archtectural styles

Franco-Tamil Architecture

The historic trading town of Pondicherry shows the strong influence of its French colonisation, set up in 1674. There are two segments to this city – the French and Tamil quarters. Facades of houses in the French quarter usually feature intricate cornices, louvered wooden shutters and balconies. According to the Indian Heritage Cities Network  (IHCN),the main differences in comparison to Parisian villas are the roofs, which are flat instead of pitched. The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural (INTACH) Pondicherry has been at the forefront of multiple restoration projects and, in some cases, facade control – where, if a structure can’t be preserved, owners are encouraged to rebuild it in the same style.

Hotel de l’Orient is one example of a beautiful restored hotel in the French quarter. In the Tamil quarter, the IHCN has described houses with exterior facades that feature a thalvaram (“a street veranda with a lean-to roof over wooden posts”) to shelter pedestrians, and a thinnai (“a semi-public veranda”) with masonry benches for visitors and pilgrims. Other elements of Tamil architectural style that can be found here include beautiful tiling, pillars and inner courtyards. INTACH also arranges heritage walks.