The Pondicherry Museum
The Pondicherry museum is located in the former Law Building, which was refurbished in 1997. The museum is worth seeing as a building and for some of its exhibits.
On the ground floor, the major attraction is the central space with 3 curious transport mechanisms - a coach, a palanquin (sedan chair) and a pousse-pousse, which required two attendants, one to steer and one to push and some stupendous furniture. The bronze gallery displays the images of gods and goddesses together with a wide collection of temple lamps, used across different dynasties down centuries.
Pre-Christian relics which one will find here, such as remnants of Greek and Roman amphora jars, pieces from the Tsung Periods in China and beads made from glass and precious stones were dug out from the Arikamedu site, just south of Pondicherry.
The Geology Room is hard to warm to; more interesting is the attached shell and fossil room. The museum sells a book on Pondy sea snails, which has very attractive pictures. The Foyer and Courtyard display various stone statues, and for children a fossilised tree trunk. In the staircase to the upper floor are burial urns to stimulate the imagination. The only reasons to climb the stairs are the air and the view from the terraces.
Timing: 10.00am to 5.00pm, closed on Mondays and Holidays.
Just across the canal from the ashram quarter is a restored but increasingly unmaintained row of 20 connected Franco-Tamil facades on Eswaran Koil Street. The Bharatiyar Museum is one of these buildings.
The house of the famous Ananda Rangapillai (1738) is at the busy "backside" of the Big Market. It is a splendid attraction and is easily accessible to the public. Similarly, the 18th century mansion of Kattukara Appavupulle on Nehru Street is a must visit but it bears no trace of its former beauty.
The Bharathi Museum
The Bharathi museum was home to a Tamil poet and nationalist. Bharathi (1882-1921) was a political and social activist who found refuge here from the British in 1908. He freed Tamil poetry from forms that, while beautifully rich and terse, had kept it the preserve of the few. An anthology of his works in French can be read at I' Alliance Francaise and one can buy it at the Romain Rolland Library because unfortunately for non-Tamils who wish to know more about the poet modernist, the inscriptions and material in the museum are exclusively in Tamil.
The Bharathidasan Museum
The Bharathidasan Museum is the former house of a renowned Pondicherry-born poet (1891-1960) who was a follower of Bharathi (hence his name). He wrote poetry, plays and film scripts on such issues as support for Dravidian or south Indian culture and the rights of women, and in opposition to superstition and casteism. One of his plays "Picirandear" was translated into French and is occasionally on sale in Pondy.
The Jawahar Toy Museum
The Jawahar Toy Museum has got a big collection of unremarkable dolls.