Eastern India’s oldest shippers’ body brings out volume on Kolkata’s maritime history, more

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Kolkata, March 23 (IANS) It was over 500 years ago — 1517 to be precise — that the first European ship sailed to the shores of Bengal.

That was the year when the Portuguese sailed to the port of Chattogram (Chittagong) and subsequently used River Meghna to reach Bengal’s capital Gaur – the ruins of which are now shared by Malda in West Bengal and Bangladesh’s Rajshahi.

It was in 1535 that the Portuguese sailed up River Hooghly for the first time. Kalikata, later Calcutta and now Kolkata, was a mere village on the eastern bank of the river then.

Fast forward 143 years to 1678. The city of Calcutta had been founded by then and was to turn into a bustling metropolis and the capital of British India in the years to come. As per records, the first British vessel to sail up the Hooghly was The Falcon, in 1678. She was carrying 40,000 pounds sterling worth of bullion.

Kolkata’s maritime history that witnessed the rise and fall of empires is certainly interesting. No wonder, ‘Horizons’, a commemorative volume to mark 50 years of the Association of Shipping Interests in Calcutta (ASIC), released recently by West Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose, has grabbed eyeballs.

“’Horizons’ offers the readers an immersive journey into the maritime world with insightful interviews, articles from eminent personalities, and a treasure trove of information and trivia spanning Kolkata’s rich maritime history and its venerable 150-year-old port.

“Adding to its allure are messages from dignitaries including our Prime Minister, Minister of Shipping, Ministers of State for Shipping, and even Amitabh Bachchan, who was a shipping executive in Kolkata at one point in time,” said Gautam Chakraborti, former Advisor (Security and Heritage) to the Kolkata Port and the editor-in-chief of the commemorative volume.

Among the others present with him at Raj Bhavan were Asok Janakiram, ASIC President and MD, Pennon Shipping; Arup Bandhu Guha, Senior VP, Samsara Shipping; and Subrata Chowdhury, VP of ASIC.

Established as the oldest association of shipping companies in Eastern India, ASIC wanted to bring out the volume in 2021, but it was not possible due to the Covid pandemic.



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