Arikamedu is the ancient roman trade centre found in the south of Pondicherry. It was a fishing colony was used as the port for trading with the Romans and the Greco-Romans.

Arikamedu port town of early times

The port town was occupied by Romans, Cholas and French. They left their mark in the wonderful place called the Arikamedu. It was early known as arikan-medu or poduke which has a literal meaning of “eroding mound”. The city of Arikamedu was a sleepy fishing village before the Romans arrived. After their departure was survived by the Chola, Pallava and Vijayanagara dynasties.

It is an unforgettable experience to know the roman treasure trail and Arikamedu river cruise. Glassware, gems and roman lamps can be seen here. Arikamedu is a significant bead making centre and now a part of Ariyankuppam commune in Pondicherry. Arikamedu is just 7 km apart from the city of Pondicherry. Arikamedu is currently found in Ariyankuppam, features a long history that dates back to the 2nd century before Christ.

Ancient materials and partition of Arikamedu

The remains of the eighteenth century were discovered. It suggests that pottery, coloured textiles and semi-precious stones were the materials used standardly for mercantilism trade.

Afterwards, the area was partitioned into two as a northern and southern side. They were settled by different ethnic groups, so they were also called as Yavanas in Tamil literature.

Trading of beverages and foods

Wine is mentioned in the Tamil literature which has increased joy in giving to the people. Vessels were made slight by gold, to drink cool, fragrant wine brought in beautiful bowls. Beyond wine, Garam masala and olive oil were imported in the ancient trade.

In the ancient times, exports could have included textiles, beads, glass, gems and shell bangles. Even today during heavy rainy days, beads can be found on the bank of rivers. Karnataka and Pondicherry are famous in selling the shell made ornaments.

Current view of port town

Arikamedu is found with lots of mango and coconut trees around. It is really exciting to have a look at the forest within Arikamedu. The orchard looks like an Eden garden as mangoes hang on the lower branches of the tree.

Experiencing the atmosphere of the place gives an ancient look. Recollection of historic moments again in one’s life is overwhelming! Do not miss the visit to this historic place in Pondicherry. The Government of Pondicherry decided Arikamedu site be further investigated combinedly. Planned for conservation as its ancient commercial link with the Romans had been established.

Arikamedu’s glass bead making centre is considered as the mother of all bead centres in the world. Today, this place just consists of damaged walls after the cyclone Thane attack in 2011. The only structure still standing tall are the walls of The French Mission house built in the 18th century. 

Ariyankuppam Commune,

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