Decaying Danish monument may come alive again

CHENNAI NOV. 9 . The heavily-battered two-centuries-old heritage monument at Tarangampadi, Danish Governor's Bungalow, may soon get a fresh lease of life with the Tamil Nadu Government agreeing to permit renovation by the Royal Danish Embassy and a private hotel group.

Now a sleepy small town in Nagapattinam district, Tarangampadi was a Danish colony between 1620 and 1845 before it was taken over by the British. It was the headquarters for about 30 Danish Governors, and continued to be so for some years even during the British period.

The bungalow was built in 1784 during the tenure of Peter Hermann Abbestee, who served for nearly 20 years in two spells. At present, the building is in a dilapidated state, serving as an ideal place for urchins. It is under Tourism department custody.

This is the second time the Government has decided to give the bungalow to a private hotel group. In 1993, it decided that the bungalow and the Danish Fort be given on lease to the Taj group for being converted into heritage hotels. Subsequently, the proposal was dropped by the group.

According to a recent government decision, the Royal Danish Embassy and the Neemrana Group will take up work on restoration of the bungalow and convert the monument into a heritage hotel. The bungalow will be given on 30-year lease to the proposed heritage hotel, a joint venture of the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation and the Neemarana Hotels.

The External Affairs Ministry and the Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry have conveyed ``no objection'' to the proposal. The State Government issued an order to this effect three weeks ago.

The TTDC would contribute Rs. 1,000 towards the share capital of the hotel venture. One officer each from the Tourism department and the TTDC will be nominated as directors on the board of the hotel.

Sudeep Jain, Collector, told The Hindu,`` I hope that the initiative will result in Tarangambadi too becoming a tourist centre'' in Nagapattinam district. Now, Nagore and Velankanni attracted, on an average, 10,000 tourists every weekend. The number went up to 50,000 during festivals.

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