The city of Puducherry is the Capital of this Union Territory. It lies on the east coast about 162 km south of Chennai (Madras) located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. There are no hills or forests in this region. The major soil types found here are red ferralitic, black clay, and coastal alluvial. The main spoken language is Tamil; though Telugu, Malayalam, English, and French are spoken by a considerable number of people. Although the majority of the population is Hindu, there are quite a number of Christians and Muslims, whereas Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists are few in comparison. Puducherry, as many people feel, has a distinct spiritual vibration. Stories of resident sages come down throughout its history from the earliest days. Puducherry has a special vibe, not felt anywhere else in India. It is a blend of spiritual aura, colonial heritage, Tamil culture and the cosmopolitan flair of many nationalities in a small but varied town. This inherent ambiance of Pondy becomes most evident in the oldest part of the town which flanks the seashore boulevard. The colonial buildings, some of which date back to the 18th century, stretch along a grid of clean straight streets which house French institutions, Hotels, Guest Houses, Restaurants, Boutiques and private homes, including the sprawling premises of the famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Visitors to this area are greeted by mellow hues of cream, yellow, pink and grey compound walls interspersed by flamboyant bougainvillea bursting over gates and walls of courtyards. Quiet beaches and peaceful resorts in the north and south of the city balance the town's busy, yet easy going life. Pondy, not only offers its own special attractions but also doubles as the perfect base to explore the rich destinations of Tamilnadu that surrounds it. Some destinations, namely Auroville, the international City of Unity, the imposing Gingee Fort, the holy temple towns of Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai and Chidambaram, the heritage sculptures and magnificent rock temples of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) and the cool lush hill stations of Yercaud and Kodaikanal should make your To-Do list. Puducherry is best accessible by road from Chennai, Bangalore and even from Kerala. Chennai has an international airport and is easily reachable via a national highway from Puducherry, and offers good transit hotels in the vicinity for travelers arriving late at night.