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”

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”

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”

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”

Trade and Polity in the Indian Ocean: State Formation in Late Medieval Kerala

By Ms Jibita Jans Binnu, Research Intern, Maritime History Society

Introduction

The term Malabar denotes the Indian Subcontinent’s southwestern region, which comprises Malayalam-speaking areas. Geographically, it extended from the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea. Following the intrusion of the Europeans, the process of state creation and the idea of the power structure in various areas of Kerala underwent a massive change.

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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”

Exercise Milan: A Brief Overview of the Multilateral Naval Exercise in the Indian Ocean Region

By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

The Indian subcontinent has a vast history of flourishing maritime associations that predominantly involved commerce, culture and religion. However, the legacy of the erstwhile Indian mariners and seafarers who plied the oceans afar was gradually eclipsed by the lure of terrestrial possession until the last century. The liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation reforms in India in the ’90s can be regarded as a tipping point of enunciation of a change in the policy and national outlook towards our maritime frontiers. It rendered increased attention towards infrastructural development of Indian ports and its underlying coastal areas thereby placing the blueprint of maritime strategies on a national pedestal. This paradigm shift in our strategic outlook gained gradual prominence. Continue reading “Exercise Milan: A Brief Overview of the Multilateral Naval Exercise in the Indian Ocean Region”

Seabird set to Soar

On 24 June 2021, Shri Rajnath Singh visited the Karwar Naval Base to review the progress of Project Seabird where he expressed his hopes for it to culminate into “Asia’s largest Naval base.” Karwar is known for scenic beaches surrounded by the lush Western Ghats, islands, and monuments. The beauty and serenity of this very place is said to have inspired Shri Rabindranath Tagore to write his drama ‘Prakritir Pratisodh’ during his visit to the city in 1882.  So, what is the story of Karwar that is set to become the Indian Navy’s stronghold of power in the coming decades?

Karwar, a coastal city, lies in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka located on the banks of the Kali River. Ancient records trace Karwar to the Kadamba Dynasty (345-525 CE) that ruled Uttara Kannada. The present Naval Base at Karwar is named INS Kadamba, commemorating this very dynasty. In successive centuries, the region passed through the hands of great empires like the Chalukyas and Vijayanagar Empire. ‘An Account of Trade in India’ by Charles Lockter (1711), refers to “Carwar” as an East India Company factory and mentions that “The best Pepper in the World grows here-abouts”. Portuguese traders referred to Karwar as Cintacora, Chitrakul, or Sindpur. The English Courteen Association built a factory at Kadwad village in 1638 and traded with Arabian and African merchants in commodities like muslin, pepper, cardamom and coarse blue cotton cloth. When the Courteen Association merged with the East India Company, Karwar was made into a Company Town.
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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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