Forgotten Colonies #2: Yanaon
THE TUESDAY MARKET OF YANAON
Having been a French colony for over 200 years and with a history dating back to a 100 more, this town continues to magnificently fuse French and Telugu cultures. If you’re driving in and out of Yanaon (Yanam), expect a ‘soyez le bien’ or ‘merci bien’ from the locals. The people are known for being polite, generous and well cultured. The land itself, famous for its Tuesday Market (mangalavaramsanta) during the French rule, is dotted with beaches. The historic church, a ride along the evergreen mangrove forest as you watch the hues of the sunset merge with the water of the River Godavari or a peaceful walk along the bank make a holiday here revitalising while bringing you closer to nature.
It wouldn’t be wrong to call Yanaon a temple town, as one can find numerous places of worship in and around it. The small locale is home to the Venkanna Babu Temple, Chaldikudu Venkanna Temple and Meesala Venkanna Temple, famous for its Swamy idol built by the kings of Rajamahendravaram in the 15th century. Commencing in March each year, the Venkanna Festival is a grand one that lasts an entire month. Lovers of European architecture can explore the Catholic Church here.
Don’t leave without a bite of cheeramenu. Made from a special kind of fish, the dish gets its name from being caught using a sari called Cheera in Telugu, and continues to be exported to France.
Stay: not too far from the city, at Paradigm Sarovar Portico, Kakinada. Experience: the Fête de Pondichéry, a local three-day cultural festival conducted by the Department of Art and Culture of the Government of Puducherry. Encounter: a glimpse of the shifting monarchy, as traces of Dutch culture from before the French took over can be seen to the west of the city at Neelikundilu (indigo wells) even today. Visit: October to February. Nearest airport: Rajahmundry Airport, 60 kilometres away, a two-hour drive.
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