I discovered Mahe, a former French colony in the northern part of Kerala, completely by accident when I was travelling along the National Highway 17 that connects Mumbai to Kochi.
From Kozhikode, which is 60 km away, I was driving on my bike to the Kannur district when I saw the signboard ‘Welcome to Mahe (Union Territory of Puducherry)’. Puducherry is the new name of Pondicherry, the well-known ex French colony in Tamil Nadu.
I immediately looked for some clues on Google. Yes, Mahe (also known as Mayyazhi) was part of the French establishments set up by the French East India Company in India from the second half of the 17th century onwards with Pondicherry, Karikal and Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast and Chandernagor in West Bengal.
While the rest of Kerala was under the British rule till India got independence in 1947, Mahe remained as a French colony until 1954 when it was integrated into the Union of India. The small city today is inhabited by about 3,000 people.