Gift of a steam launch as a ferry to the city of Benares by Maharaja of Vizianagaram

Steam Launch Vizianagram

In 1872, the Maharaja of Vizianagram, who was a well-known and respected benefactor of the city of Benares, presented a steam launch to the city to be used as a ferry across the mighty Ganges. At the time, apart from the Grand Trunk Road whose route was impeded by the River, the railway station of the East Indian Railway, which was the branch station that connected to the mainline from Calcutta at Mughalsarai, was located on the opposite bank of the River. A steam launch thus improved connectivity between the city on the left bank and the GT road and railway station on the right bank.

Built by Messrs. Yarrow and Hedley of Poplar, London, the steamer was 40 ft. 7 in. long and 7 ft. 7 in. wide. The dimensions, thought to be eccentric, were specified by the Maharaja who thought that such ‘uneven dimensions would bring “luck” to the vessel.’ Completed in 1872, the steamer’s hull was made of teak and coppered. The boiler of this vehicle could use either wood or coal and its engines could generate 16 actual horsepower. The weight of the vehicle, along with the cabin situated forward of the boat, was about 5 tons, and could carry 30 passengers. This launch was small enough to be shipped in one piece on the deck of the ship s.s. Emblehope to Calcutta from Britain.[1]

The steam launch was christened ‘Vizianagaram’ as can be seen in the picture above.

[1] Source on request