Though very small, Pondicherry was the largest French colony in India. The city has a long and interesting history of trade and war. There is a strong French influence in the city, especially in the old quarters, with Rues and Boulevards lined with Mediterranean style houses and bakeries, although the city remains very much indian. French is still understood, and the whole city makes for rather pleasant mix of East and West. It is also known as The French Riviera of the East (La Côte d’Azur de l’Est). If you’ve spent some time in Tamil Nadu and approached Pondicherry by land, you’ll very likely experience mild culture shock on discovering elegant French architecture and restaurants serving steak and good wine. Pondicherry is very much a city with a dual personality: crossing from East to West of the central canal reveals two cities with very different characters.
The Government of Puducherry has been making considerable efforts to attract large investments into the Union Territory of Puducherry. It has undertaken several infrastructural projects, from time to time, in order to integrate the UT with the rest of the nation and improve the quality of life of the people. Puducherry is easily accessible through airways, roadways, railways and waterways. It is well connected to all districts and major towns of various States like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, existence of an efficient power supply system and excellent telecom network in the UT makes it a preferred destination for the investors.
Puducherry is best accessible by road, either by bus or by taxi. It has a total road length of 2398 km. A network of all weather metalled roads connecting every village exists in the territory. National Highway NH-45A connects Puducherry to the major towns of Southern India, especially Chennai, Bangalore and Tiruchirapalli. Puducherry and Chennai are well linked through East Coast Road (ECR). There are frequent buses, almost every 15 minutes in the day, from Chennai’s new bus stand in Koyembedu. There are also frequent buses to Puducherry from places like Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Coimbatore, etc.
The road from Chennai to Pondicherry (the East Coast Road, commonly called ECR) is a scenic highway and a normal journey would take about 3 hours. Most tourists however, cannot resist the seashore kissing the ECR and take a number of stops en route. This route passes through Mahabalipuram, Kalpakkam, Pudupattinam, Idaikkazhinadu (Alambara Fort), Mudaliarkuppam (has a cool boat house), Marakkanam (contains large areas under salt pans), Kanagachettikulam/Kalapet etc. before reaching Pondicherry.
The other route that can be taken to reach Pondy is through the National Highway 45 (NH-45) famously called as the Grand Southern Trunk GST Road. This route passes through Tambaram, Madhurantakam, Melmaruvathur, Tindivanam before reaching Pondicherry. Both the major roads from Chennai are toll roads and approximately take the same time.
Pondicherry is about 320 km from Bangalore. Drive down National Highway 7 (NH-7) till Krishnagiri, take a left off the main highway (roadsigns mark the route) and then take National Highway 66 (NH-66) to Pondicherry. This route passes through Uthangarai, Chengam, Tiruvannamalai, Gingee and Tindivanam. One can reach Pondicherry either through Tindivanam (via Gingee) or Villupuram (via Thirukovilur). Gingee fort is also on the way to Tindivanam and worth spending some time. It is a Archealogical survey of India (ASI)Heritage site. The total travel time should be about 5-6 hours. Do pack some food or snacks for the way as there are no good restaurants enroute.
Pondicherry is well connected to Cuddalore, Chidambaram, Karaikal, Nagapattinam, Velankanni, etc to the South by National Highway 45A (NH-45A). The road is well maintained till Chidambaram.
Pondicherry connects to the GST or NH – 45 in two places viz. at Villupuram by NH-45A and at Tindivanam by NH-66.
Puducherry has a limited railway network. Villupuram (Villianur) is the nearest railway junction, which is fairly well connected to places like Chennai, Madurai and Trichy. Puducherry is connected through a meter gauge (being converted to broad gauge) railway line with Villupuram.
Pondicherry is connected to Chennai by an electric broad gauge railway line through Villupuram. There are 2 passenger trains running daily to Chennai Egmore Railway station and Tirupati and there is a weekly express train service to Bhubaneswar. In addition to this, there is also a daily express train to Chennai Egmore.It is advisable to go by road rather than train to Pondicherry from Chennai as the journey is longer by train.
Bangalore Yesvanthapur(YPR) to Podicherry(PDY) is connected by a 3-Tier AC Train called Garibh Rath Express. It covers a distance of 456 kilometres in each direction however it takes 10 hours 5 mins when operating as train number 12255 at an average speed of 60 km/h (excluding halts). It leaves Puducherry as train number 12256 on Saturday at 22:05 hrs and at the end of 8 halts arrives at Yesvanthapur the next day at 08:25 hrs. It leaves Yesvantpur as train number 12255 on Friday at 23:15 hrs and at the end of 9 halts arrives at Puducherry the next day at 09:20 hrs. Coach Composition comprises of 16 AC 3 tier coaches and 2 luggage cum generator coach taking the total up to 18 coaches.
Nearest International Airport is Chennai, which is around 162 km from Puducherry. Chennai has excellent connections with almost all States/ cities in India as well as with countries like Europe, USA, Middle East and South East Asia. Other nearest Airports are:- Trichy Airport (220 kms); Bangalore (320 kms) and Madurai. Karaikal can be reached from Tiruchirapalli Airport which is 75 kms from Karaikal. Mahe can be reached from Calicut Airport which is 70 Kms from Mahe. While, Yanam is about 200 Kms from Vishakapatnam Airport.
Pondicherry has an airport with facilities for the landing of small aircraft like Dornier, Cessna, etc. But it is not available for public use presently. Spice Jet is starting flights from Bangalore on an ATR aircraft from 10-Oct-2011. Other Airlines have shown interest in flying to Puducherry Airport.
Puducherry has a minor port on the East Coast of India, located between two major Indian ports, namely, Chennai and Tuticorin. This minor port is an open roadstead anchorage port situated about 170 kms south of Chennai (11 degree 56′ North Latitude and 79 degree 50′ East Longitude) and is suitable for lighterage operations during fair weather months (February to September). This is being modernised with container handling facilities and storing infrastructure. Also, Puducherry is situated close to several other ports of India like Nagapattinam, Kakinada, Vishakapatnam and Cochin.