Pondicherry and its role in India’s struggle to freedom, and thereby its own


“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” – Jawahar Lal Nehru

Pondicherry had an immense role to play in India’s freedom movement. Firstly, it fought for its own freedom. Secondly it actively supported the Freedom movement against the British and even housed nationalists who courted arrest by the British.

No trip to Pondicherry is complete without a visit to Aurobindo Ashram. Aurobindo was influenced by studies on rebellion and revolutions against England in medieval France and the revolts in America and Italy. Even though he favoured non-cooperation movements and passive resistance publicly; in private he took up secret revolutionary activity as a preparation for open revolt, in case passive revolt failed. Continue reading


As the Europeans arrive on the Coromandel Coast…


“Imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.”

The proximity of the ports on the Eastern parts of India, to Southeast Asia and China, made them very attractive for the Europeans. The first Europeans to set foot on the shores were the Portuguese in the 16th Century; in all probability they were linked to Jesuit missions, as well as the spice trade which started to dominate the scene right across Indian coastline then. Details of their travels to South India can be traced in the accounts of Jesuit Antonio Rubino, written in early 17th century.

The Danes were next in line, setting up a trading base close by in Tranquebar (Tharangambadi) in the year 1620. The Dutch East India Company built the magnificent Sadras fort as a commercial outpost at Sadhurangapattinam in the early 17th century. Continue reading

Through the lens of ancient mariners: the emergence of Poduke


Think of Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Khmer, Champa and Eastern Indian dynasties. What connects them? Not just the fact that they were colossal empires, but ones that specialised in maritime trade. The secrets to unlocking the history behind any region is often linked to its description in ancient literature and based on accounts of sea faring traders and merchants.

Tamil Nadu has numerous entries for ports of commercial trade dating back centuries ago mentioned frequently in Sangam literature as well as that famous book for seafarers, Periplus of Erythrean Sea. Mylapore, Mamalla/Poonjeri, Kaveripumpattinam, Nagapattinam, Korkai and Kumari were important maritime trade centres. Continue reading