SOPARA: AN ANCIENT PORT TOWN AND ITS RELIGIOUS REMNANTS

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

Ports were where maritime trade blossomed, people from far and wide brought their ware to an assigned place which would often be near a port and would exchange it for other commodities. This was pretty much the role of all ancient port towns like Alexandria and Rhodes. Today however I shall introduce one such port town that is very close to our city–Mumbai and was at one time a major maritime hub on the western coast of India this city is the ancient port town of Sopara.

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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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The Makara: Transforming a mythical creature into an object of Art

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

My first encounter with the Makara was on a gateway of the Sanchi stupa. It featured a man wrestling with a serpentine monster geared with tusks of an elephant. Little was I aware of the creature and its significance in the Indian scheme of tradition. All of a sudden, it appeared in bas-reliefs and sculpture in lands as far as Japan. This set me thinking about the concept of Makara as a marine being that suddenly became a decorative motif all throughout Asia.

The Makara is a mythical creature which resides in the depth of the waters, where it lives in a state of elusive isolation. Like all mythical creatures, the Makara too has many fantastical descriptions. But most plastic representations  portray it to be serpentine with a mouth of a crocodile and tusks and snout of an elephant.

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