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A French-styled terrace lounge in Pondicherry

South India's diversity is outdone by the beauty of Pondicherry. One of the important heritage cities in the peninsula, it is a place that had held fast to the French influence that came to it in the 18th century.

Pondicherry was a place of constant acquisition by the French and the British. Being close to the coast, it was easy for these European powers to enter the city for trade purposes. Before long, they had a sway over the people to the extent of influencing their language and culture. Today, it is known as one of the havens of the Indians of French origin, or the remnants of the French East India Company.


A French cafe on the beach, Pondicherry Image source: wikimedia commons


Known for being a vacation destination, Pondicherry has so much to offer, that typical urban settings do not. The colourful houses and laid-back atmosphere are certainly charming. Even today, the city adheres to the original French design. Its streets form a perpendicular pattern, and each street is named in the French 'Rue'. It has restaurants that serve French food and menus written in French.

The older people in Pondicherry still have French citizenship, and although now fully a part of India, and even a Union Territory, Pondicherry is very distant from the typical Indian city. It is the seat of prominent French labels in India like L'Oreal,, Louis Vuitton, and St. Gobain manufacturing. Otherwise known as a quaint fishing village from its yesteryear fame, it is a place of heritage villas and French white columns.

French apartments in Pondicherry Image source: wikimedia commons

Renamed Puducherry, the city is also an active center of art and literature. It is a typical aesthetic getaway. Books of famous French authors are patronized here, as are some of the important French celebrations, like Bastille Day. Tamil is also one of the official languages of this city, along with Malayalam, English, and Telugu. A large part of Puducherry's history comes from Tamil literature.

Puducherry is known for its crafts. Carpets, adornments, aromatic oils, etc., that are sold here are famous for their unique style and value. Coming from what Jawaharlal Nehru called the 'French Window of India', arts and crafts are almost regarded as souvenirs.

Keywords: Puducherry, Pondicherry, French, Union Territory, Culture, Heritage 9


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