The Jaipur vats that helped a maharaja cross the oceans

September 27, 2021

What connects a pair of gigantic silver vats in the Jaipur city palace to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman? Surprisingly, a long-held Indian taboo. 

India is an ancient land with a long coastline. But barring a few exceptions like the Cholas, there are very few accounts of great Indian seafarers and explorers. The reason perhaps lies in an age-old taboo called ‘Kalapani’ that prohibited Indians from travelling overseas. And yet, in the early 1900s, a king from Jaipur went off on a long journey across half the globe, after finding ways to circumvent the taboo. This clever workaround was used by the British too, to move over a million Indian soldiers and hordes of indentured labourers around the world. This is the story of mighty silver vats that helped an Indian maharaja sail across the oceans.

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