2.1          THE PROJECT AREA

Tranquebar/Tharangambadi (tharangam: waves; badi: singing, i.e. "the village of singing waves") is part of Nagapattinam District, and situated on the Tamil Nadu Coromandel Coast. Tranquebar Panchayat comprises Tranquebar Town, Porayar Town and a number of adjacent hamlets.

The original trading post, Old Tranquebar, occupies only a small area (approximately 30 hectares) compared with surrounding habitations of more recent origin. A population count, carried out in 1985, registered a total of 1766 persons within the former town walls. During Danish times the town was somewhat larger. Part of the old town has vanished over the years due to slow erosion by the sea.

In 1985 the inhabitants of the present Old Tranquebar were registered by religion: 950 Hindus (53.8%); 529 Muslims (30%); 150 Roman Catholics (8.5%); and 137 (7.8%) Protestants. In the opinion of the author the composition of the population to-day has not changed significantly since the 1985 census.

Main historical buildings are concentrated in a minuscule area from the Town Gate along King Street and bordered by the sea and Admiral Street, the main attractions being the Dansborg Fort, the Parade Ground (Maidan), the Town Gate, the New Jerusalem Church, The Zion Church and the Governors Bungalow (presently dilapidated almost beyond recognition). King Street is an attraction by itself with a number of colonial buildings and the two churches. King Street leads from the Town Gate to the Parade Ground, Dansborg Castle, past the former British Collectors Bungalow (now the Bungalow on the Beach Heritage Hotel) to the Sea.

The only surfaced road in Tranquebar is King Street. Other roads are in poor condition notably in need of drainage and levelling. The disposal of solid waste is erratic and cement pipe garbage containers placed by the Danish Tranquebar Association do not fulfil their purpose.

2.2          LOCATION

Tranquebar is located off the main road along the Coromandel Coast at a distance of 290 Kilometres from Chennai; 98 Kilometres from Thanjavur; 152 Kilometres from Thiruchirappalli; and 124 Kilometres from Pondicherry. During earlier times there was a local railway connection to Mayladuthurai, experienced by the author in 1973. The railway line was discontinued 20 years ago, and both the rails and the railway station are now beyond repair. The nearest airport is located at Thiruchirappalli at about the same time-distance from Tranquebar as Tranquebar is from Chennai.

Travel by car from Chennai to Pondicherry, when out of the Chennai congestion, takes less than 3 hours, due to the recent construction of a modern toll road with limited traffic. However the coastal road onwards from Pondicherry, to Tranquebar is narrow, winding, congested and poorly maintained, and travelling speed will average only 30-35 Kilometres an hour. Accordingly distances in the present report will mainly be given, not in Kilometres, but in travelling time.

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