ondicherry has a long history dating back 2000 years when it was an important Roman trading post. The region was at various periods ruled by the Pallavas, Cholas and Nayaks. In the early 16th century the Danes set up a European trading post here at the invitation of the Nayak ruler. But it is the French connection that made Pondicherry famous. The French established their supremacy in this area by waging several battles against Dutch, the English and the Carnatic Nawabs. Francois Martin, established the modern city of Pondicherry between 1673-80
The French relinquished control of Pondicherry some 50 years ago, but reminders of the colonial days remain in street names, policemen's kepis (caps), the French accent that shows through in the pronunciation of English and Tamil words, a mixture of French words in ordinary conversation and research institutions and monuments named after and dedicated to French heroes.
Pondicherry is laid out in a grid plan. A north-south canal (now covered) divides the smaller eastern side from the larger western part. In colonial days the canal separated Pondicherry's European and Indian sections. The Aurobindo Ashram as well as the French institutions and many restaurants are on the eastern side, while most of the hotels are west of the canal.