A French colony until 1954, this coastal town retains a number of colonial buildings, churches, statues, and systematic town planning, as well as urban architecture of the local Tamil style. As such the town has been dubbed "The Europe of India." The town struggles to preserve what little remains of the ambiance once created by this unique mix of cultural heritage. It nevertheless draws tourists from around the world and from across India. Pondicherry is also a popular weekend destination, which can be reached easily from the nearby cities such as Chennai and Bangalore, principally because lower taxation on alcoholic beverages makes drinking in the Union Territory enclave much less expensive than in neighboring states.