French Colonial Mansion in India

Only a hundred miles in the bustling town of Chennai in South India, the former French colony of Pondicherry rolls into view using expansive cashew plantations, little fishing villages and palm-fringed beaches. This French colonial beach home on the Bay of Bengal is famous for its hospitality in hosting international businesspeople and diplomats amidst acres of coconut groves and inside rooms full of Indian artifacts.

Dr. S. Devendra, known as “Doc,” has been opening the doors into the five-bedroom estate mansion as 1991, as a shore retreat for friends and partners of Shasun Pharmaceuticals, the family business and one of the world’s largest suppliers of aspirin.

in a Glance
Location: Pondicherry, India, near the Bay of Bengal
Size: 10,000 square feet; 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, multiple sunrooms, multimedia conference room
That is intriguing: A stone that is raised platform to the grounds functions as a stage for musical performances from local groups.

Wendy K. Leigh

The primary entry door has been reclaimed from a historical abandoned temple at the Tamilnadu region of South India. A classic wood carving accents the entrance from above, while hand-formed vintage pottery pieces flank the entryway.

Wendy K. Leigh

The French colonial structure spreads elegantly across manicured grounds in the end of a long, winding driveway curving toward the sea. Windows line the front, sides and back, affording expansive views of the estate landscaping and shore. Ivy-covered stucco and stone form exterior walls, with curved balconies extending from bedrooms, living spaces and sunrooms.

Wendy K. Leigh

Antique furniture in the Chettinadu and Pondicherry areas in Tamilnadu provide an authentic air to the inside spaces. Working with Anita Goubert, a regional antiques dealer and close friend in Pondicherry, Doc has selected each slice carefully to signify a variety of phases of history in South India. This wood-carved divan and encompassing seats are decorated with vibrant cushions crafted from formerly worn vintage saris.

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A second-floor covered sunroom is available from all five bedrooms in the home, using a wooden swing extended from rafters in the grand ceiling.

Wendy K. Leigh

Bedrooms have a minimalist style with white bed coverings, mosaic tile floors and black custom-designed solid wood window shutters. Individual baths are attached to every bedroom, with modern showers installed. Doc himself makes the journey from Chennai several times a week and intends to retire here, near the sea and the quaint, French-inspired village.

Wendy K. Leigh

Ceramic inlays are a surprise feature inside the railings of one of those dozens of beds in this home. Designed to accommodate the numerous guests who are welcome here, some of the larger bedrooms have around six beds.

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A guest bathroom on the bottom floor is available from the estate grounds and swimming pool. It’s three sinks, a separate changing room and an enclosed sauna.

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Pottery features greatly in the d├ęcor. This lamp was fashioned from early earthenware and sits atop one of those numerous reclaimed paintings which are tucked into each nook.

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A specially designed multimedia room permits the owner to host business conferences on a dedicated floor of the home. Outside of working hours, Doc frequently arranges for guests to relax by meditating at the world-famousMatrimandir,an enormous marble and gold ashram in the countryside less than five miles from the shore house.

Wendy K. Leigh

Sunrooms are sprinkled throughout the home, linking outdoors to indoors, many with views of the beach and water.

Wendy K. Leigh

Family, friends and business partners can relax in the intricately tiled outside aquatic place, which comprises two pools and a spa, with the bay shimmering in the background.

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Breezy walkways connect the entire home on both floors and overlook the Bay of Bengal. Benches afford views of the sunset and sunrise from several positions on each floor.

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Kudapah stone floors from Kerala adorns outdoor spaces, with natural cultivated bamboo overlooking a stone water container.

Wendy K. Leigh

The bounty of the farm grounds is on display on any given day, with mounds of coconuts heaped up outside the pantry and kitchen. Palm trees sway in the sea breezes, which are relished — temperatures in Pondicherry frequently reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wendy K. Leigh

Coconuts are left to dry in sunlight prior to being turned into desserts by the numerous servants.

Wendy K. Leigh

Stone walkways on the estate grounds cause outbuildings sheltered by coconut palms.

Wendy K. Leigh

Statues and fountains of carved stone blend into the landscaping and fit the property’s exterior and interior style.

Wendy K. Leigh

A traditional outdoor bowl of drifting new flower petals offers “namaste,” an expression of welcome and warmth.

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