The town of Pondicherry has retained its heritage instead of growing out of it. Pondy was under French occupation from the 17th century up to 1952. It was originally called Puducheri but the name given by the French, Pondicherry, has become its identity in popular culture. Pondicherry has evolved from a serene little town to a vibrant tourist centre of South India. Its heritage buildings, chic boutiques and Parisian cafes are the favourite haunts of holidaymakers from around the globe.
The Aurobindo Ashram and City of Auroville are two of the town's most renowned destinations for travellers worldwide. Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa's spiritual thoughts have have attracted salvation seekers for many decades now. Their samadhis are housed inside the Ashram building and the universal township of Auroville lies a short drive away from the town proper. The township was designed by French architect Roger Anger to match the Franco-Tamil layout of Pondicherry.