War Memorial
No visit to Pondicherry is complete without a free-wheeling stroll down the peaceful promenade -Goubert Avenue (`Beach Road`, locally speaking) .Where you`ll find this elegant tribute to the uniform. It gets prettily illuminated during a solemn ceremony every 14 July, Bastille Day.
The Statue of Joan of Arc
A lasting, triumphant image of the heroic French damsel Jeanne d` Arc, is frozen in marble, within the garden laid out in front of L` Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges.
French missionary zeal in the 17th and 18th centuries saw a number of imposing churches built here. The Eglise de Sacre Coeur de Jesus, situated on the south boulevard, stands out as an oriental specimen of Gothic splendour. It contains rare and beautiful stained glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ. The Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculee, on Cathedral Street, was first built in 1692. It took its present shape in 1791.
The Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, in Rue Dumas, is notable for its masonry -which uses the finest of limestone mixed with white of the egg -making for a texture identical to that of white marble. It is modelled on the Basilica at Lourdes, in southern France.
The Pondicherry Museum
On the ground floor, the major attraction is the central space with 3 curious transport mechanisms -a coach, a palanquin (sedan chair) and a pousse-pousse which required two attendants, one to steer and one to push. The bronze gallery displays the images of gods and goddesses together with a wide collection of temple lamps; used across different dynasties down centuries.
Pre-Christian relics which you will find here, such as remnants` of Greek and Roman amphora jars, pieces from the Tsung Periods in China and beads made from glass and precious stones were dug out from the Arikamedu site, just south of Pondicherry.
The French Cemetery at Karaikal
For a look-see into a veritable who`s who of 19th century Karaikal, wander through the French cemetery on Rue de Marche (Market Street). Administrators, landlords, port officials, women and children lie buried under curious headstones with interest-evoking inscriptions. You will also find an aged, tiny chapel within the walls.
The Museum provides a glimpse into Pondicherry's rich past and present. It has the Sculpture gallery, an interesting French Gallery. The Museum brings back to memory the glorious past of Pondicherry from the days of the pre-Christian era down to the present day. It provides glimpses of the art and culture of the people of this region during the Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagar days.
Jawahar Toy Museum
The Jawahar Toy Museum is located in the old Light House building near Gandhi Maidan. Here toys and puppets from different parts of India are on display.
Romain Rolland Library
The library established in 1872, has a rich collection of 300,000 volumes, including rare editions in both French and English. The reference section on the first floor is open to the public. The library has a mobile section that takes 8,000 books to the nearby villages for the interests of the people.
Anglo-French Textile Mills
Visiting the century old Anglo-French Textile mills in Pondicherry is not only educative but also of tourism importance. The mill gives 10% rebate to the tourists who go on guided tours/buses on the purchases made. The world claimed fabrics and products of the mill will not only be a memento of Pondicherry but also can be used as gifts besides being products of utilitarian/aesthetic value in the houses.