Facts about Puducherry (Pondicherry) (Know Your States)

Puducherry/Image Source: Wikimedia
Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry, is one of the seven union territories of India. The literal meaning of "Puducherry" name is New Town in Tamil. Puducherry is crafted out by joining four former French India exclaves, namely Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, and Mahe. It is named after largest city Puducherry. Historically known as Pondicherry, it is renamed to Puducherry on September 20, 2006, to meet popular demand.

Puducherry is 29th most populous and 3rd most densely populated state/UT of India. It has GDP of 21 thousand crores and stands at 27th position among state/UTs.

Quick Facts
Formation: January 7, 1973
Capital City: Puducherry
Largest City: Puducherry
First Chief Minister: Edouard Goubert
Legislature: Unicameral (33 Seats)
Area: 496 sq km
Area Rank among state/UTs: 33rd
Total Population: 12,44,464 (2011)
Population Rank: 29th
Density: 2500 per sq km
Sex Ratio: 1038
Literacy Rate: 86.5%
Demonym: Puducherrian
Official Language: Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, and French
French India Colony of the French Empire: 1673
de facto transfer to India: 1 November 1954
de jure transfer to India: 16 August 1962

The earliest recorded history of Puducherry can be traced back to 2nd Century. The Priplus of the Erythraean Sea, a text which describes navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports to Sindh and Southwestern India, mentions Puducherry as a marketplace named Poduke. Moreover, archaeological extractions have proved, it is one of the trading sites in southern India around 1st Century CE.

In 1674, French East India Company setup trading center at Pondicherry. Eventually, Pondicherry became the chief settlement and administrative center of French India.

Later French acquired Mahe in the 1720s, Yanam in 1731 and Karaikal in 1738. During the Anglo-French wars (1742-63), Pondicherry changed hands frequently and later captured by British on January 16, 1761. However, its control was transfer back to French under Treaty of Paris (1763).

The British again took control of the Puducherry in 1793 at the Siege of Pondicherry and returned it to France in 1814. The retained the control of Puducherry and other above mentioned French colonies till 1954, even when British were in the power.

The independence of India gave impetus to hand over the control of Puducherry to India. In 1954, Puducherry and other French colonies' control was transferred to India on the de facto basis. Furthermore, the control was legally transferred to India on August 16, 1962.

The Union Territory of Puducherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, and Mahe.

Puducherry and Karaikal are the largest and most populated districts in the Union Territory. Puducherry and Karaikal, both are enclaves of Tamil Nadu. They both makeup around 453 sq km of total 492 sq km UT area.

Yanam and Mahe are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala respectively. Yanam is 30 sq km in area and Mahe, being the smallest district, measures around 9 sq km.

The total population of Puducherry is 12,44,464, according to 2011 Census. It is 29th most populated among the 35 states/UTs of India.

The majority, 87% of total population is Hindu. Other religions which make up the demographical sketch are Christianity and Islam with 6.2% and 6% of total population.

Government and administration
Puducherry is a Union Territory of India, which means that governance and administration of the state directly fall under federal authority. However, similar to Delhi, under special constitutional amendments, it has its own elected legislative assembly and cabinet of ministers, which means it is second UT after Delhi which has partial statehood.

Similar to Delhi, Lieutenant Governer represents the Central Government. Kiran Bedi is current Lieutenant Governer of Puducherry.

The Puducherry GDP has significantly grown from 184 to 25,819 crore rupees in past two and half decades since 1980. Tourism and fishery are said to be two major drivers of Puducherry's economy.

Puducherry has a literacy rate of 86.5 percent, according to 2011 census. It is one the highest literacy rates across the country. Pondicherry University is a central university located in Puducherry. It is home to many prominent educational institutes like Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), and Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute.

Pop Culture
1. Puducherry is one of the most important parts of Yann Martel's award-winning novel, Life of Pi.
2. Prince Pondicherry, an Indian prince, was featured in Roald Dahl's children book, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
3. Puducherry is the background space of the 1966's novel A House in Pondicherry.

Official Symbols of Puducherry

State Animal: Squirrel
State Bird: Koel
State Flower: Cannonball Tree Flower
State Tree: Bael Fruit Tree

Also Read:
1. Rivers of Puducherry
2. Garadi: Monkey Dance of Puducherry
3. Communes in Puducherry
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