New Delhi: Fascinated by the rich maritime history of India displayed during the recently concluded Maritime India Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the shipping ministry to build a huge maritime heritage complex at Lothal in Gujarat.
A senior official from the Prime Minister office, on condition of anonymity, said, “PM wants to have a huge maritime heritage complex at Lothal which is one of the oldest man-made dockyards in India. The complex is likely to be built in public-private partnership and will also have a huge museum displaying India’s heritage of inland waterways and trade through water route.”
The official said that the shipping ministry will form a core group to formalize the concept in the coming days and present it before the Prime Minister. He added that the PM has already expressed his desire to the shipping ministry, but no formal written communication in this regard has been sent to the shipping ministry yet. Although there are several maritime museums in India but the one which the PM is envisioning will be one of its kind, the official added.
The PM’s keen interest in developing maritime heritage complex is because of several reasons, including its importance and mention in Indian history and scriptures like Vedic texts and Puranas. Vedic texts such as Rigveda and the Shatapatha Brahmana have several references to naval and commercial expeditions. Similarly, Matsya, Varaha and Markandeya Puranas too have descriptions of sea voyages.
Although the shipping ministry hasn’t got any formal letter from the PMO, the senior officers in the department have already started doing their home work. Shipping secretary Rajive Kumar said, “It’s still in the preliminary stage and it would take around three months to see how things work out.” He refused to divulge further details.
A senior shipping ministry official said the reason why the PM is keen on Lothal is because it has lots of archaeological remains showcasing the trade route through water. Lothal was a major maritime activities center of Harappans. It displays engineering standards used in creating an artificial dock that show high standards of scientific and engineering skills, far more advanced than anywhere else in the world in 3rd millennium BC.
The PM was very impressed with the Maritime Heritage Museum built in the form of a container ship with interiors resembling a Spanish Galleon during the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai held earlier this month. The museum depicted a 5,000-year-old rich maritime heritage of India, right from the earliest port at Lothal to the modern days of shipping in the form of artefacts, replicas, photographs, maps and navigation equipment.