Governor's House in the Danish settlement of Thrangambadi, TN

It is true that during the colonial era, Indian subcontinent  became a battle ground for the European powers to dominate trade activities, etc. The British had an edge over the others as their business tactics, wheeling dealings and  administrative ability  helped them  go on a land grabbing free  which was unethical and by the end of 19th century Britain held much of the Indian land and generated vast revenue to improve Britain.  The other European  countries had limited imperialistic   ambition and at last lost out to the wily British  Bobs. Little  do we know that Denmark played a sensible role in India by focusing more interest in trading than in land grabbing and creating mischief among Indian rulers as the English East India Co did in the 17th and 18 the centuries.

Restored Danish Gov. Bungalow Tharangampadi TN

Danish Gov. Bungalow, Tharangampadi, TN

Above image: Danish Governor's residence, now restored, one-story structure and the upper floor with a tiled balcony and hall. Palladian style design has noted simplicity and austerity. Note the absence of pediment - triangular section gable above  the horizontal super structure..........  

Danish Gov. Bungalow,(built in 1784) Tharangampadi, TN

Danish Gov. Bungalow, Tharangampadi, TN

Above image: Danish Governor’s Residence (1773), Danish settlement, Tharangambadi. 

Gov. residence Tharangambadi,

Above image: Danish Governor's residence, Tharangambadi, colonnade below he balustraded parapet wall

Veranda, Gov. residence Tharangambadi,

Above image: Long verandah to avoid sunlight and radiation with tall Madras ceiling supported by wooden rafters. Huge tall columns made of brick and lime support the outer verandah. 

Danish Gov. Bungalow, Tharangampadi, TN

After going through  long struggle and hurdles set by other traders particularly, the Portuguese  the Danes established  a settlement in the coastal town of Thangambadi of present day Tamil Nadu after getting necessary permission from the local Nayak ruler of Thanjavur kingdom. The settlement was part of a contract between Danish East India Company envoy Admiral Ove Gjedde and Thanjavur king, Ragunatha Nayak.  On 19 November 1620 Tharangambadi was established as a Danish Trading post for an annual sum of roughly ₹ 3111 and came to be known as Tranquebar.

danish settlement in Tamil nadu.

Ever since they had a  self contained fort with bastions, etc established in 1620, the Danish  trading station had become busy with the arrival of ships from Europe and trade grew the settlement flourished attracting traders from far and wide.

The Danish Governor had his official residence inside the fortified fort  Dansborg. during their heyday with flourishing trading activities in the 1660s the trading station assumed much importance and the government officials had to reside out side the fort in the surrounding village. Some owned a town  house and others stayed in rented houses. 

Danish Gov. Bungalow, Tharangampadi,

The new façade of the Governor’s residence drawn by Governor Peter Anker in 1794. Maritime Museum, Denmark.  In 1784, the Danish state bought the  house  from previous Governor David Brown to serve as the official residence of the Danish governor in Tranquebar........

It was in 1784, the Danish state purchased the  impressive  house on the parade ground across Fort Dansborg from previous Governor David Brown t for the exclusive purpose of serving as  the official residence of the Danish governor in Tranquebar.

Danish Gov. Bungalow, Tharangampadi,

Above image:  Danish Governor's residence, Tharangambadi. Earlier design. danes made alterations later after purchase.  In the later period it functioned as regional salt office. Photo: Knud Heiberg, 1935. National Museum of Denmark.  The new façade of the Governor’s residence drawn by Governor Peter Anker in 1794. Maritime Museum, Denmark....... 

   Danish settlement, Governor's house.Tharangambodi TN

Built in  the British colonial Palladian style with a flat roof and a front colonnade, the stately  house was owned by a rich  British merchant in the 1773. The house the incorporated  with  native design style has a  large inner courtyard that is connected to a well-kept garden  laid out in the baroque French style. Enclosed within the compound wall, there are additional provisions for  warehouses, stables, a shed for vehicles and palanquins, a kitchen, and rooms for domestic servants and stable hands.

The Danes, on advice from  Governor Peter Anker,  redesigned and  refurbished   the façade of the house  with  a large, central veranda and a double front colonnade making the governor's residence stand apart  as an  impressive one in that small town.

the Governor's residence was put to many uses - to conduct  official meetings, gatherings and receptions of foreign delegations. it also served as a venue for social activities, get-togethers, banquets, dances. The small European community living there needed some entertainment and respite in this isolated town to be from mundane and lonely life. The house continued to function as  the private home of the newly posted governors and their families. Part of  the governor's duty included sending   reports home to the Danish King on the trading activities in the trading station. Today, several of these documents related to daily activities of the governor, etc are kept in Danish archives. One of the important events happened during the 225 years of Danish rule in Tranquebar  was  the arrival of the two German Lutheran Missionaries, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Pluetschau  on 9 July 1706 as part of Tranquebar Mission. They  established the first protestant churches in India. They also introduced printing press and published the Bible in Tamil.

Tharangambadi, TN.Mission

When Danes were unable to run the station because of various social and political problems they wound their station and left Tranquebar in 1845; they ended their   225 years of rule of Tranquebar.But the Danish aura is very much there.   The residence of the governor lay empty. In 1860, the British converted the building into a courthouse and it functioned as such until 1884.

The big salt panes are located in Vedaranyam village near by and the house also served as  regional salt office in the 1910s, After  India's independence the house continued to function as  a salt office till   1985. Later  Tamil Nadu State Department of Tourism, took over the site  soon  opened a new hotel in the backyard, Hotel Tamil Nadu.

Fort Dansborg and the Land Gate  are officially declared as as historical monuments protected by Indian antiquarian authorities, and are therefore well preserved. for the Government of Denmark, it is their proud legacy as the settlement is the largest Danish settlement out side Denmark.  Sreerampur, another former Danish colony near Kolkata, came up   135 years later.

As per Govt. GO dated Nov 27, 2019,  Governor Bungalow at Sathangudi village in Tharangambadi  brought under the Tamil Nadu Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1966; hence it is a protected monument.