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Aerial view of Puducherry
Aerial view of Puducherry
Official logo of Puducherry
Seal of Puducherry
Location of Puducherry (marked in red) in India
Location of Puducherry (marked in red) in India
Country  India
Formation 1 November 1954
Capital and Largest city Pondicherry
Districts 4
 • Total 483 km2 (186 sq mi)
Area rank 33rd
 • Total 1,244,464
 • Rank 29th
 • Density 2,576.5/km2 (6,673/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Puducherrian, Pondicherrian, Pondian
 • Official Tamil, English
 • Additional Malayalam (in Mahé), Telugu (in Yanam), French
Time zone UTC+05:30 (IST)
ISO 3166 code IN-PY
Vehicle registration PY 01, PY 02, PY 03, PY 04, PY 05, PY 05V
30 elected, 3 nominated

Puducherry, also known by the rendering Pondicherry, is a union territory in India. It was formed out of four territories of former French India, namely Pondichéry (Pondicherry; now Puducherry), Karikal (Karaikal), Mahé and Yanaon (Yanam), excluding Chandernagore. It is named after the largest district, Puducherry. Historically known as Pondicherry (Pāṇṭiccēri), the territory changed its official name to Puducherry on 20 September 2006.

The Union Territory of Puducherry lies in the southern part of the Indian Peninsula. The areas of Puducherry district and Karaikal district are bound by the state of Tamil Nadu, while Yanam district and Mahé district are enclosed by the states of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively. Puducherry is the 29th most populous and the third most densely populated of the states and union territories of India. It has a gross domestic product (GDP) of 210 billion (US$3.6 billion) and ranks 25th in India.

State symbols of Puducherry
Song Invocation to Tamil Goddess (written by Bharathidasan)
Animal Squirrel
Bird Koel
Flower Cannonball tree flower
Tree Bael fruit tree


The earliest recorded history of the municipality of Puducherry can be traced to the second century AD. 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" Subsequent investigation by Vimala Begley from 1989 to 1992 modified this assessment, and now place the period of occupation from the third or second century BC to the eighth century AD.

In 1674, the municipality of Pondicherry (Pondichéry) became a French colony of the French colonial empire. Together with Chandernagor (already French since 1673), Mahé (since 1721), Yanam (Yanaon) (since 1731), Karaikal (Karikal) (since 1739) and Masulipatam (1760), it formed the French colony of 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. The territories of French India were completely transferred to the Republic of India de facto on 1 November 1954, and de jure on 16 August 1962, when French India ceased to exist, becoming the present Indian constituent union territory of Pondicherry, combining four coastal enclaves (with the exception of Chandernagor, which merged with the state of West Bengal in 1954).


Puducherry Map
Map showing the districts of Puducherry

The Union Territory of Puducherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Puducherry district (293 km2 or 113 sq mi), Karaikal district (161 km2 or 62 sq mi) and Yanam district (20 km2 or 7.7 sq mi) on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé district (9 km2 or 3.5 sq mi) on the Arabian Sea, covering a total area of 483 km2 (186 sq mi). 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. Its population, as per the 2011 Census, is 1,244,464.

Some of Puducherry's regions are themselves amalgamations of non-contiguous enclaves, often called "pockets" in India. The Puducherry region is made of 11 such pockets, some of which are very small and entirely surrounded by the territory of Tamil Nadu. Mahé region 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 regions of Puducherry are located in the coastal region. Five rivers in Puducherry district, seven in Karaikal district, two in Mahé district and one in Yanam district drain into the sea, but none originates within the territory.

Districts of Union Territory of Puducherry


Historical population
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1901 246,354 —    
1911 257,179 +0.43%
1921 244,156 −0.52%
1931 258,628 +0.58%
1941 285,011 +0.98%
1951 317,253 +1.08%
1961 369,079 +1.52%
1971 471,707 +2.48%
1981 604,471 +2.51%
1991 807,785 +2.94%
2001 974,345 +1.89%
2011 1,247,953 +2.51%

Circle frame-1.svg

Religion in Puducherry      Hinduism (87.3%)     Christianity (6.2%)     Islam (6%)

Hinduism is the major religion with 87.3% of the population adhering to it. Other religions include Christianity (6.2%) and Islam (6%).

Government and administration

Pondicherry Legislative Assembly
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, Puducherry is one of the three union territories in India (the other being Delhi)and Jammu & Kashmir that is entitled by a special constitutional amendment 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

Karaikal main road
Downtown Karaikal

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 was the official language according to Article XXVIII of the Traité de Cession (Treaty of Cession) of 1956. 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". Through the 1963 Union Territories Act, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam became official languages used region-wise. French lost its official status with the adoption of The Pondicherry Official Language Act 1965 (Act No. 3 of 1965). This act 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". While the Union Territory official gazette's name is in Tamil, English and French (La Gazette de L'État de Poudouchéry) it is published exclusively in English.


Overview of Yanam
A bird's eye view of Yanam

The gross domestic product of Puducherry, at market prices estimated by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian rupees grew from 1,840 to 258,190 million rupees from 1980–2014.

Year Gross domestic product
1980 1,840
1985 3,420
1990 6,030
1995 13,200
2000 37,810
2010 130,920
2014 258,190


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.


Mahe Boat House
Mahe riverside

Puducherry is one of the most popular tourist spots for national and international tourists. Out of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalam Shiva Temples, the Puducherry region is owning 1 temple and in Karaikal regions it is having 4 temples which itself a clear proof that the Puducherry territory is also a part of the spiritual and sacramental of Shaivism principles. Besides in Villianur, Bahour and in so many areas of Puducherry region there are so many Shiva temples built up during the golden period of King Chola empire which gives immense pleasure to be proud of that our Puducherry territory was administered under the control of such golden rulers. So visiting such ancient temples would definitely give more spiritual vibrations to the tourists. For every year the Puducherry territory administration also declares official Holiday for performing the grand Car Festivals to the temples situates in Villianur, Veerampattinam that too the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry and the Chief Minister of Puducherry also participates in such grand Car Festival. Besides in Kizhoor, Puducherry which is 22 km away from Puducherry therein on 18-10-1954 a referendum was conducted to ensure that whether the erstwhile French establishments of Puducherry shall continue with French administration or to merge with Indian Union and finally decided to merge with Indian Union. 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.

Karaikal Church
Karaikal church



Puducherry train station
Puducherry railway station

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 with 16 originating trains and 17 terminating trains.


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
Yanam Draksharamam Road, 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 (km)
1 National highways 64.450
2 State highways 49.304
3 District and 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


According to the 2011 census, Puducherry had a literacy rate of 86.55. Pondicherry University is a university centrally located in Puducherry. Other educational institutions include Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute (Government of Puducherry), Mahathma gandhi post graduate institute of dental science[GOVT OF PUDUCHERRY], Tagore Arts and Science College, Indira Gandhi College of Arts and Science (Government of Puducherry), Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, National Institute of Technology, Puducherry, Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Pondicherry Engineering College, Mother Theresa Post Graduate and Research Institute of Health Sciences, Achariya College of Engineering Technology (ACET), Rajiv Gandhi College of Engineering and Technology, Rajiv Gandhi College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College Hospital, Sri Ganesh College of Engineering and Technology, and Sri Venkateshwaraa Medical College Hospital and Research Centre.

In popular culture

  • Puducherry was the setting for Yann Martel's first third of his Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi (2001). A portion of the subsequent film adaptation was filmed there.
  • Lee Langley's novel A House in Pondicherry (1996) was set there.
  • Prince Pondicherry is an Indian character from Roald Dahl's children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). The prince orders Willy Wonka to build a palace of chocolate in India; the palace melts in the hot sun.

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