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Plan to revive maritime heritage

  • Category
    Art and culture
  • Published
    14th Sep, 2023


A major initiative has been taken to revive an ancient maritime heritage of India, the stitched shipbuilding method.


About the initiative:

  • The project, an initiative of the Central government, along with the Navy, the Culture Ministry, and Goa-based shipbuilding company Hodi Innovations.
  • Under the project, there will be a 21-metre “stitched ship” which will be made using an ancient technique of constructing a ship by stitching the planks of wood using ropes, cords, coconut fibres, natural resins and oils.
  • Once the ship is ready, the voyage with a seam of 13 Indian Navy crew from Odisha will be sent to Bali, Indonesia in November 2025.
  • This voyage will also be a part of the initiative to revive and honour India’s traditional maritime trade routes.
  • The project is set to cost Rs 9 crore and is expected to take around 22 months to complete.
  • The ship has been planned to reach its destination during the Bali Jatra festival on Kartik Purnima to the island.

Bali Yatra, a festival that commemorates the rich maritime history of Odisha is celebrated throughout the state.

In the historic city of Cuttack, a week-long event is organised starting from the day of Kartika Purnima (full moon day in the month of Kartiki.e October-November).

Historical Linkage:

  • The Kalinga Empire (present-day Odisha) is known for its glorious maritime history.
  • Due to the geographical location of Kalinga, this area saw the growth of ports as early as the 4th and the 5th century BC.
  • The Kalingas constructed large boats called the ‘Boitas’ and with the help of these, they traded with the Indonesian islands.
  • As a result of these influences, the Balinese also celebrate Hindu Festivals such as Shivaratri, DurgaPooja and Saraswati Pooja.
  • Some of the famous ports, Tamralipti, Manikpatna, Chelitalo, Palur, Pithundaallowed India to connect with other countries via the sea.
  • Indian women perform ‘Boita Bandana’; they make boats of paper or banana leaf (sholapith) with lighted lamps inside and float them down the Mahanadi as a part of the celebrations.

Stitched Shipbuilding Method (Tankai method):

  • It is a 2000-year-old technique of shipbuilding, where ships are constructed by stitching wooden planks together rather than using nails, offering flexibility and durability, making them less susceptible to damage from shoals and sandbars.
  • Although the arrival of European ships led to a shift in shipbuilding techniques, the art of stitching ships has survived in a few coastal regions of India, primarily for small local fishing boats.
  • Benefits:
    • These ships are more durable as nails are not used.
    • These ships caused less damage due to shoals and sandbars.

Verifying, please be patient.

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