WHAT TO SEE
Tranquebar‘s landscape is a heritage pocket that transports the wandering traveler to the spirit of a different time. Tranquebar is unusual in the simplicity with which milestones of architectural ecstasy fit into the dusty and quiet lanes. The high points in Tranquebar are:
The Town Gate - 'Landporten' as the Town Gate is called in Danish, forms part of the fortifications that were built around Tranquebar in the 1660's. In 1791 the original gate was destroyed and the existing one constructed in its place. Entry into Tranquebar is through this gate designed with an exquisite Danish flare.
The Dansborg Fort - Currently a museum, it houses a number of Hindu sculptures which have been salvaged from the crumbling shore temple, replica of the treaty signed between the Nayak ruler and the King of Denmark and other relics of the bygone Danish settlement. The State Archeological Department of Tamil Nadu maintains this fort.
The Zion Church - Well-polished brass plaques on the wall reveal that the first five Indian protestant converts of the Danish mission were baptized in the Zion church in 1707.
Ziegenbalg’s house - Next to Zion Church, is Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg’s house. This has been taken over by the evangelical church and is now called the Ziegenbalg Spiritual Centre.
The New Jerusalem Church - Built on 9th February 1717, this church on King Street houses the grave of Ziegenbalg.
The Old Danish Cemetery - Presumably laid out in connection with the erection of the fort in the 1620’s; due to the high mortality rates of the European settlers, the establishment of a cemetery must have been necessary from the very beginning. In the 1600’s it was connected to the Dansborg Chapel and after 1701, to Zion Church. To this day the names of several Danish colonial officials and tradesmen can be found carved into the headstones.
The Masilamani Nathar temple - The construction of the temple can be dated precisely from an inscription once embedded in its Eastern wall (now exhibited at the Dansborg Museum). The inscription states that King Maravarman Kulasekara Pandian granted land for the erection of a temple in 1306. Today the temple is heavily eroded and threatened by the encroaching sea.
The Colonial Streetscapes - the town still retains its primitive classical streetscape and names: King’s Street, Queen Street, Admiral Street, Goldsmith Street, Mosque Street, etc. Walking through these streets is like taking a walk in the past.
Rehling’s House - One of the stateliest buildings in King’s Street, it can be traced to the first half of the 18th century. The second storey was added in the second half of the century; the portico, around the turn of the century. Two governors resided in this building during the Danish period, Peter Hermanson and Johannes Rehling – the latter giving name to the build- ing. Originally built with a pitched roof, it was altered to a flat terraced roof in the second half of the 18th century and verandahs and porches were added to adapt to the tropical Indian climate. The elegantly decorated white colonnaded facade provided the building with a touch of worthy monumentality that stood well with the self-representation of the colo- nial upper class.