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Destinations · Asia · india · Tranquebar · Where to sleep ·

The Bungalow on the Beach

Author: Anothertravelguide.com0 COMMENTS

The Bungalow on the Beach

It's a small, bizarre and somewhat mystical place on Earth. Tranquebar is little fishing village, located on the Bay of Bengal is about 3 h drive from Pondicherry, and a landscape of tranquil rice fields and industrial clutter interchanges on your way there. Otherwise drowsy little town is mostly known for its Danish history. The headquarters of the Danish trade corporation Danish East India Company was located there from 1680 to 1845 and Tranquebar itself was Danish colony, before going under the British control.

Foto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the Beach

The name Tranquebar, meaning "place of singing waves" in translation, was given by Danes, too. A Danish fortress, a witness of those ancient times built in 1760, is looming on the shore. Not only it is the only imperial fort still standing on Coromandel coast but also the second largest Danish fortress right after the Cronborg castle that once served as a source of inspiration for Shakespeare's Hamlet. Today the fortress houses a small archeological museum featuring many artifacts related to the Danish period of Tranquebar history. A small, rocky beach spreads right in front of it, and local families use to spend their weekends there.

Foto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the Beach

Women clad in sari, kids, splashing and screaming at the water edge and ice-cream vendors with their carts - people are meeting, chatting and just hanging out there. On the other side of the old fortification wall, goats and cows are lazily grazing and turkeys wandering about. The central square of the town, housing a memorial for the tsunami victims, is under reconstruction now. Around 800 people, mostly women and children lost their lives in the devastating disaster of 2004. According to the plan, the square is going to be turned into a lovely green oasis one day while the town itself - marked on Tamil Nadu tourism map as a seaside resort.

Foto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the Beach

The Danish Tranquebar Association, established in 2002, envisages preservation and restoration of Danish colonial heritage there. For the time being, few visitors who actually drift into this remote corner are either Hindus themselves or some westerners, who has chosen Tranquebar not as a destination in itself but as an exotic one night stop on their route through Tamil Nadu state. This authentic and slightly mystical corner of the region is untouched by the global tourism yet and every guest, walking along the beach, is a remarkable event in the eyes of locals.

Foto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the Beach

The road into Tranquebar leads through majestic stone gate, while inside, aside from the main - King Street, there are only few more. Certain efforts have been made during the last years to restore its historic buildings, yet most houses, enfolded by thick patina of time, still sink into oblivion. Among the historic landmarks not to be missed is the oldest Lutheran church in India and the New Jerusalem Church. The latter one was the first church built by Danish protestant missionaries. It's famous for the fact that the first ever printing press in India was set up there and utilized to print the first Tamil version of the Bible in 1715.
Another attraction is Masilamani Natar temple, sited on the very shore, opposing the ocean. Erected in 1305, the ancient building stands scaffold-enfolded for restoration now.

Foto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the BeachFoto: The Bungalow on the Beach

If you can believe what's being told, Tranquebar has the thickest ozone layer in India, making it just perfect for one's health, particularly for its rejuvenation and longevity qualities.
Somewhat strange, as everything in Tranquebar for that matter, are its two hotels - The Gate House and The Bungalow on the Beach, both belonging to a well-known "collector" of historic properties in India - a hotel chain Neemrana Hotels. Its collection of so called "non-hotels" spans the history of about 700 years - from the 14th to 21st centuries.
The Gate House is located in the center, in a historic Tamil house, while The Bungalow on the Beach boasts gorgeous settings on the very beach in a restored colonial time villa with each room named after Tranquebar related historic characters. An atmosphere of those old days is well-preserved in the house, while the ocean and climate only adds to its antique patina. Salty wind unceasingly brushes its façade, making it necessary to repaint it every six months. The most thought after rooms are the ones on the first floor, especially Princess Louise and Queen Anna Sophia with doors exiting to the spacious terrace, offering a fabulous ocean panorama. It wouldn't be possible to get any closer to listen the powerful music of blustering waves than that, which seems even more magnificent and somewhat frightening in the darkness of night. The rooms, although very comfortable, are reminding of the actual remoteness of this place - occasional electricity cuts can happen and Internet is available only at the reception. Hence, it makes a marvelous hideaway from daily stress and hustles, offering cozy relaxation on the terrace with a book in your hands, surrendering to salty strokes of wind. There is a swimming pool, too, yet it lacks beach chairs or any other accessories of idleness. Lounging around in your bathing suite you can sense curious eyes peering at you from behind the stone wall, making you realize what the locals might feel when scrutinized through camera lenses of curious visitors in search for exoticness. The hotel restaurant specializes in local cuisine, and dinners are served right on the terrace. With exception of beer, no other alcohol is available. It's a great chance for spending time just for you, without any external stimuli, immersed in tranquility of small town life. Every day starts with a fantastic sunrise, while in the evening local men, women in colorful saris, kids, dogs and cows are walking to watch a sunset, and, if you wish, you can join them, too. Or you can wander along the beach for several kilometers at a stretch, just be sure to dress respecting local traditions.

Prices from Rs 4000 to Rs 6000

24 King Street
Tharangambadi 609313
Tamil Nadu

neemranahotels.com/bungalow-beach

03/2012

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