The legacy of French Towns In India

by - 7/02/2019

When we speak about India’s colonial past, it is often the British that comes in mind. However, there were multiple countries with a colonial past in India such as the French, Portuguese, Dutch and Danish. However, we do not hear much about the influence of these countries on varied regions in India. But that has been changing in recent times, thanks to the internet, travellers and pop culture. Spend some time on Google and you will find multiple articles on these lesser-known colonies, especially the French ones. After the British, if a western force has had an impact on Indian cities and culture, it is the French. 
While almost all of us are aware of Pondicherry, but how many can name other French towns in India? Challenging, right? Well, anyone would? But recently, one French Indian town has been the word of trend online of late. It is Chandannagar that is situated in West Bengal. The reason - ZEE5’s original sports web series Bombers. As the backdrop of this recent web series, people are yet again talking about the place and also the lesser known French towns in India. Hence, we came up with this article to address all the common queries with swiftness. But before that, we highly recommend you watch Bombers online on ZEE5, because this is an attempt in sports drama that is as exciting as it gets. 

Chandannagar (West Bengal)

In the 18th century, Chandannagar’s glory and riches eclipsed that of Calcutta (now Kolkata). By the mid-1700s, it was the European centre of commerce in Bengal. However, post the war with British, Chandannagar experience vast scale damages and never found its lost glory, though it is rebuilt by the French. Now, years after the French left, the town still comes across as an interesting mix of French and Bengali architecture. The architecture seen in old buildings here were too advanced for the time, speaking volumes about the skills of Frenchmen. Apart from architectural and cultural significance, even history buffs would love to discover the place that gave shelter to fleeing individuals of the era like Rabindranath Tagore. 

Mahe (Kerala)

A quaint little town on the coast of Kerala, Mahe openly embraces the French and Malayali influences on its local culture. The French colonial heritage is seen in buildings like the Government House and also the Tagore Park, which has a statue of the iconic Marianne, in honour of the French revolution. Since the 1970s, the town was also well-known for being a surfer’s paradise. 
Yanam (Andhra Pradesh)

Over the course of history, Yanam has had many rulers including Indian monarchs, Dutch, British and finally the French. Out of which, the French seem to have the biggest impact on the small coastal town. The town is known for having a mixed French-Telugu culture, locally referred to as Frelugu. While there are Hindu festivals like Śrī Rājarājeśwara Kalyāṇōtsavālu and Venkanna Babu Kalyāṇōtsavālu, there are also French-inspired festivities like Fête de Pondichéry celebrated in the town. 
Karaikal (Tamil Nadu)

The town gives the feel of a colourful mixed heritage, just like other French Indian towns. While most of the populace speaks Tamil, one can find many French speakers, especially among the older generation. Today, the town is often is as a gateway town for pilgrims, as Velankanni for Christians and Nagore for Muslims are nearby. While travelling to Karaikal, one must definitely try the local halwas.
While Pondicherry has gained some serious repute as a French Indian town, the ones mentioned above too deserve to be experienced for the unique cultural vibe they have in place. So, take a break from the known and explore the lesser known delights that are spread across India.

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  1. This is a very interesting article, and it great to know that a legacy of French towns exist in India

  2. Such useful info Mandira. You have let me know about all these french towns in India that I never knew existed

  3. Wow, all those towns look so cute and amazing. I would definitely love to travel to few of those. And the vibes are too good. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Ur post recollected my throw back memories love the beach of Pondicherry the streets are just wow for long drive ty for such a wonderful post.

  5. I so want to visit Pondicherry. It's my next travel destination. Love all your pictures.

  6. Your post has insights of many cultures that are in India. Such shows of Zee5 showcase it very beautifully.

  7. Cool area of India thanks for bringing it out to light.