Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple was in existence before the French came and settled in Pondicherry i.e. before 1666. According to Sasthra, Lord GANESHA is named in 16 types based on his various forms out which this god facing the east cost near Bay of Bengal it has been named as Bhuvaneshar Ganapathy, now called as Manakula Vinayagar. In Tamil ‘Manal’ means sand and ‘Kulam’ means pond near the sea, earlierly which was full of sand around pond. So the people called the god as Manal Kulathu Vinayagar [means God near the pond of sand]. Later it is named as MANAKULA VINAYAGAR.
The Botanical Garden in Pondicherry was opened to the public in 1826 , it is located at the southern entrance of city bus stand. It is situated in the center of the city provides a cool retreat from the oppressing heat and humidity of Pondicherry. It sprawls over a 22 acres area and here you can just relax and listen to the twittering of birds and explore the rich variety of flora here. It is 178 years old and here you will find each and every tree or plant labeled with scientific, common and Tamil names. This has been possible due to the efforts of Department of Tourism.
Sri Aurobindo had begun the practice of Yoga in 1905 in Baroda. In 1908 he had the first of several fundamental spiritual realisations. In 1910 he withdrew from politics and went to Pondicherry in order to devote himself entirely to his inner spiritual life and work. During his forty years in Pondicherry he evolved a new method of spiritual practice, which he called the Integral Yoga. Its aim is a spiritual realisation that not only liberates man’s consciousness but also transforms his nature. In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, the Mother, he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Among his many writings are The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga and Savitri.
Pondicherry has many amazing monuments and heritage buildings to its credit. The statue of Gandhi is one such monument. The four-meter statue is surrounded by eight granite pillars. These pillars are said to have been brought from Gingee which is a fort some 70 kms away from Pondicherry. The open space before the statue hosts various cultural, musical and commercial activities. Another statue of Jawaharlal Nehru is there opposite to the statue of Gandhi.
The Government Park or Bharati Park is in the green centre of the French Town and its lush trees provide ample relieve from the scorching sun on a hot summer day. With children playing in ponds, on their hill or in the traffic park, grown-ups sitting or lying on granite benches, families on a picnic and occassional sit-ins of striking citizens, the park is the most appreciated public area in town. Strolling under the cool trees is as dynamic as it gets. Unless people rush to the spot when an occassional movie is being shot.
The stylish French War Memorial, located in the renowned Goubert Avenue, is a monument for those soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. Annual commemoration is celebrated every year on 14th July; during the period the memorial gets illuminated beautifully. It is really a pleasant experience here, where the new generation pays their respect to those served the society and country. We, as the visitors, owe to visit this place and offer our tributes.
Promenade Beach was once the most popular beach in Pondicherry, and a delight to both tourists and locals alike. The Promenade is on Beach Road (also known as Goubert Avenue), one of the main boulevard’s of the town, and runs along the shore for 1.5 km. The entire heritage town is within walking distance of the Promenade. While the beach has been lost to erosion, a small area of sand called la Faux-Plage (“the Fake Beach”) has been artificially constructed atop the seawall. While there is no longer a sand beach on which to promenade, Beach Road is closed to motorized traffic in the evenings, making it a pleasant and popular place to stroll by the sea.
Chunnambar is situated 8 kms from puducherry, along the Cuddalore Main Road. This tropical paradise is flanked by a quiet-flowing creek on one side. You can sail downstream to the sands and pitch up a cozy seaside tent for yourself. Overnighting within the tree-houses on the backwater banks provides a relishing experience of the great outdoors. The beach at Chunnambar also known as Plage Paradiso, is located near the mouth of the backwater. The sand is pristine and the water, clean. It’s and ideal place for sun bathing and beach sports.
Auroville is an experimental township which is situated 8 km north-west of Pondicherry in East Coast Road. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa (also known as The Mother), the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger Auroville is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity. During the inauguration ceremony of Auroville on 28 February 1968, soil from 124 countries was placed in a lotus-shaped urn and mixed to symbolize universal oneness. The Government of India and UNESCO has endorsed the project.
Panchamuga Anjaneya Temple has been built at Panchavadi, a small village, on the high way leading to Tindivanam. It is just 12kms distance from Puducherry. The gigantic idol of Anjaneya which is standing 32 feet high is becoming popular day by day and attracts all worshippers, young and old, alike from far and near. It is located on the Tindivanam-Pondicherry National Highway, is the Jayamangala Panchamukha Sri Anjaneya Swamy Temple around His Magnificient Viswaroopa form standing 36 feet tall and 15 feet wide – not seen anywhere else on this earth.
Sri Chidambara Gurukkal, an astrologer, built this temple for the Navagrahas, the Gods of nine planets: Rahu (Shadow Planet), Angaraka (Mars), Chandra (Moon), Guru (Jupiter), Budha (Mercury), Kethu (Shadow Planet), Sukhra (Venus), Saneeswara (Saturn), and Surya (Sun God). As you enter there is a 27 foot tall idol of Shree Saneeswara facing the entrance. At the base are the Zodiac signs. Facing Shree Saneeswara, at the top of a flight of stairs, is a beautiful 34 foot tall gold Lord Ganesha. There is a Shiva Linga in front of Ganesha (at the top of the stairs). Behind the idol of Shree Saneeswara are 12 foot high idols of the Navagrahas in their positions. The idols are beautifully done in stone each with their respective vahanas (temple chariot/vehicle), stones, and tree. Notice the details specific to each. In the center is Surya, the Sun God.
The Prithiyankara Devi Kali Temple is located in Moratandi about 8 km. outside of Pondicherry. It is an easy stop on the way to/from Auroville. It is likely that you will have noticed the 72 foot statue of Kali from the road. Stalls line both sides of a dirt lane as you approach the temple where temple offerings, religious items, and food are sold. There are long lines to enter the temple, but the inner sanctum is for Hindus only.
With bulging eyes and a long necklace of skulls around her, Kali appears monstrous. Her skin is blue. Several cobras (manifestations of Kali the Destroyer) rise above her head. In her right hand she holds a trishul which symbolizes the balance of the three forces of creation, preservation, and destruction. In her left hand, she holds a severed head.
Vakrakali stands in monolithic splendor after killing the demon Vakrasura. Surprisingly the idol doesn’t depict a ferocious Kali. Now, for the legend behind this temple. Once there was a demon called Vakrasura, who was great saivite. He meditated upon Shiva with a linga embedded inside his throat. Pleased with his penance Shiva appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. Like most demons, he wanted to be immortal and Shiva granted him immortality. Another shrine of importance in this temple is that of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma all together in one idol adhering to the philosophy of God is one. This idol is known as Dhanumalayan. (Dhanu -Shiva, Mal-Vishnu and Ayan- Brahma) The three faces are facing three directions, East, North and South.
Pondicherry is a place of fun to many, but inherently it had been a place of salvation since ancient times. Not many people know or realize that all in all there are 30 siddhars who attained jeeva samadhi in and around Pondicherry. I seek the support and blessings of all the siddhars to help me write about them, in this blog. The first and foremost among them is Guru Siddhananda. Siddhars are not Gods. But these are people who actually lived in this world and performed miracles. Guru Siddhananada lived 175 years ago. He is said to have possessed powers to convert water to gold. But please don’t go here for Gold. You land here for inner peace.
Auroville beach is close to Auroville, 12 km north of the town, off the East Coast Road. Its shallow waters and small waves make it a popular place for swimming. Much of this long stretch of beach has been lost to erosion caused by the construction of groynes along the coast to the south. It is also heavily used by local fishermen, who require what remains of the beach to launch their traditional catamarans.