National Maritime Day: The Intrepid Seafarers Of Odisha & Their Evolution Through Ages [In Pics]

Bhubaneswar: Kalinga (now Odisha) was an ancient maritime superpower that started trading with many Southeast Asian counties as early as 800 BC. The state hosted over a dozen ports during ancient and later periods along with a robust boat-making industry on the banks of Mahanadi. To commemorate the rich maritime history of Odisha, Bali Jatra (Voyage to Bali) is celebrated every year in the state.

And Odisha State Maritime Museum in Cuttack stands as a testimony to the greatness of our seafarers, who used to traverse Java, Sumatra, Bali, Borneo and other parts for trade and commerce. The old dilapidated complex of “River Boat Construction and Repair Workshop”, established by the British in 1869, was renovated and converted into the present-day maritime museum in 2013.

The workshop was apparently set up for building, repair and maintenance of vessels from the provinces of Bihar, Bengal and Odisha under the Bengal Presidency of British India. It ensured smooth operation on the waterways―the major channel of communication then.

The museum has 13 galleries showcasing maritime traditions, vessels, boats and other related artefacts from the ancient age to the colonial era. The exhibits give an insight into ancient Odisha’s famed maritime industry. On display are the tools used by the Sadhabas (or seafarers), age-old navigation systems and their evolution. The chief attractions are the wooden boat replicas, the huge boat shed and the lathe which was the largest in Asia during its time. The addition of the 3D shows along with the aquarium section with over 60 aquatic species to the museum is a huge draw.

It also has a library with more than 1000 books and journals.

Recently,  a new mirror maze and an expanded aquarium with 20 tanks were added to the museum located on the banks of River Mahanadinear Jobra.

Some glimpses from the museum as India celebrates National Maritime Day on Tuesday (April 5):



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