Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the "long period of slavery" and indifference made us forget or overlook India's rich maritime history.
Speaking after reviewing, through video conference, the construction of the National Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal in Gujarat's Ahmedabad district, he said it will act as a centre for learning this history.
The complex at Lothal represents "our resolve to celebrate India's rich maritime history," Modi tweeted later.
"Centuries ago, India's trade was spread over a large part of the globe. We had a relationship with all the civilisations of the world. India's maritime strength had a big role to play in this," the PM said at the review meeting.
"The long period of slavery not only broke this capability of India, but with time, we Indians also became indifferent towards this power. We forgot that we have great heritage like Lothal and Dholavira that were famous for maritime trade," he said.
The complex at Lothal was being developed in such a way that even the common man can learn about and understand its history, the prime minister said. "Ultra- modern technology is being used with an attempt to bring to life that age exactly as it was then," he added.
India's maritime heritage was forgotten and nothing was done to preserve it for the next generation, Modi said. "We could have learnt a lot from those events of history. India's maritime heritage is one of those subjects about which very little has been discussed," he said.
Many proud chapters of Indian history, like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj forming a strong navy to challenge foreign invaders, were overlooked, Modi claimed. Kutch in Gujarat was a centre of ship-building and India-made ships were sold all across the world, the prime minister said.
"This indifference towards heritage has damaged the country a lot. We need to change this situation. Therefore, we have decided to return Dholavira and Lothal to the same form for which they were once famous," he said.
Lothal was not only a big trading centre of the Indus valley civilization but also a symbol of India's prosperity, Modi said, adding that the fact that it was developed as a port city thousands of years ago surprises the experts.
"Urban centres, markets and remains of ports found in excavations in Lothal give us an amazing view of urban planning and architecture of those periods," he said. Today's planners can learn from arrangements made at Lothal for dealing with natural calamities, the prime minister added.
Trade relations with many countries made Lothal prosperous and the flags (on ships) of 84 countries once flew in its ports, the PM said. At Vallabhi University more than 6,000 students studied at one time as per the accounts of the Chinese philosophers who visited the region in the seventh century, Modi said.
The government wanted to restore the old glory of Lothal and surrounding areas, he said, adding that modern infrastructure and industries are being set up there.
"Lakhs of crores of rupees are being invested in these projects. A semiconductor plant will also enhance its pride. Our government is working with full might to develop the region like it was thousands of years ago," the PM said.
The government is also working on a museum about the rulers of princely states who gave up their kingdoms for the unity of India, and research and designing for it is going on, he informed.
The complex at Lothal has been designed to accommodate thousands of tourists in a single day and like the Statue of Unity in the Narmada district which draws record numbers of tourists every day, people from every corner of the country will visit Lothal, the PM added.
(With PTI Inputs)