Table of contents for Tamil Nadu
- Tranquil Tranquebar
- The Big Nataraja of Konerirajapuram
This is about our visit in July to Tranquebar, a beautiful beach on the Bay of Bengal. Our vacation was primarily to the ancient temple towns of the Cauvery Delta. The short distance from Chidambaram to Tranquebar was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Tharangambadi meaning ‘village of the dancing waves’ is a pretty seaside village in Tamil Nadu very close to Karaikal, 35km N of Nagapattinam and 12km S of the ancient port of Poompuhar. The Danish East India Company acquired it in 1692 from the ruler of Tanjore, and named the colony Tranquebar or Trankebar.
The imposing Dansborg Fort stands before a long stretch of golden beach opposite a fancy hotel aptly named The Bungalow On The Beach. A ruined shore temple is across this hotel.
Tharangambadi was an ancient trading port much before the Danes arrived, but all that remains of this antiquity today is the ruined shore temple of Masilamani Nathar built by the Pandyan king Maravarma Kulasekara Pandyan in the 14th century. The Masilamani Nathar Temple is referred to as Kulasekarapattinam in the epic Silapaddikaran.
Tranquebar is perhaps better known as the place where the first Tamil printing press was set up in 1712 by the German Lutheran missionary Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg. Ziegenbalg was a pioneer who made the effort to learn Tamil, translated the New Testament and laid the foundation for the printing press industry in India.
The Tamil Nadu Tourism Department and various agencies from Denmark are collaborating on making Tranquebar an eco friendly beach destination. Restoration work is in progress in the Fort, the small Trankebar Maritime Museum and on a promenade leading to the beach. Several Danish nationals whose forefathers lived and died here, have bought and restored old properties in the village.
Tranquebar is pretty, tranquil and clean, the perfect setting for those seeking a quiet beach holiday, light years removed from the entertainment zones of Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry. At the moment there are just the three pricey Neemrana hotels available, so those on a budget would do better to stay in the many lodgings available at nearby Karaikal or Nagapattinam. The tourism department is encouraging locals to set up home stays so these should be available soon.
700 people lost their lives here in the Tsunami. Mass housing built in the aftermath can be seen at the edge of the village beyond the backwaters. The presence of numerous missionary schools in the region ensures that the bulk of the populace receive some modicum of education. In any event, Tamilians as a rule, place education high on the list of priorities.
Tharangambadi can easily be combined with visits to Chidambaram, Kumbakonam, Nagapattinam. The auspicious Navagraha temples of the Cauvery delta are also nearby, as is the healing shrine of Velankanni.
Nagapattinam is an important rail head. By road from Chennai takes about 6 hours by taxi. Convenient airports are Trichy and Chennai.
Some interesting links on Tharangambadi