Puducherry, formerly known as Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India and is located on the Coromandel Coast in South India. It is a plain land with almost no mountain and forest. The area is covered with dry and evergreen species of vegetation typical in tropical regions.
In this region there are no longer any representatives of undisturbed climax forest. Nonetheless a few relic patches of the old vegetation at different levels of degradation still remain. Some interesting examples: Marakkanam (Forest Department), temple groves (Puthupet, Pillaichavadi, Mudaliarchavadi, Kottakarai), and temple land (Bommapalayam). Some individual trees can also be found around village ponds or in the hedges surrounding agricultural fields
Sacred Groves locally known as ‘Kovil Kadugal’, ‘Ayyappan Kavu’ represent small patches of forest left untouched by the local communities because of their faith and tradition that the area is sacred and the vegetation and animals inhabiting the same should not be destroyed.
They are repositories of medicinal plants and local flora and often they harbor local fauna as well. These sacred groves are often dedicated to local spirits or deities and as such the people attach some sanctity to them. Religious practices and cultural traditions have been spun around them to deter people from exploiting the biodiversity contained within them. This ancient Indian conservation tradition has played a vital role in conserving small pieces of forest cover, which often consists of endangered flora.
These groves are often found in forestlands, Community lands, and temple lands and sometimes in private lands.
However due to scarcity of land, change in outlook etc. these areas are under pressure of extinction.
Around 123 patches of sacred groves varying in size from 0.2 to 5.0 ha in around the temples have been identified in the U.T. of Pondicherry.
Some of the important sacred groves are at Mangalam, Poornankuppam, Thirukkanur, Madagadipet, Lawspet, Mettupalayam, Abhisekapakkam, Keezhur, Karasur (all in Pondicherry Region) Chembara and Pandakkal (in Mahe Region).