Yanam or Yanaon is a town in the Indian union territory of Puducherry; it is located in Yanam district. Yanam has some 300 years of history and is well known as French Yanam even now although it was transferred to India in 1954. It forms a 30 km² enclave in the district of East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. It has a population of 32,000, most of whom speak Telugu. Yanam is a unique blend of French and Telugu culture prevailing in Andhra Pradesh. During French rule, the Tuesday market (mangalavaram santa) at Yanam was popular among Telugu people in the Madras Presidency who visited Yanam to buy foreign and smuggled goods during Yanam People's Festival, which is held in January. It was previously also called as kalyanapuram,because after implementation of Sarda Act in British India during 1929 many Andhra people used to come and do marriages (mainly Child marriage) here since local French government did not oppose child marriages. In 1936, Yanam Population is just 5,220.
According to the 1995–2005 Development Records it was the best constituency in Puducherry, which is moving forward in the development sector, and also one of the best constituencies in India. Many development schemes were carried out for the people compared to other places in India and Yanam was a trial-base centre for implementing the development schemes in Puducherry.
Yanaon was a Dutch colony before French overtook it in the 1720s. In the west of Yanam, we can still find 'Neelikundilu' (indigo wells). People say that the Dutch constructed a fort here .It is being called by locals as 'saali kota' because previously weavers (in Telugu Saalivandru) used to weave clothes after the demise of Dutch people. In this fort, they used to keep their currency, minted in the mint at Neelapalli, a nearby village. People say that this region was presented to the French general the Marquis de Bussy, by Vizianagaram Kings a token of gratitude for the help rendered by Bussy in the fight against the rulers of Bobbili. Even now we can see a street named after Bussy in Yanam. It is believed that Bussy had stayed in a certain building in this street.
Commercial Era (before 1742)
It is mentioned in the book, The botanic garden of Yanam (Le Jardin Botanique de Yanaon) by Médecin-colonel Alfred-Alphonse-Léon Bigot (Colonel A. Bigot), that at first, the French establishment of a warehouse here in 1723 A.D. the La Compagnie Française des Indes Orientales of France established here a trading post of theirs. In 1723, Yanam was the third French colony established in India though it was officially confirmed in 1751. Since the business became slack and commercial operations had not produced the desired results, it was given up in 1727
It was seized again by Dupleix in 1731. A firman from Haji Hassan Khan, Nawab of Masulipatam authorised the French Representative Fouquet, then chief of the Company at Masulipatam to set up a loge at Yanam in the year 1731. Nawab Roustoum khan granted a Paravana dated 1735 for French commerce in Yanam.
Political Era (after 1742)
But it was re-established completely in 1742 during the reign of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. After 1742 political motives began to overshadow the desire for commercial gain. Mr. De Choisis administered it. He died here on 27 October 1747. Monsieur Sinfray succeeded him. The annual rent was waived by a document in 1743 for Yanam. Mir Ahmad Ali Khan, Nawab of Arcot, granted all the rights on the lands situated before the quarters at Yanam in 1747.
In December 1753, a Paravana of Salabat Jang conceded to Bussy the Northern Circars. Salabat Jang was indebted for his elevation to the throne to the French East India Company, which was confirmed by then Mughal emperor also. The agreement made between the French and Salabat Jang in Aurangabad bears the signature of Said Loukshur, Minister of Salabat Jang. Yanam acquired considerable importance during the occupation of the Northern Circars by the French.
First British Occupation
Another important event in the history was the war between the French and the British fought at Chandurthi in 1758 in which the French were defeated. Salabat Jang made a treaty with the British and gave the Northern Circars under a firman to the British. After 1760 the French lost hold in South India, especially on Northern Circars.
A document dated 15 May 1765 showed that the villages of Yanam and Kapulapalem (Capouloupalém) with other lands were handed over by Jean White Hill and George Dolben, the British representatives deputed by Mr. Jean Pybus, the head of the British settlement in Masulipatam to Mr. Yoan Yacques Panon, French Commissioner deputed by Jean Law de Lauriston the then Governor General of Puducherry, for taking them over. This document mentions that France entered into possession of Yanam and its dependent territories with exemption from all export and import duties. Soon after taking possession of this settlement, Mr. Panon obtained a firman for full liberty of trade and commerce of the French in Yanam.
Second British Occupation
Between 1778 and 1783, Puducherry was under British occupation. Yanam was restored again to the French in 1785. Mr. Mallhendre took possession of it and Mr. Bluter succeeded him. After Bluter, Mr. Pierre Sonnerat (18 August 1748 – 31 March 1814) became the chief in 1790 in Yanam. He appreciated very much the sonority and the music of the Telugu language. He administered Yanam during the time of the French Revolution.
Third British Occupation
Once again French lost control over Yanam to the British. During 1793 and 1816 Puducherry was under British control. So, Yanam fell thrice into the hands of the British. After the Napoleonic wars, by the Treaty of Paris (1814) Yanam along with the factory at Machilipatnam was finally returned to the French on 26 September 1816. From then it was continuously under French control until its transfer to India in 1954.