The Tamil Quarter, Pondicherry

1 - Hindu Quarter Temple Market

Hindu Temple in the Tamil Quarter.

The Tamil Quarter (or erstwhile “Black Town”) of Pondicherry sits to the West of the French Quarter. It was separated from the latter by a Grand Canal that bisected downtown Pondicherry, and still runs through the city today.

In size, the Tamil Quarter dwarfs the French Quarter, being a good 3 – 4 times larger.  In typical colonial fashion, the quarter is further segregated into a Hindu Quarter to the North, and Christian (Catholic) Quarter west and centre, and a Muslim Quarter to the South, each of which have their own unique architecture and places of worship.

Notably, the Hindu Quarter boasts the city’s most important Hindu Temples, with their soaring, majestic gopurams; while the Christian and Muslim quarters host the city’s oldest mosques and most exquisite churches.

The most interesting walks in the Tamil Quarter are to be taken along Vysial Street (also known as Chetty Street) in the Hindu Quarter and Mullah and Cazy Streets in the Muslim Quarter, where one can see dozens of historic Tamil residences in good condition.  The city’s Grand Bazaar (also known as Goubert Market) sits in boundaries between the Christian and the Hindu Quarters.

This tour first takes us North to South from the Hindu Quarter, through the Christian Quarter to the Muslim Quarter.

2 - Grand Canal

The former grand canal, which divides Old Pondicherry into the French and Tamil Quarters.

The Hindu Quarter

3 - Hindu Quarter - Calve College

Collège Calvé Soupraya Chettiar was opened in 1875 to educate Hindus of caste and Muslims. Today it is a Government High School. Note the eclectic East-West architectural style.

4 - Hindu Quarter - Kamatchi Amman Kovil on street of same name

Kamatchi Amman Kovil is known for its pink gopuram.

5 - Hindu Quarter - Perumal Kovil Gandhi Street early 1700s

Unfortunately, during my stay in Pondicherry, the major temples appeared to be undergoing extensive restoration. This is Perumal Kovil, along Gandhi Street – one of two great temples that dates from at least the early 1700s.

6 - Hindu Quarter - Isvaran Dharmaraja Kovil Gandhi St late 1700s

Just down the street is Isvaran Dharmaraja Kovil, built in the late 1700s and also under restoration.

7 - Hindu Quarter - TAmil House

A typical Tamil house along Vysial Street, with a thinnai, or verandah on the ground floor with masonry along the sides for visitors to sit on. Wooden pillars hold up a terracotta roof.

8 - Hindu Quarter - INTACH HQ

INTACH Pondicherry Headquarters, in a typical Tamil House.

9 - Hindu Quarter - Ecole Soussilaba Vysial St

Ecole Soussilabai, established in 1940 on Vysial Street, was a gift of M. N. Selvaradjalou Chettiar. Vysial Street itself was home to the Chettiar community.

10 - Hindu Quarter - Vysial Street I

Historic Tamil house facades, Vysial Street. The street, also known as Rue Calve Subraya Chetty, is named after the gentleman who established the Calve College.

11 - Hindu Quarter Sri Aurobindu Street

Sri Aurobindo Street, Hindu Quarter.

The Christian Quarter and Bazaars

12 - Christian Quarter - Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

The Cathedral of our Lady of Immaculate Conception was built in 1791, in the style of the Jesuits.

13 - Christian Quarter - Church interior

The bright interior of the Cathedral.

14 - Christian Quarter - Societe Mutuelle des Creoles

Société Mutuelle des Créoles, established 3 July 1883 in Pondicherry.

15 - Christian Quarter - Goubert Market

The Grand Bazaar, today’s Goubert Market, was established in 1826.

16 - Christian Quarter - Modeliar Clocktower - Grand Bazaar 1851

The Modéliar Clocktower was built in 1851 in the Grand Bazaar.

17 - Christian Quarter - Chinna Mani Kundu Petit Bazaar 1892

Chinna Mani Kundu, donated by Cou Latchoumanasamy Chettiar in 1892, stands at the site of the former Petit Bazaar.

18 - Christian Quarter - Sacre Coeur Cathedral

Sacré-Coeur de Jésus Cathedral was built in 1902 in the Neo-Gothic style.

19 - Christian Quarter - Sacre Coeur Interior

The Interior of the Cathedral, with stained glass windows made in Alsace in 1908.

The Muslim Quarter

20 - Muslim Quarter III

The Muslim Quarter boasts traditional Tamil houses with variations to ornamentation and adornment to reflect the religion of their inhabitants.

21 - Muslim Quarter - Moullah Street

Moullah Street, Muslim Quarter.

22 - Muslim Quarter IV

Exquisite Tamil house dating from 1933 in the Muslim Quarter. Inscription at the top reads “C.M.S. 1933”.

23 - Muslim Quarter MEeran Mosque 350 years

The Meeran Mosque dates from the late 1600s and is the oldest mosque in the city.

24 - Muslim Quarter - JAma MAsjid - Kutpa Mosque

The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque), also known as Kutpa Mosque, also dates from the 1600s and predates the French arrival.

25 - Muslim Quarter - Moullah Mohd Mosque and Puduyal Islamic Welfare ORganisation

Moullah Mohammed Mosque.

26 - Muslim Quarter Tower 1936

Tower in the Muslim Quarter, at the junction of Cazy and Mullah Streets. Inscription reads “C.M.S. 1936”.

27 - Muslim Quarter VI

And finally, another beautiful Tamil house in the Muslim Quarter.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Heritage, India, Landmarks & History, Photography, Sociology & Urban Studies, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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