Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Tranquil Tranquebar

Woke up early in the morning in my hotel La Maison Tamoule because I was unimaginably excited about my one night trip to Tranquebar. I ate breakfast, walked around the neighbouring streets looking for gifts to take home. The streets were empty as it was Independence day. There were some great shops selling clothes and footwear. Don’t miss the factory outlet of Hidesign if you ever visit Pondicherry. After almost emptying my wallet there I went to a cute little Italian restaurant called La Pasta on Vysial Street. The lady chef there makes excellent fresh pasta and sells it to people who pick it up on their way home from work. She suggested I try her meat lasagne, which I did. I was eating a decent Italian meal after a long long time. I quickly ate and went back to the hotel to pack my stuff and relax a little before my journey. My taxi arrived right on time. I was ready to go!

It was approximately a two and half hour drive to Tranquebar, Nagapattinam district. Tranquebar is also known as Tharangambadi or the ‘place of the singing waves. The drive there felt like years as I was travelling alone.  I was told to stop by at Chidambram as it is on the way but I didn’t have enough time. I love travelling around South India because there are just so many things to see. The colourful houses (magenta, orange, bottle green – just name your favourite colour), palm trees, beaches, et all. You do get a little more attention if you’re fair though, which gets a little annoying at times. You see lots of Neemrana Hotels’ boards directing you to Tranquebar. Tranquebar is also supposed to have the thickest ozone layer in India. Wow. There’s a good chance you would’ve never heard of this place if you are from North India or any other part of the world, except for Denmark maybe (will be explained later).

Danish Land Gate, Tranquebar. Built in 1792

Street restored by INTACH
I reached my hotel - The Bungalow on the Beach in Tranquebar a quaint town in Tamil Nadu. I was taken to my room called Queen Anna Sophia named after a Danish Ship. The colour theme of the room was blue. Yeah, I did suddenly get an overdose of that colour with the sea and all that. Queen Anna Sophia opened up into a common verandah, which looked at the vast, gigantic, empty Ocean with a couple of fisherman boats which were minuscule. There was a colourful Hindu Temple on the left and the Dansborg Fort on my right. I had carried my portable speakers (I’m usually pretty equipped when travelling) so I put on my iPod and let John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Pink Floyd help me unwind.  I sat there with a cup of Earl Grey tea, without a sound staring into the sea for about three to four hours, and that wasn’t adequate time. For the first time in months I didn’t want to see my cell phone, laptop or any other gadget, rare it was. And I wasn’t the only one happy doing nothing. The guests in the neighbouring room were doing the exact same thing. This is considered to be abnormal behavior of people that reside in my part of the country.  

Queen Anna Sophia
The Pool at The Bungalow on the Beach
The Common Room on the first floor of The Bungalow on the Beach
Reception at The Bungalow on the Beach
The Bungalow on the Beach
I was told that dinner was laid out downstairs and would be served soon. The dinner at The Bungalow on the Beach was served in a corridor by the swimming pool.  I always ask for suggestions from the steward (you should too). So I asked for a seafood sizzler and crème caramel as he suggested. Fresh fish! My epic day had its perfect ending. I ate at a tortoise’s speed, hoping the day wouldn’t end. I went back to my room, tried to read a book. I was sleeping before I could reach the page eight of the book. Typical. 

Dansborg Fort, Tranquebar

Gate House, Tranquebar

Courtyard, Gate House

Garden of Gate House

The next day I decided not to waste time. I went down for breakfast and left to go see Gate House and Thanga House (also with Neemrana Hotels). The Gate House is a two minute walk from The Bungalow on the Beach. It has six rooms and is a restored traditional Tamil home. Thanga House is also a traditional Tamil Home near The Bungalow on the Beach on a street which is restored entirely by INTACH.  

After that I went to see the Dansborg Fort, which is the second largest Danish fort in the world. Tranquebar was a Danish colony from 1620 to 1845. I could see the fort from my room as well, but I had to visit it. There was also the governors residence which will soon be converted into a museum and a 17th century church. 
Dansborg Fort, Tranquebar 
The Tsunami hit Tranquebar on the 26th of December, 2004 and nearly 800 persons died but the 400 year old Danish Fort was not affected at all. The oldest Lutheran church in India was also built here in Tranquebar in 1706. I studied History in school till the 12th grade and I didn’t have an inkling about any of these facts.

Our Lady of Angels Church

After all that sightseeing, I went to take a stroll and relax by the beach. After an hour or so I decided to leave Tranquebar to visit Karaikal, another major port city of South India. Karaikal is a 20 minute drive from Tranquebar. It is known for the Karaikal Ammayar Temple & The Church of Our Lady of Angels. I took approximately 15 minutes to see the entire town and then I left to go back to the Pondicherry Railway Station to take a train back to Bangalore.   
                                                                                                                                                        ~Rhea Bhel