Old Heritage – Traditional Boats in Bengal & their names

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Boats in Bengal
Boats in Bengal

Bengal and traditional Bengali language has many names for the boat float on the waterways of Bengal. Some of them had already been forgotten by new generations specially in Urban life.

But Bengali culture can not be completed with out this terminologies. Who can forget the story of “Padma Nadir Majhi” means Boatman of River Padma.

West Bengal & Bangladesh - Bengali Boats root
West Bengal & Bangladesh – Bengali Boats root

While wooden boats are still frequently used in Bangladeshi country life, they are often mechanized and the intricate craftsmanship in making these boats is, for the most part, underutilized. Very few steps are being taken to preserve these techniques and among them is Friendship, whose cultural preservation sector is working with some of the last master craftsmen of wooden boats in recreating them, along with recording and researching the history and techniques of boat-making. In 2006, Runa Khan Marre of Friendship was awarded a Rolex Award for Enterprise for work in preserving traditional Bengali boat-building skills.

Some of the very popular Boats are listed here from Noukaghar Blog

  1. Patia– At present it is exclusively a fishing boat. But in 12th century it might be used a cargo ship. 
  2. Bachhari– A long and narrow Boat. It has various variation and termed differently like Kaile Bachhari, Kolige bachhari, Chhande Bachhari, Malo a fishing community used a kind of Bachhari for fishing. General folk used to coin their boat as Malo Bachhari or Jele Bachhari.
  3. Pansi– Confusing name mainly cargo carrier.
  4. Chhip– Long and narrow boat used for swift movement.
  5. Bhanr– Very few still exist but lost their job. Used to carry salt.
  6. Khorio Kisti– a huge cargo carry straw.
  7. Sultani– A boat which can go against the wind and can carry all most all things. But not used in fishing.
  8. Pauka– a flat bottomed boat both used as cargo and fishing.
  9. Dholai– A cargo carrier.
  10. Merhli– A Cargo.

    Sunil Ganguly  - Famous Boat Picture
    Sunil Ganguly – Famous Boat Picture
  11. Ghasi– A cargo.
  12. Chhot– A fishing as well as cargo.
  13. Salti– A cargo
  14. Chhot Salti– A fishing boat.
  15. Bhedi– Cargo carrier
  16. Goluiya– A cargo carrier
  17. Salonga/Saronga– Fishing boat 
  18. Kosha– A flat bottomed boat used both in fishing as well as transportation.

Iconic Image of Sunil Ganguly noted author,poet and intellectual from Bengal. Picture from public domain for representation only