Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dwarka - Where Lord Krishna lived

Dwarka or Dvarka (there are many variations of the name) in present times is a beautiful city, in Jamnagar District in the State of Gujarat.  It is one of the most ancient cities known in India and one of the Holiest.  There are numerous significant facts associated with the city of Dwarka.  

After renouncing the war in Mathura for the the greater good of the people living around that region.  Lord Krishna had the city built by Vishwakarma.   Dwarka City was master planned, on the banks of Gomati River, it was one of the most sophisticated cities ever built during that times.  Land was reclaimed from the sea near the western shores of Saurashtra.  This city was also known as Dvaramati, Dvaravati and Kushsthali. It had six well-organized sectors, residential and commercial zones, wide roads, plazas, palaces and many public utilities. A hall called "Sudharma Sabha" was built to hold public meetings. The city also boasted having the possession of a good sea harbour. The city had 700,000 palaces made of gold, silver and other precious stones. Each one of Lord Krishna's 16108 wives had her own palace. Besides this, the city had beautiful gardens filled with flowers of all seasons and beautiful lakes.

Up until the last few decades most of the western world only believed the "Story of Lord Krishna" and the city of Dwarka under water to be a Myth. Even though there were plentiful evidences of the existence of such city in the form of discovered or recovered artifacts, which had dated back to that era.  

It is said that people during that time interacted with Aliens, I couldn't find much regarding this in the commonly available books about this topic.  But we've all heard the stories from our Grandmas and Grandpas about how they used to have Flying Chariots and Flying Carpets during those days.  And people still laughed at the idea of it. Being the scientists that we are, we always needed proof of everything, which is a good thing.  Here is an interesting research that I came across from the History Channel on "Vimana" also means ancient machines which with the help of gyroscopes can also fly, Airplane.

Vimanas,” The History Channel website, (accessed Mar 31, 2011).

ISKCON scholar and popular author Drutakarma Das recently gave an interview for the History Channel`s new show Ancient Aliens.

Discovering Dwarka

From History Channel - “Underwater Worlds,” The History Channel website, (accessed Mar 31, 2011).

Ancient underwater cities can be found around the globe, but could these aquatic worlds be the ruins of unknown civilizations--or even proof of extraterrestrial visitations? The infamous tale of the long lost city of Atlantis may be a preserved memory of an ancient alien metropolis. Beneath Lake Titicaca in Peru, the ruins of recently discovered temples support local legends of an underwater UFO base. Ancient Indian texts, known as Sangams, describe sunken cities where aliens and humans intermingled thousands of years ago.
Among many other interesting finds, the new episode of the History Channel`s Ancient Aliens series (entitled "Underwater Worlds") presents the recent underwater discovery of Krishna`s sunken city Dwaraka.

It is super interesting to find things we never knew few years back about our history and heritage.  I find it really funny that thousands of years back our ancestors were able to build something this advance and sophisticated and today in this century and modern world with all the technological advance we (Indians) can't even go deep into the water to research what is beneath that water. From the above video it seems that some progress has been made.  I hope to see more related to this.  If you have come across any interesting material or have researched on a similar topic then please send me an email and I can incorporate in this article.  Thanks.  archersf at gmail dot com


History Channel


Monday, March 28, 2011

The Rise of Bombay

Surat, Parsi, West Coast, British, East India Company, Master Ship Builder, Wadia, Bombay, Zoroastrian, Persian,  What do these words make together?  A remarkable piece of History not too many would know.  The following article reveals a lot of interesting things.  It shows pivotal role The Wadias played during the mid 17th to early 19th century in the making of Bombay dockyard and thus Bombay (Mumbai) as we know of today.  Although, this did take a little limelight away from Surat, since the Wadias were forced (due to many reasons as mentioned below) to move to Bombay and develop the Ship building industry there.  Surat felt a big void due to this at the time.  Also big Thanks to Shivaji, the British, the Portuguese and some.  Surat, even before the Persians (Parsis / Wadias) arrived, was a major port and a  business center where the trade of Precious Stones (Diamonds), Textiles and Spices was very prominent.  This was all possible because of the Dockyard and the Ship building industry at the port of Surat.  

Wadia Saga of Shipbuilding - A Peek into History

1. With waves lapping the shores on three sides of the sub – continent, it is only logical that Indian history is filled and flavoured with lore of the mariners and tales of the seas. The ship building heritage of India dates back 5000 years during Harappa culture and has evolved through the Vedic age, the Mauryan period and the later times. The records are plenty and reports innumerable which indicate and substantiate the existence of a flourishing ship building industry at various places since times immemorial. Amidst this stands the eponymous epoch referred as Wadia Saga of Shipbuilding attributed to the Parsi dynasty hailing from Surat. The Wadia era lasted for 150 years and spanned seven generations. During this period, the family operated from Bombay Dockyard building ships of unmatched robustness that plied the near seas and distant oceans.

2. The earliest reference to shipbuilding at Bombay was under the Portuguese in 1625. The island was passed on to the English under the treaty of marriage in 1662. Thereafter, the potential of developing Bombay harbour as a formidable ship – building centre was realised and reported by many. The tides made it possible to operate a wide range of ships, the anchorages were close to the coast, the place was protected against the monsoon and the site was sheltered against the sea. Above all, the cost and effort of establishing ship – building and repair facilities was envisaged to be minimal. These advantages evoked interest in the British. As time passed and proposals traded, the strategic importance and commercial interests of creating a ship building yard in an all season harbour of Bombay became paramount. The directives and deliberations were interspersed with construction activities, which then were undertaken at a leisurely pace. During this period, the geo – physical decadence of Surat port, which hitherto was the ship – building hub on the west coast, coupled with blockades by Portuguese and raids by Shivaji compelled the British to look for a better base for operations. This gave the necessary fillip to creation of Bombay Dockyard. The first mud basin or slip was constructed by 1693 – 94 and other infrastructure set up in subsequent years. The yard was deemed fully operational circa 1735.

3. Having set up the facilities, it was imperative to infuse life into the yard. The expertise and knowledge had to come from without for which the British turned towards Surat for its proximity and fame. It was response to this call that Lowji Nusserwanji Wadia arrived in Bombay and opened a glorious chapter in the history of the island. It was this prodigious youth with craftsmanship flowing in his veins who laid the foundation of a legacy nonpareil in the realm of ship building.

4. To understand the ingenuity of this clan, it would be pertinent to delve into the past. The Zoroastrians indulged in ship building under the Achaemenian king Darius and honed their skills under the tutelage of seafaring Phoenicians. When compelled to leave their land of origin, they sailed to reach the coast of India; an odyssey that instilled in the community an instinct to survive, courage to venture, wisdom to adapt and entrepreneurship to prosper. The boldness, enterprise and humility which are intrinsic to the unique character stem from Irani – Zarathushti heritage, socio – cultural adaptations and acceptance of British education along with its temporal values. Thus it can be inferred that a combination of genetic pool, circumstances and evolution contributed inParsis carving a niche in shipbuilding industry of those times. The excellence of Muslim Vadhas and prominence of Hindu Bhandaris as shipwrights was paled by the luminescence of Parsi families of Sabavora and Wadia in the field.

5. The saga of Wadia started in March 1736 when Lowji Nusserwanji Wadia disembarked Cowan along with 12 carpenters to set foot on the soil of Bombay. Bombay Dockyard had at that time Robert Baldry as the Head Builder under whom Lowji started his innings and set upon constructing the two grabs immediately required by the Bombay Council. He worked directly under Robert Baldry until his demise in 1740. From 1740 until 1764, Lowjee in various records was referred to and occupied the position as `Master Carpenter’. After 1764, the term `Master Builder’ or ‘Head Ship Builder’ was used interchangeably. The first grab built under supervision of Lowjee was `Restoration’ launched on 12 Jul 1740. By 1742, Lowjee’s commitment and competence had earned him a reputation enjoyed by few. It is because of impeccable workmanship ensured by him that the orders flowed constantly from the Councils of Surat, Madras and Calcutta. During his tenure as Master Builder, Lowjee saw to the building of 46 grabs, schooners, ketch, cutters, sloops and ships. The sheer number and variety underlines his versatility and virtuosity. Lowjee died in 1774 and was succeeded to the post of Master Builder by his eldest son Maneckjee Lowjee while Bomanjee the younger son worked as the first foreman. This august and important post devolved for the next five generations on members of Wadia family. This was more earned than endowed because the younger generation was always inducted into the yard and nurtured to master the vocation which by then had become the family’s identity. The ship building activity in Bombay Dockyard reached its zenith during the third and the fourth generations. The seventh and the last Master Builder was Jamsetjee Dhunjibhoy who retired in January of 1885. His departure brought the curtains down on the connexion between Lowjee family and the post of Master Builder in Bombay Dockyard; a designation graced and monopolised by the family for 150 years.

6. The success of the yard and the family was largely dependent on the frenetic ship building activity that lasted till about 1857. The ships were built of Malabar Teak, which till then was abundant along the west coast. The orders that flooded the yard were primarily meant to maintain the force levels of East India Company for coastal defence of the entire country. Concomitantly, the maritime campaigns and conquests of the British Empire needed bigger ships, which were also sourced from Bombay Dockyard for their quality, cost and sturdiness. The properties of Malabar Teak were far superior to those of any other wood including the English Oak. The overriding consideration was the fact that vessels built at Bombay were superior to those built elsewhere; a reality exploited by all, realised by many, accepted by few but acknowledged by none.

7. Paradoxically, the factors that shaped and strengthened the sovereignty of Wadias caused their decline in the later half of nineteenth century. The political scene had undergone a mutation. The East India Company had ceased to exist. The defence of India along with naval services required in Red Sea and eastern coast of African continent was taken over by Royal Navy. The change in role was accompanied with depletion of fleet and attenuation of orders for new ships. The forests were shone of teak as the rate of felling far exceeded the growth. The ship – building department was reduced by one – third. At about the same time the advent of steam heralded the change in propulsion from sail to paddle and then to screw. The steel hull came into vogue. Whilst the vibrant patronage given to the ship building industry by the government withered, the authorities were inclined towards getting Europeans as Master Builders. The lucre of trade and growing opulence of the city inhibited the later generations of Wadias from training family members in the art of shipbuilding. Thus, an admixture of political, industrial, economic and ethnic reasons resulted in disassociating Lowjee family from ship building industry.

8. During their dominance, the Wadias with their skill and proficiency, ardour and exertions etched an indelible mark in the field of shipbuilding. In the century and a half at helm, the family contributed in constructing 170 war vessels for the East India Company, 34 warships for the Royal Navy and 87 other ships for private firms. The spectrum is bedecked with paragons of excellence; Foudroyant epitomising durability, Ferooz exemplifying sturdiness and Punjab personifying speed.  Credits :

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Master Craftsman, Shipbuilder - Lowji Nusserwanji Wadia

Surtis are famous for all kinds of things, People, Food, Festivals, Clothing, Diamonds, Textiles or any other kind of Businesses, you name it and Surtis are there at the top of the line.  Kavi Narmad, The East India Company, Surti Food, like Surti Undhiyu, Khaman & Dhoklas, Jalebi, Fafda, Samosa, Bhusu, Khaja or Khemo Bhurjis and the mouth watering  sweets like Penda, Halwo, Barfi, Ghari, Faludo and the list goes on and on.  And you may also know about the Flyovers, Shopping Malls and the Movie Complexes, The rapid construction growth Surat has seen in last 10 years and the biggest GDP in the entire country.  My Dear Surtis there are innumerable things to be proud of when you talk about our lovely city, Surat.  Here is an interesting fact I learned.  I know that Surat was a major Ship building port in the early days of its history couple of thousand of years back, literally. I found this great article on the similar subject.  

About 200 years ago highly skilled Indian hands built for the British empire a warship which still stands tall. The oldest surviving British warship — HMS Trincomalee — was built by Surti boat builders, the Wadia family, in Mumbai.
Earlier this week, the warship was incorporated into the new National Museum of the Royal Navy of United Kingdom. Built in 1817, HMS Trincomalee was brought to Hartlepool in 1987, where it took more than 10 years to restore it. It is now the main attraction at Hartlepool's Maritime Experience and attracts 54,000 visitors a year.
"In 1816, work began on HMS Trincomalee at the Wadia Shipyards at Bombay, near the teak forests of Malabar. Master shipbuilder Jamsetjee Bomanjee Waed dia supervised the construction — one of 14 ships he would build for the Royal Navy during his life. In accordance with Zoroastrian tradition, an engraved silver nail was hammered into the keel to ensure the vessel's well being. Little did they know how well it would work," according to details provided by the HMS Trincomalee Trust.
The ship was built at the cost of £23,000. The Wadia family migrated from Surat at the behest of the East India Company as it wanted to develop Bombay as its main business hub. If Mumbai emerged as a strategic port for the British, much of the credit goes to Wadia family. Lowji Nusserwanji Wadia, a skilled ship builder from Surat, was roped in for the assignment and was made master shipbuilder of Bombay in 1736.
Along with his brother Sorabji, Lowjee built India's first dry dock at Mumbai in 1750. "In 1735, master builder Lowji Nusserwanji Wadia came over from Surat and founded this government dockyard. He was made a master shipbuilder and ever since that date the appointment has been in the Wadia family, descending regularly from father to son. The salary is Rs 700 a month besides perquisites," reads one historical account. Credits Ashish Vashi, TNN
Some of the early history about Surat and the people of Surat (Surtis) is extremely interesting and simply mind blowing.