Coconut island tour in cycle – A responsible tourism cluster project, Puducherry 2023

The first memories mine about the place goes back to when I was a 7-year-old when we lived in Government quarters, my Franco-Tamilian neighbors had their grandparents living in Thengaithittu. Every holiday and festivities the neighbor sisters would visit them and come back to share a lot of stories about the place, its beauty, people and culture, and their favorite time with their grandparents. Time passed but the vivid stories remain. Now when I am in tourism, Anjali from Pondicherry Yacht club X Aqua Terra who has worked many years in Thengaithittu and is a pioneer in introducing water adventure activities in Pondicherry invited me to look into stories of the place which could be an interesting travel experience. Having done projects on urban food resilience creating circle gardens creating food self-sufficiency, and creating awareness about the ecosystem of the lagoon and mangroves in Thengaithittu. She wanted us to explore the heritage, culture, and crafts. In this regard, we were introduced to Mr. Baskaran, a philanthropist, an ex-councilor of Thengaithittu, a gaushala guardian, and a man with many other feathers on his hat. When we took this initiative with him, he became our biggest supporter of this initiative who has high hopes for the future of the place and its people, particularly the youth. Considering the exponential growth of tourism in Puducherry and he did not want Thengaithittu to lose out being just the next neighborhood. I and Bala, a certified local guide jointly went to explore and document the place. We are delighted to share with you what we found.

Thengaithittu through old maps

At the present, Thengaithittu is a natural island bordered by remnants of mangroves vastly known for the presence of Pondicherry Fishing harbor. However, if one traces old maps, it shows a fascinating evolution of Thengaithittu. A map dated 1705 shows Thengaithittu as only a Swamps & Saline flat adjacent to fishermen’s settlement which turned into today’s boulevard area. Further, on the consequent map, it is marked as a new coconut plantation. At the extend of 1778, it becomes a coconut island. Permanent habitation might have started in the 1750s as the mangroves were cleared and flattened the way for coconut plantations, Hence the name ’Thengaithittu- coconut Island’

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