Festival Schedule


Wednesday, 21 February – friday, 4 March
EXHIBITION: 18 Artists of Pondicherry  |  Alliance Francaise de Pondicherry Maison Colombani, 37 Rue Dumas  |  9:00 to 18:30, daily
Eighteen local artists exhibit their paintings, including Ejoumale who is one of 3 artists who contributed to making the heritage colouring book (see the event of 13 February), and whose work is on its cover.


saturday, 30 DECEMBER 2017
DANCE: AH SU RA   |   Gratitude Heritage Guest House, 54 Rue Roman Rolland  |   19:00 to 20:00

Dance legend Anita Ratnam returns to open the PHF, along with greats Sharmila Biswas and Geeta Chandran. This new collaborative piece, AH SU RA, tells the stories of three less-explored, “darker” characters from the Ramayana.  Ms. Ratnam will perform Ahalya in a contemporary dance style; Ms. Biswas will interpret Surpanakha through Odissi; and Ms. Chandran will use Bharatanatyam to convey Ravana.

more information

thursday, 18 January
FESTIVAL OPENING: Painting Together for Pondicherry’s Heritage  |   Gandhi Thidal  |  16: 00 to 19:00

Silhouettes of Pondicherry’s rich and diverse architectural heritage and streetscapes, folk art forms, games and literature will be painted by students to formally launch the festival.  These panels will be displayed along the Marie compound wall.  This will be colourful event in every sense of the word!

more information

friday, 19 January
DISCUSSION: A Pondicherrians’ Forum: West of the Grand Canal: How to Save Our Streetscapes and Buildings?  |  Mansion Calve, 36 Vysial Street  |  17:00 to 19:00

Join a discussion, opened by four Pondicherrians, on the ways in which the unique character and charm of the boulevard town, west of the Grand Canal, can be preserved while the remaining vital and productive.  This event is presented by Interviewing India and Pondy Live.

more information

BOOK LAUNCH: Ari Gauthier’s “Le Thinnai”  |  Alliance française de Pondichéry  |  58 Rue Suffren  |  19:00 to 20:00

Ari Gauthier launches his new book, “Le Thinnai” at the auditorium of Alliance francaise de Pondichery.  This is an AFP event.

saturday, 20 January
EXCURSION: Exploring Tirubhuvanai   |   Meet at Fire Station, Subbiah Salai, for transport to Tirubhuvanai  |  15:30 for transport, 16:15 to 18:30

A guided tour of the Chola Temples, tanks, and farmlands of Tirubhuvanai, led by Venkat G, researcher of the social sciences department of the IFP.  For those travelling independently, meet at the entrance to Panchanadisvara Temple, at Villipuram Main Road.

RSVP for bus transportation is Mandatory.

SHADOW PUPPETRY: Scenes from the Ramayana  |  Vardharaja Perumal Kovil, Tirubhuvanai  |  18:30 to 20:00

CANCELLED.  The tour of Thirubhuvanai will go forward.  Return transport to Subbiah Salai will now depart Thirubhuvanai following the excursion, around 18:30.

Ninth Generation shadow puppeteer Kuppuswamy will enchant the audience with episodes from the Ramayana, with the magnificent backdrop of a Chola temple.  Group transport returns after the show.

more information

sunday, 21 January
DANCE: Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam Performance by Nandhini & Company  |   Cluny Embroidery Centre, 46 Rue Romain Rolland  |  19:00 to 20:00

more information

Tuesday, 23 January
DANCE:  Ghungroo Tales –  Kathak Dance by Jasmin Sarkar   | Gratitude Heritage Guest House, 52 Rue Romain Rolland  |  19:00 to 20:00

more information

wednesday, 24 January
LITERARY EVENT:  “Dance as Yoga” by Rekha Tandon   |   Palais de Mahe, 4 Rue Bussy  |  18:00

Odissi dancer Rekha Tandon will discuss her just-released book, “Dance as Yoga: the spirit and technique of Odissi”.

more information

Friday, 26 January
WALKING TOUR: French Connection Trail | Meet in front of the Chief Secretariat, Goubert Avenue |  15:30 to 17:30

Join Storytrails for a tour of le quartier français to see some of the less-known gems of colonial architecture and hear interesting stories about the French experience in India.

saturday, 27 January
WALKING TOUR:  Heritage Trail  |  Meet at Barathi Park  |  15:30 to 17:30
INTACH leads a walking tour.
OPEN HOUSE:  French Institute of Pondicherry  |  11, Rue St. Louis  |  14:30 to 17:00
There will be  a guided tour by the Director of IFP,  M Landy, at 15:00.
OPEN HOUSE:  Cluny Embroidery Center  | 46, Rue Romain Rolland  |   14:30 to 17:00
OPEN HOUSE:   Ecole Francaise d’Extereme-Orient  |  16, Rue Dumas  |   14:30 to 17:00
There will be  a guided tour by the Director of EFEO, M. Goodall,  at 15:00.
sunday, 28 January
EXCURSION: Bird Watching at Oussudu Lake  | Meet at Fire Station, Subbiah Salai for transport to Oussudu Lake by 7:30  |  8:30 to 11:30

Celebrate the upcoming World Wetlands Day!  Raphael Mathevet, Head of the Ecology Department at IFP and Pondicherry ornithologist Bubesh Gupta will lead a bird watching walk at Pondicherry’s most important water body. For those travelling independently, meet at the boathouse.

more information

OPEN HOUSE:  Mahakavi Barathiar Museum, 95 Eswaran Dharmaraja Kovil Street  |  14:30 to 17:00
WALKING TOUR: Exploring theTamil Quarter  | Meet in front of Indian Coffee house, 125 Jawaharlal Nehru Street | 15:30 – 17:30 
A guided tour of Pondicherry’s Tamil quarter exploring the hidden secrets as you walk through the city’s biggest local market, the Goubert Market. A short stroll through the UNESCO heritage award-winning streetscape of Vysial street which boasts of restored architecture with distinctive Franco – Tamil characteristics. Visit the 19th century school started for the education of Hindus, visit  to the recently restored Mahakavi Bharathiar museum where he penned his masterpiece. The tour ends with visiting to the 500 year old Vedapureeswarer temple. This tour is courtesy of Soulful Travel Services.
LITERARY EVENT: The Poetry of Varakavi  |   Natura Ashram, 38 Mariammam Kovil Street, Kathirkamam  |  16:30 to 17:30

Remembering Shri Varakavi Subramania Swamigal, a hermit and a poet whose poems envision the reader to the spiritual, natural, cultural and humanitarian aspects of life. The collection of his poetry is an evident artefact of the lifestyle of people in his period. A few poems about Puducherry are to be recited during at his home on the occasion of his second Guru Pooja.

more information

thursday, 25 January – sunday, 28 January
EXHIBITION & SALE: Terra Pondy – Studio Potters’ Market  |  Maison Colombani, 37 Rue Dumas  |  10:00 to 18:00, daily

16 Studio potters from Pondicherry, Auroville and Chennai come together to showcase their exclusive handmade pottery. Workshops for handmade pottery will be conducted throughout the day on all three days. Space is limited and preregistration is requested.

more information

EXHIBITION & SALE: Made in Pondy  |  Craft Bazaar, Gandhi Thidal  |  11:00 to 21:00, daily

Come see products and craftwork made exclusively by Pondicherry producers.  Find books written by Pondicherry writers.  Join us for the inauguration of this great annual event on Thursday, 25 January at 16:00.

more information 

monday, 29 January
LITERARY EVENT: “Auroville: A City for the Future” by Anu Majumdar    |   Palais de Mahe, 4 Rue Bussy  | 18:00

Anu Majumdar,  will discuss her recently published book “Auroville: A City for the Future”.

more information

tuesday, 30 January
CONCERT & TALK:  Songs of Poet Subramania Bharati  |   Mahakavi Bharati Museum, 95 Eswaran Dharmaraja Koil Street  |  18:30 to 19:30

After a short talk on Subramania Bharati, Shoba Raghavan’s students will sing songs of revolutionary poet and Pondicherry’s icon.

Wednesday, 31 January
FILM SCREENING:  Life of Pi  |   Storyteller’s Bar, Promenade Hotel, 23 Goubert Avenue  |   19:00

The Tuesday Film Club presents Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s Pondicherry fable.

thursday, 1 February
STUDENT COMPETITION: The Pondicherry Heritage Quiz |  Alliance française de Pondichéry,  58 Rue Suffren  |  10:00 to 16:00

Students in two age groups (6th – 8th Standard & 9th – 12th Standard) will compete in the first annual inter-school Pondicherry Heritage Quiz Competition.  The event is designed to foster a deeper understanding of the history and cultural heritage of this unique town.  Participating schools must register by 31 January, using the form provided via the link below.

more information & registration

LITERARY EVENT: “The Mysterious Virus” by Vipanchi Nayak  |    Palais de Mahe, 4 Rue Bussy  | 18:00

5th Grade student Vipanchi Nayak discusses her new sci-fi detective novel, “The Mysterious Virus”, as well as the rights of children and animal rights issues that inform her work.

more information

saturday, 3 February
EXCURSION & FILM: India’s Disappearing Beaches  |   Storyteller’s Bar, Promenade Hotel, 23 Goubert Avenue  |  15:30 to 18:30

Aurofilio Schiavina of PondyCAN will screen a documentary “India’s disappearing beaches – a wake up call” followed by a presentation on the current Pondicherry Beach Restoration Project. This will be followed by a field visit along the coast.

Spiritual: Vedic Chanting  |   Ecole francaise d’Extreme-Orient, 19 Rue Dumas  |  18:00 to 19:00

Twenty five students of Sanskrit Vedapathshala will chant from the Vedas.

Spiritual: Koranic Recitation  |   Crescent Higher Secondary School, 568 MG Road  |  15:00 to 15:30

Students of Crescent Higher Secondary School will recite from the Koran.

Lecture and Dance Demonstration: Veṇkalac Cilai – Innovation as Tradition | French Institute of Pondicherry, 11 Rue St. Louis  |17:00 to 18:30

Recognized as a “traditional” Indian dance, Bharatanatyam is also described as a “modern” re-invention of from traditional elements in the 1930s.  Dr. Nancy Boissel-Cormier is asking deep questions about the heritage of Bharatanatyam through analysis of three dance pieces recently choreographed by Kalaimamani Kuttalam M. Selvam, from the Naṭuvāṉār community.

more information

saturday, 10 February – Sunday, 11 february
PHOTO CONTEST: Streetscapes of Pondicherry  |  INTACH,  62 Aurobindo Street  |  10:00 to 17:00 on Saturday, 10:00 to 14:00 on Sunday

The Pondicherry Rivage Ladies Circle 47 present a photo competition on the theme of “Streetscapes of Pondicherry”.  Everyone should participate!   Prizes will be awarded at 18:30 on 11 February at Hotel De L’Orient, 17 Rue Romain Rolland, before the Garba Folk Dancing event.

more information

saturday, 10 February
EXCURSION: Sacred Grove Walk | Keezhputhupettu Aiyyanar Temple | 9:00 to 10:00

AURA journeys (Sri Aurobindo Society) are organizing this introductory and awareness walk on Sacred Groves. Organized transport pick up from the AURA store on Goubert Avenue between Sea Side Guest House and The Retreat Guest House at 8:30 sharp. Limited seats for transport, first come first server basis.

Pre-register for the excursion.

DANCE: Odissi Performance by Aneesh Raghavan  | Consulat général de France à Pondichéry, 2 Rue de la Marine  |  19:00 to 20:00


sunday, 11 February
PHOTO CONTEST: Awards for photo competition winners| Dune Orient, 17 Rue Romain Rolland  |  18:30 to 19:00
DANCE: Garba Folk Dancing  |  Hotel De L’Orient, 17 Rue Romain Rolland  |  19:15 to 20:15

The Gujarati community has always been an integral part of Pondicherry since many years and has played a crucial and important role to enhance the Heritage of Pondicherry.  To showcase the Heritage of Pondicherry, which believes in Unity in Diversity, the Rangleela Group will be presenting the Cultural Dance of Gujarat: The Garba And Dandiya Raas.

monday, 12 February – sunday, 18 February
EXHIBITION: Traces in Time: Pondicherry – Indochine  |   Kusum’s Home, 7 Rue de la Caserne  |  10:00 to 21:00, daily
Fascinating art objects, photographs, documents, and other cultural traces reveal Pondichery’s historic ties to Indochina (modern day Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), disparate parts of “l’Empire colonial Français” in Asia.  The influences crossed religions, languages, food habits, and lived experiences — and many are evident to this day.  Special events related to this exhibition include presentations at the opening ceremony (12 Feb), a panel discussion (16 Feb), a food festival, and several “open houses” displaying the traditional decor of Indian homes in Indochina.
Tuesday, 13 February
CHILDREN’S EVENT: Colouring Book Launch  | Consulat général de France à Pondichéry, 2 Rue de la Marine  |  16:30 to 18:00

The Consul General of France will launch the heritage colouring book and  students will then proceed to colour the books on the lawns of the consulate, after a short tour of this heritage building.  This event is by invitation only.

Wednesday, 14 February
Music: Welcoming the Spring   |  Alliance Francaise Auditorium, 58 Rue Suffren  |  19:00 to 20:30
Soham Munim, one of India’s promising sitarists (with a Pondicherry background) will do a concert with tabla accompanist Ravish Shet. This duo opened the first heritage festival in 2015 with a concert of morning Ragas.
Friday, 16 February
FILM & TALK: Discover Bahour  |  Storyteller’s Bar, Promenade Hotel, 23 Goubert Avenue  |  15:30 to 17:00

Probir Banerjee of PondyCAN will screen a documentary on Bahour, showing the various aspects of its ancient heritage dating back to the Chola period and talk about how some of those ancient practises are not only relevant today but also effectively used.

sunday, 18 February
EXCURSION: Exploring Bahour  |  Meet at the Fire Station, Subbaiah Salai, for transport to Bahour  |  14:30 for transport, 15:00 to 17:30

A tour of the Bahour commune through fields and irrigation tanks and channels and the Bahour lake and the Moolanathasamy Temple.

RSVP for bus transportation is Mandatory.

DANCE: Therakoothu Performance   | Moolanasamy Temple, Bahour  |  18:30 to 20:30
A traditional theater form, taking environmental themes. These themes could include aspects concerning water pollution, importance of forests, waste disposal. Conducted with costume, music and performed for a larger audience, these plays attract many students and village people. This event is presented by Soulful travel services and Arulmigu Iyyappan Nadagamandram.

About the Festival

Now in its fourth year, the Pondicherry Heritage Festival continues to celebrate the singular character of this extraordinary town and its environs. Originally conceived as a way of drawing attention to the need to conserve Pondicherry’s outstanding architectural legacy, the festival has expanded its scope to embrace all manner of intangible traditions. We boast a diverse built environment, an idyllic seaside natural setting, a rich spiritual and intellectual history, and fascinating combination of indigenous and imported cultural practices. It is the interplay of these factors that gives Pondicherry its distinctive flavour.

In a world that values newness and embraces rapid, incessant change, it is increasingly challenging to appreciate old things and old ways that contribute to the richness of life. The objective of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival is to bring attention to the traditions and places we love and wish to see passed down to future generations of Pondicherrians. Once our minds are focused and our priorities are clear, we must act with passion and purpose to preserve those things that make Pondicherry unique within India and, indeed, place it among the most interesting cities of the world.

In addition to a the many engaging cultural events, heritage walks, open-houses of historic buildings, and other events taking place in the town, this year’s festival will feature a number of excursions farther afield.  These will include an up-close look at Pondicherry’s history of beach erosion and the current efforts at beach restoration; a pedestrian tour of Bahour; a bird watching outing at of Ossudu Lake; and exploration of three Chola temples in Tirubhuvanai.  The festival is also proud to present a first-ever exhibition that explores the fascinating cultural relationship between Pondicherry and Indochina, as Asian possessions of the French colonial empire.