City (pop., 2001: 220,865), seaport, and capital of Pondicherry union territory, southeastern India. Lying on the Coromandel Coast, it originated as a French trade centre in 1674, when it was purchased from a local ruler. The scene of fighting between the French and Dutch, it was occupied by the British several times from 1761 before becoming a French possession (1816–1954). A seaside tourist resort, it contains an international study centre at a Hindu religious retreat, or ashram.
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