Over a century ago, boats were an intrinsic part of life in Bengal. Skilled craftspeople built different kinds of vessels for different kinds of rivers and other waterbodies, based on locally available materials. The purpose – such as transport of passengers, cargo, fishing, racing, or even leisure – dictated the engineering. Even the kind of goods the vessel was meant to carry had a say in its design! Traditional boat making and river navigation are now dying skills, thanks to modern technology. But the Boat Museum of Kolkata has preserved the region’s rich maritime history and indigenous methods of boat building by commissioning artisans to create intricate models of heritage boats. Among the 46 boats on display, there is even a model of Rabindranath Tagore’s luxury houseboat ‘Padma’, on which he is said to have translated Gitanjali into English.