Posts in Pondicherry
Colourful Graveyard: Photo Essay
tiled-grave.jpg

I've always been curious about the local graveyard. Sometimes I see backpackers and tourists leave the place, carrying their bulky SLR's. So I finally made the time, and walked through it. It surprised me because it wasn't typical. Not that I've seen many graveyards. The only other time I've set foot in one is for a silly dare when I was a kid. Another time was when I was doing a design project near the border of Rajasthan in a village called Idar. I visited a very small Dargah there, deserted and locked away. Technically its not a graveyard, but its very similar in concept to a graveyard because it is burial ground. full view graveyard

colours

grave red

tiled grave

blue grave (2)

blue grave

clothes hanging on cross

detail_family pics

Found Art: Entrance/Door
door-knob.jpg

There are a lot of old Tamil and French houses in Pondicherry. Some of the houses have an interesting fusion of Tamil and french architecture. For example, one house I had lived in for about two weeks when I first landed up in Pondy has a ground floor in Tamil style, with a large central courtyard et al, and the first floor in French style with a ballroom to entertain French guests. It was owned by an Indian beurocrat in the days when Pondy was a French Colony. A lot of these houses are in the prime areas right next to the beach. They are taken up and redone as guesthouses and cafe's and restaurants, and they flourish because of all the tourists coming in, or at least, I think they flourish. Anyway, this is a photograph of one such place. This beautiful house has been bought up by a kitchen company!

It was weird, we were walking by and from the outside, we thought it was probably a cafe so we walked in. Instead, its been converted into a store to sell kitchen appliances. It was strange and uncomfortable for some reason, the mismatch between the old house and the commercial kitchen company.

Entrance Gate

Detail: A beautiful door knob at the entrance -

Door Knob

Tamil and French Fusion Architecture
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I lived all alone in this old Tamil house for about two weeks while I was looking out for an apartment. Everyone told me it was haunted and all that, but I didn't have any scary experiences (what a surprise ^_^). The house itself was old, old and beautiful. The current owner told me an interesting story about the house.  Less than a hundred years ago it was owned by a hi-flying Tamil bureaucrat when Pondicherry was still a French Colony. According to an old cook who has worked in the house for more than sixty years, the name of the previous owner was Ramaswami Chettiyar, his daughters name was Rani and his wife's name was Maragadham. He built the ground floor in traditional Tamil style, with a courtyard and everything, while the first floor is built in French style, with chandeliers, high ceilings and a huge ballroom to entertain French guests. I lived on the first floor, but most of the rooms were closed off. Large parts of the house have been broken down over time to give space for roads and neighbours, only the smaller parts of it remain, and even those are badly maintained. That's probably why some people find it scary.

Main Room

room

My favourite part of the place; The bathroom door is completely stained glass:

Stained Glass Bathroom Door

mirror-detail Detail of the giant mirrors on both sides of the drawing room.

The stained glass windows really add to the overall effect, and conflict nicely with the traditional, and brightly painted carved wood and absence of glass on the ground floor:

courtyard tamil house

Only some of painted details remain, but these wooden columns were completely painted before falling into disrepair. Unfortunately, this part of the house has also not been maintained.

Here you can see an area where the bright colours are still visible and not completely faded:

Detail Tamil House

Related Posts:

> More about Pondicherry

> Architecture in Pondicherry