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Pondicherry: Yesterday and Today A journey through Time

Professor Venkata Raghotham Professor and Head Department of History Pondicherry University


express my gratitude to the Vice Chancellor of Pondicherry

University, Professor J A K Tareen, Padma Shri, for having asked

me to participate in the commemoration of the Silver Jubilee Year of the establishment of the University. Words can hardly express the immense transformation in the academic ambience of the University by Professor J A K Tareen. I would like to place on record my deepest sense of gratitude to him. he Director of the French Institute has kindly permitted me to


use the photographs in the collection of the Institute. I thank

him for this gesture. I would like to place on record my thanks to Professor Y Subbarayalu for having given access to the photographic archives and to Dr Murugesan for having taken the time to scan the pictures.


would like to thank the Faculty members of the Department of

History, Professor K Rajan and Dr N Chandramouli for having

given me the photos required for this coffee table book from their collection. I also thank my students Dr Palnichamy and Mr Bithin Thakur for having helped me in the preparation of the text.

Âť Yesterday and Today


ondicherry University is located in the Union Territory of Puducherry which has a historic past. The Greek navigator’s manual, Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, refers to trading emporia Poduke which was si-

tuated near the languid waters of the Ariyankuppam River. Here excavation has revealed structures which were used for storing the commodities that were traded all over the Indian Ocean region in the first three centuries of the Christian Era.



Yesterday and Today


ondicherry University which has emerged as a leading center of higher learning in India is building on the rich heritage of learning be-

queathed from the past. The lush green field of Bahur was the site of a famous vidyastana which is referred to in the famous Bahur Copper Plates of Nrupatunga, a Pallava king who ruled in the ninth century.

The Bahur Temple is one of the ancient temples of the region and the vidyastana was located in close proximity to this temple. 4


Old Stones

Old Stones


n October 16th, 1778 the forces of the English East India Company captured Pondicherry with the

battle lines stretching from the “Red Hills� perhaps Gorimedu till Bahur. The death of Major William Stevens is commemorated in the memorial erected by Sir Major Hector Munro, the

Commander of the Coromandel Army of the East India Company. The comptoir of Pondicherry was returned to France in 1815.


he map of the city of Pondicherry depicts some of the important features of the urban landscape that have en-

dured until this day. The grid pattern of town planning is evident. The map shows the location of the Jardin deBotanique which became the pride of Pondicherry in the nineteenth century when a large number of plants

and trees from Madagascar and Reunion Islands were introduced. 6


A piece of Paradise


ondicherry University is located in the village of Kalapet which was bought

from Dawood Khan by Francois Martin. French records show that Kalapet was thickly forested and the timber from this place was used for the recons-

truction of Pondicherry after its devastation in 1778. The village of Kalapet was chosen as the site to situate Pondicherry University which was established by an Act of the Indian Parliament in 1985. The University has over the course of the last 25 years has become a highlyinnovative University and has pioneered the Choice Based Credit System. The University owes its initial success to the encouragement given by the then Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi and the Chief Minister Shri Farook Marakkiyar. Under the present Vice- Chancellor, Professor J. A. K. Tareen the University has scaled new heights of academic growth measured in terms of student en-

rollment, courses taught, faculty strength, research projects, built space and facilities.



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