…..There stands Francois Dupleix. Not too far away is Joan of Arc. It’s a trip down France as one crosses symmetrically aligned streets in puducherry.
The Portuguese have been here. So have the Dutch.. The Danes. The English And the French.
By 18th century this tiny fishing village had turned into a grand port city. The French first set foot here in 1670 and left a part of them when their undisturbed rule finished in 1954. Not much has changed since. The history has become punctuated.
The air filled with nostalgia and the present is living up to a heritage that speaks so much. A trip to puducherry is like a journey in time with a vibrant present celebrating its interesting past. “History goes back to the Roman times, but factually started with the arrival of the French in 1963, who founded the town and built it in its present form, during the two and a half century they occupied it.”
“puducherry” is the French interpretation of the original name “Puducheri” meaning “new settlement”. Many pilgrims have shared the town’s hospitality on their way to the temple town of Rameshwaram, thus enriching its culture.
The known history of puducherry dates back to the beginning of our era. puducherry also had a flourishing maritime history. Excavations at Arikamedu, about 7 kms to the south of the town, show that Romans came here to trade in the 1st Century AD.
The trade included dyed textiles, pottery and semi-precious stones. The findings are now displayed in the puducherry Museum. Ancient Roman scripts mention one of the trade centres along the Indian coast as Poduca or Poduke, which refers, historians affirm, only to the present puducherry.
Before this period nothing is known with certainty. The "Bahur Plates", issued in the 8th century speak of a Sanskrit University which was here from an earlier period. Legend has it that the sage Agastya established his Ashram here and the place was known as Agastiswaram. An inscription found near the Vedhapuriswara Temple hints at the credibility of this legend.
History continues at the beginning of the fourth century A. D. when the puducherry area is part of the Pallava Kingdom of Kanchipuram. During the next centuries puducherry is occupied by different dynasties of the south: in the tenth century A.D.
The Cholas of Tanjavur took over, only to be replaced by the Pandya Kingdom in the thirteenth century. After a brief invasion by the Muslim rulers of the North, who established the Sultanate of Madurai, the Vijayanagar Empire took control of almost all the South of India and lasted till 1638, when the Sultan of Bijapur began to rule over Gingee.
Unlike the Arab merchants, who had been sailing the coasts of India since times immemorable, the impact of European contact had far reaching consequences in terms of establishments and in the end the occupation of the entire Subcontinent.
In 1497 the Portuguese discovered the route to India and began to expand their influence by occupying coastal areas and building harbour towns, which soon extended more than 12.000 miles of coast-line.
The Portuguese established a factory in puducherry at the beginning of the sixteenth century, but were compelled to leave a century later by the
ruler of Gingee, who found them unfriendly. After that the Danes shortly set up an establishment, and likewise the Dutch. The latter set up trading posts in Porto Novo and Cuddalore. The French, who had trading centres in the North, Mahe and Madras were invited to open a trading centre in puducherry by the new ruler of Gingee to compete with the Dutch.
In 1673, February 4th, Bellanger, a French officer, took up residence in the Danish Lodge in puducherry and the French Period of puducherry began.In 1674 Francois Martin, the first Governor, started to build puducherry and transformed it from a small fishing village into a flourishing port-town.
In 1693 the Dutch took over and fortified the town considerably. But four years later Holland and France signed a peace treaty and the French regained puducherry in 1699. In the 18th century the town was laid out on a grid pattern and grew considerably.
Able Governors like Lenoir (1726-1735) and Dumas (1735-1741) and an ambitious Governor Dupleix (1742-1754) expanded the puducherry area and made it a large and rich town. But ambition clashed with the English interests in India and the local kingdoms and a period of skirmishes and political intrigues began. Under the command of Bussy, Dupleix's army successfully controlled the area between Hyderabad and Cape Comorin. But then Robert Clive arrived in India, a dare-devil officer who dashed the hopes of Dupleix to create a French Colonial India. After a defeat and failed peace talks, Dupleix was recalled to France.
In spite of a treaty between the English and French not to interfere in local politics, the intrigues continued. Subsequently France sent Lally Tollendal to regain the French losses and chase the English out of India. After an initial success they razed Fort St. David in Cuddalore to the ground, but stategic mistakes by Lally led to the loss of the Hyderabad region and the siege of puducherry in 1760. In 1761 puducherry was razed to the ground in revenge and lay in ruins for 4 years. The French had lost their hold in South India.
In 1765 the town is returned to France after a peace treaty with England in Europe. Governor Law de
Lauriston set to rebuild the town on the old foundations and after five months 200 European and 2000 Tamil houses had been erected. During the next 50 years puducherry changed hands between France and England with the regularity of their wars and peace treaties.
Only after 1816 the French regained permanent control of puducherry, but the town had lost much of its former glory. Successive Governors improved infrastructure, industry, law and education over the next 138 years. In 1947 the English left India for good, but it lasted till 1954 when the French handed puducherry over to an independent India.
On November 1, 1954, the French possessions in India were de facto transferred to the Indian Union and puducherry became a Union Territory. 280 years of French rule had come to an end. But only in 1963 puducherry became officially an integral part of India after the French Parliament in Paris rattified the Treaty with India.
puducherry became a Union Territory, not a separate State. A Union Territory (UT) has its own government but falls directly under the Central Government in New Delhi. Though a UT also has an elected Chief Minister and cabinet members, laws and legislative regulations made in these areas have to get sanction or need to be ratified by the Central Government (Centre).
The Centre is represented by the Lt. Governor, who resides at the Raj Nivas at the Park, the former palace of the French Governor.puducherry still has a large number of Tamil residents with French passports, whose ancestors were in French Governmental service and who chose to remain French at the time of Independence. Apart from the monuments pertaining to the French Period, there is the French Consulate in puducherry and several cultural organisation, and even the Foyer du Soldat for war veterans of the French Army. Of the cultural organisations the French Institute, the Alliance Francais and the Ecole Francais d'Extrème Orient are noteworthy.
Dr. IQBAL SINGH
His Excellency Lt.Governor of Puducherry
Dr. Iqbal Singh was born in a Freedom Fighters family, to (late) Shri Lal Singh and (Late) Smt. Santokh Kaur. His Father, Late Shri. Lal Singh was present in Jallianwala Bagh, Amristar, Punjab, during the Massacre carried out by British, and it was by fortune that he survived the torment of British bullets on that fateful day. Shri. Baba Balwant Singh, Maternal Uncle, also a veteran freedom fighter, suffered imprisonment several times for raising voice against British Regime. He was once imprisoned along with Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh, at Lahore . Inheriting the spirit of patriotism, Dr. Iqbal Singh, has always endeavoured to work for the cause of National Integration.
He graduated in B.A. from Punjab University in the year 1969. Even during his college days, he took keen interest in Politics and took special interest in promotion of Hindi and Punjabi literature. He Represented Indian National Youth Congress in International Youth Festival, 1978 held at Cuba . He held the position of General Secretary ofPunjab Youth Congress and played a pivotal role in bringing the youth of Punjab into the fold of the Congress Party. He is an accomplished businessman.
Dr. Iqbal Singh has the distinction of holding several significant positions in the Indian National Congress, including Secretary, All India Congress Committee for 12 continuous years and is a permanent member of Congress Working Committee. As Member of Parliament of Rajya Sabha from 1992-98, he was the member of several important Committees, viz., Tourism, Steel, Scout and Raj Bhasha.
Dr. Iqbal Singh raised his voice for the welfare of downtrodden and children in the parliament and has the unique distinction of having attended all the days of Sittings during Parliament sessions without a single day’s absence.
As Chairman of the Committee constituted by the Ministry of Shipping, he received cargo ships “MT Guru Gobind Singh” and “HULL 869” from Korea . He was the Chairman-cum-Secretary of the Transport Committee, for the Satyagraha Centenary Celebration held to spread the message of “Peace, Non-Violence and improvement of Gandhian Philosophy in 21st Century”.
He worked in close association with Sardar Beant Singh, the then Chief Minister of Punjab , to tackle the menace of terrorism and separatism that had gripped the State of Punjab for nearly twelve years.
He had published a book titled ‘Bhartiye Sanskriti Aur Kurukshetra’ in Hindi, which was released by Shri. Shankar Dayal Sharma, Former President of India . The book won accolades and awards. He has also published several articles on Social Reforms and Empowerment in leading dailies and magazines to his credit. He is the author of a book and several articles on the 10th Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh.
At the World Hindi Conference held at United Nations, he delivered the address to the learned gathering, and was also instrumental in introduction of application forms in Hindi in six Indian Embassies viz., United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, France Germany and Russia. He delivered lectures in many foreign countries as well as in various States of India to promote Hindi as “Raj Basha”. He attended and delivered lectures at International Punjabi Society conferences held in United Kingdom , United States of America and Canada .
Dr. Iqbal Singh, with his passion for literature, music and education, is Advisor for several leading Trusts and Educational Institutions. He is a trustee of “Bhai Vir Singh Sadhan”, which promotes Punjabi Sahitya. He was the Chief Patron of 125 year old Institution “Harballabh Sangeeth Maha Sabha”, which promotes classical music. He is also trustee of “K.L. Sehgal Memorial”. Fond of music composed by Shri Sehgal, he is ardent collector of his music compositions. He is also trustee of the leading group of educational Institution, “B.D. Arya Educational Institution”.
As a man of principles, he championed human values by organizing Anti Drug Campaigns and Blood Donation Camps. He organized marriages for girls from poor and downtrodden families. He has delivered several keynote talks in Visual media and Radio on important social issues. He was at the forefront in coming to the aid of Bihar flood victims by mobilizing sizeable aid for providing timely relief to the victims.
Seized of the global problem of “Climate Change” and “Global Warming”, he has been an active advocate of sustainable practices and has regularly conducted several environment programmes to drive home the importance of reducing emission of green house gases.
Dr. Iqbal Singh has been a sports enthusiast right from his school days and has been an active participant in many sports events. He is actively involved in promoting Sports, especially ‘Rural Sports’ at Panchayat level. He is also the Founder of ‘All IndiaSurjit Hockey Tournament’ and is the Chairman of ‘ Punjab Sports Welfare Society’.
He has been a globetrotter and has visited nearly 13 countries. His favourite pastime is Reading, Writing and Listening to Music.
Dr. Iqbal Singh has promoted the Hindi Sahitya and Punjabi Sahitya from school days by delivering lectures at various National & International Forum and by handing out books & pamphlets. He has been a consistent advocate of the ideology that “God is One” who transcends beyond religions.
In recognition of his contributions, Andhra University had conferred upon him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) on 5th December, 2009 .
He is married to Smt. Gurinder Bir Kaur and is blessed with two sons.
About Chief Minister
Thiru. N. RANGASAMY
Hon'ble Chief Minister
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