The False Point Lighthouse: A Testament to Odisha’s Maritime Heritage
Written by Darshana Bhardwaj

The False Point Lighthouse, a 180-year-old lighthouse, located in Batighar in the Hukitola island on the Bay of Bengal, Odisha, stands as a powerful testament to the enduring legacy of the region’s maritime heritage and its immense historical importance. English ships heading towards Diamond Harbor frequently confused Hukitola, located in the Mahanadi region, with Palmirah Port. As a result, this place was given the name False Point. The British traders chose to build a lighthouse close to the mouth of the Mahanadi River in order to solve this navigational problem. The False Point Lighthouse is the name given to this beacon. The island on which False Point is located belonged to the Maharaja of Burdwan, who gave the British East India Company the land needed for the Lighthouse. The foundation work finally started on December 6th, 1836, after the building supplies like boulders, lime, R.S. Joist, etc. were shipped to the site by sea.

The tall tower of the False Point lighthouse, built in March 1838, originally housed an imported lantern room with brass reflectors to emit light. However, the coconut oil wick lamp’s light output was insufficient and made it difficult for marine navigators to locate it. Every four hours, blue and maroon lights would intermittently be released from the tower to compensate for the inadequate lighting. The fixed light was eventually replaced with an occulting light system to increase visibility for mariners operating far from the shore. The sources of light atop the lighthouse underwent modifications and after 47 years in 1931, the six-wick capillary lamp was replaced with a petroleum vapor lamp, and in due course, it was followed by an incandescent lamp with a vertical filament for better illumination.  Now, a metal halide lamp is put in place to flashlights every 20 seconds, with a proposal to upgrade it to an LED lamp.

Lighthouses are still essential structures for navigation at night, despite the widespread use of modern navigational tools like GPS. Due to this reason, the Union Minister for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has identified five lighthouses in Odisha as part of a larger list of 65 to be developed for tourism through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

The False Point lighthouse of Odisha offers a glimpse into the area’s rich heritage and navigational difficulties. This lighthouse has a huge potential for tourism due to its historical significance, beautiful architecture, and picturesque surroundings. False Point lighthouses can draw tourists, boost local economies and preserve the cultural legacy connected to maritime navigation in the Bay of Bengal by showcasing their historical significance  and advocating sustainable tourism practices.