India’s Contribution to the Ship Building and Navigation
India has a maritime history that dates back to around 4,500 years, during the Indus Valley Civilization. There are many references to the maritime trade activities of India; they are found in Pali scriptures and are written in Sanskrit. India traded with several nations like Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, China, South American countries, and Mesopotamia (Greece). Excavations were undertaken in Mohenjodero (an Ancient archeological site, now in Pakistan); the written texts refer to sailing ships; they are also references to sea ships in the paintings at the world-famous caves in Ajanta.
Some of the prime examples of the Indian contribution to the science of Navigation and the technique of shipbuilding include:
- The word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word Navgath. Navigation, as a science, originated during the Indus valley civilization some 5000 years ago.
- The world’s first tidal dock was built in Lothal around 2500 BC, during the Harappan civilization. The tidal dock was located at Lothal near present-day Mangrol harbor, on the coast of Gujarat.
- Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (4th century BC) had an entire state department for sailing activities and appointed a Navadhyaksha (Sailing Superintendent).
- Images of ships are observed to be carved on the Sanchi stupa at Bodhgaya, suggesting the use of huge ships for overseas trade during those times.
- Ancient Indians were also probably the first to use maritime instruments like Sextants (used to measure angles of elevation above the horizon) and the Mariner’s compass (known as the Maccha Yantra in Sanskrit).
All these pieces of evidence point to the fact that the science of Navigation and Ship Building progressed in India thousands of years ago, and it made maritime trade possible. Indians pioneered the science of Navigation that has helped develop modern trade and transport activities by the sea. The trade which India carried on since ancient times with different countries around the world through ocean routes also helped to introduce items like cotton, pepper, and other spices to the world.
Science, Navigation, Ships