Skip to main content

Featured Post

2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Tharangambadi - The Neemrana Experience

The roar of the sea is all I can hear. Then, the skies open up, and the rain beats a rhythmic tattoo on the roof, adding an element of percussion to the musical note of the waves. Sitting alone on an easy chair, watching the interplay between the sky and the sea, it feels like nature is putting up a show, complete with a musical symphony, just for me! It is easy to understand why, in the local language, Tamil, this place is called Tharangambadi – land of the singing waves!

Tharangambadi, or, in its Anglicized form, Tranquebar, in Tamilnadu, was where the Danes first landed in India. The fort they built still stands, a reminder of the glorious past of this small seaside village.

Dansborg, as seen from the Bungalow on the Beach

If the Danes were drawn here by the prospect of trade and evangelism, I came here, fascinated by its history, seeking the solitude it offered, and an opportunity to experience life in an 17th century bungalow, on the invite of the Neemrana Group of Hotels.

The 17th century house, or mansion, that I stayed in, was once the residence of the British Governor, of course, after the Danes had left. The palatial residence is located right on the shore, and is called, appropriately, though rather unimaginatively, “Bungalow on the Beach”. It is ideally situated to truly experience the heritage of Tharangambadi, surrounded as it is, by ancient monuments!

The Bungalow on the Beach

On one side of the Bungalow stands the Dansborg Fort, and on the other, the Masilamani Nathar temple, an ancient Shiva temple, which stood here long before the Dutch arrived. Behind, and inland, are more monuments, reminders of the Danish regime – the Danish Governor’s Bungalow, which is being converted into a museum, as well as churches, cemeteries, and most interestingly, the first ever Tamil printing press!!

Staying at the Bungalow on the Beach was a unique experience. There are just eight rooms in all, but their statuesque proportions took me back to another era – a time of high ceilings and huge doors, four poster beds and long easy chairs, not to forget the steel buckets and brass fittings in the bathrooms!!

I spent much of my time reclining in an easy chair on the long verandah which ran along all the rooms, watching the waves and the pouring rain, enjoying the spectacle nature had put up for us, and marveling at the fact that despite the massive Tsunami of 2004, which wreaked havoc here, the place has not just managed to survive, but still tells us scores of stories, about all those who came this way!

The Verandah where I spent much of my time..

The clouds, the sea, and the pool! at Bungalow on the Beach

At intervals, when the rains took a break, we explored both, the historical as well as natural heritage of Tharangambadi. We climbed the ramparts of the fort, and wondered about the people who had embarked on, and survived, months of a tough voyage, to reach this distant land. Walking about the old cemetery, we tried to imagine the life of these visitors, who tried to create a bit of their motherland, in this remote fishing village that even today, so few know about!

We walked on the storm lashed beach, watched over by the ever-vigilant guards of the property, warned not to venture too far, or too deep, listening to stories of accidents and miraculous rescues! Heading to an estuary, where the Manjaar, a tributary of the Kaveri merges with the sea, we stopped often, to pick up shells, or to look closer at sea anemones and eels which had washed ashore. We talked to fishermen, who showed us how they caught crabs; we watched flocks of flamingoes fly past gracefully, and laughed as we spotted a Brahminy Kite struggle to stay on course, against a sudden gust of wind!

Later, as we walked gingerly on the ancient outer walls of the fort, now partially submerged in water, we remembered the kite, and wished we hadn’t laughed, as the wind threatened to push us off the narrow path!

The local staff accompanied us as we explored the town, from the wide, neatly maintained road, lined with grand houses and ancient monuments, to the bylanes, with smaller, but pretty houses, some well maintained and lived in, other abandoned, and almost falling apart.

The Gate House

Tharangambadi has seen its share of highs and lows. It rose from being a tiny fishing village to a prominent Danish colony and port. It welcomed traders from across the seas, and grew as a town, drawing rich merchants and traders. Passing into British hands, it enjoyed a brief period of importance, but soon relapsed to the village it was, at its heart. The tsunami brought with it disaster, but also put it back on the map. It drew people once more, and this time, those who tried to mend the ravages of nature, and restore it to its former glory.

Goldsmith's Street

While most of the restoration work is handled and maintained by the Best Seller Foundation and INTACH, the Neemrana Group of Hotels are doing their own work to showcase the heritage of Tharangambadi – both, its Tamilian as well as European aspects. While the Bungalow on the Beach epitomizes the European way of life, The Gatehouse, in contrast, showcases the Tamil manner of living. Its typical Tamilian architecture has been maintained and the interiors have also been designed, keeping in mind the habits and the way of life of its original residents. The two properties, though run by the same group, highlight two completely contrasting traditions, which makes the place all the more interesting.

When did you last use a bucket and pail like this?

Adding a third element of interest is Neemrana’s newest property in the town – Thangam House, which hasnt’t yet opened. Located on Goldsmith’s street, the house gets its name from the possibility that it was once the house of a goldsmith. This house is essentially simple, as compared to the other two, but offers a completely different experience – a more local one, if I may use the word!

The inside of Thangam House

The Neemrana Group call their properties “Non-Hotels”, and from what we could see, at least at Tharangambadi, they stayed true to the concept. The restoration work on each of the properties is excellent, and though all comforts are provided, in essence, most things have been kept the same. We especially loved the variety of old fashioned study tables (complete with books about Tharangambadi), easy chairs, and huge beds which needed steps to climb up on!!

I so love these simple old chairs and tables

The staff was almost completely local, and for us, speaking the same language was a big plus. We had long conversations, from life in Mumbai to the perils of the sea, the local issues, and of course, the tsunami! The food was also completely local and we had simple fare, like rasam and the locally prevalent ‘kaara kozhambu’, of course, made less spicy, just for Samhith, who also enjoyed the continental breakfast, and got all that he wanted from the kitchen staff!!

And old utensils like these... the one in front is a chopper and scraper, a version of which we still use at home today!

Greeted on arrival at the railway station by heavy rains and cyclone warnings, I wondered what we would do for two days, that too by the sea. I needn’t have worried…. The two days passed by faster than I imagined, without time to get bored! It was incredibly relaxing and invigorating, whether we were sitting on an easy chair, listening to the waves, walking barefoot on the beach, picking up shells, or walking around the town, imagining the Danish explorers who changed the course of history, at least for this little village!


  • Location: Tharangambadi is located in the Nagapattinam district of Tamilnadu, about 15 Km from Karaikal, and 30 Km from Mayiladudurai
  • How to Reach:
    • By Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy, about 130 Km away
    • By Rail: The nearest railway stations are Nagapattinam (32 Km) and Mayiladudurai (35 Km). Chidambaram (50 Km) is also easily accessible.
    • By Road: Tharangambadi is well connected by buses from Nagapattinam. The town is located just off NH45a, a route which covers a number of temple towns in the region. It is within driving distance of Pondicherry (115 Km).
  • Where to Stay: The best places to stay at Tharangambadi are certainly the Neemrana properties. The Gatehouse is right in the centre of the town, near the entry gate of the fort. Bungalow on the Beach is, as the name suggests, on the beach, and Thangam House is located behind the temple on a quiet lane leading from the shore. There is also a Hotel Tamilnadu, which is now managed by Neemrana.
  • Tips
    • Staying in Tharangambadi is an experience of its own. However, you can also visit the place during the day and stay elsewhere. 
    • There is no dearth of accommodation around Tharangambadi. Karaikal has plenty of options, as does the famous temple town of Thirukkadaiyur, which is just 8 Km away. 
    • While here, you can also visit a number of ancient temples, which I have written about elsewhere. Please refer to the Tamilnadu section in the State-wise Travelogues Page on my blog for more information. 


  1. lovely property indeed.. only quip was the lack of veg food options, they have just 2 and if you ask for adjustments, the chef is unable to fulfil them.. :/ but then this is true of all neemrana properties.

    1. yes, Aarti, the options were certainly limited, but it wasnt a problem for us, since we preferred just simple food anyway, and didnt want anything very different.

  2. Tranquebar has been on my bucket list for long. This post further urges me to head there soon. Lovely read, Anuradha!

    1. Thanks Niranjan. you should plan a trip soon. preferably a road trip since there is so much to see around

  3. Ahhh... Anuradha. This is the perfect place to pack some books for a reading holiday or maybe a holiday to practice some tanams on the beach. Just perfect.

    1. Absolutely, Sudha!!! head there soon, and you can catch up with all your reading :P

  4. lovely! Tranquebar has been on my list for so long but have never got around to it. maybe this year :)


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavanteshw

Rama Temple, Gokarna

To my right , the waves rush to the shore, eager to merge with the sand. To my left, the same waves crash against the rocks, their spray diverting my reverie as I ponder over the beauty of nature, and wonder what first brought people here. Was it this beauty that encouraged them to build a temple here, or was it the fresh, sweet spring water flowing from the hill here that made this place special? No matter what the reason, I am glad my auto driver brought me here. We are at the Rama temple in Gokarna, just a few minutes away from the Mahabaleshwara Temple, yet offering so different a perspective.

Review of Executive Lounges at New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS)

During my recent trip to Uttarakhand , I was faced with a problem I had never encountered before. We were passing through Delhi, but we had hardly any time in the city. On earlier visits when I have had to change trains/flights at Delhi, I have always arrived in the morning and left again at night, visiting relatives in between. This time, I was arriving in the city at night, and leaving again early in the morning. There was hardly any time to visit people. I would only have a couple of hours with them before I’d have to leave again. For the first time, we considered booking a hotel, but there again, we were hesitant about the actual hotels, the costs involved, and the logistics of getting from the airport to the railway station and then back again from the station to the airport.  That’s when we remembered reading something about a corporate-managed lounge at Delhi station. We soon figured out that we could book online and pay by the hour. Besides, we also learnt that there wasn’t ju