Forgotten Colonies #4: Tranquebar
THE SINGING WAVES OF TRANQUEBAR
For many travellers, beaches and bliss go hand in hand. And Tranquebar — meaning the Land of the Singing Waves — in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, offers both in plenty. Known locally as Tharangambadi, the name itself speaks of the tranquility you’ll experience in the locale, where you have just silence and the sea for company. A heritage town on the Coromandel Coast, Tranquebar is known to have the second-richest surface ozone content in the world (a town in Switzerland being the first). Two centuries of colonial heritage survive here — and even if Danish pastries are hard to find on the menu (but be sure to devour the endless plates of seafood), it’s the roads, lanes and bungalows that will transport you back in time.
Take a leisurely walk through King’s Street, Queen Street and Admiral Street. Indulge your inner Zen master at the Zion Church, sanctified in 1701 — making it the oldest Protestant one in the country — but don’t miss its gleaming brass plaques that illustrate the baptism of Indian converts. Carry your picnic basket for a day of birdwatching at the Uppanar River, as the cool breeze runs through your hair. Or simply sit at the beach, watching the ‘singing’ blue waves lash the sands of this almost unexplored Danish corner of India.
You’ll be surrounded by past glory as soon as you enter Tranquebar through the landporten or town gate. Visit the museum at the Danish Fort, for a trip through the old days. Spend some time viewing the porcelain wares, trade manuscripts, glass objects, terracotta figurines, sculptures and swords that form a part of the gallery collection.
Stay: at Neemrana’s sprawling property The Bungalow on the Beach, flanked by a Pandyan Temple and the Danish Fort. Explore: the Masilamani Nathar Temple, a 700-year-old shrine that is a fusion of Chinese and Tamil architecture. Buy: local handicrafts made from bamboo, coconut, sea shells and palm leaves, including jewellery and home décor items. Visit: August to February. Nearest airport: Tiruchirapalli International Airport, 169 kilometres away, a three-and-a-half hour drive.