/pon'di cher"ee, -sher"ee/, n.1. a union territory of India, on the Coromandel Coast: formerly the chief settlement of French India; territory includes Mahé (on the Malabar Coast), Karikal, and Yanaon. 471,707; 181 sq. mi. (469 sq. km).2. a seaport in and the capital of this territory. 90,639.Also, Pondichéry /pawonn dee shay rddee"/. Cf. French India.
* * *ICity (pop., 2001 prelim.: 220,749), seaport, and capital of Pondicherry union territory, southeastern India.Lying on the Coromandel Coast, it originated as a French trade centre in 1674, when it was purchased from a local ruler. After being held by the Dutch (1693–97), it was taken by the British several times between 1761 and 1803. It was a French possession in 1816–1954. A seaside tourist resort, it contains an international study centre at a Hindu religious retreat, or ashram.IIIt was formed in 1962 from the four former French colonies of Pondicherry, Karikal, and Yanam, on the eastern seaboard, and Mahe, on the western seaboard. With a total area of 190 sq mi (492 sq km), it is one of the smallest of the union territories, united by little other than Hinduism. The city of Pondicherry is the administrative capital.
* * *▪ union territory, IndiaIntroductionunion territory of India. It was formed in 1962 out of the four former colonies of French India—Pondicherry, Kāraikāl, and Yanam, scattered along the Coromandel Coast, or eastern seaboard, and Mahe, lying on the western Malabār Coast. The total area of the territory is 190 square miles (492 square kilometres). The capital is the town of Pondicherry (Puducherry).Physical and human geographyAll four areas of the territory are seaside tourist resorts. The town of Pondicherry is divided into two parts by a canal, and all the main streets, running parallel to one another, lead to the open roadstead offshore. The port of Pondicherry does not have a harbour, and ships are forced to lie a mile or two offshore; but its roadstead was once considered the best on the Coromandel Coast. There is a promenade and landing place for cargo, and in the 1960s a new pier was constructed. In and around the town are artesian wells that supply a large quantity of water for irrigation, the chief local crops being paddy, sugarcane, cotton, and peanuts (groundnuts). The main industries are food processing, electrical appliances, textiles, paper, and lumber. The Pondicherry area has about 300 villages and hamlets.The commune of Kāraikāl is in the fertile Thanjāvūr delta, in one of the most important rice-producing areas of India. The exceptional fertility of the region is to some extent reflected in the unusually high density of its rural population. The town is on a branch line, the Mayavaram-Peralam route, of the southern railway.The Mahe sector consists of two parts: the quaint, picturesque town of Mahe, with all its buildings situated on the left bank of the Mahe River close to its mouth; and the isolated tract known as Naluthrara, on the right bank, comprising the four villages of Chambara, Chalakara, Palour, and Pandaquel. Rice is the chief crop.Yanam is a small town on the bank of a branch of the Godāvari River, about 400 miles (650 kilometres) north of the city of Madras, near Kākināda.The major languages spoken in the areas are Tamil (Tamil language), Malayālam, and Telugu (Telugu language). Tamil is predominant in the southern settlements of Pondicherry and Kāraikāl; Malayālam is predominant in Mahe, and Telugu in Yanam. Other significant languages include Urdū, French, Kannaḍa, Hindi, Gujarātī, English, and Marāṭhī. Hindus form the majority in all the four regions; Muslims are an important minority in Kāraikāl, Mahe, and Yanam; and Christians are numerous in Pondicherry. There are also a few Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jainas.There are no heavy industries or mining in the union territory; it purchases its entire power requirement from nearby states. Pondicherry is governed by a lieutenant governor who is advised by a chief minister and a Council of Ministers. The jurisdiction of the Madras High Court extends over the union territory.Pondicherry contains the Hindu āśrama (religious retreat) of the philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872–1950), as well as Auroville, the international township and study centre that was named after him. The Romain Rolland Public Library houses some rare French volumes. A medical college, a law college, and several other colleges for general education are affiliated with the University of Madras.HistoryThe French East India Company (formed by Jean-Baptiste Colbert in 1666) established a settlement in 1668 at Surat and another in 1674 at Pondicherry (French: Pondichéry; originally Putuccēri, from Tamil: putu, “new,” and cēri, “village”). The company's director, François Martin, made Pondicherry the capital of the French posts. Mahe was founded in 1725, Yanam in 1731, and Kāraikāl in 1739. French concerns multiplied in Bengal, with Chandarnagar as centre, especially after 1730 under the direction of Joseph-François Dupleix (Dupleix, Joseph-François), who in 1742 was appointed general director.From 1763 the French establishments in India, which were under the authority of the king after the abolition of the company in 1769, comprised—apart from a few small posts (loges)—no more than five settlements of moderate size: Chandarnagar in Bengal; Yanam, Pondicherry, and Kāraikāl on the Coromandel Coast; and Mahe on the Malabār Coast. The English conquest of India lessened the commercial activity of the French settlements. They were occupied by the English in 1778 and then again in 1793, but in 1816 they were returned to France. The Second Republic of France granted them local government and representation in the French parliament. Under the Second Empire, commercial liberalism and Anglo-French understanding gave these settlements a fleeting moment of prosperity.In 1947 the loges were given back to independent India. Chandarnagar was finally transferred in 1951. De facto transfer of the four remaining French possessions to the Union of India took place on Nov. 1, 1954, and de jure transfer on May 28, 1956. Instruments of ratification were signed on Aug. 16, 1962, from which date Pondicherry, consisting of the four enclaves, became a union territory.Ed.Additional ReadingFrancis Cyril Antony (ed.), Union Territory of Pondicherry, 2 vol. (1982), is a gazetteer. Manoj Das, Pondicherry (1976), provides a brief overview. A. Ramasamy, History of Pondicherry (1987), surveys government, society, economy, and culture from prehistory to 1980. Ed.
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