Bengal became the first state in the country to have a boat museum. The museum was inaugurated in Kolkata by Upendra Nath Biswas on January 8, 2014 at Ambedkar Bhawan in Kankurgachi. The Boat Museum will have 46 models of boats including ones that were used during the Harappan civilization as well as boats in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bengal and Bangladesh.
A glorious past comes alive
History reveals the importance of ancient Bengal as a strong naval power on which depended its flourishing trade and commerce. It shows that Purba Samudra of 250 B.C was named Bangoposagar (Bay of Bengal) by 150 AD and the name has stuck till today. The naval trade and commerce is also portrayed in the mythologies and reference of Saptadinga Madhukar, Mayurpankhi, Aswamukhi, Singhamukhi and Bajra are found throughout Bengali literature.
Bengal or Banga being primarily a land of waterways, boating is bound to be the principal means of all purpose of life. Boating used to be an important profession of the people. They developed skills in naval engineering and built appropriate boats and ships for inland and overseas navigation. That the original profession of the Pala dynasty was boating is found in the pages of history. Reviving the lost heritage
Today boats still exist but the heritage of the beautiful and ornate Mayurpankhi, Aswamukhi, Singhamukhi or Bajra are lost. The racing boats that were built in the olden times are also not found any longer.
As woodcraft and fabrication of boats is still the domain of the backward classes the models of various boats in the museum are crafted by the Rajbangshis of Dakshin Dinajpur district of West Bengal. An album on boats titled The Heritage Boats of Bengal was also released on the occasion.
Went there recently. It's a nice place to visit. One gets to know a lot of facts about boats.
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