Park Monument (Aayi Mandapam) in the Government Park of Pondicherry

Weather :

Timings : 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Time Required : 1 - 2 hrs

Entry Fee : No Entry Fee

Aayi Mandapam, Pondicherry Overview

Standing sturdy at the centre of the Bharathi Park in Pondicherry, Aayi Mandapam or Park Monument is a pearly white edifice built during the reign of Napolean III, Emperor of France. The monument was built in the honour of the female courtesan Ayi who tore down her own house to build a water reservoir for the city. Constructed in the brilliant Greco - Roman architectural design, the Mandapam is situated amidst beautiful well-maintained lawns, gorgeous fountains and vibrantly blooming flowers. The lush green garden is dotted with quaint little benches made of granite for the convenience of the visitors.

The space is well utilised by the authorities and has been efficiently developed into a commercial cum historical place. Especially popular among young couples and photography buffs, the charming place is thronged by tourists and locals alike for evening/morning walks or to spend a few moments of solitude amidst groomed natural beauty.

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Legend of Aayi Mandapam

There is one very interesting legend associated with the monument of Aayi Mandapam. The story dates back to the time of the rule of Krishna Devaraya. One day the king set on a tour of his kingdom when he came to Pondicherry and saw a beautiful building with enchanting architecture and carvings. The king thought of it to bea temple and bowed down in reverence. The people around him looked at him in surprise and astonishment. On being asked, an old man told the king that what he thought was a temple was actually a brothel. On hearing this, the king was enraged, he demanded his soldiers to tear down the building and produce the prostitute before him.

But before the soldiers could destroy the building, Aayi- the prostitute begged and requested the king to spare her house. However, the king was too enraged to listen to any of her pleas. But she convinced the king to let her destroy her house on her own instead of the soldiers doing it, to which the king agreed. So then, the prostitute broke down her house and built a water tank for the people of the city, in its place, which came to be called as Aayi Kulam in her memory.

History of Aayi Mandapam

It is believed that when French colonised India years before, there was a water shortage for the army and the colonisers due to salty sea water present everywhere. The ruling king - Napoleon III sent his architect Monsieur Lamairesse to take care of the problem. The architect then, came across this site where existed a water tank from long before called Aayi Kulam. He built a 5 kms long tunnel from the water tank to a park in the city for the provision of fresh water. The king heard the myth behind the construction of Aayi Kulam and was impressed by the action of Lady Aayi. So he demanded a memorial to be constructed in the honour of Aayi.

How To Reach Aayi Mandapam

The monument is located within the premises of Bharathi Park at Rue Saint Gilles Street, White Town. While most tourists prefer renting a scooter or a bike to commute around the city, Pondicherry Tourism Development Corporation also operates daily bus services which are relatively more economical and easy to travel. Alternatively, you can rent a private taxi-cab or also drive down to the spot.

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