You have taken your usual route as you go down the Coromandel coastline for your daily morning run from your hotel. Today, you decide to go a little further, crossing blush skies and rows of colourful boats. Then all of a sudden you stop short, as an outlandish, antiquated gate with hoary engravings, slowly comes into view. And no, this is neither a magical portal to the fantastical lands of Narnia, nor is it a figment of your imagination.
This is the town gate of Tranquebar, a quiet little fishing village, perched 15 km south of the archaic Chola town of Pumpuhar in rural Tamil Nadu. The portal-like gate, with the royal Danish insignia etched on it, takes you back to a different era altogether – that of a former Danish colony.
Till the early 17th century, Tranquebar was known as Tharangambadi, which translates to ‘land of the singing waves’. Years later, the Danes changed the name to Tranquebar, due to the perplexing pronunciation of the previous name.