Mission in Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu. William Carey, a well-known Missionary based in NE India was not the father of modern Printing in India as it is believed. However, he had popularized the printing since his arrival at the Danish Halle Mission in Serampore, Kolkata and published scores of works from there.
A trade treaty with the local ruler Raghunatha Nayak of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom (Nayak rulers were once the resident representatives of the Vijayanagara rulers) facilitated the construction of a Danish colony here along with Church and other facilities. In 1620 Captain Roland Clippe of the Danish Navy successfully negotiated a 16-point trade treaty on behalf of the ruler of Denmark and Norway King Christian IV for a sum of Rs.3111.00 payable annually. The area covered included 25 sq. miles in the coastal area.The original 1620 treaty bearing the royal signature in Telugu on a gold foil was part of the International Archives in Copenhagen.
Later over a period, the Danes built additional facilities, and by the 1770s, it became a well fortified trade-post, including Zion Church, the oldest Protestant Church in India. The fort is just adjacent to the sea shore in the back drop of a azure blue sea - the Bay of Bengal. A picturesque place that turns golden yellow at dawn in the glow of the sunrise.
Tarangambadi, now a legacy of colonial Danish culture is taking pride in the vestiges of whatever is left of the past glory. In the adjacent Parade Ground , there is a cross on a stone memorial, heralding the arrival of the first ever Lutheran Missionaries to India on orders from the Danish king Frederick IV to spread Christianity in this part. The arrival of Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, then 23 years old and his elderly associate Heinrich Plütschau at Tranquebar on 9 July, 1706, was an important event in the history of printing press in India. It was here Ziegenbalg and his associate reestablished India’s first printing press and breathed life into it.
Upon arrival here, Rev. Ziegenbalg, did not lose his time to learn the local tongue Tamil, a highly advanced, perfect and literature-rich Dravidian language. With the knowledge of native tongue he could take the message of Christ across the people here. As Rev. Ziegenbalg had a flair for languages, he learned the local language with the help of a local informal teacher and gained mastery over a period of time. He realized only through local language his missionary work would become easier. He set up schools in Tanjore (now Thanjavur), Madras (now Chennai) and Tinnelveli (now Tirunelveli).
For unknown reasons, printing paled into insignificance and finally died out after 1612. The 18th century India saw the revival of of modern printing press and this rejuvenation was quite helpful for generations of Indians later.
Ziegenbalg, then a 23 year old man and his elderly associate Heinrich Plütschau landed here on July 09, 1706 on orders from King Frederick IV. They took the honor of establishing the first formal Protestant Mission in Asia. One Johann Heinrich Schloricke, a 30 years old printer printed in Portuguese the Tranquebar Mission press's first publications in 1712/13. This heralded the revival of printing in India. The vast printing industries in India owe a debt of gratitude to Rev. Ziegenbalg and his associates at the Protestant Mission, Tarangampadi who gave life to the modern printing in the by-gone days. Rev. Ziegenbalg used the special Tamil typefaces made in Halle on his request.The Tamil typeface set arrived in Madras on June 29, 1713. It revolutionized the printing in Tamil. It was for the first time Tamil work was printed.
01. The printing press arrived in 1712 Madras from London with the help from SPCK - Sciety For Promotion Of Christian Knowledge.
|Danisg fort, Tarangampadi , Tamil Nadu. en.wikipedia.com|
03. He was first to introduce Tamil calendar, German hymns into Tamil. He was the first to preach sermon in Tamil and translate Tamil stories into German.
04. Yet another fact is Rev. Ziegenbalg was the first one to introduce free noon-meal scheme.
05. A Guide to English Tongue by Thomas Dyche printed here is believed to be the first English book in Asia.
06. Johann Gottlieb Adler, printer and his brother at the Protestant
Mission devised a way to reduce the size of the Tamil typeface as the bigger ones earlier required volumes of paper that had to be imported. In July, 1715, Adler, using the new types printed the New Testament (Putu Erpadu)in Tamil.
07. Adler's type foundry was set up at Porayar, near Tranquebar. He also started a paper mill in 1715 with help from the government and the Protestant Mission who shared the investment equally. Later printing ink industry came up; amazingly all facilities in one place. An interesting fact is all were the first printing related industries in India.
08. In the nest 100 years, the Danes printing activity continued and spread to places like Tanjore, Madras and Serampore, near Kolkata, yet another Danish settlement.
09. Rev. Ziegenbalg died at a very young age of 35 and did monumental work within a short span of time. He was the founder and torch-bearer of modern printing in its infancy.
As for the fortified town, Danes controlled it till 1777 and later sold it for a paltry sum of 12.5 lakh rupees in 1845. In this transient world, their supremacy was swept away by the waves for good.