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TranQuebar-The Old Danish Colony in India

We all know about British, Dutch, French and Portuguese came to India after the Mughals; Very few are aware that Danes also tried their luck here in India. Yes! It is in The Land of Singing Waves known as TranQuebar. TranQuebar originally named as Tharangambadi in Tamil nadu is a serene and small fishing village in Nagapattinam district in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India. It was a Danish colony or Settlement from 1620 to 1845, and in Danish it is still known as Trankebar.It is simply a fascinating place which will take us to the Medieval Europe.General InfoBy Air: Tranquebar is 280 km from Chennai airport.By Rail: It is 35 km from Nagapattinam and Chidambaram.By Road: Chidambaram, 35 km; Poompuhar, 20 km; Pondicherry 70 km, Thanjavur 98 km.Best Season: August to FebruaryAccommodation unit: Bungalow on the beach (Heritage Hotel,)Two heritage suits, TTDC Hotel.Amazing factsTranQuebar has the Worlds second Ozone Rich BeachBirth place of protestant missionary in India.First printing press of Asia was established in TranQuebar where the Bibles in Tamil and English language where printed.Danish Coins which were circulated in India was first minted in TranQuebar only.Indias First boarding high school for girls was established by the great Danish missionary Ziegenbalg in TranQuebar.HistoryThe earliest reference to Tharangambadi occurs in a 14th century inscription, mentioning the place as Sadanganpade. Ziengenbalgs Statue at TranQuebarIndias first Christian missionaries, Bartholomus Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Pluetschau (German Lutherans) were sent to TranQuebar by king Fredrick VI of Denmark to preach Christianity in Asia. Apart from preaching Christianity, Danes carried out trade to Europe from TranQuebar. Establishment of The Danish East India Company in 1620, when a factory (commercial settlement traded Malayan pepper ,spices ,silk, tusk etc.,) was opened and a fort, known as Fort Dansborg, was built by a Danish captain named Ove Gjedde. It happened after signing a treaty with King of Thanjavur, Rajah Ragunatha Nayak.TranQuebar came under the control of the British in February 1808, during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, but was restored to Denmark following the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. Along with the other Danish settlements in India (Serampore and the Nicobars), it was sold to the British in 1845. TranQuebar was then still a busy port, but it later lost its importance after a railway was opened to Nagapattinam.Getting Around TranQuebarTranQuebar can be easily explored on foot as most of the places are very close by. The Colonial Streetscapes- the town still retains its primitive classical streetscape and names: Kings Street, Queen Street, Admiral Street, Goldsmith Street, Mosque Street, etc.The Town Gate Landporten as the Town Gate is called in Danish, forms part of the fortifications that were built around TranQuebar in the 1660s. In 1791 the original gate was destroyed and the existing one constructed in its place. Entry into TranQuebar is through this gate designed with an exquisite Danish flare.


Fort Dansborg is the main attraction of TranQuebar and was built by the Danish captain Ove Gedde, the commander of the Royal Dutch Navy. It was used as residence for the governor and other officials for almost 150 years. The fort was a busy trade centre and was built at an ideal location such that it could be reached easily from Karaikal or Kumbakoram by bus. The fort was handed over to the British and today it is under the control of the Archaeological Department of Tamilnadu.There is a castle within the fort called Dansborg Castle and is built close to the Indian Ocean. Most of the fort is in good condition and is converted to an archaeological museum. The museum holds a collection of artifacts from the time of the Danish. The museum also has fossils of early centuries, coins, Chinese porcelain and weapons. Paintings of Maratha kings are also kept here. There are many documents some which have the seal of the Danish governor and Palm leaf manuscripts explaining the methods of scripting in those days etc.Fort museum is open from Saturday to Thursday.

Danish Governor Bungalow

This building got its name as it was used as residence of Danish Governor in 1784.Bungalow on the Beach is NOW a heritage hotel that was Danish fort earlier in the 17th century. The Hotel houses 8 suites and rooms comprising of luxury suites and standard suites and the interesting part lies in the fact that they have been named after popular Danish characters like Princess Louise, Prince Christian, Queen Anna Sophia, Elephant, Oldenberg, Countess Moltke, Christianus Septimus and Crown Prince of Denmark the rooms have been intricately designed and its heritage value has been well maintained.Masilamani Nathar Temple

Dedicated to Lord Siva the temple was built in 1305 by Maravara Kulasekara Pandian, a Pandya King. The temple is built by the sea shore and has been crumbling over the years.NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH Built on 9th February 1717, this church on the King Street of TranQuebar houses the grave of Ziegenbalg. The Church has a shrine bearing a royal crown on its faade with the year 1718 on it. The church holds the grace of 1st Danish missionary Bartholomus Ziegenbalg who printed the 1st Tamil Bible.ZION CHURCHWell-polished brass plaques on the wall reveal that the first five Indian protestant converts of the Danish mission were baptized in the Zion church in 1707.This is considered to be the oldest protestant church in India.BEACH

The major attraction of TranQuebar is the Ozone Rich Beach. Ozone breeze is said to possess rejuvenating effect and is good for breathing and heart ailments.The beach in front of the Fort and to the south across the Uppanar river is excellent and the water is safe for swimmers.

The Uppanar River affords the possibility of a short twenty minute trip with some excellent bird watching opportunities. A small uninhabited island gives the option for a lunch stop. Boat trips may be organised along the coast, with possible visits to fishing villages.

Gate House, TranQuebarApart from this, there are many exotic heritage monuments ,missions, cemeteries of Royal Danes and Britishs are the highlights. Heritage Sites

In the month of September many people from Europe come and pay their homage to their ancestors cemetery, who were the part of this fishing village in 17th century and developed it as a town. This is termed as Cemetery Tourism. By this TranQuebar gets many foreign tourists.

This small fishing village will tell you the tales of Danes and British lives on Indian soil Enter in to the land of Danes on Indian soil and hear to songs of waves!!TranQuebar, an incredible land!! Exactly, a little DENMARK of India.