Ship breaking in India – An industry in itself

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

India, being a maritime country with water along its three sides, has always been associated with ships. Evidence of log made boats, dug outs, wooden massive vessels and advanced modern ships have been the glory of our history from the times of the Indus Valley Civilisation to the contemporary times. These vessels did play a major role in the cultural and material exchange to and from the country. While we are often fascinated about how a ship is built, little do we imagine about what happens to the ship after it is no longer deemed fit. Let’s talk about one of the largest ship breaking industries in the world – The Ship Breaking Industry of India.

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The Sassoon Dock Story

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Mumbai, the city fascinates many people and is rightly touted as the ‘City of Dreams’ or the ‘City that never Sleeps.’ As fascinating as the city is, equally interesting is its history. Formerly called Bombay, this city has been responsible for myriad changes in the society as it itself underwent a lot of transitions through time. Maritime enterprises have played a pivotal role in the making of this city. The cause and effect relation between the mercantile interests combined with maritime infrastructure transformed the city’s economy. While we Mumbaikars continue to disregard the importance of certain historical and heritage aspects that should be treasured, a certain microscopic aspect of erstwhile Bombay’s maritime history stood the testimony of time to tell its story. It continues to do so just by emitting the nauseating stench of the fish that affirms its presence to passers-by. Yes, it is the Sassoon Dock!

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OVERVIEW OF MUGHAL ADMIRALTY

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

The Mughal rule in India witnessed tremendous power politics throughout their reign in the Indian subcontinent. The dynamism of the Mughal armies and their glories in war, statesmanship of various Emperors are very well documented. Their control over the mainland was possible due to their well-augmented militia. A lot is also written about it. What remains neglected is their Naval setup. Let us take a look at the Mughal Admiralty as it existed during the long reign of the Mughal emperors.

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An Unstitched Ocean of Weaves

By Aishwarya Devasthali, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Since MHS through its constant endeavours attempts to dig deeper in ocean heritage and bring something new for the enthusiasts with a view either to join the dots of the rich maritime history or celebrate and promote it in all its glory, this time it is on a voyage to take a glimpse with help of sarees!

‘Saree’, a six-yard piece of an unstitched cloth turned into a versatile attire, not only looks graceful but also is a globally recognised dress representing ‘India’, and I always love to wear it. Technically, it is just a 6-yard unstitched cloth that is in existence since the time immemorial. Yet, it finds its place in traditional women’s closet as well as modern women’s wardrobe.

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CAN WE HAVE THE ANCIENT SAILING EXPERIENCE?

By Dennard H D’Souza, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

While flipping through the pages of history, we hear the stories of great maritime voyages undertaken by brave Indian Sailors. Be it the stories of the Kalingan Sandabha who sailed from the coast of Odisha to the far-flung Bali some two thousand years ago, or be it the great Chola fleet that ploughed through the waters of the Indian Ocean to capture the lofty city gate, Vidydhara Torana of the Sri Vijayans. Don’t we feel the urge to witness those momentous events of Indian Maritime history? Don’t we want to experience the briny sprays that waft through the breeze as the sails hoist high? Many of us pine for that experience but some have managed to recreate nostalgic experience by reenacting such ambitious voyages.

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Mundra Port – History behind the largest container port in India

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Being a maritime country with a vast coastline spread across its three sides, India has had a diverse history of thriving ports. From the ancient port town of Lothal during the Indus Valley Civilisation to the modern and recently approved Vadhavan port along the Konkan Coast of India, the ports of the Indian subcontinent have developed dramatically across time. Among the Indian states, Gujarat has been the maritime gateway to the world since ancient times. Being strategically located in the centre of the various maritime routes, Gujarat has been the link for East West trade since the Indus Valley Civilisation. With a number of blooming ports in its territory, Gujarat has been popular for yet another port – the Mundra Port. Let’s talk about the history behind the port that has emerged as the largest container port in India as of Jul 20201.

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Deep Down into the Ocean

By Aishwarya Devasthali, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society

The Ocean realm covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and it holds 97% of our planet’s water. The oceans play a role in everything from the air we breathe to the daily weather and climate patterns. Yet, we know very little about our oceans. Most of our knowledge about the ocean lies in shallower waters. Deeper waters still remain a mystery and untouched. Afterall, although a matter of debate, all life comes from the oceans! The question remains: are we, the human beings, who live on land a product of oceans? Do we have any biological roots in the oceans? What is our connection to the marine world?

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Asserting the Importance of Maritime History and the Need for Maritime Perspectives in Indian Historical Narratives

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Maritime history is a broad, interdisciplinary theme while studying global history encompassing the multidimensional study of human interactions.  Arthur C. Clarke has captured the enormity of the maritime expanse as he has rightly put “How inappropriate to call this planet ‘Earth’, when it is clearly Ocean.”

Indians have been seafarers with a history of their maritime ventures that can be traced back to two to three millennia. There is substantial evidence to prove this. Indian Maritime History outlines the traditional themes developed around separate and isolated subjects like the history of maritime trade, ventures, of conquests, colonisation and culture, historical analysis, and discourse on naval warfare and on the economic affairs that encapsulates nautical traditions and practices that include (but are not limited to) shipbuilding, overseas trade, and commercial fishing.

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The Small Indian Wonder: Lakshadweep

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

The tiny Union territory is making big news! Lakshadweep is the only territory under the Indian jurisdiction to be completely Covid-free even after five months since the first case was reported1 in India, in Kerala.

But the news should not come as surprise either because the islands stand out as unique entities. They have an inimitable ecosystem in terms of biodiversity, physical environment. India has about 1100 islands-inhabited and uninhabited. Lakshadweep, India’s smallest Union Territory, is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands well known for its exotic and sun-kissed beaches and lush green landscape. The name Lakshadweep means ‘a hundred thousand islands’ in Malayalam and Sanskrit.

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A Small Piece of Land – Away into the Seas

By Aishwarya Devasthali, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society 

Maritime History Society takes dives deep into the ocean of knowledge to know more about India’s rich maritime past and to awaken heritage consciousness amongst Indians. Today, when the whole world is relentlessly fighting the pandemic, there are some islands isolated from the mainstream societies, yet deeply affected due to the virus.  

Small islands around the world are rich in remarkable landscapes. They offer an opportunity to trace a strong link between nature and civilisations. These are the sensitive territories which at times are very vulnerable to environmental changes. They face many issues related to sustainability, water, energy and waste management. Often, heritage conservation and tourism practices conflict with their natural and cultural identities. Thus, heritage management and conservation of monuments on the islands become matters of concern for these islands. 

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