Mahé, India

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For other uses of Mahé, see Mahé.
Geographical area
The Mahé Riverside walkway
The Mahé Riverside walkway
Map of Mahé District
Map of Mahé District
Coordinates: 11°42′4″N 75°32′12″E / 11.70111°N 75.53667°E / 11.70111; 75.53667Coordinates: 11°42′4″N 75°32′12″E / 11.70111°N 75.53667°E / 11.70111; 75.53667
Country India
State Puducherry
District Mahé Sub-division
 • Type Municipality
 • Body Mahé Region
 • Total 9 km2 (3 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 41,816 (approx)
 • Density 4,646/km2 (12,030/sq mi)
 • Official Malayalam, French, Tamil, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 673 310
Telephone code 91 (0) 490
Vehicle registration PY-03
Sex ratio 1,000 /1,184
Literacy 97.87 %
Vidhan Sabha constituency 1
Civic agency Mahé Region
Climate Good (Köppen)
Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais, by Antoine Graincourt

Mahé, also, and increasingly spelled Mahe,[1] and also known as Mayyazhi, is a small town at the mouth of the Mahé River and is surrounded on all sides by the State of Kerala. The Kannur District surrounds Mahé on three sides and Kozhikode District from one side.

Formerly part of French India, Mahé now forms a municipality in Mahé district, one of the four districts of the Union Territory of Puducherry. Mahé has one member (MLA) in the Puducherry Legislative Assembly. Current MLA of Mahé is E Valsaraj.


As of 2011 India census,[2] Mahé had a population of 41,816, predominantly Malayalis. Males constitute 46.5% of the population. Mahé has an average literacy rate of 97.87%; male and female literacy were 98.63% and 97.25% respectively. In Mahé, 10.89% of the population consists of children under six years of age.


The name Mahé derives from Mayyazhi, the name given to the local river and region in the Malayalam language. The original spelling found on French documents from the early 1720s is Mayé, with Mahé and Mahié also found on documents, maps and geographical dictionaries until the early 19th century when the spelling Mahé became the norm. Therefore, the belief that the name of the town was given in honour of Bertrand François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1699–1753), whose later fame derived in good part from his association with India, including his capture of Mayé in 1741, is incorrect.[3]

Another claim that the spelling Mahé was officially adopted by the leader of the expedition that retook the city in 1726 in recognition of La Bourdonnais' role at the time is also unlikely.[4] It is probable that the resemblance of Mayé, not to mention Mahé, with La Bourdonnais’ family name prompted later generations to assume that the famous Frenchman was somehow directly or indirectly associated with the name to the town or the spelling of the name.

The official name of Mahé is Mayyazhi in the local Malayalam language.[citation needed] The original name of Mahé, Mayyazhi, means "eyebrow of the sea".


See also: French India

Before the incursion of European colonial powers into India, this area was part of Kolathu Nadu which comprised Thulunadu, Chirakkal and Kadathanadu.

The French East India Company constructed a fort on the site of Mahé in 1724, in accordance with an accord concluded between André Mollandin and Raja Vazhunnavar of Badagara three years earlier. In 1741, Mahé de La Bourdonnais retook the town after a period of occupation by the Marathas.

In 1761 the British captured Mahé, and the settlement was handed over to the Rajah of Kadathanadu. The British restored Mahé to the French as a part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris. In 1779, the Anglo-French war broke out, resulting in the French loss of Mahé. In 1783, the British agreed to restore to the French their settlements in India, and Mahé was handed over to the French in 1785.[5]

Map of colonial Mahé

On the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793, a British force under James Hartley captured Mahé. In 1816 the British restored Mahé to the French as a part of the 1814 Treaty of Paris, after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars.

Mayyazhi remained under French jurisdiction as a small French colony, an enclave within British India, during the long span that began in 1816. After the Independence of India the area continued to be French-ruled until 13 June 1954, when a long anti-colonial struggle culminated in its joining the Indian Union (see Causes for liberation of French colonies in India).

Mahé in 1726. Map made after taking possession of the place and the war against the Indian king of the region supported by the British.

After the French left, Mahé stood as a Union Territory. Later this became a Sub-Division of Puducherry Union Territory. The area of Mahé begins from Mayyazhi puzha in the north to Azhiyoor at the south.

Mahé consists of Mahé town and Naluthara, which includes four villages: Pandakkal, Pallur, Chalakara and Chembra. The ruler of Kingdom of Mysore from the 1760s, Hyder Ali (ca 1722–1782), gifted Naluthara to the French as a token of appreciation for the help they gave in opposing the British.

Culture, geography and communication[edit]

The culture and geography of this area are like almost all of those in the Malabar Coast of Kerala.

The major festival of this region is Vishu and Onam. The Mahé Palli (Mahé Church or Shrine of St Theresa of Avila) is a famous pilgrimage centre for Christians. The major language is Malayalam. The population includes Tamil and Telugu speakers.

Mahé's nearest airport is Calicut International Airport, Karipur, at a distance of 85 km; Kannur Airport under construction is nearing completion at Mattannur at a distance of 40 km. The nearest Railway Station is Mahé, where a few local and express trains stop. The nearest major railway stations, where several long distance trains stop, are Thalassery, Kannur and Vatakara.

Mahé, like most union territories in India, has low taxes[clarification needed] which include low electricity costs. Mahé also experiences no load shedding or power cuts even during the rest of Kerala which surrounds it get its often.

Mahé Municipality[edit]

Mahé Municipality is the seat of the local administration of Mahé. The Mahé municipal area comprises 9 km² with two Assembly Constituencies, ie Mahé and Palloor. The first mayor of this municipality was Vellavil Kesavan. He was also an MLA and an eminent personality in French Law. The last mayor and the first chairman of this municipality is late V N Purushothaman. Municipal Council was not in existence with effect from 1978. Thereafter the Regional Administrator, Mahé / Regional Executive Officer, Mahé used to exercise the power of the chairman and Vice-Chairman in the capacity of Special Officer of Mahé Municipal Council.

Civic elections were held during 2006 after nearly 30 years. Based on the elections, the chairman and 15 councillors of Mahé Municipality were sworn in. After the term of the 2006 candidates new civic elections are yet to be held in Mahé .[citation needed]

Educational Institutions in Mahé[edit]

Mahé has a high density of educational institutions when compared to the size of the town.

Secondary Schools[edit]

  • Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Mahé
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Government Higher Secondary School, Mahé (Previously known as La Bourdonnais College)
  • C E Bharatan Memorial Govt Hr Sec School, Mahé (Previously known as Govt Girls High Schoolor Ecole de Filles)
  • V N Purushothaman Memorial Govt Hr Sec school, Palloor - V N Purushothaman Govt Hr Sec School – Started in 1869 and earlier called as "Echole Mixed De Palloor"
  • I K Kumaran Memorial Govt Hr Sec School, Pandakkal

High Schools[edit]

  • Kasturbha Gandhi Govt High School, Palloor
  • Usman Govt High School, Chalakkara
  • Ecole Centrale et Cours Complémentaire, Mahé (French Medium High School)
  • Govt Middle School Avaroth, East Palloor SCHOOL BLOG
  • Govt Middle School, Mahé

Primary Schools[edit]

  • GLPS, Mahé
  • GLPS, Parakkal
  • GLPS, Cherukallayi
  • GUPS, Chembra
  • GLPS, Palloor (North)
  • GLPS, Palloor (West) in 1962 as a single teacher school.
  • GLPS, Pandakkal
  • GLPS, Moolakkadavu

Other Schools[edit]

  • Jawahar Mini-Bal Bhavan, Palloor and Mahé
  • HHF International School, Chembra, Mahé
  • Kendriya Vidyalaya, Chembra, Mahé
  • Excel Public School, Mahé. A relatively new higher secondary school started in 2014 at "Mount Vera" location Chalakkara, Mahé.
  • Many private schools also operate in Mahé. for example, Avila primary School Mahé, Excel Public School, Sree Narayana School Palloor, St Theresa's Hr Sec School at Chembra, Dr Ambedkar Public School, Chalakkara, M M Nursery and Upper Primer School, Cherukallayi, Eden School, Mahé, P K Raman Memorial School etc.

Mahatma Gandhi Government Arts College[edit]

Mahatma Gandhi Government Arts College, the premier college in Mahé, was established in the year 1970, as realisation of the dream project of I K Kumaran, the leader of French-Indian Liberation Movement, who was the representative from Mahé to the Legislative assembly. The founder Principal was Prof K Ravindran. The college was inaugurated on 11 December 1970 by Shri B D Jatti, His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.

The college is situated at the picturesque Mount Vera, Chalakkara, a short distance from Mahé Town. Affiliated to Pondicherry University, the college offers undergraduate courses in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Mathematics, Plant Science, Physics and Zoology. Post-graduate courses in Hindi and Plant Science are also conducted here. The College celebrated the silver jubilee during the academic year 1995–96. the silver jubilee celebrations were inaugurated on 13th September 1995 by Rajendra Kumari Bajpai the then Lt Gov of Puducherry. NAAC team visited the college in February 2009 and accredited the college with "B" Grade. Based on an agreement with the Government of Kerala, 10 seats in seven undergraduate courses are reserved to the students from Kerala State.

Mahé Co-operative College of Teacher Education (MCCTE)[edit]

This college was established in 2005 and is part of the Mahé Co-operative Centre for Information Technology Ltd. It is recognised by the National Council for Teacher Education. Their mission is to: "Our mission is to provide individual attention, academic efficiency, monitoring the progress of each student or trainee and keep in touch with the parents, eliciting their cooperation in shaping their character".[6][7] The President of the society is E Valsaraj, current Mahé MLA and then Minister for Health and Education. The Principal of the MCCTE is A P Aravindakshan.[citation needed]

Mahé Co-operative College of Higher Education & Technology, Mahé[edit]

Indira Gandhi Polytechnic College, Mahé[edit]

Founded in 2000, Indira Gandhi polytechnic college is the only polytechnic in Mahé region and one of the oldest and most prominent technical training institutes in Puducherry.

The institute offers various streams of engineering courses such as computer engineering, instrumentation engineering, etc and also provides state of the art learning facilities to students.

Mahé Institute of Dental Sciences & Hospital[edit]

Rajiv Gandhi Govt Ayurveda College, Mahé[edit]

Rajiv Gandhi Govt Industrial Training Institute, Mahé[edit]

This institute is located in east Palloor about 6 km from Township. It started began during 1993, with the introduction of two engineering trades—namely Draughtsman (Civil) and Fitter. A further two trades—Electrician and Mechanic (Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning) – were introduced during 1997 and 2001, respectively.

Divisions of Mahé Municipality[edit]

  1. Mahé Town
  2. Cherukallayi
  3. Chalakkara (part of Naluthara pocket)
  4. Chembra (part of Naluthara pocket)
  5. Palloor (part of Naluthara pocket)
  6. Pandakkal (part of Naluthara pocket)

Present Wards of Mahé Municipality[edit]

Mahé Municipality consists of 15 wards. They are: Mahé Pocket

  1. Mundock
  2. Manjakkal
  3. Choodikotta
  4. Parakkal
  5. Valavil

Naluthara Pocket

  1. Pandakkal North
  2. Pandakkal Central
  3. Pandakkal South
  4. Palloor North-East
  5. Palloor North-West
  6. Palloor South-West
  7. Palloor South-East
  8. Chalakkara North
  9. Chalakkara South

Cherukallayi Pocket

  1. Cherukallayi

Famous and popular people[edit]

  • I K Kumaran, leader of French Indian Liberation Movement (Mahé Mahajana Sabha party), known as Mayyazhi Gandhi, and the first Administrator of free Mahé.
  • P K Raman, leader of the French Indian Liberation movement and treasurer of the first independent Mahé. Founder of Sree Krishna Bhajana Samithi and
  • C E Barathan, Secretary of Mahé Mahajana Sabha. Minister in Goubert's first ministry in Puducherry.
  • M Raghavan Novelist and short story writer, recipient of Malayala Ratna Award for his contributions to Malayalam language and literature.
  • M Mukundan, Malayalam novelist and fiction writer. His novel, Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil, vividly describes the political and social background of Mahé in the past, in a mystical way.
  • Manoj Night Shyamalan, film-maker and script writer of Hollywood.
  • V N Purushothaman, the last Mayor and the first chairman of the Mahé Municipality.
  • P K Usman Master, Leader of French Indian Liberation movement.
  • Paramil Shishupal Master, Professor and Freedom fighter in Mahé.
  • Pondayat Anandan Nair, Advocate and Notary Public, leader of Mahé Mahajana Sabha, the intellectual face of Mahé Freedom Struggle.
  • Paleri Damodharan Master, former president and founding director of Alliance française Mahé or AF Mahé
  • Adiyeri Gangadharan, Malayalam Poet, Writer. Recipient of the Puducherry Govt's Malayala Ratna Award 2003[8] & Editor, Bharathadesom Magazine.
  • P Kumaran, founder member and vice-President of the Mahé Mahajana Sabha party during freedom struggle.
  • K Govindan Master, Noted freedom fighter and past president of Mahe Pradesh Congress Committee.

Major worship places in Mahé[edit]

  • St Theresa Church, Mahé
  • Puthalam temple in Mahé, known for its Theyyam
  • Sree Krishna temple, Choodikotta, Mahé
  • Sree Kurumba Bagavathi Temple – Parakkal, Mahé
  • Sree Kurumba Bagavathi Temple – Valavil Mahé
  • Mandola temple in Mahe, Known for its Theyyam "Angakaran"
  • Koyyodan Koroth Temple, Palloor
  • Puthanambalam Temple, Palloor
  • Avaroth, Vettakkorumakan Temple, East Palloor
  • Sree Maha Ganapathi Temple, Koyyottu Street, Palloor
  • Ayyappan Kavu or Pandokkavu, Pandakkal
  • Pandokooloth Temple, Pandakkal
  • Sree Hareeshvara temple, Mundok, Mahé
  • Sree Varaprath Kavu, Challakkra
  • Kallappalli, Cherukallayi
  • Mahe Juma Masjid, Manjackal, Mahé
  • Islahi Centre – Masjid, Mundock, Mahé
  • Juma Masjid, Gramathi
  • Juma Masjid, Mangad
  • Juma Masjid, Pandakkal
  • Juma Masjid, Palloor

Other Notable Locations[edit]

  • Tagore Park at the mouth of the Mahé river.
  • Mahé Walkway - Known for its beautiful sunsets.
  • Water Sports Complex also known as Boat House at Manjakkal. It offers a scenic view if the Hills and the Railway bridge across Mahé river.
  • Mahé Indoor Stadium, Manjackal.
  • Mahé lighthouse - A beautiful birds eye view of the Mahé river joining Arabian Sea.
  • Fishing Harbour in Mahé.
  • Spinning & Weaving Mills NTC, East Pallor

In art and literature[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The spelling "Mahe" appears to be the only one for the Mahe District (as can be seen from the District's official website and other official sites). "Mahé" seems to survive for the town proper.
  2. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  3. ^ H. Castonnet des Fosses, "L’Inde avant Dupleix", Revue de l’Anjou, Angers, July–August 1886, p. 91, note 1.
  4. ^ The detailled accounts of the expedition barely mention young La Bourdonnais' role.
  5. ^ "History of Mahé". Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Mahé Co-operative College of Teacher Education (MCCTE). Pondicherry Today. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  7. ^ Mahé Co-operative College of Teacher Education (MCCTE). Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  8. ^ Malayala Ratna Award 2007

External links[edit]