A Tale of Pepper along the Sea Routes

By Leora Pezarkar, Senior Research Associate (Programs), Maritime History Society

An understated facet of colonial history of the Indian Sub-continent is the role played by food in inviting the Europeans to this huge landmass. If one is to study the voyage of Vasco da Gama and his passion for discovering the sea route to India, it all comes down to his one ambition – “For Christian and Spices.” The Portuguese, the Dutch, French and much later the English took on navigating the harsh seas in discovery of the land on the East in search of the priceless spices that weighed in gold, literally. The king of these spices, and the much sought after ingredient was the ‘piper nigrum’ or more commonly known as the Black Pepper. Native to the Indian Sub-continent, this Black Pepper built a reputation in Europe as the most eluded spice. Royal families, rich merchants and traders were willing to pay in gold and silver for a handful of Pepper to adorn their dining tables.

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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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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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The Need for Docks in Bombay in the Nineteenth Century

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

As we study the history of Bombay, we realise how important it is to have an interdisciplinary approach. There are many reasons that have shaped the city that we see today. It is important to assess the importance of the role of maritime trade and economy in addition to the Indian and International political affairs that the city bears witness to.

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The Naval Dimension of the 1971 Indo – Pak Ops

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

The 1971 Indo Pak war was a defining battle fought by the tri forces of the Indian state. The battle resulted into a twofold achievement for India. Firstly, it paved the foundations of a new country which until 1971 was a de facto colony of West Pakistan thus, unshackling its people from political servitude and securing political autonomy of the indigenous inhabitant on their own land. The second achievement of the Indian State was a moral victory of the Indian ethos over the ideological medievalism of Pakistan. The Bangladeshis, then East Pakistanis not only suffered political subjugation at the hands of their western cousins but were also subjected to a systematic programme of ethnic cleansing prompted by Ideas of racial superiority that inflicted post partition Pakistani society. Although the battle was fought and won on Terra Firma its destiny was sealed in the waters of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. In this blog we shall analyse the role of the Indian navy in securing paramountcy for the Indian forces in the Indo Pak war of 1971.

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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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