The book 'Chola Navigation Package' seeks to build on the navigational practices, skills and wisdom that finally culminated in the Chola naval expeditions to Malaya and Indonesia and cultural-cum-trade emissaries to China, based upon limited medieval documentation in the North Indian Ocean arena, and oral knowledge and living practices of the Coromandel coast. The book is the first ever attempt to narrate the Chola Navigation mode, as it was popularly known among medieval seamen, especially the Arabs, Omanis and the Chinese. Though couched in cautious terms based on limited information, the book highlights the expertise of Tamil seamen in celestial navigation and parallel sailing. The book opens a challenge to young researchers for a deeper investigation into the virgin field of maritime technology.
The author of the book, Prof. B. Arunachalam retired from the University of Mumbai as Professor and Head of the Department of Geography, in June 1993, after a stint of four decades of teaching and research. Intimately associated with the academic activities of the Maritime History Society since its inception, he has deep and abiding interest in maritime studies of Indian waters, coastal geomorphology, nautical cartography and navigation techniques. He has authored over a hundred research papers, published in reputed academic journals and many books. He has edited the first two volumes of Essays in Maritime Studies, and written a compendium on Heritage of Indian Sea-Navigation. All these are publications of the Maritime History Society.
When about twenty five years ago some like minded people got together and decided to establish a history society, not many gave it much chance of survival. Fortunately, their predictions of an early demise proved to be exaggerated. Not only has the Maritime History Society survived but has gone from strength to strength
In the intervening years, the Maritime History Society has expanded considerably its scope of activities. It has encouraged research, held lectures, seminars and exhibitions and brought out a string of valuable books on maritime history The Society, monsoon lecture seffes are eagerly anticipated events. The MHS has been especially successful in inculcating a love for maritime history among the younger generation of naval officers. In a country where the study of history is hardly taken seriously, some of the MHS publications have become bestsellers.
All this, of course, would not have been possible without the active participation of the scholars and academicians in the activities of the Society. Chief among them has been Prof B. Arunachalam, retired professor of Geography at the University of Mumbai, who continues to regale and excite us with his lectures al the Society, events. He has also been the Chief Contributor to the growing list of the Society, publications. He has also edited volumes of the book 'Essays in Maritime Studies'.
This is Prof Arunachalam’s second book for the Society. It reflects decades of research both in institutions and also in the field. Although Indian history dates back to more than 5000 years, it appears that Indians had a peculiar aversion to putting things .wn on paper. They relied more on passing down knowledge through word of mouth, from father to son, from teacher to pupil and from guru to shishya. Thus a considerable amount of the Professor, field studies consisted of talking to present day Tamil seafarers, gleaning from them the methods of navigation followed by them in undertaking transoceanic voyages, probably the sarne methods passed down over a thousand years.
In the 4000 years of Indian maritime history the contribution of the Pallavas and Cholas remain high. It was during the reign of the great Chola king, Rajendra Chola in the 11th century that Indian seafarers spread Indian culture to the Sri Vijaya kingdom in todays Sumatra and Malaya. The Cholas also established cultural and diplomatic relations with China by sending emissaries to that kingdom.
To undertake such voyages across the Bay of Bengal, required not only the establishment of an infrastructure, a shipbuilding industry capable of building sturdy vessels but above all more than a cursory knowledge of sea navigation. The Pallavas and the Cholas were no doubt experts in making full use of the elements as well as celestial astronomy
The Cholas established India, first 'Blue Water Navy', more than a thousand years before their successors in the twentieth century The author, treatise on the Chola navigation package not only makes fascinating reading but is bound to make every Indian seafarer feel proud of the exploits of his ancestors. Consider that this was fully five hundred years before Vasco da Gama and Columbus, India, new and future generation of mariners owe a debt of gratitude to Prof Arunachalam for making it possible for them to get a glimpse of the past and revel in the exploits of their ancestors.
In its activities, the Society has always received unstinting support from the Indian Na, our main sponsors. Our thanks therefore go to the past chairmen of the Society as well as to our present chairman, Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command for his consistent and continuing support. The Society, establishment and rise owe considerably to the intrepid and dynamic, Vice Admiral M.P. Awati (Retd), past Chief Patron and now Patron Emeritus, whose enthusiasm is infectious. A large amount of credit for the Society, activities goes to him. The Society is also fortunate in having a curator of the capability of Commander Mohan Narayan who has overseen the day to day running of the Society as also the organising of various activities during the year.
It is in the fitness of things that this volume is being published on India, Maritime Day, 5thApril, a day on which nearly 80 years ago, the modern phase of Indian maritime traditions began. I am sure it augurs well for the future of the Maritime History Society.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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