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Danish India

Danish India (Tour Code : IN/026) – Denmark in India held colonial possessions for 225 years, including the town of Tranquebar, Serampore and the *Nicobar Islands. The Danish presence in India was of little significance to other European powers in India, as they did not stand with threat of any military activity nor did they pose any mercantile threat. Against all the disadvantages Danish in India stood strong in their limited spaces and did carve a niche for themselves in trade, when during Inter-European Colony wars Danish stood out to trade without alliance to any power. On this tour we explore the Danish strong holds of Tanquebar, Seerampore and Gondalpara. It would also take you to Pondicherry and show the contrasting French domain in India as against the sublime Danish regime.


 Itinerary

Day 01  Arrival day in Chennai

Upon arrival in Chennai we will check-in to our hotel for an overnight transit stay. Of course today you will have an option to explore this British Presidency. Overnight at our hotel in Chennai.

Day 02  Chennai / Tranquebar

After our breakfast we will check-out and drive to Tranquebar (now Tharangambadi). Upon arrival we will stay in an old Danish Bungalow now converted into a hotel. This bungalow earlier belonged to the Governor of Danish India. Overnight at the hotel in Tranquebar.

Day 03  Tranquebar

Breakfast at the hotel and post breakfast we explore the Danish city of Tranquebar. The legacy of the Danish colonial presence in the town of Tharangambadi includes a gateway inscribed with a Danish Royal Seal, a number of colonial bungalows, two churches and principally – the Dansborg Fort, constructed in 1620. Most parts of the fort have been reconstructed several times. The rampart wall is a fairly large four sided structure, with bastions at each cardinal point. A single storied building was constructed along three inner sides of the rampart, with barracks, warehouse, kitchen and jail. The rooms on the southern side remain in good condition, but the rooms on the western and northern sides have been substantially 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 sea on the eastern and western side protected the fort. The fort was surrounded by a moat, access to the fort being over a drawbridge. The moat has completely disappeared. The antiquities connected with the colonial period and Danish settlement at Tharangampadi are exhibited. 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 and small cannonballs. Overnight at our hotel in Tranquebar.

Day 04  Tranquebar / Pondicherry

After an early breakfast we will check-out and drive to Pondicherry (120 km / 3 hrs), the town that bears French footprints in India. Experience a walk on the streets here and you will be met with stark resemblance to French towns. Visit a few places of French dominance and check-in at the hotel for a night’s break stay in Pondicherry.

Day 05  Pondicherry / Chennai / Kolkata

This morning after breakfast at the hotel we will drive to Chennai (175 km / 4 hrs) and further connect our flight from Calcutta. Upon arrival we will check-in at our hotel in Calcutta. Overnight at Calcutta

Day 06  Kolkata – Serampore – Gondalpara – Kolkata

After our breakfast in the hotel we will drive to Seerampore (30 km / 1 hr). It is a pre-colonial town on the west bank of the Hooghly River. It was part of Danish India under the name Frederiksnagore from 1755 to 1845. The urbanization phase began with the acquisition of land in the area by the Danes in the early eighteenth century, as part of the Danish colonial empire. In 1755, the Danish East India Company sent a representative from its Tranquebar office to the Nawab of Bengal. Their intention was to secure a Parwana (district jurisdiction) allowing them the right to do business in Bengal. They obtained the parwana by paying fifty thousand rupees in cash to Nawab Alivardi Khan, along with many gifts, acquiring three bighas of land at Sripur on the riverfront and then another fifty-seven bighas at Akna for the building of a new factory and port, which the Danes governed from Tranquebar. Subsequently, the Danes acquired the Serampore, Akna and Pearapur mahals by paying an annual rent of 1601 rupees to the zamindar (tax farmer) of Sheoraphuli. By 1770 the Danish merchants were beginning to make significant progress in trade and commerce in the area. Danish prosperity was assisted by the able administrative performance of Colonel Ole Bie, who was appointed the first Crown regent of Serampore in 1776. The Danes also established a bazaar (the present Tin Bazaar) and allowed private godowns, or warehouses to be maintained. Gradually, the town developed and became elegant and prosperous, and merchants of both foreign and indigenous origin began to arrive and live there. Initially the Danes were dependent on their factors for obtaining commodities (primarily silk and cotton fabrics), but they later got involved in collection of merchandise directly from the producers, and offered incentives to the artisans in the form of earnest money for making high quality products. They also created a class of trading middlemen, such as agents, banias, mutsuddis, and stevedores. Sobharan Basak and Anandaram Dhoba, the two local textile businessmen, were appointed as the first ‘factors’ for the Danes. Nandalal Chakravarty was their first agent, and subsequently he was promoted to “Dewan”. Patita Paban Roy, who came from Katulpur in Bankura, and Saphali Ram Dey were appointed agents for the supplying of saltpetre. Brothers Raghuram Goswami and Raghavram Goswami came to Serampore from their home village of Patuli, to seek their fortune. Raghuram secured a job at the commissariat of the Danish Governor, while Raghavram became the official moneylender to the factory. Between them, they amassed a huge fortune acquired vast lands and founded an aristocratic colony on the western side of Serampore with their family. Their descendants still live in Serampore today. As a sop to the weavers of Akna and Mohanpur villages, the Danes gave advances for both cotton and fine silk products. The merchants also established their own factory to produce fine cloths. They collected ‘Hammer’ and ‘Luckline’ ropes for ships, various other kinds of ropes and agricultural produce. They inspired the cultivators of Pearapur to cultivate indigo in addition to paddy rice. Mr. Princep was their indigo agent. Another notable source of their income was the Hoondi business. Colonel Ole Bie was also interested in making Serampore a charming, elegant, attractive tourist resort. It became a well-protected town and the maintenance of law and order was well developed. To facilitate municipal administrative and judicial work, a new Court House was built and a metaled road was laid on the river bank and magnificent palatial buildings. Further we carry on to explore Gondalpara another Danish settlement, southeast of Chandernagore. Earlier known by the Danish as Danmarksnagore. later we return to our hotel in Calcutta for an overnight stay.

Day 07  Kolkata

Yet another day to explore Kolkata that has strong British footprints or may be return to Serampore for another stint and further exploration of Danish settlements here. Overnight in Calcutta

Day 08  Kolkata / Home

Today after breakfast we will check-out and connect our flight back home.


*Nicobar Island (though colonised by the Danes is a restricted island of India due to being a tribal area): The history of organised European colonisation on the islands of Nicobar began with the Danish East India Company in 1754-6. During this time they were administrated from Tranquebar (in continental Danish India) administrated under the name of Frederiksøerne; missionaries from the Moravian Church Brethren’s settlement in Tranquebar attempted a settlement on Nancowry and died in great numbers from disease; the islands were repeatedly abandoned due to outbreaks of malaria: 1784-1807-9, 1830-34 and finally from 1848 gradually for good. Between 1778 and 1783, William Bolts attempted to establish an Austrian colony on the islands on the mistaken assumption that Denmark had abandoned its claims to the islands. Italy made an attempt at buying the Nicobar Islands from Danmark between 1864 and 1868. The Italian Minister of Agriculture and Commerce Luigi Torelli started a negotiation that looked promising, but failed due to the unexpected end of his Office and the first La Marmora Cabinet. The negotiations were interrupted and never brought up again. Denmark’s presence in the islands ended formally on 16 October 1868 when it sold the rights to the Nicobar Islands to Britain, which in 1869 made them part of British India. Overnight at our accommodation in Nicobar.