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Enigmatic India

This blog captures the life experiences of the Enigmatic India team in the beautiful and enigmatic country of India.We capture our experiences through our writings, photos and products that depict the very essence and fabric of India.Through this platform, we invite you to join us in our journey as we explore.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Dansborg Fort, Tharangambadi : Piece of Danish Settlement in India

Vinod my friend called many months back and told me that we should visit Tharangambadi or Tranquebar, when we were in Chennai next. This stuck with me for quite sometime and when we planned a trip to Puducherry, visiting Tranquebar was definitely in the offing.

Fort Dansborg
The drive from Puducherry was only ~120 Kms and with a break at Chidambaram, Thillai Nataraja temple the journey didn't seem difficult at all. As we were approaching this place, my mind was racing - when did the Danish rule India. Had heard and read about other European settlers like the French, Portuguese, Dutch and the English but never about the Danish rulers. Maybe my knowledge of history was in sufficient - so a quick search on Google threw up this map. Crazy enough- there were three Danish settlements in India - Tranquebar, Serampore(Bengal) and Nicobar - governed through the Danish East India company set-up for trading purposes(mostly spices).

European Settlements in India : Source Wikipedia.
As we approached , I was expecting to see a huge fort, structure like the Rajasthan Forts but it turned out to be a small orange-pink garrison(large outpost) kind of thing. Fort Dansborg apparently is the second largest fort built by the Danes after Fort Kronborg. As the history goes it was build by Danish Admiral Ove Gjedde in 1620 after entering into an agreement with the Thanjavur King, Raghunath Nayak.

Bay of Bengal - view from Fort - Rusted Canon is also visible
It faces the Bay of Bengal and there is a beautiful beach with a lot of boats adorning the white sands. The structure is built in Danish style(as stated in the museum - I don't know a bit about architecture and rely on acquired information) with large halls, column structures, projecting drapery. Apparently it had the governors residency, kitchen, soldiers quarters, armoury, store rooms and strong walls in a trapezoidal shape. One can take a walk along the fort walls and enjoy taking photos. I enjoyed watching the sea from the Fort and the cool sea breeze was soothing. Imagined how the governor would have enjoyed his evenings and early mornings back in the 17th Century. If you are the inquisitive kind, there is a museum inside and though not much is there, some piece of history can definitely be seen.

Artefact in the musuem
As you come out of the Fort, you can visit the Zion Church, Jerusalem Church, Town Gateway, Masilamaninathar Temple and other buildings from that period. Couple of bungalows have been converted to hotels by the Neemrana group and one can stay there. Overall the walls around the citadel were not meant to weather military attack, rather protect from cavalry raids. Well if you are hungry there are a few ice-cream & bhelpuri/masala puri vendors just outside the Fort gate. The place is both child and elderly friendly and a tourist hot spot.

View of the Fort  facing the sea
This visit to Fort Dansborg was quit enriching and filled an unknown void about my knowledge of European Settlements in India. If you are in Puducherry take time off and visit this place.

(Contributed by Sandip Mishra)

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