Perceptions of heritage in Tranquebar relate to British rule (English as a second language) and to the nearby former French colonies of Karaikal and Pondicherry: A number of traders have family in France while some residents have French as third language. Early Portuguese presence manifests itself in family names and the presence of a significant Catholic congregation. The main Moslem community in Tranquebar, as in other South Indian coastal settlements, is the Marakkayar. All belong to the Sunni Shaafi branch of Islam which spread from the coasts of southern Yemen. The Marakkayar community includes a number of speakers of Arabic as well as a knowledge of Malay. It is German missionaries, not Danes, who are venerated by the Protestant communities in Tranquebar. The Dutch, however, left few traces, on the Coromandel coast, while their impact in Sri Lanka still is still significant.

Police in Karaikal,  
	with French caps - kÚpi rouge
French style police in Karaikakal
Street signs in Pondicherry 
	in Tamil and French
Street signs in Pondicherry

That the Danes did not leave an impact is not so strange, as most Danes sent to Tranquebar did not much enjoy the location, and only very few tried to understand Tamil culture. While Portuguese, English and French integrated and implanted their culture (there is a French Institute in Pondicherry), the Danes just suffered in the heat, imported even butter from Denmark, and longed for the day they could return home. The only cultural link acknowledged is to Germany, from which came such eminent linguists, scholars and missionaries as Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg and Christian Friedrich Schwartz.

However, the lack of cultural impact and commercial success of the Danes has been the chief factor in the preservation of Old Tranquebar. The town never gained significant importance, thus preserving the military town road grid along with buildings from the period. In consequence Tranquebar, in physical terms, exists in a time-warp, unlike other early colonial settlements along the Coast, which have either vanished or been transformed into large Indian cities and towns.


The climate of Tamil Nadu is characterised by the Northeast Monsoon bringing heavy rains during October, November and the first weeks of December. This is also the cyclone-season when the coast may be hit by heavy storms, sometimes with devastating effects. Rainfall from the end of December to March is negligible.

The coolest period with average temperatures from 20 to just above 30 degrees centigrade is from October to mid March. The months from April to July being very hot with the heat accentuated by very high levels of humidity.

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