Hodi Innovations (OPC) Private Limited, a Divar island-based shipbuilding company, is set to recreate history with the revival of ancient stitched shipbuilding technique that was said to be prevalent in India thousands of years ago but had been lost in time hundreds of years ago.
The Ministry of Culture under the Government of India, and Indian Navy are the stakeholders in the maritime heritage project, costing Rs 9 crores. It is expected to take 22 months to complete the 21-metre long and 6.5-metre wide ship. After a series of various tests, Indian Navy will man the ship with 13-member crew before undertaking a sail from India to Indonesia, tentatively on ‘Karthik’ Full Moon day in November 2025.
Union Minister of State for Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi; Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Hari Kumar, historian Sanjeev Sanyal, who serves on the government of India’s economic advisory panel, graced the occasion of the ‘Keel Laying’ ceremony of the ship at the Hodi Innovations shipyard, at Divar island on Tuesday. Hodi Innovations MD, Prathamesh Dandekar and master shipwright Babu Sankaran were also present.
Addressing the gathering, Meenakshi Lekhi said: “The Mauryan and Gupta dynasties had officers in their kingdom designated as superintendents of shipping. This shows that shipping was a major occupation of ancient Indians.”
Lekhi also referred to a historic document which stated how Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese sailor had actually followed a Gujarati ship trader from Zanzibar to Kerala when he first came to India.
“It is time to take forward the heritage and traditional ways that India was known for. G20 has just come to a close and the deliberations held on the maritime routes from India, to Middle East and Europe as in a trade corridor; which were being traversed by Indian sailors thousands of years ago, synergises like a premonition to this moment of revival of the ancient stitched shipbuilding,” emphasised Lekhi.
Prathamesh Dandekar shared his excitement, saying: “It is a great opportunity for a Goan shipyard to showcase our skills. Our team is excited about the project and it is an absolute honour to be working on this historic project. We will be doing the design from the scratch using references from different texts, articles about ancient boat building… We have a lot of confidence.”