Situated in the heart of the old “Ville Blanche” (white town) of French Pondicherry, at 5 Rue de la Caserne, is one of India’s most striking designer hotels.
Constructed in the 18th century as the residence of the Mayor of Pondicherry, the building stands white and majestic on an important corner of the French town. It is located just a few blocks from the shimmering waters of Bay of Bengal and Pondicherry's famous leafy park. The central shopping district is just around the corner, too, as are a number of restaurants and coffee shops.
Journey into the past
The journey into the past starts as soon as you reach the wooden gate, one of the oldest in Pondicherry, made famous in numerous paintings and photos of the colonial era. As you open the gate you enter an atmospheric courtyard, the heart of the restored building, and discover a slice of Old France meticulously renovated to create a modern hotel.
With their delicate and passionate attention to detail, Dilip Kapur and Dimitri Klein, friends and business associates, have finally created a luxury hotel in Pondicherry.
Tradition in the ancient art of construction
The restoration of the ancient building, which took a full 4 years, has been done entirely following traditional methods of construction and finishing. The architects and the contractors immersed themselves in a study of 18th century methods, adopting the artisanal craft of traditional construction rather than the machine-driven methods of modern construction.
The old building was completely refinished with a traditional lime plaster known as "Chettinad Egg Plaster." In this process, walls are covered with layer after layer of a thin coating of egg white, powdered sea shells and yogurt. Each layer is polished by hand, and the result is a uniquely smooth and soft texture.
The exquisite woodwork, perhaps the best example of French Indian carved woodwork in Pondicherry, is all original, recovered from the house of Joseph Francois Dupleix, which used to stand on the old Nehru Street. Dupleix was the greatest of the Generals and Governers of French India. During his tenure, the French were the dominant power in South India and the British were contained to Madras.
Traditional yet modern
The original building has been expanded, and the hotel has been modernised with the use of materials such as glass and metal to create a delicate mix of modernity and tradition. This mix offers the warmth of the old, but at the same time ensures that the hotel is comfortable and efficient, equipped with Internet connections, mini bars, room service, and imported bathtubs and fittings. It is in this harmony between the traditional and modern that Le Dupleix exists not just as another heritage hotel, but as a unique and striking designer hotel.
Architecture and Interiors: Eric Locicero, Niels Schoenfelder, Dimitri Klein
Furniture Design:Niels Schoenfelder
Artworks:Francois Weil (fountain), Jean-FrancoisLesage, Patrick Savouret and Malavika Rao (embroidery)