A former Danish colony, Tranquebar stands mute testimony to the struggle between colonial powers to gain control of the lucrative spice trade. Located in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, the Dansborg fort, the churches and the old monuments are the only remnants of the Danish heritage.
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Tranquebar, also called as Tharangambadi meaning ‘Land of the Singing Waves’, finds place in the 14th century inscription by the name ‘Sadanganpade’. Before the Danish, the town was ruled by Cholas and the Pandyas between the 10th and 14th century. In the 15th century, it was ruled by Thanjavur king Vijaya Raghunatha Nayak. During these periods Tranquebar became a major commercial hub and did trade with the Arabs and Portuguese.
In November 1620, Danish Captain Ove Gjedde signed a treaty with Thanjavur king Vijaya Raghunath Nayak and laid the foundation of Danish East India Company in the town. The treaty allowed the Danish to build a fort and commence export of pepper to Denmark. The Danes named the fort at Tranquebar as Fort Dansborg. The Danish ruled over Tranquebar till 1845 before selling it to the British.
Tranquebar is also the first place in India where a printing press was started by two Protestant missionaries from Germany. By 1712, they had printed 300 books in Tamil. They published the holy Bible into Tamil language, which is considered to be the first book printed in India.
Today the Fort Dansborg, Danish manuscripts and sculptures are the only remnants of the Danish East India Company. Beside Fort Dansborg, there many churches in the town which are the must visits. Among the churches, the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church is more popular among the tourists.
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