History

The Union Territory of Puducherry comprises of the erstwhile French colonies viz. Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. The Puducherry and Karaikal regions are surrounded by the State of Tamilnadu, whereas Mahe is surrounded by the State of Kerala and Yanam by the state of Andra Pradesh.

The foundation of Pondicherry was laid in the year 1673 after the “La Compagnie française des Indes orientales” was successfully obtained firman from the Qiladar of Valikondapurarm under the Sultan of Bijapur. On 4th February 1673 a French Company Official by name Bellanger, took up residence in the Danish Lodge in Pondicherry. In 1674, the French Company placed François Martin as the first Governor and who initiated the ambitious project to transform Pondicherry from a small fishing village into a flourishing port-town.

In 1674 the Governor of “La Compagnie française des Indes orientales” (French East India Company) François Martin, set up a trading centre at Pondicherry and this outpost eventually became the chief French settlement in India. Wars were raged among the European companies for their share of trade with India. Consequently, Pondicherry was captured by the Dutch in 1693 but was returned to French company by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1699. During the period from 1720-1738the French company acquired Mahe, Yanam and Karaikal. In the period of Anglo-French wars from 1742 to1763 Puducherry changed hands and in 1761 the British “East India Company” captured Puducherry from the French and restored the French Company administration by the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

During the French Revolution in the year 1793 the British “East India Company” took control of the region and returned to the French “East India Company” in 1814. However, when the British “East India Company” gained control of the whole of India in the late 1850s, they allowed the French “East India Company” to retain their settlements at Pondicherry, Mahe, Yanam, Karaikal and Chandronagor.

In 1947, the independence of India gave impetus for the union of France’s Indian possessions with former British India and an agreement between French Government and India Government, in 1948, stipulated that the inhabitants of France’s Indian possessions would choose their political future. On a de facto basis, the bureaucracy had been united with India’s on 1 November 1954 and the de jure union of French India with the Indian Union took place in the year 1963. In the process Chandronagor opted to be merged with the State of West Bengal and Pondicherry along with Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam was constituted as a Union Territory in the Indian Union.