Pondicherry or India’s French town as it is fondly known, is one of the most popular sea towns of the country. Each year, thousands of travelers flock to explore this French utopia, situated farthest south in India. My earliest memories of Pondicherry, though, lie in my childhood, on a joint family trip, my mom had planned. We scavenged through southern most towns from Mumbai and then eventually ended our trip back in Chennai at Marina Beach. To be honest, I don’t have many clear memoirs drawn, except for some ‘sadhu museum’ which in fact is the Auroville village, I am told now. Last year, when I had the chance to tour Pondicherry, I decided to make the best out of it and make it a trip (this time around, I would remember.) So, I decided to focus on a theme, that I would come to cherish. That was the architecture– the soul of the place. As luck, would have it, I returned to Mumbai, to attend an exhibition hosted by Bhau Daji Lad Musuem in Mumbai and the Netherlands Consulate in Mumbai, which flipped by notions about the French Pondicherry 360 degrees.
Pondicherry is usually called a French town as it was under the French influence and a french colony for a long time, whose influences can be seen in its food, architecture, way of life, etc. However, my mind was quite blown away, when I was told that the earliest architectural plans of this sea-town were drawn by the Dutch and not the French! Unfortunately, I missed exploring the Dutch remains and ended up focusing more on discovering the ‘French slice’ in India. Some day, perhaps, I will visit again to unlearn the French code and learn the Dutch code, the town abides by. But till then, here are a few glimpses of the Pondicherry, I captured through my lens: