French dream of an indian empire has taken life but it also rapidly came to an end in Pondicherry. Among the dispersed territories of the territorial Union of Pondicherry, it is in Pondicherry itself that we can discover what has symbolized the french influence in India. That is also what makes this territory unique and especially, the french district. Something quite different from the rest of India.
All the french tradition, the quiet atmosphere of the town influenced by the Ashram of Aurobindo and the beach, make a whole to give to Pondicherry an attractive destination.The Union Territory of Pondicherry includes 4 enclaves located in three states of South India. It includes the coastal towns of Pondicherry and Kerala in the Tamilnadu, Yanam in Andra Pradesh and Mahe in Kerala
The old french colony has retrieved its indian character, but the scent of the french influence in "Pudicheri" as we call now, can be found again in the red kepis of the police officers, french spelling on signboards and traffic signs and some buildings and old stones .
The slight french accent which tinged tamil and english languages that we can sometimes hear, remains a living memory of this culture. In the same way, the alignment at right angle of the streets remains a lovely inheritance of french architects.Legends associate old Pondicherry with the great hindu sage Agastya. Escavations in the region of Arikame near Pondicherry have proved that romans had settled 2000 years ago. Pondicherry has been successively called Poduke and Podukay in the works of geographers and historians from the first centuries of our era.
Pondicherry, as we know now, became wide known on the arrival of the French on the 4 february 1673. 20 years after in 1643, the town became the property of the Dutch before belonging to France in 1699 with the" traité de Ryswick".François Martin who was appointed Administrator following the "traité of Ryswick", restored stability to Pondicherry and developed the town. Dumas who succeeded him, followed the principles created by François Martin.
During approximatevily 250 years, Pondicherry was a quite a calm town except during the Carnatic franco-english wars lead by Duplex and Clive.
In 1742, Joseph François Dupleix, became Governor of the French India. At the same period, war broke out between France and England. The situation in Europe, and the ambitions of Dupleix stirred up the anglo-french conflict in India.
During the next 70 years, Pondicherry survived in continuous conflicts of power by the French and the British.
The end of french enclaves
1940: At the request of the British, the french India was one of the first colonies to support the General de Gaulle and to join to the movement of the France Libre.
1940: Right after the war, the Indian movement of liberation developed.
1949: After a great unrest, and at the end of a referendum, Chandernagor was separated from France and merged with the State of Bengal.
31.10.1954: For the last time at 6 o'clock, as the sun set, the french flag was lifted off the mast of the pavilion.
1.11.1954: After several months of trouble and an economic recess, after Dien Bien Phu, France agreed to let its last 4 territories to India. M.R.K Nehru, General Secretary of foreign affairs, came specially from Delhi, hoisted the Indian flag in the State of Pondicherry. Mr Kewal Singh was appointed the first High Commissioner of the new state. He was received at the Government Hotel by Mr Pierre Landy, special diplomatic representative of the French Republic Government and was accompanied to the Governor's ceremony transfer of power. During the exchange of signatures of the two statesmen, the indian flag was hoisted at the top of the Government, with 21 gun shots.
28.05.1956: The "treaty of transfer" was signed in Delhi, 8 years after the transfer "de facto".
01.1963: Several thousands of Pondicherry people opt for the french nationality.
01.07.1963: Creation of the "Territory of Pondicherry" which includes Pondicherry, Karikal, Yanam and Mahé.
Today, nearly 20 000 Pondicherry people live in France and nearly 10 000 french citizens live in the Territory of Pondicherry.
Continual bonds with France and Pondicherry make these districts of the Tamilnadu Union a unique indian town. A pleasant beach, buildings in good condition, decorated temples, worldwide known Ashram of Aurobindo, community projects, and its experience of life in community has made it famous. Auroville is at a distance of only 10 km from Pondicherry.