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Tranquil Tranquebar: perfect long weekend family getaway

S Muralidhar | Updated on November 13, 2021

The cooled storage slots and cubby holes spread around the cabin helped keep all our throats quenched S Muralidhar   -  S Muralidhar

Revenge travel is back. And my stead was the Hyundai Alcazar for its comfy cabin and its promise of safety inside-out and outside-in

With the covid situation easing up and the infection rates going down, revenge travel has been the trend over the last couple of months. More people are taking flights and thronging touristy places, and yet, in my opinion, road trips continue to be the safest form of travel yet. A road trip can still keep you protected from exposure to infections, and it is also possibly one of the best ways to get family time.

A long weekend a couple of months ago was the perfect opportunity for me to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience a new destination. So I packed up and the vehicle I chose was the Hyundai Alcazar for its spacious cabin; the possibility of accommodating extra bits of luggage in its capacious boot, while still keeping 5 passengers in comfort. I had a full house and quite a bit of luggage to carry since I was also attempting to keep my risk of exposure low while enroute. The travel plan was to stay at the Governor’s bungalow in Tranquebar and take some history lessons about the chequered history of this quaint little town.

Swinging South

I took National Highway 32 getting out of chennai’s teeming suburbs in a south-westerly direction clocking steady 3-digit speeds on one of the best maintained highway sections anywhere in the country. The Alcazar is a good mile-muncher and I made steady progress in the first four hours on NH 32, before swinging towards the easterly coast and the beaches of Tarangampadi. In addition to its well-appointed and comfortable cabin, one of the highlights of this plush people’s carrier is its suspension set up. Offering a good balance between a pliant and firm ride, the Alcazar offers a smooth, steady ride on clean blacktop roads and a stable, unruffled ride on broken tarmac. The 550-odd kilometres to Tranquebar is mostly well-laid tarmac, with a few short sections with ageing surfaces and under construction highways.

Tranquebar, which in Tamil was originally and even today continues to be called ‘Tharangambadi’ translates to ‘land of the singing waves’. The town’s name was adapted into its anglicised moniker Tranquebar over the centuries of it being a colony. It is a tiny beach town in Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu that dates back to the 14th century.

Colonial Melting Pot

It is said that in 1618, Danish admiral Ove Gjedde, fell in love with the calm shores of Tharangambadi and since he is said to have been as sure that the place would be a potential trading centre, acquired trading rights from the then Maharaja of Tanjore.

He oversaw the construction of The Dansborg Fort to start bilateral trade. This fort was the residence and headquarters of the governor and other officials for about 150 years. Large part of the fort and the compound still stands proudly on the shores, despite the pounding it received from the Tsunami of 2004. In 1842, the trading rights were sold to the British East India Company, when the Danes could no longer afford to maintain overseas colonies. In and around the little town, one can see the intermingling of the architectural influences of the Danish, British, German and French colonists who once called Tranquebar home and kept up an active trading community between India and these countries.

It is interesting to note that this town also witnessed the setting up of the first printing press in India, established back in 1714. In fact, Tarangampadi’s press was one of the first to print the New Testament in Tamil.

The Zion Church here was built in 1701, The New Jerusalem Church was built in 1718 by the Royal Danish missionary Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg.

Sadly, some of the devastating impact of the 2004 tsunami can still be seen. Almost a tenth of Tranquebar’s population was wiped away in the floods, as was the case in neighbouring Nagapattinam, which bore the brunt of that cataclysmic event.

Plush People’s Carrier

Tranquebar is a small town with narrow but well-maintained roads. My initial trepidation about the Alcazar’s size was unfounded. It was easy to pick my way through town, as was parking it in tight spots, thanks to its surround view monitor. The Alcazar is one of the few vehicles in its segment that is still offered with a diesel engine. But I decided to try the petrol powertrain with the 6-speed automatic transmission for the extra convenience and ease of drivability on long highway stretches. The two-litre petrol MPi engine delivers a peak power of 159PS and a peak torque of 191Nm. Power delivery is linear. At highway speeds and while weaving through spaced out traffic on single carriageway sections, the Alcazar’s abilities and nimbleness shines through. Quick overtakes and confident, strong braking erased any doubts that may have otherwise arisen by its size and large footprint.

Space is a big reason why the Hyundai Alcazar would be ideal for long road journeys. My test mule was the 6-seater version with the captain seats for the second row. Folding one of the seats in the third row liberates more than enough space for luggage that the entire family will need over an extended weekend. In the interest of safety, I had packed food and even water for the nine-hour roadtrip. The cooled storage slots and cubby holes spread around the cabin helped keep all our throats quenched. Of course, dedicated air-conditioning for all three rows was a welcome feature and the charging slots around the cabin kept smartphone addicts happy.

POIs

There are a number of interesting temples, churches and museums near Tranquebar that can form part of an extended weekend roadtrip. The Velankanni church, the port at Poompuhar, and the imposing temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram are well worth visiting and all of them are within a couple of hours drive from Tarangampadi. The Alcazar had clocked over 1,100 kms to cover the entire long weekend trip. The best mileage I managed was about 14.6kmpl and the average including highway and city cycles was 11.2kmpl. That was certainly higher than what I had expected it to deliver.

Published on November 12, 2021

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