URU – The Fat Boys of the Malabar Coast

Hari KC Kochi The uru making centre visit at Beypore is a must while at Kozhikode. Urus are massive wooden vessels, mostly hand made by local craftsmen, yet with the perfect finish, balance, and endurance to withstand the rough sea waters; and demonstrating the finesse and ingenuity of the craftsmen.

The urus (country craft) trace their origins to the coastal town of Beypore near Kozhikode in Kerala. Several centuries ago, these ‘Fat’ boats, known as pathemaris, carried spices and condiments across the Indian Ocean from India to the Arab countries; and have been silent witnesses to the flourishing maritime trade on the Malabar Coast. The uru still has a huge market in the Middle East.

Beypore has been a renowned ship-building centre for centuries. In ancient times, the urus were completely handcrafted – right from joining the planks to smoothing the edges to cutting and fixing wood – by traditional shipbuilders known as Khalasis. Local teak wood from the town of Nilambur nearby was used for the hull for its long life and endurance. Although these days machines are also used to save time and energy, the major work, however, is still done manually. At...

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