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Puducherry is a city, an urban agglomeration and a municipality in Pondicherry district in the Indian union territory of Puducherry. Puducherry has a flourishing maritime history. Excavations at Arikamedu, about seven kilometres to the south of the city, show that the Romans came here to trade in the 1st century AD, and references to it are found in the ancient Greek record The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, which describes navigation and trading opportunities around Indias coastline. In 1674, the French East India Company set up a trading centre at Puducherry. This outpost eventually became the primary French settlement in India and remained under French rule for the next 138 years. The state of
Puducherry merged with the Indian Union on November 1, 1954. The Union Territory of Puducherry comprises the former French establishment of Pondicherry, as well as the municipalities of Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam which lie scattered across three states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

Built heritage

Puducherry is a city with a rich cultural diversity, a major reason being the cross-cultural Indo-French influence. It has a significant architectural heritage that can be seen in its well planned, grid-patterned layout comprising the two distinct settlements French and Tamil.

The built heritage in Puducherry is among the best surviving Indo-French Bastide town planning of 18th-century India. The citys charm lies more in its unique and very distinct French and Tamil streetscapes of traditional homes than in grand monuments. Most of its nonreligious monumental buildings surround the quiet greenery of Bharathi Park. These include the Ayi Mandapam, a gleaming white structure built during the Second French Empire in the very centre of the park, and the Raj Nivas, the stately residence of French governors from the earliest French period, and now the home of the Lieutenant Governor. Puducherrys French connection saw the construction of a number of churches and the most beautiful are the 18th-century cathedral dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and Our Lady of Lourdes at Villianur, which is a major pilgrimage site in April.

Real estate & housing

With assured power and water supply, investors both from within Puducherry and abroad opt to invest in real estate in the city. Those in the IT sector in bigger states also invest in immovable properties here. However, prospective buyers find no homes available for less than Rs 40 lakh in areas even outside the boulevard limits. Apartments have gained momentum recently in the city which once prided itself in having individual or separate homes. With rise in flow of migrants, demand for plots, houses or flats has increased manifold.

Transport

Puducherry is connected to Chennai via the East Coast Road through Mahabalipuram. The Puducherry Road Transport Corporation runs buses within the city, while the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operates Volvo air-conditioned services from Chennai to Puducherry. Puducherry is connected by train to several places including Delhi and Mangalore.A? Puducherry Airport has scheduled commercial flights to and from Bengaluru.

From September 7, the Mangalore Tiruchirapalli Mangalore Weekly Express train service (12654/12653) currently running via the Irugur Podanur Irugur section is to be routed via Coimbatore. The train is likely to be renumbered and extended from Tiruchirapalli to Puducherry. Routing of the Mangalore Tiruchirapalli train on its extension to Puducherry had been a long standing demand to enhance Coimbatores connectivity to Mangalore and Puducherry.

New industrial policy

Puducherry government has rolled out a new industrial policy to promote pollution-free, less water -intensive and employment-oriented sustainable industrial growth in the Union Territory.

The new policy seeks to establish an investment-friendly climate through transparent and proactive governance and ensure balanced and sustainable industrial development in all the four regions of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam while conserving all aspects of environment.

The policy has identified thrust areas which include textiles, garments and electronic industries, among other units.

Tourism

Puducherry government has earmarked 70 crores for tourism development projects in all the four regions of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam during the current fiscal. Tourism Minister P Rajavelu said Puducherry government was yet to receive 125 crore from the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) for implementation of some 14 projects.A? Puducherry administration had prepared projects for eight out of the 14 projects involving an outlay of 80.4 crores out of theA? 125 crore finalised by the Centre. The report had been sent to the Centre for approval and allocation of the funds.

The MoT is marketing Puducherry as a holiday hot spot to foreigners following the release of Oscar-winning film Life of Pi. Since the Life of Pi put Puducherry on the international tourism circuit, the MoT has been thinking of ways to facilitate projects that promote tourism in Puducherry. Auroville, located around 8 kms north-west of Puducherry, is a major tourist attraction in the vicinity of the city and a visit to Puducherry does not go without a visit to this experimental township.

Challenges

There is a ban on non-biodegradable plastic in Puducherry, but the lack of effective enforcement mechanism has failed to materialise this ban. The practice of carrying vegetables, rice, groceries and other household items in plastic bags continues rampantly, causing degradation of environment.

Stray dogs in the city are also a menace and traditionally, dog catchers in Puducherry have been using ropes to capture community dogs in order to take them for ABC (Animal Birth Control) procedure. However, this method has received a lot of flak from animal rights groups and the general public. Following several complaints, officials from the Animal Husbandry Department in New Delhi visited Puducherry and asked the municipality to adopt different methods to capture the dogs. The Puducherry Municipality is currently exploring various other options to solve this problem.

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