Pondicherry has a rich French cultural heritage, having
been the capital of the French colonies in India since the 17th century.
Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam and Mahe were transferred to the Indian Union
This French legacy is visible in the well-planned town,
neatly laid roads, wide and vibrant beaches, beautiful promenades,
architecturally imposing churches and public buildings and statues of Joan
of Arc and Josep Francois Dupleix who was the Governor of the French
colonies in India from 1742-54. The town also has an Alliance Francaise
and the French Institute.
Among the notable French personalities
who left their indelible mark on Pondicherry, four names stand out.
Francois Martin who was appointed the Administrator after the Treaty of
Ryswick, brought stability and was responsible for its growth. Dumas, who
succeeded him, built on Martin's foundations. The third notable Frenchman
was Joseph Francois Dupleix, the Governor of French India from
The fourth French personality who made an impact on modern
day Pondicherry was 'The Mother', a Paris-born painter-musician and Sri
Aurobindo's close companion from 1920 until his death in 1950. She was
responsible for developing the Ashram as it is today.