New Delhi, July 14: Portugese explorer Vasco da Gama, who is credited with discovering the sea route to India, actually followed a Gujarati trader from Zanzibar, a new book claimed.
Suresh Soni, author of 'India's Scientific Heritage', quoting archaeologist Dr Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar, said ''He no doubt came to India but not as a discoverer sea-farer but following an Gujarati trader from Zanzibar.'' According to Dr Wakankar, Vasco da Gama had recorded in his diary that upon his arrival at Zanzibar in Africa he saw a docked ship three times bigger than his own. He took an African interpreter to meet the owner of that ship Chandan, a Gujarati trader who used to bring pine wood and teak from India along with spices and take back diamonds to Cochin.
Vasco da Gama followed Chandan to reach the shores of India, a fact very few in independent India know about, regrets Soni. ''This should have been told to the new generation but this is not done,'' he added.
Excerpts of the book were published in the latest edition of the Organiser, the RSS mouthpiece.
The author said Venetian trader and explorer Marco Polo, as early as 13th century, had recounted that ships in India had double boards which were joined together with strong nail and crevices, filled with special kind of gum and were so huge that 300 boatmen were needed to row them.
These vessels could take a load of 3000 to 4000 gunny bags having small rooms and arrangements for comfort. Additional layers were added to the bottom, when it gets damaged. Some ships had as many as six layers, the book says.
In the 15th century another traveller Nicolo Conti found Indian ships were much bigger than their own ships and their bases were made of three boards to weather formidable storms. Some ships were built in a such a manner that if one part was damaged, the rest could substitute for it.
Another traveller Berthma had written how wooden boards were joined to prevent even a drop of water seeping into the ship and that it would take eight days to come to Iran from Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari), the book records.