By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

International Customs Day is celebrated on 26 January every year. In order to look at the stellar role of the Customs Department in India, the blog titled ‘International Customs Day- A Historical Perspective on the Indian Customs’ is dedicated as a two-part series. The following is the first in the series to trace the historical aspects.

World Customs Organisation and International Customs Day 2023:

Before delving into the history, it is pertinent to understand what Customs are. Every nation has a dedicated Customs Authority that is responsible for the collection of duties and tariffs and overseeing the interchange of goods. Each nation has its own regulations and codes regarding the nature and kind of commodities that are permissible for import and export. The law to regulate such practices is under the jurisdiction of the Customs Authority. In order to increase interoperability on a global scale, the World Customs Organization (WCO) is set up as an international organization that oversees the different customs administrations related to international trade. Continue reading “INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMS DAY- A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE INDIAN CUSTOMS”

Mughal Women in Maritime Trade: Jahanara

By Sadaf Khan, Archives & Collections Associate (Maritime History Society)

Figure 1 Jahanara Source:,_British_Library,_Add_Or_3129,_f.13v.jpg

In the previous two segments, we have read about Mariam-uz-Zamani and Nur Jahan’s maritime pursuits. While Mariam-uz-Zamani had to struggle to navigate her path in maritime ventures, Nur Jahan, on the other hand, played her cards well. With a political acumen and a vision for economic success, she managed to pull off her maritime enterprise smoothly without a glitch. In this last and final piece of the Trilogy- Mughal women in maritime trade, we read about Shahzaadi Jahanara, popularly known as Begam Saheb (Princess of Princesses). Continue reading “Mughal Women in Maritime Trade: Jahanara”

Mughal Women in Maritime Trade: Nur Jahan

By Sadaf Khan, Archives & Collections Associate (Maritime History Society)

Figure 1 Nur Jahan  Source:

In the last segment we read about Mariam-uz-Zamani’s maritime pursuits, she builds up a trading empire and is actively involved in the proceeds and functioning of her maritime venture. Despite being the Queen Mother, she had to deal with the perils of the maritime trade imposed by the Portuguese, which she managed to navigate with all the brevity of a wise trader. In this blog, we shall explore the maritime quests of the ‘Light of the World’ – Empress Nur Jahan. Continue reading “Mughal Women in Maritime Trade: Nur Jahan”

Mughal Women in Maritime Trade: Mariam-uz-Zamani

By Sadaf Khan, Archives & Collections Associate (Maritime History Society)

Figure 1 Mariam-uz-zamani  Source:

The grandeur of the Mughal court narrated in the chronicles of foreign travellers are well documented pieces of history. These stories were carried to places far across the world. The Mughals today are well known for their palaces, artworks, marble works, stone intarsia, painted stuccos and tile works. They are also known for their bewitching luxurious fabrics, their magnificent palaces filled with visitors from far and wide and their sumptuous court cultures. One major aspect of the Mughal era is the status and the position of women, both at court and the realms. The Mughal women have always made their presence felt in domains such as literature, art, politics, religion, architecture and trade. Their contributions have in turn helped in strengthening the cause of the Mughal empire.  Popular belief portrays Mughal women as caged birds who lacked freedom due to the establishment of a fixed harem (zenana), a sacred and forbidden sphere where women lived, veiled and separated from the courts of the emperor.[1]  This caricatured representation of Mughal women can be refuted by the lives of famous Royal women thriving in the empire, notably Mariam-uz-Zamani, Nur Jahan and Jahanara. These women had the benefit of education and were masters of their own will which aided in expanding their horizons over their various pursuits. This article on Mariam-uz-Zamani will be one in a trilogy of the three Mughal Women and their Maritime pursuits. Continue reading “Mughal Women in Maritime Trade: Mariam-uz-Zamani”

The Unsung Hero: Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla Maitre Shah, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Image 1 Potrait of Captain Mahendranath Mulla. Source – Maritime History Society Archives

09 December 1971, was a fateful day. In the midst of the 1971 Indo-Pak War, the Pakistani Naval Ship (PNS) Hangor torpedoed and sank the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Khukri (F149). 09 December 2022 marks 51 years since the Type 14 blackwood class anti-submarine frigate INS Khukri sank. The Commanding Officer of the ship, Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla chose to go down with the majestic vessel along with 18 officers and 176 sailors who lost their lives. Let us take a trip down the memory lane and commemorate the gallantry of Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla.



A country stands strong with the support of its citizens. The endless efforts of the nation builders and the sacrifices of its military personnel has made India a strong and progressive nation. The limitless endeavors of the officers serving in the defence services have constituted India to be a militarily powerful and assertive nation. Today, the Indian Navy (IN) in particular is a multi-dimensional force. There are several unsung heroes who have worked relentlessly to serve the nation. One such hero was INS Khukri’s Commanding Officer, Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla. Continue reading “The Unsung Hero: Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla Maitre Shah, Research Intern, Maritime History Society”

World Tsunami Awareness Day

Kajal Gautam

Research Intern

Maritime History Society

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai

Source: 9th_century.jpg


The term ‘Tsunami’ is derived from the Japanese word “tsu” meaning harbor and “nami” meaning waves and is used in reference to a phenomenon that is related to tidal waves that are characterized by a long wavelength and period.[i] Created by heavy displacement of water, tsunamis can be generated from any large event, ranging from earthquakes and underwater explosions, to volcanic eruptions and meteorite impacts. Rare but extremely dangerous, tsunamis have claimed multiple human lives while also leading to heavy destruction of human property and infrastructural damage. Continue reading “World Tsunami Awareness Day”

Indian Naval feats with United Nations

By, Ms. Maitre Shah, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Image 1 Symbolising Indian Navy and its collaboration with United Nations. Source – Author


The World War II resulted in a devastating economic and human loss. Effects of the World War II led the global leaders to rethink the governance strategies for world policies and the United Nations was formed. India has been associated with the United Nations since its inception and the Indian Navy regularly assists in various humanitarian operations. While 24 October is celebrated as United Nations Day each year to commemorate the official commencement of the United Nations, let’s get an insight into the Indian Naval collaboration with the United Nations. Continue reading “Indian Naval feats with United Nations”

Sentinels of the Deep: INS Karanj

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

The efficacy of submarines as a potent military machine was established during the Second World War. Since then, the advancement of these submersible combat vessels have earned them the sobriquet of ‘silent killers of the deep’. They are valued for their relative undetectability underwater and capability to sneak up and destroy a much stronger warships using lethal torpedoes or anti-ship missiles. This gives them the badge of being one of the best deterrents that any navy can possess. The Indian Navy inducted its first submarines in 1967, which were the Foxtrot-class submarines from the erstwhile Soviet Union. Today, the Indian Navy submarine arm has come a long way progressing towards indigenous construction and demonstrating India’s technological prowess. Continue reading “Sentinels of the Deep: INS Karanj”

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”