French Heritage in India: A Tale of Cultural Fusion and Influence

Posted On : 28-7-2016
French Heritage in India

If you want to get into a spiritualistic mood visit the world-famous Aurbindo Ashram and Auroville and be blessed with a lot of peace and goodness. And if you are looking for some lively activity and fun, what better way than attending the various fairs and festivals that are organized frequently. And if you still haven't had enough, you could go shopping in this shopper's paradise. This is Pondicherry or Puducherry for you. Pondicherry tourism is so dynamic that it has something to offer for everyone.

Pondicherry tourism offers the serene beaches in and around Pondicherry. The town is also home to a lot of heritage buildings and monuments.

Pondicherry is also considered as the centre for Yoga and Meditation in South India. Yoga courses to suit the various tourists have been designed which makes it very attractive. The Department of Tourism of Pondicherry organizes the annual French Food festival also called the Gourmet which is another attraction for the tourists. The Botanical Gardens of Pondicherry is extremely famous and is home to a lot of unusual specimens of plants.

Tourist Places in Pondicherry

AUROVILLE is located around eight km from Pondicherry and is a place that you should not miss while on a visit to Pondy. Auroville is a township of universal essence. It has been conceived to accommodate people across 35 nations to an ancient city in Tamil as well as Roman live as a community. It came into existence in 1968. The idea of this Utopian state was brought to the Mother several decades back, following which she gave her blessings to this noble task. The Government of India and later UNESCO welcomed the suggestion and encouraged it. Auroville is referred to as the city of Dawn. The city has been planned out neatly. It has been divided into several zones. At the very center, there is the peace area consisting of the Matri Mandir, the gardens, the amphitheatre with the urn and a lake.

Then comes the industrial zone which is directed at the creation of green industries meant to make the town self-sufficient. This area includes the city's administration and other training centers. The residential Zone comes next which is the largest area among all zones. More than half of the area will be green area whereas the rest would be the built surface. Apart from this, there is an international zone, a cultural zone, and a Green Belt zone. The International zone is meant to host national and cultural pavilions. In the Cultural zone, there are facilities for art and sports and other cultural activities. The city has been conceived to have a green belt surrounding it meant for organic farming, forest and wildlife areas etc have been planned. Such novel ideas like the transformation of wasteland into a dynamic ecosystem have been successfully implemented.


One of the must-visit places in Pondicherry is Arikamedu. Arikamedu is a great tourist spot as it has a lot of historical relevance. A lot of students arrive here on study tours periodically. It is located on the banks of the Ariyankuppam River about 4 km from Pondicherry. This place is remembered as a trade center of the Romans a number of centuries back.

The place was excavated several times and it was concluded that this city was essentially into bead making and fishing and had trade relations with the Romans. A lot of excavated material shows signs of Roman presence here. There are coins, ceramics, and other materials excavated here that show a clear Roman connection. The wine was supposed to have been imported whereas exports included textiles, glass, and so on. Chola coins have also been found here. The excavations brought to light several important findings of the olden time. There have been references made of this literature. The findings of Arikamedu have been preserved in the Pondicherry museum for all to see.

A present-day visitor is not likely to find any specimens of the excavated material. There are perpendicular walls and the mission house which are the only remnants of the past. The trenches created by the excavations have been filled up. Now the place has a thick mango and coconut plantation. Tourists can take the river cruise which is about 20 minutes and enjoy the view of Veerampattinam Beach, the Aryankuppam River, and the lighthouse. The journey, as well as the destination, is equally beautiful. This trip down the river is bound to bring you closer to nature.


Pondicherry is synonymous with French Heritage in India and understandably so as it served as the capital of the French Colonies in India. The town was under French administration for centuries together and hence it is imperative that this place has a strong French feel in its architecture and monuments.

There are a lot of monuments here which speaks about the strong French presence. It includes the French-built Children's park with a statue of Dupleix Marquis Joseph François.

The other monuments of French Heritage are the Maine building which houses the Puducherry Municipality, the Le Café which used to be the port office, The French war memorial in Goubert Avenue, The French consulate building, An abandoned lighthouse, The Aayi Mandapam built during the time of Napoleon three and the Romain Rolland Library. Apart from these, there are several churches and other monuments which are part of the French Heritage. The Church of Our Lady of the Angels at Dumas Street and the statue of Joan of Arc at Dumas Street. Are other reminders of French influence.

The Streets and Roads of Pondicherry have a marked French influence. The Beach road which is part of the Pondicherry heritage is a classic example of French construction. Apart from these the various French learning institutes set up here are great reminders of the French Heritage in Pondicherry. This influence makes the place a pioneer in the field of fashion - be it in garments or home interiors. There are a lot of houses which are ancient and constructed in accordance with the French way of architecture.

A visitor to Pondicherry is bound to experience the style and elegance of the French influence that has been infused into the length and breadth of Pondicherry.


A visit to Pondicherry is incomplete without making a trip to the Botanical Gardens. Pondicherry in general has a very fertile soil, which accounts for the greenery and vegetation around the place. It is little wonder then that the town boasts of one of the finest botanical gardens in the country. The Botanical Garden in Pondicherry is home to several species of rare and beautiful trees and plants.

The approach to the botanical gardens, which is in the heart of the city, is reminiscent of the French Architecture. The origin of the Botanical gardens dates back to 1826. A lot of exotic plant species were introduced by the French here and the garden itself is laid down in the French style. This place is bliss for nature lovers and is the best place to experience a lot of peace and calm.

The Garden serves as a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A lot of shady trees, beautiful flowers, and the impressive layout of the park with pruned plants on paved roads help to create an with the spirited effort and commitment atmosphere of sheer visual extravaganza. Tourists and students on study tours flock the place.

This is an inseparable part of Pondicherry tourism. The Botanical Gardens in Pondicherry have also been provided with a musical fountain. Colourful musical fountain shows are conducted on weekends and holidays. It provides for a wonderful sensory experience.


Chunnambar Resort is along the banks of Ariyankkupam River about 8 km away from Pondicherry. There is a beach in Chunnambar. The place has been developed as a major tourist Center. The place is a center for beach sports with its clean sands and clear waters. You could also catch a glimpse of playful dolphins.

Chunnambar resort boasts of facilities of international standards. The natural beauty of the place combined of the authorities has helped in converting this place into one of the most desirable tourist destinations in this part of the world.

Chunnambar Resort offers to rent boats with which you could go on boat tours along the backwaters. Trekking and picnics are favourite activities here. The resort invites a lot of foreign and domestic tourists alike. The facilities are of international standards.

There is a famous restaurant called the Seagull restaurant which offers Tandoori food and Chinese food. You could also avail of food that suits all palettes. Accommodations here are of international standards. The beauty of this place lies in the fact that it offers all possible modern amenities simultaneously being close to nature. They have treetop houses here. The feeling is beyond words. It is suitable to place for a quiet stay. One could also get several buildings. There is Ashram accommodation in a two-story treetop house aptly named Sunrise Panorama.


Pondicherry is synonymous with the Aurbindo Ashram. It is the place where the great Indian philosopher Aurbindo lived and died. The Ashram is in Rue de la Marine. It is also the place where Aurbindo's disciple and companion Mirra Alfassa who was from Paris and who later came to be known as the mother lived and died.

The ashram was set up in the year 1926 by Sri Aurbindo Ghose. His philosophy is derived from a combination of yoga and modern science. The ashram has received a lot of fame in India and abroad. The devotees come from all over the world. The Ashram is one of the richest in the country. Aurbindo Ashram is instrumental in giving Pondicherry the name of a spiritual town.

The Ashram has been instrumental in creating the spiritual feel of the city. The Ashram consists of guest houses as well. The main Ashram building is the place where the Samadhi of Sir Aurbindo and the Mother are kept. This place is covered with flowers daily. There is a Library as well.

Aurbindo Ashram believes in being a self-sufficient unit. It has a factory that manufactures incense sticks, handmade papers, greeting cards, perfumed candles, and the likes. These are very popular and sold in the domestic and international markets. Aurbindo Ashram is the proud possession of Pondicherry.


Pondicherry is home to several famous Churches. Many churches were built by the French, and its structure and architecture give a definite French feel.

One such example of a church is the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This church is full of eye-pleasing paintings in stained glass and also has beautiful marble decorations. This church was supposed to have been erected in 1 700s by French Missionaries. Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a catholic church and is a white and brown structure.

The other famous churches include the Church of Capuchins, Notre dame de, The Notre Dame des Agnes, Church of the Assumption, The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, and Church of Our Lady of Good Health Church of Capuchins holds the distinction of being one of the first churches in Pondicherry. Though this church has lost its old charm; it is still revered and houses an orphanage. The Notre Dame de reminds one of the typical French churches. The statue is of Our Lady with the infant Jesus in her arms. The Notre Dame Des Agnes is a church built on the Greek-Roman architectural design. The place is a visual treat as it has the much-acclaimed oil painting of Our Lady of the Assumption.


One of the best beaches in South India lies in Pondicherry. These beaches in Pondicherry are extremely clean with clear waters and clean sands. To add to it the beaches are not very crowded. Maximum care has been given to highlight the beauty of these beaches with cafes and other eateries along with resorts and cottages for the visitors. These buildings are built in a way that it does not affect the calmness and the natural beauty of the beach.

Serenity Beach is very much in the town and characterizes the essence of its name. It has a very calm and serene atmosphere and the sands and the waters are extremely neat and tidy.

The Paradise Beach houses the famous Chunnamber resort and is on the Cuddalore main road. The highlight is that there is a creek flowing on one side. The beach is extremely attractive as the sands are very clean and the water crystal clear. The beach offers a lot of sports facilities and accommodation on treetop houses which is an added attraction. One can also catch a glimpse of the friendly dolphins. The Paradise beach or the Plage Paradiso is one of the most famous beaches of Pondicherry.

The Promenade Beach and the monuments around speak of the rich heritage of Pondicherry. Some of the important monuments of the city are on the shores of this beautiful beach. They include the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc and Dupleix the War Memorial, etc. A lot of Information pertaining to Pondicherry can be acquired through the information center which faces the beach.