History of Fort Dansborg
Originally a fishing village, Tharangambadi, formerly known as Tranquebar was fortified by the Dutch East India Company, who used the port as the main trading post for the colony, with the major export of the colony being cotton textiles. The Fort Dansborg was built in 1620 on the land ceded by Thanjavur king Ragunatha Nayak in an agreement with Danish Admiral Ove Gjedde. In the year 1845, the fort was sold to the British Empire and along with the town of Tharangambadi, the Fort Dansborg lost its significance as the town was not a trading post anymore.
After India gained independence, the fort was used as an inspection bungalow till 1978 and was eventually taken over by the Department of Archaeology and the Government of Tamil Nadu. Currently, the Fort Dansborg is transformed into a museum which displays historical artefacts from the time of the Danish rule.
In recent years, the Fort Dansborg has been renovated twice, once in the year 2001 by the Tranquebar Association with the help of the Danish royal family and the State Archaeology Department. And the second renovation was done almost a decade later in 2011, by a project named Destination Development of Tranquebar by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Tamil Nadu in consultation with Intach, Puducherry chapter. The fort is one of the prominent tourist destinations in the region.
Architecture of Fort Dansborg
Built in a typical Danish style, the main aspects of the fort are the large halls, columned structures, high ceilings and projecting drapery. Trapezoidal in shape, the side of the fort facing the sea is 60 m with a width of 11 m. In the left wing of the Fort Dansborg, there are three rooms, which were once used as the governor's residence, a kitchen and a church room. Presently, these have been transformed into a museum, located in the centre of the building. The right wing of the fort houses a store room, which was once the residence of the commercial director along with a set of guard rooms in the second storey. The steps leading up to the second storey are built out of bricks similar to the core of the building. The central part of the fort has four camels hump shaped domes and the central pillar of the hall holds the entire weight of the domes.
The fort along with some notable structures like the Masilamaninathar Temple, the Zion Church, the Town Gateway, the Danish Governor Bungalow and a series of tomb stones built during the 17th and 18th centuries, are enclosed within a citadel. The settlement inside the citadel is modelled like a small European town with a land gate and wooden doors leading to the main street, namely, the King's Street.
Visiting Information on Fort Dansborg
The Nagapattinam Junction is the nearest railway station at a distance of 35 km from the fort and the Chennai International Airport is the closest at a distance of 263 km from the Fort Dansborg.
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