Craftsmanship will be on display at Divar Island's Hodi Innovations Private Limited, a ship-building company, when it starts "stitching" together an ancient ship made of wood to pay tribute to India's rich maritime history and heritage.
This "ancient stitched sailing ship" will be constructed through a tri-partite agreement between the Union Ministry of Culture, the Indian Navy and Hodi Innovations, the Goa-based shipbuilder.
On Tuesday, September 12, 2023, the crucial keel laying ceremony of this sailing ship was held at the Hodi Innovations shipyard on Divar Island in the presence of high-profile dignitaries from the Indian Navy and the Central Ministry.
Union Minister of State for Culture Meenakshi Lekhi and Chief of Naval Staff Hari Kumar were present.
Giving a brief about the project, Managing Director of Hodi Innovations Pratamesh Dandekar said, "The project of building this ancient ship is a proud moment, not only for Goa, but for the entire country. It is about the celebration of India's age-old tradition and craftmanship in ancient times."
Dandekar informed that the ship, 20 mtrs in length and 6.5 mtrs wide, will be built using ancient techniques such as stitching planks with coconut fibres and treating the wood with natural resins and oils.
"On completion, the extraordinary vessel, propelled by sails, will embark on a voyage to retrace historic sea trade routes offering a living tribute to the seafaring traditions that have shaped India's history," he added.
This unique project is the brainchild of Sanjeev Sanyal, a Member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, who was also present on the occasion.
Touching upon the history of India's maritime traditions, Sanyal said stitching of ships was undertaken by Indians when world over nails were used to put wooden ships together. Indians mastered the art of stitching such ships.
The stitching work in the construction of this ship will be undertaken by a team of traditional shipwrights led by Babu Sankaran, who is an expert in stitched ship construction.
Using this age-old technique, the wooden planks will be shaped using the traditional steaming method to conform to the shape of the hull. Each plank will then be stitched to another using cords, ropes, sealed with a combination of coconut fibre, resin, and fish oil – akin to the ancient Indian shipbuilding practice.
The project was approved by the National Implementation Committee, Chaired by the Home Minister of India as a commemoration project on December 14, 2022.
The Directorate of Naval Architecture of the Indian Navy engaged in several rounds of discussions with the Ministry of Culture, culminating in the signing of a tripartite agreement with Hodi Innovations, Goa, on July 18, 2023, for the construction of the ancient stitched ship.
Hodi Innovations is run by young Pratamesh Dandekar, who is the son of Ratnakar Dandekar. Ratnakakar, who ran Aquarius Shipyard, made boats for the Indian Navy that have sailed the world.