If Puducherry (sometimes still affectionately nicknamed 'Pondy', after its former title of 'Pondicherry') can be described as having a split personality, this is definitely a compliment. Wide tree-lined avenues, Mediterranean-style architecture and the presence of restaurants with names such as Le Maison Rose and Café des Arts bear testimony to the town's French colonial heritage, but in every other respect Pondy is an authentically Indian coastal resort.
Records indicate that the location of modern-day Puducherry, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in south eastern India, was the site of a first-century Roman trading post. Successive Indian dynasties claimed ownership of the town until the seventeenth century when colonists representing the French East India Company arrived and seized control. Despite attempts by both the British and Dutch Empires to capture Pondicherry it remained French territory until returned to Indian ownership in 1954.
Almost two centuries of French occupation have left an indelible footprint on Puducherry in buildings such as the Church of Notre Dame and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which are notable for their architecture and decoration. But Puducherry is also a charming and popular seaside resort, its long modern promenade overlooking clean, sandy beaches and offering delightful sea views.