Traversing the Oceans: Indian Seafaring through the Eons

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

Figure 1 A Harappan seal depicting a reed boat coupled with oars. The presence of avian figures alludes to the historic disa-kaka used by seafarers in long distance travel. Source: Harappa.com

India has a long tradition of indigenous seafaring which is well attested from the late chalcolithic period to the late medieval period. Seafaring in India was a continuing practice contrary to the edicts of the Manusmriti That prohibited the crossing of seas especially those by Brahmins. Seafarers became the conduit through which Indian culture and religious traditions seeped into territories beyond the frontiers. In this article, we shall broadly speak of seafaring traditions from the earliest period up until the late medieval Continue reading “Traversing the Oceans: Indian Seafaring through the Eons”

REVISITING HMS MINDEN

By Ms Saba Purkar, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Shipbuilding in India gained momentum in the nineteenth century when the East Indian Company built the Bombay Dockyard and started the construction of ships. The British initially used the Indian shipbuilding ports for repairs to deal with the increasing piracy threats from Indians and Europeans and other foreign powers. The constant sea battles and the rapid building of ships lead to the shortage of oakwood in Britain, which forced them to build ships in their overseas colonies. Hence, the company was sanctioned to build ships in India. In March 1736, the arrival of Lowjee Nusserwanjee Wadia in Bombay from Surat marks the start of the ‘golden age’ of shipbuilding in Bombay.

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Royal Charter: The Beginning of a Saga

By Ms Sundari Khargonkar, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Mumbai, (erstwhile Bombay) has been a treasure trove for several rulers whose influence has led to political changes in the region. In 1661, the then seven islands of Bombay were given as a gift to King Charles II of England on his marriage to the Portuguese Princess Infanta Catherine of Braganza. The British Crown then rented the islands to the English East India Company (EEIC) who significantly contributed to Bombay’s development. The blog throws light on the aftermath of the Royal Charter signed between the British Crown and EEIC on 27 March 16681. Continue reading “Royal Charter: The Beginning of a Saga”

Trade and Polity in the Indian Ocean: State Formation in Late Medieval Kerala

By Ms Jibita Jans Binnu, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Introduction

The term Malabar denotes the Indian Subcontinent’s southwestern region, which comprises Malayalam-speaking areas. Geographically, it extended from the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea. Following the intrusion of the Europeans, the process of state creation and the idea of the power structure in various areas of Kerala underwent a massive change.

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INS Viraat – The Unfading Legacy

By Amruta Talawadekar & Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associates, Maritime History Society

This day, in the year 2017, i.e., 06 March, was when India’s second aircraft carrier, the mighty INS Viraat was decommissioned after 30 years of glorious service to the nation. This article is written as a tribute to this unique warship, which kept India’s shores safe and citizens protected during one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history. Thus, this article intends to rewind the clock and take a peek at those glory days through the eyes of one of its Captains who commanded INS Viraat when it was in full sail on the Indian high seas. Continue reading “INS Viraat – The Unfading Legacy”

Celebrating Woman in Indian Maritime History

By Mamum Megu, Reserach Intern

Introduction

International women’s day is an event to commemorate the progress made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, it is imperative to acknowledge and appreciate the prodigious contribution of women to Indian Maritime History.

Women’s occupancy in the Indian Armed Forces initially came to fruition in the year 1888 with the formation of the Indian Military Nursing Service. The nursing staff of the Indian Army played an outstanding role during World War I. Their commitment in the wartime was so stellar that the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India) was formed on 9 April 1942 that would expedite women’s workforce to serve in non-combat roles. Continue reading “Celebrating Woman in Indian Maritime History”

National Maritime Day, 2021: Celebrating India’s Maritime Journey

By Krishna Kataria, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Every year, on April 5, India celebrates National Maritime Day to commemorate modern Indian shipping embarked on its maiden voyage this day in 1919. The SS Loyalty, owned by the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, made an audacious venture, sailing from India to England.

This piece cherishes the day by taking us through the historical recall of the journey of India’s Shipping development, understanding the significance of National Maritime Day, and reminisce about the contribution of Mr. Walchand and Scindia Steam Navigation Company in India’s shipping history.

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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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Salt Politics: A Maritime Perspective

By Janhavi Vilas Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Imagine a plate of delectable food in front of you that turns out to be an unpleasant experience on your palate due to inappropriate use or rather absence of salt! Even in our imagination, food without salt paints such a bland picture. That’s the power of salt. In the Indian independence struggle, salt had a significant role to play.

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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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