Uru is a large handcrafted ocean-going boat. The boats are built in Beypore near Kozhikode by master craftsmen who do not make use of technical drawings or blueprints. The boats were traditionally used for transporting goods and people. Most of the Urus are today exported to countries in the Arabian Gulf as luxury boats.
When we visited Beypore, we made use of the opportunity to witness the making of an Uru. We reached a sleepy lane, not far from Beypore beach. There were no signs to indicate the location of the boat building yard. A number of workers were engaged in boat-building activities. The hulls were propped up using stilts on the banks of River Chaliyar. The hulls are wide-bottomed to ensure stability.
Teak wood is used in making of the Uru. Teak is procured from the forests of Nilambur. Wooden logs are also imported from Malaysia. Teak is mainly used for constructing the hull. Jackfruit wood and rose wood are used in the interiors. The workers use manual carpentry tools. No power tools are employed.
Uru-building thrived during reign of the Zamorins who ruled Kozhikode from twelfth to the eighteenth century. The skilled carpenters handled making of Urus for the Zamorin’s navy. The business continued to develop after India’s independence, but suffered a reversal of fortunes in the 1970s due to endless hartals and strikes in Kerala.
The launching of an Uru is done by Khalasis or dockyard workers. They use the pulley-wheel method to roll the boat on a bed of logs and float it out into the water. The effort uses round logs, wooden rollers, steel ropes, wooden pulleys and winches.
The Uru is usually taken to Dubai for fitting of luxury interiors and installation of the engine. The price of an Uru can range between INR 4 to 7 crores.
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