The picturesque town of Pondicherry and serene beaches has its own chronicles of the colonies here
Crumbling cathedrals, blooming bougainvillea creepers and colourful French cottages Yes we are speaking about Puducherry, a small little town in southern coast of India.
With the unique architecture, designed streetscapes, people and their lifestyle which reflects the influences of colonial past of the place. A trip to Puducherry is like a journey in time with a vibrant present celebrating its interesting past.
Here’s a list of what to explore:
The street facades here are usually characterized by a continuous construction with high garden walls and elaborate gates. Peculiar designs depicting both the Tamilian architecture along with the French.
The stretch of Vysial Street between Mission Street and M.G. Road has the remaining core of Hindu Tamil houses maintaining the earliest fusion with European style. Some of the houses in this traditional neighbourhood of rich merchants are 250 years old. Raj Nivas and the Ananda Rangapillai House both reflect a unique blend of Indian and French architecture is a must stop here.
The French quarter are characterised by long wide streets with stately colonial styled buildings. The residential buildings are comparatively simple, solid yet varied. Some of the important heritage building to visit here are French Institute, Alliance Francaise de Pondicherry, French Consulate and Lycee Francais School.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is 100 years old historical church with 50mts. long 48mts. wide and 18mts. High. There 24 main columns holding the structure with Latin rite cross shape in aerial view is in Gothic style. Another cathedral here must visit is the 300 years Immaculate Conception Cathedral, one of the oldest churches and also resembles the churches in France. The interiors of the cathedral consists of eight barrel vaults and a central dome pierced with eight circular openings. This is also the residence of the Bishop.
Miscellany of cultural
One of the major highlight of the city is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. It was founded by French-born lady Mirra Alfassa also known as The Mother. It is world renowned for the spiritual community centre. One can see the mausoleum of Sri Aurobindo located in the central courtyard under a frangipani tree. Here in Puducherry one can indulge in cultural activities at La Casita House which is tiny Latin America house for dance and music, Kasha Ki Aasha Art is beautiful Tamilian café and boutique, Mohanam Cultural Centre and Sita Cultural Centre offers aficionados to learn folk & classical dances and martial arts.
Another significant place to visit is Auroville, it is a small town on its own inhabited by a large diversity of people from around the globe. The main entity in Auroville is the Matrimandir ; a sphere built out of gold plates, treasures a crystal in the bottom of it. There are several rooms for meditation and is surrounded by a large garden signifying spiritual aspects by The Mother.
If you want to know the history of Puducherry one must surely stop by the Puducherry Museum, which displays the findings of Roman traders from the 1st century AD. The relics and the artefacts here include dyed textiles, pottery, semi-precious stones from the Chola and Pallava dynasties along with ancient Roman scripts which came along with the traders.
Puducherry rebounds its food with the confluence of culture from the French, Portuguese, English and South-Indian. One would find old French bakeries serving some of the best pastries and French breads. Also dine at Le Club which serves best French cuisines under its tree-shaded dining and Café de Art a 19th-century building filled with colonial art and furniture and they serve a decent menu of French classics.
Travellers can enjoy a snack right by the sea, at Le Cafe on Goubert Avenue any time of the day. The experience is unmatched by anything else in the city.
There are few refurbished houses in city which offers stay for guests. These enticing and old-style houses brings Indian and French style specialities like open courtyards, designed balconies and wooden furniture. One among them is the La Villa Hotel, this is a colonial 19th century structure, giving a white appearance and atmosphere throughout.
Patricia Guest House is the quiet photographed building of Puducherry with flashy French yellow paints. It was built in 1700’s and belongs to the Rue Françoi’s Martin’s family heritage, offers authentic French hospitality.
Other options on your list can be the Villa Christophe and Gratitude which are designed keeping in mind the shores to enjoy the scenic beauty of the beaches.
And yes the city of Puducherry would give your good vibes as you depart with memories of past and celebrations of the present.