Tranquebar : A Tranquil Getaway Near Puducherry

It’s interesting how you discover something while looking for something else. In Puducherry, while trying to figure out how to reach the Chettinad towns, we learnt about Tranquebar, a 17th century Danish fort settlement, barely 2-3 hours from where we were. Tranquebar (officially known as Tharangambadi) also afforded us a chance to visit the Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary that we were so interested in. So we drove from from Pondicherry to Tranquebar, a distance of 120 km and a great drive.

Tranquebar has a very old and interesting history. It was was part of the Chola and Pandya kingdoms. In the 15th century, under the Thanjavur King, Raghunath Nayak, Tranquebar was an important international trading port. The Danish, under a treaty with the King, built Fort Dansborg, overlooked by Danish Captain Ove Gjedde, to have better control over the trade (mainly exporting pepper from India). Slowly the Danish took over Tranquebar, which was taken over by the British in 1801, and again returned to the Danish in 1814, and finally purchased by the British (along with other Danish settlements in India) in 1845.

The Danish sent the first Protestant Missionaries to India, who set up the first printing press of India, and the New Testament was translated into Tamil, for the first time, in this town.

The town is full of old Danish architecture. We couldn’t find much of the old Indian heritage left, apart from The Masilamani Nathar temple. Was the local architecture not able to stand the test of time? Tranquebar faced a horrid Tsunami in December 2004, which destroyed a lot of heritage, including a bit of the temple. But the town has recovered and extensive efforts to restore the heritage are on.

Visit this town if you are interested in tranquility and heritage. There are, thankfully, no noisy pubs, no beaches stuffed with loud ‘tourists’, no restaurants, not yet.

The main choice of stay is the lovely Bungalow On The Beach, a Neemrana Property.

Early morning at the Tranquebar Beach.
The Dansborg Fort, right on the beach.

The government is working on the restoration of the Dansborg Fort to open it for tourists.
Fort Dansborg is built in “Danish style, characterized by large halls, columned structures, high ceilings and projecting drapery.” The Dansborg Fort is the second largest Danish fort in the world, after Fort Kronborg.
The foundation stone says it all : Fort Dansborg, built by Ove Gjedde, Commander In The Royal Danish Army, Circa 1620.
Fort Dansborg from the sea.
Beautiful arches give a commanding view of the sea.
That’s me photographing the commemorative stone.
The Bungalow On The Beach was restored by Intach. Large airy verandahs wrap around the entire bungalow, giving ample views of the sea.
The Masilamani Nathar temple, visible from the balcony at Bungalow on the Beach.
Fort Donsburg on the beach.
Commemorating the history of Tranquebar.
This fine gentleman runs a museum of artifacts dedicated to the Tsunami in Tranquebar.
A a traditional boat at the museum built to the tsunami.
The Goldsmith Street is restored with some old Bungalows modernised.
The Goldsmith Street looking into the Bay Of Bengal.
A traditional house in Tranquebar. Once a thriving port town, the city had plenty of well of traders.
The Governor’s Bungalow, Tranquebar.
Wildflowers surround an old house.
The Zion Church at Tranquebar, where the first five Protestant converts were baptized in India, in 1707.
The beach at Tranquebar with the Masilamani Nathar temple at the far right. This brick getty was destroyed in the Tsunami.
Fishing is now one of the chief occupations in Tranquebar, a town which was once thriving with international trade.
The Masilamani Nathar temple, built sometime around the early 14th century. Much of the temple has been eroded in the Tsunami.
Bungalow On The Beach in the left and the Masilamani Nathar temple on the extreme right.
Another view of the Masilamani Nathar temple.
An old traditional house with an old traditional Ambassador car. Note the house pillars, a typical style in these parts.
Another traditional house. Note, again, the pillars.
Another ancient temple somewhere deeper in the town.
The New Jerusalem Church, 1718 AD.
The city gates of Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu. How we wished we could have spent another night in this lovely town.
Our beautiful room at the Bungalow On The Beach, Tranquebar.

What to see in Tranquebar :

The Town Gate. You come across this as you enter the town.
The Dansborg Fort. Of course.
The Masilamani Nathar Temple. It’s right on the beach.
Goldsmith Street. Its one  of the streets undergoing restoration.

[box type=”success” width=”100%” ]How To Reach: Tranquebar, also known officially as Tharangambadi, is only some 125km from Puducherry.

Where to Stay: Neemrana’s Bungalow On The Beach (Phone: Tel: +91 4364 289036) is the best choice for its spacious rooms and being right there on the beach. However, their other property, is also very interesting : The Gate House. You could also try Nayak House.

When To Visit : Avoid summers. So your best months are November to February and the monsoons around July-August.


18 thoughts on “Tranquebar : A Tranquil Getaway Near Puducherry”

  1. Beautiful pictures! thanks for posting it and letting us all know! surely this place is best suited to your website’s name! looking forward to some more such stories!

  2. Wow! Totally in awe of this place. I was unaware that a place named Tranquebar had so much to offer from historic times. The adorable pictures show the place beautifully. I love visiting such historic places and so I add this place to my bucket list.

  3. Your journey to Puducherry is a pure case of serendipity! The eye-striking clicks and the great write-up oozes the history of this place. I love visiting historical places, so now this place is on my priority list to visit and capture the beauty of the place under my lenses.

  4. I was in southern India for a month in November and I was actually thinking of going to Tranquebar as well. But I just didn’t have enough time in Tamil Nadu as there were so many things to see in the state. Next time, hopefully! alongside with a visit to Kanchipuram.


Leave a Comment