One among Puducherry’s well-known landmarks, the Old Lighthouse, constructed in the 19th century by the bygone French rulers, is in a sorry state and requires urgent need of restoration.
The over 180-year lighthouse, situated just opposite to the Promenade Beach in the city, was constructed when Puducherry was a part of the French East India Company.
The lighthouse had first beamed light on September 1, 1836. At that time, it was considered very modern because of its unique round tower.
The height of the lighthouse is 29 meters and originally had a square base. At that time, the cost of constructing the structure was around 10,000 francs (approx Rs 1.23 lakhs). The foundation has a depth of nine meters. Its light beam can be seen from a distance of 15 miles.
The light source of the dilapidated structure consisted of six oil lamps and two reflectors. The light source was converted to electric lamps in 1913.
The power of the lamp was increased in 1931. The new lamp had a range of 26 nautical miles and it took about 36 seconds for one full rotation of the beam
Although the lighthouse was renovated in the 20th century by the Indian government, the structure was not maintained properly and is now in a sorry state.
“This is an elite monument built in 1836 by the French. It was a wonderful lighthouse for the fishermen who were out fishing (in the sea) for a long time. The lighthouse had six old lamps and two reflectors. The lamps were modified with powerful beam lights in 1931. But, the structure of the lighthouse became dilapidated with time. It was renovated in the 20th century, but was not maintained properly,” Gayathri Shrikanth, a social worker, told ANI.
She underlined that the windows of the lighthouse were shattered and the wall was damaged.
“The gates (lighthouse) are closed and people are not allowed to venture into the lighthouse,” the social worker said.
Urging the Puducherry government to take cognisance, Shrikanth expressed hope that the administration would take up initiatives to renovate the heritage structure, adding, “We want the government to take care of the lighthouse.