The east coast of India, facing the Bay of Bengal, is famous for its violent waves; and Pondicherry would not be an exception to it. One of the first, and perhaps the most, intriguing image that I remember of it would be of reckless sea breeze swiftly washing my face, as I sat there watching the orange sun rising from the horizon.
One of the most defining feature of the Indian Culture, from the beginning of its time, has been the acceptance of foreign culture and societies, a sense of synthesis rather than conflict of believes. It generated the most diverse, vast and yer very polite society: the India as it is today. And another beautiful example in this regard is: Pondicherry.
The Essence of Pondicherry
From the moment I put my foot in Pondicherry, I could feel a uniqueness in its air: of tender sea breeze, of wide promenades, of French bakeries. A small city and Union Territory of Pondicherry, situated at the east coast of the Indian peninsula and about 150 km from Chennai, faces the mighty Bay of Bengal. And the two things that make it exotic in its own way are these violent beaches and old French colonies.
Where is it?
[Google_Maps_WD id=12 map=6]
Chennai : 170 km
How to reach:
Via Road or Train: Pondicherry is linked to all major cities through road and rail network.
Via Airport: Chennai Airport, Chennai (170 km)
Must Visit nearby attractions:
Auroville: 15 km
Mahabalipuram: 100 km
A Brief History:
Although the history of town goes as back to 1st century, it's significance started in 1674 when French East India Company made it their headquarters. Through the Anglo-French wars (1742-1763), Pondicherry changed hands frequently between British and French governance. But after 1814, French were allowed to retain their settlement until 1954, when at last it was handed over to Indian Union.
Beaches of Pondicherry
The Promenade beach runs along the beach road, on the opposite side of which lies the old French colony. As I walked along this rock beach, I sensed the reason why this place kept me intrigued so much- The confluence that happens here: of history and nature. And I realized a wonderful thing there: Places that keep their historical and natural values intact, exhibits a unique sense of calmness in them.
Standing there, I was just thinking, why would somebody put those rocks along the beach. And then a wave, hidden until then, suddenly came forward, collided with the rocks and sprinkled all of it's salt water over me. I understood the reason, by experience. And as though it opened my senses, I could hear now and then, see here and there, these roaring waves bursting into miniature storms of these seas.
The French Colonies
For many centuries, the French East India Company governed the city of Pondicherry. And it reflects in every bit of old town: it's roads, architecture and bakeries. The air here is little warm and smell of bakery everywhere, for the French bakeries came here with the French colonies and became an essential part of local culture.
As I roamed around in the old town, I forget for sometime that I was even in India. The vibrant colors on houses, with art deco style arches and balconies, with french nameplates on buildings and a sweet fragrance of bakery here and there, all of these little things add up to an experience of lifetime.
Who would have thought that a small city developed by foreigners would have so much to offer. Although I spent a short time there, but the impression of that time is very deep. The uniqueness of Pondicherry made me realized once again, the wonder that India is.