Grand Mosque was originally constructed in 1848 on land that the French Government had donated for its construction. The temple has been renovated and demolished and reconstructed many times over the course of the years. The first remodelling of the mosque was done in the year 1956. In the year 1978 the mosque was completely demolished and a new one was built in its place.
The last act of remodelling happened in the year 1999-2000, when the mosque was rebuilt into the Grand Mosque it is today. Presently, the mosque has the capacity to accommodate around 200 persons during the time of prayer.
Bakrid, Ramzan and Milad un Nabi are the functions that are celebrated with great grandeur in this mosque. People from nearby villages in Andhra Pradesh like Thallarevu, Kolanka and Sunkarpalem come to the mosque to pray. It is an attraction that should not be missed when in Yanam.
Karaikal Sandy Beach is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches to be found in southern Tamil Nadu. Unexploited by tourists, this beach provides solitude and serenity to water lovers. The road has been widened by 2 km along the Arasalar river, making it accessible to the public. Well known for its water sports, you should certainly go boating in Arasalar, which is the backwaters of the Bay of Bengal.
The boat club provides peddlers, motor boats and rowing boats to the tourist. There is also a children’s park for the little ones, a few beach restaurants and a tennis court. Make sure that you go there at the right hours to experience the sunrise or the sunset, during which the beach is at its best.
The Pondicherry Beach, better known as Promenade Beach, was once the prime attraction of Pondicherry. Sea erosion caused by the construction of a new harbour in Ariyankuppam has been the death knell to this once beautiful beach. All that remains of the proud Promenade beach is a seawall of riprap boulders that make it unsuitable for strolling or swimming.
However, an artificial beach has been constructed atop the seawall, called “la Faux-Plage”, which literally translates to “the fake beach”. Movement of traffic along the beach has been banned in the evenings, transforming it into the ideal place for wandering by the sea.
The Promenade Beach spans 1.5 km and runs parallel to all the major attractions of the town. It is still a must visit location once at Pondicherry.
The Church Of Sacred Heart Of Jesus is one of the most famous and important churches in Pondicherry. The church has been designed in accordance with the Gothic style of architecture and attracts numerous visitors throughout the year. One of the most striking and easily noticeable features of this church is the stained glass windows which depict the life and times of Jesus Christ. The church is a place that provides the visitor an aura of peace and tranquility.
The first mass in the church was held on the 17th of December 1907. The parish surrounding the church was established in the year 1908. The church recently celebrated its centenary in the year 2008.
Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple is a shrine where Karaikal Ammaiyar, a famous Bhakti saint, is being worshipped. She was the only woman amongst the sixty-three Nayanmars. This small yet beautiful temple was built by Malaiperumal Pillai in 1929. This temple contains an enormous idol of the goddess also famous as Goddess Punithavathi.
The locals worship her for her supernatural powers. The legends say that when her husband deserted her and married another woman, she prayed to Lord Shiva and asked him to turn her into a demoness. Later she inhabited the jungles of Alangadu.
Impressed by her devotion, Lord Shiva gave her the name of Mother Ammaiyar and announced that when he performs the Tandava, she would sing for him. Every year the Mangani festival is celebrated in the Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple during the month of June-July on the day of the full moon in the month of Aani, a Tamil month. People throng to the temple to offer their prayers during these days.
St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Yanam was built by the Catholic French rulers in the year 1846, with the foundation stone being laid by Father Michel Lecnam. He, however, did not live to see the church built and a culvert has been installed in his memory in the Church. Most of the furniture and other decorations were imported from France.
Close to the church are two hill temples, one built by the French rulers of Yanam and the other built by the English engineers. The temple is an important place of worship in Yanam and a place that should be visited once at Yanam. It is an excellent example of French architecture of that time period.
Akalankannu village is about 9.4 km away from the Karaikal town. This village is a prime attraction for tourists visiting Karaikal. Considered as one of the biggest villages in Karaikal district, the place is famous for its water works and numerous ancient temples. The village is famous for the Vaidyanatha Swamy Temple. The water works of Akalankannu serve as the fountainhead and provide water to the entire Karaikal town. The Akalankannu village also holds archaeological importance since several idols and images were unearthed here from numerous sites.
The Raj Niwas at Pondicherry is presently the official residence of the Lieutenant Government of Pondicherry. It translates to government abode in Hindi. Raj Niwas was once the official residence of the French Governor of Pondicherry, Joseph Francois Dupleix.
Raj Niwas is a place of much historical importance and has witnessed the socio-political and cultural changes in Pondicherry along the course of the centuries. The current resident of the Raj Niwas is the present Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry, Dr Iqbal Singh.
Sivalayam or the Lord Sri Rajarajeswara Temple at Yanam is one of the most important places of worship there. It was built in the 15th century by King Rajamahendravaram of the Chalukya dynasty. The temple is noted for the ornate sculptures that date to this period. The temple is located on the banks of the Atreya Godavari river, also known as the Corangi river.
The most important festivals celebrated in this temple are Kalyanotsavam and Rathostavam. The festival of Kalyanotsavam is celebrated during the month of Magha which comes during the January-February period.
Lord Sri Rajarajeswara is adorned as a bridegroom and taken out on a procession through the streets. Rathotsavam is also part of this festival when the Lord is taken out of the temple in all ritualistic splendour on massive chariots that are pulled by devotees.
The French War Memorial in Pondicherry was erected in memory of the fallen French war heroes of the First World War. The Memorial was constructed in the year 1971, and every year, on Bastille Day, on the 14th of July, the memorial is decorated with beautiful illuminations. It is on this day that homage is paid to the fallen French Martyrs.
A tradition that continues to this day, an excellent example of the close ties Pondicherry has to its French roots. The memorial is located at Pondicherry’s Goubert Avenue and is open to visitors throughout the day. Visiting the memorial and paying tribute to the martyrs is a must do once at Pondicherry.
Mela Kasakudy is one of the most popular villages of Karaikal district and is located 7 kilometres away from Karaikal town on the Karaikal-Nedungadu Road. It is famous for the Varadaraja Perumal Temple, which was constructed in the 12th century. Protected by the state authorities as an ancient monument, the stone carvings on the exteriors and interiors of the temple attract visitors.
It is also recommended to visit the Sri Naganatha Swami Temple while you are in the village. Mela Kasakudy is mainly a tourist attraction during the celebrations of Thiruvathirai, Vaikunta Ekadasi, Masi Mangam and Chithirai Pournami. This place has been an attraction to pilgrims and tourists alike due to its religious and architectural significance.
The Botanical Garden and Aquarium at Pondicherry were established In the year 1826 by CS Perrotet. The Botanical Garden hosts a collection of exotic plants which is of much interest to students and researchers of life sciences. The Garden and Aquarium are located close to the south entrance of the major bus stand here and spreads across an area of 22 acres of land. It became the major centre of the Department of Horticulture in Pondicherry in the year 1960.
The aquarium has a wide variety of marine life which makes it a very popular tourist attraction. It affords the visitor a unique glimpse of aquatic life. The garden houses a children’s train, a dancing fountain, the aquarium with several rare varieties of ornamental fishes and six fountains.
Dharmapuram is located 1.8 km away from Karaikal town. It is on the western side of Karaikal district. Dharmapuram is renowned for the shrine of Sri Yazhmurinatheeswar. It is popularly believed that Saint Thirugnanasambandar visited this temple and sang a pathigam in the name of the deity Sri Yazhmurinatheeswar. There are many budget accommodations nearby the area.
Keezha Kasakudy is located 4 kilometres away from Karaikal town. It is on the northern part of Karaikal district and is well renowned for the archaeological significances the place holds. M. J. Delafon discovered the famous Kasakudy copper plates in the village around 1879.
The copper plate ascribed to Nandivarman - II, which is located at the centre of the village, showcases the rich cultural and traditional values of the natives who lived here during the Pallava rule. The ancient temple of Lord Shiva is another major attraction of the place. Keezha Kasakudy is a must visit for people who are interested in history and culture.
Pondicherry Museum is another landmark that must not be missed once at Pondicherry. Inside the museum there is a gallery which houses sculptures and several important archaeological findings from the Arikamedu Roman Settlement. The museum is a storehouse of rare artifacts from time immemorial.
The collection displayed here includes several rare sculptures in bronze and stone from the Chola and Pallava dynasties. The museum also houses a very good collection of shells that have been collected and brought from the Pondicherry region.
The museum also affords the visitor the opportunity to learn about the colonial past of Pondicherry and provides a good insight into French Colonial rule in India. The Pondicherry Museum is easy to approach once at Pondicherry. It is located at Bharathi Park.