On a whirlwind trip to Pondicherry, I visited a quaint little museum in its old parts to better understand some of the charm the city exudes for the hordes of tourists it attracts. From the tiniest bits of Greek and Spanish clay pottery dating back to the Roman Empire to French chariots and carriages from the 19th century donated by old Tamilian families who inherited this past, I was at once unhappy that I had no time to visit the deserted archaeological site of Arikaedu where most of the ancient collections come from. After all, it was just 7 km away from the museum. Ah well.
That notwithstanding, I was happy to shoot some of these pictures of the surrounding area near the museum. Shooting inside the museum was prohibited though I have seen some pictures on the net taken by those who don’t take rules seriously. Good for them!
Pondicherry or Pondy is a town that loves its past. As seen in this picture of an old Fiat being lovingly restored. The Fiat was a symbol of style back in the 50’s and 60’s all over India.
Another dream car of the 60’s being given a facelift. It must’ve been great when the going was good. For now it ain’t going anywhere, not until the tyres are found!
A French street sign with an Indian twist. To me this detailed and subtle graffiti seemed to suggest a contemporary European sensibility.
I haven’t seen stencilled graffiti of this nature in Mumbai, hometown of the Lord Ganesha. Interesting typography.
Graffiti in this case adopts Banksy’s style and attitude, further illustrating Pondy’s connect with Europe in modern times.
The old city is full of little details such as this decorative sculpture which is as Indian as its European. Bohemian chic or new age cum old world charm? It’s hard to decide.
Pondicherry became a part of India as recently as 1954. The transfer marked the end of 224 years of French rule in this tiny part of Tamil Nadu.
Another view of a colonial home lovingly preserved. The French quarter of this city is quiet, clean and shady. The cobbled streets are lined with charming townhouses like this one.
That is one big door; it opens completely only when you are a known visitor to this mansion driving up your vintage car. The partial opening is for the security to pop-up to check your credentials and intention i.e if you come walking.
Most of the old mansions facing the sea are now budget hotels run by locals. Surprisingly, they’re the
least expensive. Their interior design aesthetic is a bit like a Tollywood movie set. Very kitsch and i don’t mean bohemian.
There’s a certain romance in walking around the streets of Old Pondicherry. Plenty of nice places to eat some fusion food. The beer here is dirt cheap as it’s a Union territory. I didn’t realise until we drove back to Auroville, else I would’ve carried a carton for the night.
The horse carriages I saw in the museum were larger, grander versions of this humble cycle rickshaw.
Graffiti everywhere. Especially on abandoned tempos or should I say ‘goods carriers’
Beautiful architecture. Though a weekend in the city should be just about enough to imbibe the atmosphere. Unless of course you are spending time at the Aurobindo ashram learning yoga, meditation or even incense making.
This is the beach front that was badly affected by the Tsunami in 2004. Its pretty windy here on a normal day, swimming is not in the culture, so don’t pack that 2 piece bikini yet. Instead enjoy a stroll in your yoga pyjamas, breathing in the sea air.
The streets have seen some agitations since India gained independence. The French didn’t leave here with the British. This lane where this facade is located is so peaceful, it was hard for me to imagine any anguish, leave alone feeling it.