A walk on the beach at Tranquebar
Text by Aditya Narayanan
For me, nothing relaxes me more than a walk on the beach, or putting my feet up on the balcony of a beachside resort and fall asleep to the sounds of the waves. That is why my first preference of a holiday is usually a beach locale. But I have traveled quite a lot and sucked out the best of the Indian beaches. So this year for my annual holiday, when I was looking at places I have not yet explored, I came across Tranquebar. This small seaside resort in Chennai is as exotic as its name. After the festival season and its related paraphernalia got over, I booked myself for a 5-day trip to this quaint little town on the Coromandel Coast.
You can reach Tranquebar through Chennai or Trichy airport. I booked the highest rated call taxi in Chennai, which took me nearly 6 hours to reach my hotel,Vivanta By Taj – Fisherman’s Cove. When I landed at the beach resort, the peaceful vibes got topped up with a breathtaking view of the expansive seashore, sparkling in the afternoon sun. It is an old British bungalow now converted into a heritage property, flanking the bay. I requested my cab driver to wait until I finished my check-in formalities and headed out for a drive around town.
I was glad to have booked a reliable cab with a great driver from Chennai to Tranquebar. He turned out to be cooperative and agreed to give me a short tour of the town. Throughout the drive, I marveled at the town’s historic heritage. My cabbie was a local who gave me quite an orientation of what Tranquebar is all about. If the name Tranquebar sounds very foreign, it is because it is derived from its Danish origin Trankebar. Also called Tharangambadi in Tamil, which translates as ‘abode of singing waves’, this coastal town is everything antiquated. The town once used to be a Danish colony at the time of the rule of Maharaja of Tanjore. The ownership of the land was then passed on to the British East India Company. The ruins of old forts, monuments, churches, and temples display a fine blend of the east and the west. If there is a Scandinavian influence on the architecture, there is also the rich Dravidian-style stonework prominent in the town’s major construction. Derelict yet delightful in a strange way, Tranquebar exuded an air of serenity.
There is an ancient Danish Fort right on the beach, on the eastern side of the King Street. The mustard-toned exterior was an obvious renovated version from what would have been a stone façade. From being a royal residence to a prison, a warehouse, to finally being a popular tourist attraction, the Dansborg Fort has seen quite a journey. Built in the Scandinavian military style, the fort flaunts mounted cannons and an imposing edifice.
The rest of my holidays revolved around lazing on the resort’s sundeck, with my favorite novel or taking a long walk down the boulder-strewn beach at sunset. Every morning, I would watch the fishermen and their vibrant boats sailing into the sea with the hope of a fruitful day. And how can I forget the aromatic and flavorful Chettinad cuisine that was my staple for the week!
My hotel also organized a small trip to the nearby Uppanar River for a day picnic. It is a 10-minute ride on a boat which takes you to a small river island which is completely uninhabited, adding to the tranquility that one seeks.
The idyllic town of Tranquebar with its laid-back vibes, the exotic food, the stunning views from my resort, and the peace-loving people, made for the perfect recipe to rejuvenate me inside out.
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