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History docks in Chennai

February 8, 2007
It's a 261-year-old tragedy.

On September 12, 1745, the Swedish ship Gotheborg almost reached the Gothenburg dock on Sweden's west coast after completing 30 months of her third voyage to China.

The East Indiaman ship -- belonging to the Swedish East India Company, which was established in 1731 to trade in southeast Asia -- was on a trade voyage, with goods like tea, porcelain, silk and spices worth millions on board. But she sank at the entrance of the dock.

The world forgot about her, till December 1984 when amateur divers working for the Marine Museum of Sweden found a part of the shipwreck -- a small piece of wood -- beside the submerged rock, Hunnebadan, 900 metres from the New Elfsborg Fortress.

That was when the idea to make a replica of the Gotheborg originated. In June 1995, the keel of the new Gotheborg was laid at Gothenburg's Terra Nova shipyard. On October 2, 2005, the new Gotheborg left on its first two-year-long sailing expedition on the historical route to China.

En route to China, the Gotheborg called at several ports, including Cadiz in Spain, Cape Town in South Africa, Fremantle in Australia, Jakarta in Indonesia, and Singapore, before arriving in Chennai.

Reportage: Shobha Warrier | Photographs: Sriram Selvaraj

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