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Puducherry - Home of Great Hindu Temples


Active member
Puducherry or Pondicherry as it was known during French rule is a small city State that has so much offer to the spiritually inclined people. Though it is only a three hour drive from Chennai, and five hour drive from Bangalore ,most people would have visited the city only for week end jaunts and or for wining and dining. Nobody, as far as I know makes any serious attempts to look deeper into its historical Hindu lineage . I am a resident of Puducherry town since many years. I have observed people in the weekends come in droves , peep into the Aurobindo Ashram, enjoy the long beach promenade, wine and dine in the multi cuisine restaurants scattered all over the town and disappear.
Puducherry in the distant past was known as Vedapuri and was the home for numerous Vedic Sanskrit scholars and many Tamil Siddhars ( mystics) . That is why, the presiding deity of the town Lord Shiva is called Vedapurishwarar. It was said that there was a big Sanskrit university in the town that got destroyed either during the Muslim rule or French occupation. Vedapurishwarar temple was built during Chola rule and was improved by successive rulers from , Pallavas, Pandyas, Nayaks, Vijayanagar, and Marathas dynasties. Then the town passed on to the Muslim rulers who sold it to French in bits and pieces. During the French rule, the historic Vedapurishwarar temple , which was located on what is now known as Mission Street was demolished by French general and the church of ‘ Our Lady of Immaculate Conception’ was built which exists till date. One Mr Kandappa Mudaliar , who was a high ranking official in French government in Puducherry rebuilt the temple with donations from public ( hindus) in its present location on M.G.Road in the heart of the city. In 1996, some Hindu outfits tried to reclaim the old Vedapurishwarar temple site from the church authorities , a la Babri masjid , but was put down with a heavy hand by the Congress government.
Vedapuriswarar temple as it stands today is a huge 7 tiered imposing structure with architectural beauty. About 100 meters away from this temple, stands another equally imposing temple for Venkatachalapathy, locally called Perumal Koil. The two streets abutting the two temples are aptly named as Eswaran Koil street and Perumal Koil street. Both these temples are worth spending at least half a day to enjoy its beauty and heritage.
Another great temple that one must visit while in Puducherry is ‘ Manakula Vinayagar Temple’ located in the White Town ( within boulevard area). It has a charming history. One of the French Governor was irritated that a Hindu god temple is located in their White Town and ordered his sepoys to throw the idol into the deep sea which they did. But to its surprise, the idol was back to its original place next day. He did trying to throw or destroy the idol few times more, but every time it came back. Rattled by these mysterious events, he apologized to the God and became a devotee of the Lord. He contributed funds to develop the temple further and to this day ‘ Manakula Vinayagar’ is the guardian deity of Puducherry town. This temple is compared in importance , equal with ‘ Rockfort Uchi Pillaiyar kovil’ in Thiruchirapalli and Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai.
Another important place to visit is Aurobindo Ashram’ in the White Town adjacent to Manakula Vinayagar temple where the samadhis of Aurobindo and and his disciple known as Mother are kept one above other. Mother , (Mirra Alfassa) was a descent of a Turkish Jewish father and Egyptian Jewish mother who embraced Hinduism after meeting with Aurobindo in Pondicherry in 1914. She lived in the ashram and continued the work of Aurobindo till her death in 1973. Now the ashram is run by a small clique of Bengali devotees and the ashram though continue to attract devotees from eastern India , is not same spiritually as was during Mother’s time. Local Tamilians hardly visit the ashram nor has any affinity towards it , mainly because they feel alienated for some reasons.
Finally, one should also visit Lord Shiva’s temple known as Kameeswarar located in Villianur Commune ( township in French) , about 20 kms from Pondicherry town. It is a 1500 year old Chola period temple , with lingam as swayambumurthy . The town was earlier known as Vilvanur ( with numerous vilva trees ) and so the lord is also known Vilveswarar . Local belief is that a visit to this temples cures all illness. So, next time , when you think of Puducherry, think of its spirituality and not its superfluous fun life ! Bon chance ! ( Good Luck):
Big greetings! I want to find more information about Bhakti, how i can contact to you? Thank you.

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