In the past, the Red Hills, about 3 kms to the west of the town, were the only land marks providing navigators approaching Pondicherry with orientation points. The French planned to build a tower displaying a light for the guidance of mariners at night. In November 1835, the area around the ‘mât de pavillon’ was selected and, in March 1836, the lighthouse erected by the engineer L. Guerre. It was a fluted tower built above a rectangular base, 29 m high, with 3 openings: a shop, a place for the watchman and an inner staircase leading to the top where the light was placed. The light was visible to a distance of 29kms.
It is to be noted that this structure was different from the existing one: the base was a simple rectangular building and not a circular two-storied construction as seen today: the circular building dates from the end of the 19th century, the modification took place probably when the light was improved in July 1886; as for the second storey of the lower structure, perhaps, it was added some 50 years back.
On September 12, 1931, a revolving light of 1,000 watts replaced the fixed light. As the lighthouse went out of order frequently, in 1970, a new lighthouse was constructed in Kirapalaiyam village, to the south of the town. Now, this abandoned lighthouse has been converted partly into a museum.
Located across the street standing face to face from the imposing Gandhi statue, the Nehru statue is also flanked by four pillars from Gingee.
The space in front plays host to various cultural, musical and commercial activities throughout the year.