The union territory of Puducherry was under French rule until 1954. Some people here still speak French. The internationally famous Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its offshoot just north of town, Auroville, draw large numbers of spiritually minded visitors. The older 'French' part of town is full of quiet, clean streets, lined with bougainvillea-draped colonial-style townhouses numbered in an almost logical manner. Newer Pondy is typically, hectically South Indian.