A holiday at The Bungalow on the Beach in Tranquebar

When I arrived at The Bungalow on the Beach in the sleepy coastal town of Tranquebar — or Tharangambadi as it is locally known — around 11 am on that humid and muggy August day last year, I was in a bit of a funk.

My train to Karaikal (the nearest railway station) from Chennai had arrived nearly 4 hours late, which meant that I had missed breakfast (my most important meal of the day) and also a morning’s worth of exploring Tranquebar. Not only was I hungry, I also had the beginnings of a migraine which, I knew from past experience, had the potential to ruin my holiday.

My mood did not improve over the peaceful drive from Karaikal to Tranquebar or the first sight of the blue-green waters of the Bay of Bengal or the beautiful heritage Bungalow that was going to be my home. The warm welcome at the Bungalow did make me feel a little better, but by that time all I wanted to do was to do was to sleep off my migraine.

But when I was ushered into Princess Louise, which is what my room was called, all thoughts of sleep vanished. 🙂

The soothing green of my room had an instant calming effect with the green theme continuing even beyond the room. When I stepped out of my room onto a red tiled verandah, banana fronds swayed in welcome while white cane chairs just begged to be occupied. Though I did not have a direct sea view, all I had to do was to walk a few steps, turn the corner and I could see the beach, fishing boats and the Bay of Bengal beyond. (see the header photo)

As I took in the sights and sounds around me, I could feel the irritation and the migraine recede and the holiday mood slowly take over. A light breakfast and some excellent coffee worked their magic too and in no time I was feeling better.

The Bungalow on the Beach is a 17th century mansion, that was once the residence of the British Governor at Tranquebar, a former Danish colony. Now part of the Neemrana Group of Hotels, it is located very strategically — as its name suggests — on the beach between the 14th century Masilamani Nathar temple and the 17th century Dansborg Fort. Filled with art and period furniture, I spent as much time exploring the Bungalow as I did Tranquebar and nearby places.

A kind of routine just fell into place during my stay without my even realising it. I would be up before sunrise and hit the beach to say hello to the rising sun and the many friendly stray dogs who would be getting ready to go to sleep after a night of partying. I would leave by 6.30 am to explore nearby temples and historical sites before returning to Tranquebar around lunchtime. An afternoon of reading and snoozing later, I would set off to explore Tranquebar and its sights (blogpost coming up soon, so watch this space), and then for a long walk on the beach before returning to the Bungalow in time for dinner.

In other words, I explored a lot, ate a lot, read a lot, wrote very little, but most importantly relaxed a lot and made the best of the leisure time I had.

Click on any image to enlarge it, after which you can use the left or right arrow keys to navigate through the photographs. Once done, do come back to read the rest of the post.

In addition to the Bungalow on the Beach, the Neemrana Group has two other properties — The Gatehouse and the Goldsmith’s House, both of which are very different from the Bungalow. They showcase indigenous and traditional Tamil architecture and design as against the colonial style of the Bungalow. However, all three properties have one thing in common — they have all been restored.

Though I didn’t stay in either The Gatehouse or the Goldsmith’s House, the staff of the Bungaow were kind enough to take me to see both after I evinced an interest in seeing them. While I loved the traditional architecture and design of both these properties as well as the art on display, what I loved the most was the traditional games like pallankuzhi and ludo lying around. Both brought back lovely and warm memories of playing these games with my maternal grandmother.

Click on any image to enlarge it, after which you can use the left or right arrow keys to navigate through the photographs. Once done, do come back to read the rest of the post.

During my stay at the Bungalow, I had the place practically to myself, or so it felt for though I heard other guests I didn’t meet anybody, which suited me just fine. Though I like interacting with other guests or travellers, this time I was content to be by myself and was glad to be alone. The staff at the Bungalow were extremely hospitable and went out of their way to make me very comfortable and cook whatever I felt like eating and even customising spice and salt levels just the way I like it.

Over the years that I have been travelling, I have come to value these little personal touches more than anything else, as well as some common sense solutions to little problems in hotel rooms.

For example, the in-room tea/coffee service, which I usually don’t use as I can never open the tea/coffee/ milk/sugar sachets without spilling them all over me or on the table/tray/floor. It never occurred to me (and the hotels I have stayed in) till my stay at the Bungalow that a pair of scissors in the tray would solve this ‘problem’. For the first time, I was able to make coffee in the morning before I left at 6 am every day for my explorations.

My stay at the Bungalow was fabulous stay not just because of the location, the hospitality or the much needed break; but also the little and often overlooked details like this. The older I get, the more I realise that the little things matter.

Also what matters a lot for me is the location. Since I no longer enjoy covering as many sights in as little time as possible, I prefer staying close to or in the area that I intend to cover. Some people may call it immersive travel or slow travel, but I just prefer to call it my type of travel (Maybe it is your type of travel too). This is where places like the Bungalow on the Beach (or the Gatehouse or the Goldsmith’s House) come in as the perfect base to explore Tranquebar and a little beyond.

Yes, Tranquebar can be ‘done’ as a day trip from Pondicherry (and I know of many people who have done it) or stay in a cheaper place at nearby cities like Nagapattinam or Kumbakonam and make day trips from there. But it is not the same and it can’t be for Tranquebar needs to be experienced slowly.

The Bungalow on the Beach, Nonhotel, Neemrana Property, YTanquebar, Tharangambadi, Heritage Hotel
Happy me 🙂

And if it’s Tranquebar, then it has to be the Bungalow on the Beach. Nowhere have I come across a place and a hotel that are synonymous with each other and mentioned in the same breath. In other words, if it’s Tranquebar then it has to be The Bungalow on the Beach. 😍

Just see how happy I was; I even took selfies!


Postscript: My stay at the Bungalow was fabulous in every possible way, and which I hope this blogpost conveys. What I didn’t realise at that time was just how significant this stay would be. I had arrived shortly after the news of the tragic death of a friend and I returned home to the news of a serious health issue in the family. 6 months on, things have settled, but as it often happens sometimes life gets overwhelming too and the need to escape from it all surfaces. My mind then travels to the oasis called the Bungalow on the Beach and I “return” calmer and relaxed.


Disclaimer: I was hosted by Neemrana Hotels at their Bungalow on the Beach property at Tranquebar/Tharangambadi in exchange for a post on my experience there. I was not compensated financially or in any other way by them. The words, views and photographs are all mine.


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9 thoughts on “A holiday at The Bungalow on the Beach in Tranquebar

  1. The scissors do make all the difference, don’t they?! Never occurred to me as well, till I saw your post.
    Glad the trip was such a solace to you in a difficult time.

    Like

  2. I love the way you write your travel stories – you take us right there to the place, with you. 🙂 As always, this was a fantastic read.

    I’m glad you had such a wonderful time at Tranquebar. The place has been on our must-visit list for forever! I’m also glad to know things have settled after the upheaval in your personal life.

    Like

  3. Stayed at the Gatehouse and was fantastic for a family get away while still able to enjoy tea on the veranda at the Beach House. Amazing service.

    Like

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