Trade across the Arabian Sea to the coast of Africa and Middle East has for many centuries formed the cornerstone of Gujarat’s prosperity, and at Mandvi in southern Kutch, you can take a look at the giant wooden ships that would until recently have carried the region’s cargoes, as well as pilgrims to Mecca. They’re built in open-air years lining the river bank – vast hulks of teak taking shape beneath a web of rickety scaffolding and ladders. No written plans are used in the construction of the ships, most of which are destined for the harbours of the Gulf States, where they’re used as floating casinos and pleasure boats for wealthy sheikhs.
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