Tranquebar – Land of the singing waves
A month back, someone asked me “Have you been to Tranquebar?”, I replied “I don’t know the place, I don’t drink”. 🙂
Only later did I know that Tranquebar used to be a Danish colony, south of Pondicherry and 10kms north of Karaikal. Danish had come to Tranquebar in early 17th Century and they had leased Tranquebar from English for a period of time. During which they built Fort Dansborg.
About the trip:
Where: Chennai to Tranquebar
Duration: Saturday and Sunday
Budget: Rs.2,500 (could have been cheaper)
Distance: 600 kms (return)
Type of place: Heritage
Note: this place has only one ATM and it was ‘out of order’ on the weekend. And Neemrana Hotels does not accept cards, which is pretty irritating. So, carry cash.
I almost cancelled this trip!
It had already been more than a month since I went travelling, to Rameswaram, and I was itching to go travel. Heard about Tranquebar, went to google maps and made a plan. A friend and I were supposed to go to this place on Saturday morning, in his car. He pulled out on Thursday. I was left alone to do this trip and I did not want to sit idly at home, doing nothing. Went to the SETC site to book bus tickets, but there were none available. Thursday went, Friday came, I didn’t have an idea of how to go to this place. It had occurred to me to postpone this trip to next weekend, but I SO wanted to go travelling. So, Friday night, I went to Redbus site to book tickets and there was some server error and I couldn’t book a ticket (usually this site is very reliable). Then I decided to go to CMBT (bus station) and thought I will get some bus going there. I called for a Fast Track cab to pick me up at 10:30 PM take me to CMBT. Cabbie came at 11 PM and I cancelled it. I had already packed and I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to do this trip. Everything was going against the plan.
But I made it… (the advantages of solo travel! :))
My dad suggested I go to Guindy and take a bus from there. I woke up at 5:30 AM and went to Guindy, fortunately for me, I was waiting and got an A/C bus till Pondicherry. Ticket cost me Rs.190 only. Reached Pondicherry at 9:30 AM.
Got down at the bus stand and asked around for a bus to Tharangambadi (other name for Tranquebar). Got that bus, sat in it and in 15 minutes, the bus started. Also I found out how many people it takes to load a tyre on to a bus top. 🙂
The bus kept going and going and some more going. Finally reached Tharngambadi/Tranquebar at 1:15 PM, after 3.5 hours of travel. Thankfully I had music and my Kindle.
I knew Tranquebar was not a big city but I expected something a little bigger that what I saw. It has one road through which buses and traffic pass through. I got off at the only bus stop for this little hamlet. I knew already that there was one hotel here by “Neemrana Hotels”. I googled for that name and got a mobile number. Called the person and asked him for directions to reach that place. He, Kiran, regional manager of Neemrana hotels, was very helpful and guided me. I walked a bit and reached the Bungalow by the beach.
Streets of Tranquebar:
Reached ‘Bungalow on the Beach’, went to the reception and asked for the rates. Tariff starts from Rs. 4,000, I asked him if he had anything more reasonable. They have another property called ‘Tamil Nadu House’, where the tariff for a double-bed room is Rs.990. I took that one, checked in, had a shower and came to the Bungalow on the Beach for lunch. The restaurant serves good food, costly though and the cutlery was rusting away. I will review(not a good one!) this Neemrana Hotel in another blog, now let’s focus on Tranquebar.
I had my lunch and went back to my room and rested till 4 PM. I asked around and there are few must see places:
- Danish fort museum
- Danish Governor’s Bungalow
- Danish Land gate
- A church founded by Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg (the first protestant missionary to south-east Asia), and built in 1718
- A 3-Gopuram temple, 2 of which are already submerged in the sea.
- Tranquebar maritime museum, setup after the Tsunami of 2004 by Danes
Everything is close-by and you can cover the whole place in half a day. I took it slow and started with Fort Dansborg, then there was the beach I went too. It was a bit crowded because of the weekend. After which there is the 3-gopuram temple and by this time it was well past sunset. I went back to my room and freshened up, read a book and then went to ‘Bungalow by the beach’ for dinner.
Went to the ATM in a nearby village to get cash to pay the hotel people. Attended the church that was built in 1718. The church service got over by 10AM. After which, I walked around the town and chanced upon the Maritime museum. The guide, in this small shack of a museum, was very informative and explained with patience, significance of each of the artifacts. There are guide books available at this museum that will educate you more on the history of the place. This museum was setup by the Danes after the 2004 Tsunami.
The checkout time for the hotel was 12 noon. Checked out and walked to the bus stop to get a bus to Karaikkal which is south of Tranquebar. I had to go to Pondicherry, to get a bus to Chennai. The buses to Pondicherry, from Karaikkal, goes via Tranquebar, but my chances of getting a place to sit in a bus was higher if I boarded the bus from Karaikkal. So I went to Karaikkal, took a bus to Pondicherry and from Pondicherry, took a bus to Chennai and reached Chennai by 8PM, Sunday.
That was my first solo trip, and I had a wonderful experience 🙂
Stay at TamilNadu House for a night: Rs.990 (is reasonable for a double-bed room, bathroom with a geyser, good view)
Lunch and dinner at Neemrana Hotel: Rs.1000 (which is pretty costly!)
If you want to do a budget trip, get a hotel in Karaikkal or Chidambaram. If you are staying in Chidambaram, you should add Pichavaram to your itinerary.
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