NAGAPATTINAM: Barely a few hundred metres from the surging waves of the Bay of Bengal at Tarangambadi in Nagapattinam district stands this majestic 228-year old bungalow. Battered by the onslaught of time, this heritage site that once served as the official residence of 34 succesive Danish Governors, slowly passed into oblivion.
In 2009, the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) took up the restoration of this heritage building, with funding from National Museum of Denmark. After three years of meticulous work, the building has now regained its past glory.
During 18th Century, Tarangambadi was Denmark’s chief overseas settlement. The Danes built a fort, churches, bungalows for Danish Governors, guest houses and the King and Queen Streets, all near the sea. Long after they left, the relics provide Tarangambadi a curious charm.
Built in 1784 in the Scandinavian architectural style, the two-storeyed bungalow’s facade have tall pillars with a lengthy verandah and high-ceiling rooms.
The condition of the bunglow provided quite a challenge to the architects of INTACH.
The walls of one room had collapsed and 12-feet-tall trees had grown out of the roof. The architects decided to reuse the original materials as far as possible and took the help of masons who had the knowledge of certain old techniques, like the making of Madras terrace roofs.
The roof of the Bungalow has three layers — first layer of wooden rafters, second layer of lime and mortar treated with jaggery and a third layer of flat bricks. They used old teak wood (from 70 to 90-year-old trees) to construct the rafters.
After three years and having spent `87 lakh, the Governor’s Bungalow is now ready to enthrall visitors with its beauty.
Official sources in the district said soon Chief Minister Jayalalithaa would inaugurate this restored heritage structure through video conferencing.
The restored building is likely to be used as an Indo-Danish Cultural Centre that will house a permanent exhibition on history and architecture, a tourist information desk, a public reading room, a children’s book corner and a boutique selling local crafts.