Danish fort in India?
That too second largest of the planet in India? Do you know that? Tharangambadi, aka Tranquebar, hosts the only Danish fort of India! Tharangambadi, in Tamil Nadu, used to host Danish settlements by the sea in the 17th century. During this period, Fort Dansborg was constructed by the Danes.
Our trip to the unique place
We (4 of us) started from Chennai by Friday evening and reached Sirkazhi overnight. We visited a few very historic temples around Sirkazhi and left to Tharangambadi. Tharangambadi is 15 km before Karaikal (part of UT - Pondicherry) by the East Coast Road (ECR).
We reached Tharangambadi by 12:30 PM on Saturday. Tharangambadi is 15 km before Karaikal by the ECR. The Danish fort - only one of its kind in the country is right by the beach. Tharangambadi town is quite small and is welcomed by a Danish Arch. The Danish colony was established in 1620 in an understanding of the then Tanjore king of Nayaks. The Danes were paying tributes to the king for allowing them to establish their colony by the port town. This fort is the second largest fort built by Danes after their own at Kronborg in Denmark.
The places of interest in the town of Tharangambadi are as below:
1. Fort Dansborg
2. Tharangambadi Arch (Gateway of Tranquebar)
3. New Jerusalem Church
4. Zion Church
5. Maritime Museum
6. Governor House
7. Tharangambadi Beach
8. Masilamaniswarar Shiva Temple
As one enters Tharangambadi, the first thing to notice is the Arch - Gateway of Tranquebar on the King's street. This landmark is quite well preserved and is a photo spot.
As we move ahead by the King's street, on the right side comes the New Jerusalem church. This is the largest in the town. There is one more at the end of the town on the other side, which we did not visit for the interest of time. Next, by the left is Zion church.
The Tharangambadi maritime museum is located by the end of the King's street. They take an entry fee of Rs.5 per person. The Tharangambadi maritime museum has displays of preserved sea life, shells, models of boat, utensils, costumes, paintings, and little more that were used by the Danes. They also have a small Indian stamp collection display. The churches, museums, and the fort are well maintained even to date.
We then visited the Danish Governor's bungalow which is just next to Tharangambadi maritime museum. The Governor's bungalow was damaged and has been renovated recently. There is no entry fee for this. We spent around 10 minutes here to see the arched structure inside.
The Danish fort called Fort Dansborg is by the sea. There is a lot of parking space around and small shops for quick refreshments. The fort is open for the public from 10 AM to 5:45 PM; Friday is a holiday. The entry fee for the fort is Rs.5 per person and Rs.3 for the child. The 17th-century fort was built as the fort was a flourishing port and handled major trade on this coastline. Ultimately, after British occupied India, this port lost its shine and Tharangambadi was also taken over from the Danes.
The fort walls can be walked upon and get a good view of the beach and sea. The fort has chambers for the granary, storage, wine cellar, gun storeroom, and alike. There is a small museum as well in the fort with displays of used items by the Danes. We spent around 30 minutes inside the fort. One gets to see a nice view of the fort from the beach.
The beach is quite nice and picturesque. The landing plaque for the boats is ruined and gives an element to photographers. The Masilamanieswarar temple is right by the beach and is in ruins. We did not visit the temple as it was getting too hot by midday.