I am forced to visit Pondicherry at least once every year as a consequence of one person’s spiritual intrigues. Once in Pondicherry, the reluctance however is replaced with a certain enthusiasm to explore and re-explore the gridded lanes of the Heritage Town (a.k.a White Town). This year I made a conscious effort to forgo my usual nocturnal excursion in the heritage town and took a long early morning walk instead. This was a solo photowalk that covered several lanes south of the Aurobindo Ashram with the aim of capturing colonial architecture on film.
Here are some photos from that morning (July 29 2019). All photos were shot on Nikon FM2N mounted with 28mm f/2.8 E series lens, and 35mm Kodak ColorPlus film. Negatives scanned and developed by the Film Foto Store in Bangalore.
It was encouraging to see most residents (not all), both old and new, taking efforts to preserve their heritage without demolishing and rebuilding. The older residents appear to be adhering to the original methods of design and materials in their maintenance efforts, while the newer residents are bringing in chic without adulterating the classical architectural design.
Some may wonder why people should bother to preserve heritage that is truly not ours. Bother they must because colonial heritage is not just some oppressive white conqueror’s legacy. These are structures created from native resources and by native craftsmen. And preserve they must because each structure is a museum that showcases a culture and science wiped to extinction by contemporaries. A culture and science that was based on simplicity and being in harmony with elements of the earth.
On my future visits, I plan to photograph architecture on the streets north of the Aurobindo Ashram and the often ignored vernacular architecture that lies west of the Heritage Town.
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