Building a Reed Boat

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Most of us have ferried across water in boats to a touristy destination. Most of these boats that we use are made out of wood or steel. Have you ever wondered what form of boats the habitants during the Indus Valley Civilisation used, almost 5000 years ago? The answer is a Reed Boat. Today if you want to see a reed boat in India, it will probably be only on the Maritime History Society’s logo which was designed by its founder Late VAdm MP Awati or you might have to travel all the way to Bolivia or Peru. Let’s explore how a Reed Boat is made.

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Ship breaking in India – An industry in itself

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

India, being a maritime country with water along its three sides, has always been associated with ships. Evidence of log made boats, dug outs, wooden massive vessels and advanced modern ships have been the glory of our history from the times of the Indus Valley Civilisation to the contemporary times. These vessels did play a major role in the cultural and material exchange to and from the country. While we are often fascinated about how a ship is built, little do we imagine about what happens to the ship after it is no longer deemed fit. Let’s talk about one of the largest ship breaking industries in the world – The Ship Breaking Industry of India.

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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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Mundra Port – History behind the largest container port in India

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Being a maritime country with a vast coastline spread across its three sides, India has had a diverse history of thriving ports. From the ancient port town of Lothal during the Indus Valley Civilisation to the modern and recently approved Vadhavan port along the Konkan Coast of India, the ports of the Indian subcontinent have developed dramatically across time. Among the Indian states, Gujarat has been the maritime gateway to the world since ancient times. Being strategically located in the centre of the various maritime routes, Gujarat has been the link for East West trade since the Indus Valley Civilisation. With a number of blooming ports in its territory, Gujarat has been popular for yet another port – the Mundra Port. Let’s talk about the history behind the port that has emerged as the largest container port in India as of Jul 20201.

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Deep Down into the Ocean

By Aishwarya Devasthali, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society

The Ocean realm covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and it holds 97% of our planet’s water. The oceans play a role in everything from the air we breathe to the daily weather and climate patterns. Yet, we know very little about our oceans. Most of our knowledge about the ocean lies in shallower waters. Deeper waters still remain a mystery and untouched. Afterall, although a matter of debate, all life comes from the oceans! The question remains: are we, the human beings, who live on land a product of oceans? Do we have any biological roots in the oceans? What is our connection to the marine world?

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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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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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