When the British colonized India, it shaped and defined Indian history, usurping the few colonies that had marked their own territories in India. Beyond the Portuguese colonies in Goa, people have not looked further into or remained blissfully ignorant of India’s rich past, and till date, lay little secret towns dotting India’s coast lines. One such beauty, that has been unearthed only due to curious travellers venturing along the Coromandel coastline; is Tranquebar.
Before the early 17th century, this quiet fishing village was known as Tharangambadi, which translates to mean, ‘land of the singing waves’. The Danes, who had trouble pronouncing the name, had it changed to Tranquebar, which has remained its name ever since. Much like the British invasion, the Danish invasion only began after a trade agreement between King Christian IV and Raghunatha Nayak, the ruler of the surrounding kingdom of Thanjavur. The Danish East India Company was set up, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The little village began to conform to Danish ways, and architecture, and at the time, could boast of being home to the second largest Danish castle in the world — The Dansborg Fort. Besides the fort, Danish architectural imprints can be seen around the village, through the colonial houses, churches and cemeteries. Today, it is officially a Tamil village, but some of these Danish features remain ever present.
In a report by BBC, the Danish Government was said to be honoured to share this piece of history with India. The honorary Vice Consul of Denmark in Chennai, SB Prabhakar Rao even said, “The Danish government believes that their history is incomplete without a reference to this significant period. So they have preserved these historical records carefully in Copenhagen’s museums and archives. And Danes still like to visit Tranquebar to identify the graves of their ancestors in the local cemetery.”
If you’d like to experience India’s little slice of Danish history first-hand, but don’t know where to start, here’s a handy guide to Tranquebar.
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