Friday, July 25, 2014

Urus ---- The "Fat Boys" of Beypore


URU ... heard this name before?? Might  be an easy answer for people from the Malabar coast of kerala. For the rest..... it's the name for the large wooden Sail boats ( Dhow) which takes birth at the coastal town of Beypore near Calicut/ Kozhikode in Kerala. Dhow must be a much more familiar name for many, especially those having close ties with the Arabs.  These Fat boats , known as Pathemaris carried the spices from India to the Arab countries in the past and were silent witnesses for the trading activities carried out through the Malabar Coast.



These are massive vessels , made with wood by local craftsmen and in the earlier days machine was not at all used. Yet , it had the perfect finish, balance and endurance to withstand the rough sea waters. The Wooden planks are joined with great perfection and leaves one wondering about the finesse of their craftsmanship.


Been there recently to see what the  stuff is all about and  the very first sight of the 02 gigantic vessels under construction left our group open mouthed. One of them has been termed as the largest Uru ever built in Beypore's history. We were told that these were being made for a prince in Qatar and the construction had commenced almost two years and a half back. 




It might still take a few more months to finish the work and there are periodic visits from Qatar to check the progress of the work. The interior works and the luxury element will be added upon reaching Qatar. Earlier days, the Urus were taken to the Arab countries through the Arabian Sea fully manually and by the Oarsmen , however these days due to Government regulations it will be mechanized henceforth. 


                                                            In olden days Urus were purely hand made, without any mechanical aid, right from joining the planks, smoothing of the edges, cutting and fixing wood. Majorly  local Teak wood from nearby Nilambur town was used for the hull for its long life and endurance. However these days the machines are also used  to save time and energy. The major works however are still done with hands and mind you its not every ones cup of tea !!! For the frames wood of Jackfruit  tree is used and for the planks it is the Teak always. Perhaps the availability of the teak in the region forms the major reasons behind the establishing of the Uru making centers here.

We took the effort to climb up to the top, with the help of a wooden ladder and a rope to hold on. Atop the Uru it was a great feeling looking towards the sea as if we had the perfect carrier to conquer the waters ahead. Took a walk around and it was huge for someone who has been only on small boats before. It stood like a massive structure overlooking the sea. The internal partition works were being made with plywood and as mentioned the luxury element was lacking.There were 4-5 people working silently , doing the finishing works and were kind enough to explain us the history of Uru Making, while continuing with their work.

There are 02 Uru making centres at Beypore currently, one is in an island where we need to take a ferry boat to access. The other one is near to the Beypore Port where the large Urus are being built.For tourists staying at Calicut or nearby towns , please make it a point to drop in at the Uru making centre for an hour or so, for these are unique experiences. Its just a 30-40 minute drive from Calicut city centre and accesible by road.


( a funny side to it, for my malayali friends......  no one would forget the character Gafoor played by mamukoya in movie "Nadodikattu" who exploits the situation of the 02 unemployed bachelors,Vijayan and Dasan.. promising to divert "Uru" to California and take them to Dubai)  







2 comments:

ben & prani said...

hello. I am doing research on the urus -the skills and crafts which are seen in making this boat.
Also whether there are transformations taken place in the making of this boat.
Would you be having any contact of local craftsmen out there.
do email - b.daruwalla2011@aoamumbai.in

thanks!
ben

Monk said...

Met you recently at the site with turbaned noisy Sardar !!