Pondicherry has been derived from the Tamil word Puducheri signifying ‘the new settlement’. It was a French settlement that comprised Pondy, Yanam, Karaikal, and Mahe. Amazing is the fact that different districts of Pondicherry fall under different states. The capital Pondicherry is situated in the state of Tamil Nadu at a distance of around 200 km from Chennai. While Karaikal is also a part of Tamil Nadu, Mahe is located in Kerala, and Yanam is in Andhra Pradesh. Pondicherry (or Puducherry), a French colonial settlement in India until 1954, is now a Union Territory town bounded by the southeastern Tamil Nadu state. Its French legacy is preserved in its French Quarter, with tree-lined streets, mustard-coloured colonial villas and chic boutiques. A seaside promenade runs along the Bay of Bengal and passes several statues, including a 4m-high Gandhi Memorial.
There is a strong influence of French culture on Pondicherry town, especially on its architecture, a result of the centuries-old relations this place maintained with France. Today, Pondicherry is more famous because of its relation with Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo selected this peaceful and harmonious place to make his abode in the second decade of this century and remained there till his death. A political revolutionary before coming to Pondicherry, he became one of the most famous sages of modern times produced by India.
Today, the Union Territory of Pondicherry includes the other three French enclaves of Karaikal (in Tamil Nadu), Mahe (in Kerala) and Yanam (in Andhra Pradesh).