Tharangambadi is a panchayat town in Nagapattinam district in the Indian state
States and territories of India
India is a federal union of states comprising twenty-eight states and seven union territories. The states and territories are further subdivided into districts and so on.-List of states and territories:...

 of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, 15 km north of Karaikal
Karaikal is a major port city of east coast of India and a municipality in Karaikal district in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, India. Several explanations are offered for the word 'Karaikal'. The imperial Gazetteer gives it the meaning 'fish pass'. According to Julien vinson the town is said...

, near the mouth of a distributary
A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. They are a common feature of river deltas. The phenomenon is known as river bifurcation. The opposite of a distributary is a tributary...

 of the Kaveri River. Its name means "place of the singing waves". It was a Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 colony from 1620 to 1845, and in Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

 and some other European languages it is known as "Trankebar" or "Tranquebar".


The earliest reference to Tarangampadi occurs in a 14th century inscription, mentioning the place as Sadanganpade. Tranquebar was founded by the Danish East India Company
Danish East India Company
The Danish East India Company was a Danish chartered company.-History:It was founded in 1616, following a privilege of Danish King Christian IV....

 in 1620, when a factory (commercial settlement) was opened and a fort, known as Fort Dansborg, was built by a Danish captain named Ove Gjedde
Ove Gjedde
Ove Gjedde , born in Tommarp in Scania, Denmark , was a Danish admiral and member of the interim government, following the death of Christian IV and the harsh restrictions imposed on Frederick III due to his close ties to Germany.In 1618 he commanded an expedition to Ceylon and India by Christian...

. This fort was the residence and headquarters of the governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

 and other officials for about 150 years. It is now a museum hosting a collection of artifacts from the colonial era.

The first Protestant missionaries to set foot in India were two Lutherans from Germany, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg
Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg
Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg was a member of the Lutheran clergy and the first Pietist missionary to India.-Early life:...

 and Heinrich Pluetschau, who began work in 1705 in the Danish settlement of Tranquebar. They translated the Bible into the local Tamil language
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

, and afterwards into Hindustani
Hindustani language
Hindi-Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language and the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan. It is also known as Hindustani , and historically, as Hindavi or Rekhta...

. They also established a printing press, which within a hundred years of its establishment in 1712 had printed 300 books in Tamil. At first they only made little progress in their religious efforts, but gradually the mission spread to Madras, Cuddalore
Cuddalore is a fast growing industrial city and headquarter of Cuddalore district in the Tamil Nadu state of southern India. Located south of Pondicherry on the coast of Bay of Bengal, Cuddalore has a large number of industries which employ a great deal of the city's population.Cuddalore is known...

 and Tanjore. Today bishop of Tranquebar is the official title of a bishop in the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church
Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church
Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church is a Christian denomination in south India. It has been established in 1919.Its headquarters is in Tamil Nadu. It has about 100,000 members.. The bishops has the title "Bishop of Tranquebar". It belongs to the Lutheran World Federation...

 (TELC) in South India which was founded in 1919 as a result of the German Lutheran Leipzig Mission and Church of Sweden
Church of Sweden
The Church of Sweden is the largest Christian church in Sweden. The church professes the Lutheran faith and is a member of the Porvoo Communion. With 6,589,769 baptized members, it is the largest Lutheran church in the world, although combined, there are more Lutherans in the member churches of...

 Mission. The seat of the Bishop, the Cathedral and its Church House ("Tranquebar House") is in Tiruchirappalli.

Moravian Brethren missionaries from Herrnhut
Herrnhut is a municipality in the district of Görlitz, in the Free State of Saxony, Germany.It has access to Bundesstraße 178 between Löbau and Zittau...

, Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 established the Brethren's Garden at Porayar near Tranquebar and operated it as a missionary centre for a number of years. An Italian Catholic Father Constanzo Beschi
Constanzo Beschi
Constanzo Beschi, also known under his Tamil name of Vīramāmunivar or Constantine Joseph Beschi was an Italian Jesuit priest, Missionary in South India, and renowned poet in the Tamil language.-Early years and formation:Born in Castiglione delle Stiviere, Mantova, Italy, a place very close to...

, who worked in the colony from 1711 to 1740, found himself in conflict with the Lutheran pioneers at Tranquebar, against whom he wrote several polemical works.

Tranquebar came under the control of the British in 1801, during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, but was restored to Denmark following the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. Along with the other Danish settlements in India (Serampore and the Nicobars), it was sold to the British in 1845. Tranquebar was then still a busy port, but it later lost its importance after a railway was opened to Nagapattinam.

Danish Museum

The antiquities connected with the colonial period and Danish settlement at Tharangampadi are exhibited under the guidance of Dr T.S. Sridhar, I.A.S Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Archeology. The museum contains porcelain ware, Danish manuscripts, glass objects, Chinese tea jars, steatitle lamps, decorated terracotta objects, figurines, lamps, stones, sculptures, swords, daggers, spears, sudai (stucco) figurines and wooden objects. There is also part of a whale skeleton.

Danish Fort

The Fort was first based in 1620 A.D. through most part of the fort has been reconstructed several times, Tharangampadi fort consisted of two large structures. they were the rampant wall was a fairly large four sided structure with bastions at each cardinal point. along the three inner sides of the fort wall, a single storied building was constructed. These rooms were used for barracks, warehouse, kitchen and Jail. Now, the rooms on the southern side are in good condition, but the rooms on the western and northern sides have been completely damaged. On the eastern side of the fort, there was a two storied building facing the sea. It was the main building of the fort. The vaulted lower storey served as a magazine and a warehouse, while the vaulted upper storey contained the church and the lodging of the governor, the Senior merchants and the chaplain. The fort was surrounded by a moat and access to the fort was over a drawbridge. This moat has completely disappeared. The sea on the eastern and western side protected it. Because of the political situation, the British East India Company brought the Danish settlement in India in 1845. So the Danish King sold the town and the territory to the British East India Company.


India census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

, Tharangambadi had a population of 20,841. Males constitute 48% of the population and females 52%. Tharangambadi has an average literacy rate of 74%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 79%, and female literacy is 69%. In Tharangambadi, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.

See also

  • European colonies in India
  • Danish East India Company
    Danish East India Company
    The Danish East India Company was a Danish chartered company.-History:It was founded in 1616, following a privilege of Danish King Christian IV....

  • History of Denmark
    History of Denmark
    The history of Denmark dates back about 12,000 years, to the end of the last ice age, with the earliest evidence of human inhabitation. The Danes were first documented in written sources around 500 AD, including in the writings of Jordanes and Procopius. With the Christianization of the Danes c...

  • Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg

External links

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