Enduring legacy of INS Kunjali

By Amruta Talawadekar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

At the very end of the Navy Nagar in Colaba, Mumbai is a naval establishment that overlooks the southern tip of Mumbai called INS Kunjali. INS Kunjali is the naval base set up to administer the Regulating School of the Navy, the School of Music, the Provost Headquarters of the Navy at Mumbai, the IN-Detention Quarters, and the Indian Naval Band. 01 Jul 1954 marks the 68th commissioning anniversary of the Indian Naval base INS Kunjali. On this day let us revisit the saga of its meritorious service. Continue reading “Enduring legacy of INS Kunjali”

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.

Continue reading “REVISITING HMS MINDEN”

The Anathema to Narcissus

By Ms Gargie Kode, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Nautical Fiction is a genre that has intrigued the masses with its larger-than-life representation of sea voyages, the life of the seamen and bringing forth various aspects of nautical culture. This is a genre that is filled with the finest details of the voyages and expeditions, elucidation of the roaring deep blue sea, narratives of the struggles of the sailors together laced with lores of the maritime expanse. As the genre evolved, it became synonymous with Joseph Conrad- one of the most famous exponents of this genre. Popular among readers for his works like the “Heart of Darkness“, “Lord Jim“, “Typhoon” and one of his distinguished works which was disputable for its contentious title: “The Nigger of the Narcissus“. Continue reading “The Anathema to Narcissus”

Spirit of Adventure at Sea

By Ms Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

It has been a little over 500 years completion of the first-ever circumnavigation under sail undertaken by Magellan. While he succumbed to death before the completion of his historic voyage, it was eventually concluded by Juan Sebastian Elcano. While this pioneering attempt is hailed for the sheer enormity of the vision, the changes in Indian maritime perspective towards the spirit of adventure also deserves an equal applause. Continue reading “Spirit of Adventure at Sea”

Three Stories of Sea Voyages from the Buddhist Jatakas

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

Stories act as a conduit through which the complexity of human expression can be transmitted through simple narratives. They are also used as a medium to project broad contours of metanarratives that can be barely reproduced through other modes of communication. India has a large repository of stories that fall in this genre of literature. At face value, they appear to be fantastical in their composition but beneath the surface, they tell a story which is embedded in the cultural, political and social milieu of the Indian past. Continue reading “Three Stories of Sea Voyages from the Buddhist Jatakas”

India’s North Eastern Maritime Connect

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Our Indian historical narratives have references of heroes and legends of the maritime domain. The names of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre, Rajendra Chola of the Chola dynasty, Rani Abbakka, Marthanda Verma etc. are fairly prominent. But, in our academic narratives and curriculum, the history of North-East India remains under-explored in terms of its outreach pan-India. Similarly, when the maritime domain is discussed, our attention is immediately diverted to the western, southern and eastern coastal frontiers. But, the riverine frontiers in the north go amiss. A prominent study of this region in terms of its history, geography and culture is binding, more so, due to the military engagements in recent times. Continue reading “India’s North Eastern Maritime Connect”

The Legacy of the Angre’s on the Western Coast of India

By Ms Tanvi Karkare, Research Intern

Indian piracy- a chapter of the Indian Maritime History that is often disregarded due to various misunderstandings and lack of information. The taboo and stigma associated with the term “piracy” negate the possibility of actual reasoning behind the activities carried out and create misconceptions swindled by sources. Continue reading “The Legacy of the Angre’s on the Western Coast of India”

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”

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”