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French Colony till 1954: Top 7 Interesting facts about Mahe, Puducherry | Mahe Tourism

Deepa Thomas February 10, 2020
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Mahe Tourism: The Story Untold


How many Indians or for that matter, even Keralites know that Mahe. Puducherry was part of the French colonial rule for nearly 232 years? It was only after the French chose to settle here did Mahe, Puducherry find a place in the geographical map of India. Mahe Tourism Places features the French Heritage and Culture to this day. Unfortunately Mahe, Puducherry is today infamous in Kerala as a paradise for cheap alcohol. While Mahe has a good revenue through beverage sales, it is pulling back Mahe Tourism.

 

As an experiential travel and tour operator, this blog is a petite effort by Tyndis to create awareness about some interesting facts about Mahe, Puducherry – a nine square kilometre-sized land sandwiched between Kannur and Kozhikode in North Kerala. Tyndis provides curated Mahe Tours with top Mahe Tourism Places and interesting stories.

 

Did you know Mahe, Puducherry got its freedom only in 1954?

 

While the rest of India became independent from the colonial rule on Aug 15th 1947, Mahe had to wait for little further.


The French continued staying in their colonies – Mahe, Karikal, Yanam and Pondicherry until 1954, which is a good seven years after the British left India. Surprisingly, there live more than fifty French citizens of Indian origin in Mahe, who cast their votes in French National Election. Even this day, the French descendants of Mahe celebrate the French National Day with great importance in Mahe. It is one of the exciting things to witness in Mahe Tourism.

 

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Artwork depicting the cultural legacy and freedom struggle of Mahe

Statue of Marianne – A piece of past glory

 

Statue of Marianne is of the top attractions of Mahe Tourism. It is among the top-visited Mahe Tourism places. Statue of Marianne was established by the French in 1789 to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.


Mahe today has just 70 French citizens, mostly retired soldiers. Those who accepted French citizenship have formed an association named ‘Union Des Francaise de Mahé’. On Bastille Day, celebrated on July 14, the members of this association get together at St. Teresa’s Church and take out a procession to the statue of Marianne at Tagore Park and pay their respects to the nation of France. Add this place to Mahe Tourism places to visit in your Mahe Tours.

 

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A ceremony from the French National Day celebration in Mahe

The Miracle Church of St. Theresa of Avila

 

One of the oldest Catholic Churches in Kerala, the Church of St. Theresa of Avila was built by missionaries in 1737 and reconstructed later. Better known as Mahe Church, it is one of the top Mahe Tourism Places. Tyndis Tours provide special Mahe Tours through all top Mahe Tourism Places. Stories connected with the history and heritage of the Mahe Church will be discussed by a storyteller in Tyndis Mahe Tours.


According to legends, when the statue of the saint was carried in a ship along the western coast; the ship stopped in front of this shore and did not budge further. That’s how the statue was enshrined in Mahe. Some others believe the statue was caught in a fisherman’s net in the sea near to Mahe. The shrine attracts a lot of believers, irrespective of the religion they are born into, especially in October during the Fete de Mahe.

 

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St. Teresa’s Shrine in Mahe

There existed an English Channel in Mahe

 

Mahe town looks beautiful as it is on the estuary of the Mayyazhi River and the Arabian Sea. In olden times, the Mayyazhi River was called the English Channel as it served the purpose of separating Telicherry, ruled by the English, from the French Mahe.

 

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Mahe lighthouse near the Walkway

Tagore Park is a waterfront park with a walkway near the city centre. The statue of Marianne and the lighthouse is located within this park. It is a great place to take a stroll, go jogging, or to simply sit and watch the sunset or sunrise. It is one of the best Mahe Tourism places to spend time at leisure.

 

Beautiful French architecture

 

Kerala and French culture and traditions have so seamlessly intermingled in Mahe that the French influence in the culture of Mahe is limited to the French colony, few French street names, colonial buildings and French-style kepi hats adorned by the police force. But if architecture interests you, next to the park is the headquarters of the Mahe Administration that is a paradigm of French architecture. Come across the reminiscence of French Architecture in the town during Tyndis Mahe Walking Tour.


The narrow streets from here lead you to the colonial houses. There are some monuments and forts (some dilapidated) here that was built by the French.

 

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Museum in Mahe, Puducherry

Where did this town get its name from?

 

For many years, Mahe (known as Mayazhi in those times), changed hands between France and Britain with the regularity of their wars and peace treaties. It is faultily believed Mahe got its name from the Frenchman – Bertrand Francois Mahe de la Bourdonnais who is credited for the capture of the town in 1741.

 

There’s a Government French Medium High School

 

Post-1954 the French influence started waning and the French language ceased to exist as a common language in Mahe. During the last three years, the number of students who enrolled in the 200-year-old French school – Ecole Centrale et Cours Complémentaire, Mahé, has doubled. The alumni of this school are working in French government service as well as in other French language-related regions across the globe. Explore this school and more in Tyndis Mahe Heritage Tour.

 

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Mahe Government Library has French Architecture

No Dowry System

 

In Kerala, where marriages involve a lot of dowries, parents having girl children in Mahe are lucky, as there is a dowry system in their culture. 

 

When in Mahe, Be Merry

 

As Mahe is a district in Puducherry, which is a Union Territory, it enjoys some perks and benefits such as exemption of tax for certain goods like alcohol. The result is binge drinking! There are numerous bar hotels and 62 registered liquor shops, all within a kilometre. So when in Mahe, drink and be merry!

 

On your trip to Kerala, Get in Touch with Tyndis to plan your Mahe Tourism Packages. We will take you on a Mahe Heritage Tour and Mahe Walking Tour during the Mahe Tours, wherein you can relive the history of this smallest district in India.

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