1 / 14
Travel Great East Coast Road Drive Pondicherry Botanical Garden
If you went looking for the zoo in Pondicherry after reading Life of Pi, be prepared for disappointment. There are animals, but not the kind you imagine.

What to Read Next

Looking for Pi in Pondicherry

12 August 2013

“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud...”

- Yann Martel, Life of Pi

When life imitates the art that imitated it, memories run off the rails. In Pondicherry, The Great East Coast Road Drive went in search of the zoo in Life of Pi.

Piscine Molitor Patel, or Pi as we've now come to know him, love him, and relate to his extraordinary journey with the Royal Bengal Tiger Richard Parker in the open Pacific Ocean, is the protagonist of Canadian author Martel's Booker Prize-winning novel. He constructs with vivid clarity the zoological garden in Pondicherry that Pi's father ran, and where he met the tiger. In the book, Pi and a raft of animals are the only survivors of a shipwreck that drowns his family, a scene that Ang Lee reimagined along another dimension in the Oscar-winning film adaptation. Lee populated the zoo with realistic CGI zebras, tapirs, leopards and, of course, Richard Parker. If you have watched the movie, the most enduring image of the zoo is of the toy train that runs between two stations. So inspiring it was that we went looking for the garden in Pondicherry.

Imagine our surprise when we found that one such exists. It's not a zoo, but a botanical garden planted by the French administrators of Pondicherry and dates back a good couple of centuries. There was a railway track, and we finally saw the train. But it was nothing like we had expected.

Follow the Great East Coast Road Drive

Photos: AZHAR MOHAMED ALI
Text: BIJOY VENUGOPAL

Bad News For Insurance, Great News For Virginia

Virginia drivers, with cars and good driving records are learning that they may qualify for lower car insurance rates. Do you qualify?

Buying Medigap Plan F? Read This First

Plan F is the most popular Medicare Supplement plan, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Military Mortgage Rates In 2016

Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military - Takes 1 Min!

New York City: As Seen on the Big Screen

Major Movie Destinations to See in New York [Guide]

Looking To Buy New Car Tires?

Confidently buy Goodyear® tires online with help from the experts! We'll help you find and compare tires based on your vehicle or tire size.

Heartburn Facts

Read About Heartburn Facts From TUMS. Check Out Heartburn History, Who Gets Heartburn and More.

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

10 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

Mountains of Freebies Are Delivered Every Day!

7 million users get samples without buying anything! Sign up to get yours!