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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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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INCREDIBLE WINGS OF GOLD – An Obituary to Late Cdr Nishant Singh

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

With each passing day, tensions are rife along the Indian borders and we have all our Armed Forces combat ready. Many soldiers have lost lives in battlegrounds and some have met their fate due to unfortunate mishaps. On a personal note, my association with MHS has not only brought me closer to the maritime domain from an academic and heritage point of view, but has also sensitised me in more capacities- one of them being an amplified awareness of the role and contribution of the defence forces that has further deepened my respect for every officer and soldier of all the military and paramilitary services.

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A surprise visit – Mumbai are you ready for it?

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

While the city of Mumbai woke up to experience slight drops of rain on a Friday morning, this December, the occurrence of rainfall in this odd season is not new to the city. Is this something the city should now be acquainted to? Let’s find out what caused these showers to occur at this oddly hour.

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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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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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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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