Monday, 15 August 2011

Hotel du Parc, Puducherry (formerly known as Pondicherry)

I enjoy sketching and painting. Generally I use reference pictures and I am quite willing to spend a lot of time over each drawing. But over the last few years I have begun to enjoy sketching on location. However this calls for a different approach. Speed is important, and capturing the essential forms, proportions, perspective, and mood are more important than details.

Although I would love to sketch on location more often, so far I have been able to do this only when I am on a holiday. One such occasion was on a family holiday to Puducherry last year. Puducherry means "new settlement" and this is how this settlement was known before the French occupied it for over two and a half centuries. During this period it was called Pondicherry and much of the French influence is strongly present in Puducherry even now.

On our holiday we stayed at Hotel du Parc. This is a small heritage hotel which is very conveniently located in the French Quarter of the town close to the beach, the park, the ashram, and the museum. It is housed in a restored portion of Villa Aroume which was built in early 17th century and served as the residence of several French Governors including Dupleix.

My first sketch was done sitting at the doorstep of our room looking across the courtyard at the entrance to the room occupied by the other members of our holiday group. I was able to sit in the shade (which is an important consideration in India). And, since this was within the hotel and not in anyone's way, I was left undisturbed for the entire duration of my sketching.

For the second sketch I sat in the courtyard looking out towards the entrance gate. This time I was a bit more exposed, in every sense. I was in the direct path of a lot of the hotel residents and staff, and several of them stopped to look over my shoulder and chat with me. One of them even offered to stand over me with an umbrella and provide me shade.

While I was busy sketching a young man walked up and very apologetically introduced himself as the architect who had helped convert the old building into a hotel. He happened to be visiting the place.


  1. lovely lovely sketches and great story! makes me want to go to pondy again!

  2. Great perspective and details.

  3. Hello Balaji mama. Very engaging tale and meticulous (given that the your time on location was short and interrupted!) sketches. My regards to all at home.

  4. It was refreshing to see your new entry after a week's hassle- got the internet just now.
    Sketches are quite good also the write up.

  5. Harini, & Benny....
    I am thrilled to get feedback from both of you.

  6. Hi Balaji, your sketches are super, what a fab idea to sketch your way through the tour de france, great narrative too... :-)

  7. Thank you. The French countryside is really beautiful and that is what kept me glued to the tv initially during the coverage of Le Tour. I have now started enjoying the event too.

  8. Balaji, this is a great way to tell a story! Each of your Tour de France posts is a nice history lesson and a summary of the race, rolled into one. As an earlier person has commented, one doesn't know which one to admire more, the artist or the storyteller!! The Pondy heritage is beautiful too. Keep them coming my friend.