Temples in Puducherry

Sri Gokilambal Thirukameswara Temple, 10 kms from Pondicherry. Thousands of devotees converge here for a ten-day annual festival , held during May -June along with the appearance of the full moon. The massive 15 m tall temple chariot, basking in finery, is taken out on a procession by a devout crowd. It`s a remarkable sight. The Lt. Governor of Pondicherry ritually joins the heave. A secular practice, carried over from the French days, when the French Governeurs themselves used to draw the car out on the streets.

Thirunallar Temple Thirunallar is 5 kms west of Karaikal. The sanctum sanctorum of Lord Dharbaraneswara Temple holds Siva as the main deity. However, its shrine dedicated to Saneeswaran (Saturn) which figures in the story of Nala-Damayanti; makes this the most famous Saturn temple in India. The blessings of Saturn are said to be overwhelming, while its wrath causes great misery. The temple hosts a mammoth festival (Shani peyarchi) , each time Saturn moves from one sign of the zodiac to another.

The Varadaraja Temple The Varadaraja Temple (12th century) is the most important Vishnu temple in town, located just west of Gandhi Road, off Tyagraja Street. Here, Narasimha sits behind Venkatachalapathy, the main deity.

Vedapureeswarar Temple This 18th century Siva Shrine in Pondicherry houses stone inscriptions and a swayambhulinga. Recently renovated, the gopuram (tower) is brilliantly colourful.

Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple Legend says that Lord Siva disguised himself as an ascetic, seeking alms from a lady called Punithavathi living in Karaikal. Who later, as Karaikal Ammaiyar, was destined to find an esteemed place among his 63 saints. An image of this lady saint is housed in a small and beautiful temple erected right where she lived. Masthan Saheb Darga Dedicated to Masthan Saheb Syed Dawood Buhari, a Sufi saint who came to Karaikal from Buhara two centuries ago. He died aged 120, in 1829. Various miracles are attributed to him. The over-170-year-oldKandhuriFestival (November) is celebrated in his commemoration. It starts with the hoisting of a huge flag on a pole -reminiscent of a ship mast and a sea-faring tradition. And winds up, 10 days later with a spectacle of floats lit with electric colours.

Manakkula Vinayakar Temple Located right behind the Raj Nivas in Pondicherry town, this Ganesha temple has an interesting aside. A neighboring Frenchman finding the place of worship a nuisance, made several futile attempts to do away with the deity. Still, it kept reappearing. Convinced, he turned an active believer. Therefore, it is also fondly referred to as Vellakkaran (White man) Pillai (Ganesha).