After one month of being infused in the Indian atmosphere, I realise that the place where I’m living at the moment is maybe one of the most particular places in India. Except the fact that I’m staying in Auroville, which is a very unusual and very pleasant international town in the outskirts of Pondicherry, the place of Pondicherry itself is atypical compare to others Indian cities.
A little geography and history
Pondicherry, which is also called Puducherry (since 2006) or Pondichéry (in French), is located in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India that is the 4th largest economy among all Indian states.
Pondicherry has known different colonial periods in History, but the French mainly held the control of the city from the year 1674 to the 1st November 1954, when the French government leave all the ancient territories of the French India under the control of the Indian Government. The French colony has given some rights to the Dalits people (the lowest caste) that were forbidden before like the right to wear clothes and shoes in the street, which have been at the basis of a certain social equality emancipation. Therefore, the French government has been regretted at that time of the Independence and is still regretted by some people nowadays. In this regard, the language of Molière is used by a part of the population and Pondicherry benefits from a special treatment especially lower taxes in some goods like liquors, which make also Pondicherry the perfect place to buy souvenirs.
The little city of Pondicherry
The map of the city (see below) demonstrate clearly the colonial influence with its perpendicular and parallel streets. There is three different districts with three distinct ambiances: the French district (the south part in orange) very quiet and calm, the Muslim district (the west part in green) with the delightful Muezzin’s call at 5 am and, finally, the Indian district (the center and east part in green) which is very animated and where driving a motorcycle looks like in a crazy video game !
In others words, Pondicherry is not a very big city and its simple organisation makes the things really easy to take his marks, especially if you are french. There is no magnificent monuments but the entire city has a very special atmosphere. Indeed, you can do some shopping in Nehru Street with its many different stores, get lost in the Grand Bazaar (Goubert Market) with all its exotic sights and smells, drink a coffee with a french croissant in the modern french bakery, enjoy a beautiful walk or a motorcycle ride along the sea’s bay, spend an afternoon at the Government Place with its peaceful park… There is so many different ambiances that you should certainly appreciate the little city of Pondicherry !
A little visit in pictures
Talking, talking, talking… Sometimes, pictures are more representative than hundreds of words ! Am I Right? Anyway, let’s have a real look on Pondicherry !
These pictures were taken in the ORSED’s office, in the extreme west part of Pondicherry. Now, let’s go down in the street.
Each Sunday, the main streets of Pondicherry are agitated with a lot of different stalls in front of the stores for the Sunday Market… It’s time to bargain in this huge mass of people !
Pondicherry is also a city with very diversified religious cults. For example, when I stayed in the muslim district during my first days, it was really special to be rocked by the Muezzin’s call. I let you discover this inspiring diversity in pictures.
“True knowledge is not attained by thinking. It is what you are; it is what you become.” ― Sri Aurobindo
The Goubert Market, the famous Grand Bazaar in Pondicherry, where you can fill your grocery basket with a lot of vegetables, fruits, spices, etc.
Others representative monuments of the french period…
During the sunset, you can enjoy the end of your day admiring the sea with your friends.
When the night is coming around 6 pm, we discover others surprising atmospheres with particular feelings. In these pictures, you’ll see lot of lights mainly because of the 60th anniversary of the Independence Day of Pondicherry (1st November 1954) and of Diwali’s Day (22 October 2014).
To conclude, I think that Pondicherry is a beautiful and interesting city to visit, especially if you are french considering the important french community that is living here. You will not come for visiting magnificent monuments but for living entirely in this atypical city of the South India.