Situated on the Coromandel Coast, Tamil Nadu, Tharangambadi is a town north of Karaikal and is popularly known as Tranquebar, the only Danish Settlement in India which was established in the year 1620 (1620 – 1845).
As romantic as it sounds, Tranquebar is not every traveller’s destination. An old Dutch Fort, ruins scattered from the colonial era and a deserted beach is all it has to offer. Yet, Tranquebar is the land of singing waves. It is an offbeat destination, offering a haven of tranquility and simplicity, due to which it is also a preferred Honeymoon destination for many.
The first printing press in India was also installed here in 1712 by a German Missionary Bartolomeus Ziegenbalg and he first printed the Tamil version of the Bible here in 1715. Among lots of Christian missionaries, there are also a large number of Arabic architecture found on the old houses built by the Arabic traders 300 years ago.
Tranquebar was also the first settlement of Protestant missionaries in India, founded by Ziegenbalg and Pluetschau (Lutherans) in 1706. Interested ones can read the History of Tranquebar from the National Museum of Denmark.
Places to See:
Tranquebar Entrance gate has Danish Coat of Arms displayed on the pediment, but otherwise is depleting due to upkeep.
There’s also a Kings Road and a Queen’s road and you can take a drive along to see the ancient houses and few crumbling churches too.
Fort Dansborg: Resembling a sand castle, the Dansborg Fort (Danish Fort) was once a flourishing trade centre (way before the Danish came here to settle) and was constructed during 1620 by Ove Cedde, a Royal Danish Navy Commander, with the permission of Thanjavur King Ragunatha Nayakkan. The Fort was built on the orders from Danish King Chrisitan IV of Denmark and Norway. Ove Cedde, was just 26 years old then!
Facing the vast Bay of Bengal and standing barely 100 metres from the beach, the location of the fort is beautiful and the view is something, that can’t be expressed in words.Historically, the Dansborg Fort was one of Denmark’s biggest forts, second only to the more famous Kronborg in Elsinore, the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
It is today maintained by the Danish Citizens Tranquebar Association (Denmark) and was renovated in 2002 in collaboration with the Archeological Department, India.
There’s a small but interesting museum on the first floor containing colonial artifacts like porcelain ware, Chinese tea jars, some terracotta objects, sculptures, daggers & Swords, sudai (stucco) figurines, a whale skeleton and Danish inscriptions.
Timings: 10 AM – 6 PM except Fridays
Fort is closed on: Fridays
Tickets: 20 INR per person + extra camera charges
Built in 1305 AD, the Masillamani Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the oldest temple in this region.
However, it is in precarious condition and apparently there are no restoration plans yet. So yeah, that is sad. But the structure is quite mesmerizing due to the fact that is lies next to a rock laden beach and there are ruins scattered around, making the place quite interesting.
It is interesting to know that the beach is ranked second (first being Switzerland) in the world in ozone richness and no doubt, you will feel fresh, rejuvenated and happy here. Go spend some time and soak in a bit of history. The beach area is safe and you can spend time walking during the night too.
The New Jerusalem Church was built in 1718 by Bartolomeus Ziegenbalg. He was a missionary and bought the first Tamil translation of the Bible in 1715. You can visit his grave that’s set into the floor in front of the altar at the church.
The Zion Church: Has well-polished brass plaques on the wall reveal that the first five Indian protestant converts of the Danish mission were baptized in the Zion church in 1707. Next to Zion Church, is Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg’s house, which is now called the Ziegenbalg Spiritual Centre.
‘Bungalow on The Beach’ is a Neemrana Property since 2002, after it took it over from the Taj Group. This is the only place to stay in Tranquebar and offers 8 rooms and has a sea-facing swimming pool. Tariff for Doubles starting from Rs 4,000 INR
Contact Numbers: +(91)-9786100461, 9750816034
Landline numbers: +(91)-4365-288065, 289034, 289035, 289036
You can also book the Gate House (Doubles at 3,000 INR) and Nayak House (Doubles at Rs 1,000 INR) that are also part of the Bungalow area and are situated right behind the main property.
There is the Flora Cottage, a cosy homestay experience that offers accommodation to Danish students, but I am still trying to get their contact details.
Other Budget Stay Options: Karaikal (just 17 kms away) has numerous options providing clean and basic accommodation.
Atlantic Inn: 600 per night for a single bed while
Hotel Tamil Nadu: provides doubles at Rs. 800 per night.
Including Tsunami (2004), Tranquebar has been hit several times and the havoc of the wild sea can be seen in the surrounding area. The hotel itself had just been renovated and opened on the Christmas Eve, 2004 after 2 years of extensive work, just a day before the Tsunami hit on that fateful Christmas Day! Luckily the Danish Fort was miraculously saved, even after the waves had crashed in 3 catamarans way upto the inside area of the fort.
Walk across the village to see authentic Tamil styled houses.
Tranquebar is the place for seafood lovers, however ‘Bungalow on the Beach’ offers a variety of cuisine including Chettinad food and is the only restaurant here. The Tharangambadi Fish Curry is a must have here. While Hotel Tamil Nadu is a good place to savour authentic and scrumptious Tamil dishes.
Cooking classes can be attended by contacting ‘Crafts Resource Centre’ where Chettinad cooking lessons are taught by local housewives (www.tranquebar.in)
Day trip to Nagore: About 25 km away is the Nagore Andavar Dargah, the south’s equivalent of Ajmer Sharif. Visit on a Friday to see qawwals in full flow.
Thirunallare: Dedicated to composer Thyagaraja, it is the only temple where a musician is worshipped. In January, it’s also the site of Carnatic music’s biggest congregation that celebrates the poet’s creations.
Chidambaram: is situated 55 kms away and is a temple town with the famous Natraj Temple complex dedicated to Shiva as the divine dancer or Natraj, the foremost of all dancers.
By Road: Bangalore to Tharangambadi: 439 Kms (7.5 Hours) via NH7
Route Guide: Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Salem-Attur-V Koot Road – Veppur – Virudhachalam – Sethiyarthope – Sirkazhi – Tranquebaar
– Exit the Salem-Ulundurpet 4-lane at V Koot Road and take the road to Veppur. Here you cut the GST (NH45) Google Map Link
By Train: Bengalore-Mayiladuthurai (40 kms from Tranquebar)
Best Time to Visit: December to April, when the weather is pleasant and favourable for outdoor activities and the temperature varies between 25°C and 31°C.
It is advised to plan your trip to Tranquebar with a visit to Pondicherry which is just at a distance of 135 Kms.
Tranquebar to Pondicherry: 135 Kms Route Guide: Tranquebar-Sirkazhi-Chidambaram-Cuddalore-Pondicherry
Pondicherry to Bangalore: 345 Kms Route Guide: Pondi-Tindivanam-Vandavasi-Cheyyar-Arcot-Vellore-Ambur-Krishnagiri-Hosur-Bangalore