Major Ports in India - List of 13 Important Major Ports in India

By K Balaji|Updated : July 5th, 2022

Major Ports in India can be defined as a harbour or an area that can accommodate a large number of boats and vessels (transferring people or cargo) while facilitating continuous or periodic shipment transactions. A port, in layman’s terms, is a location where ships are loaded and unloaded. It is, technically, a point of convergence between freight transportation zones.

Ports are the catalyst that kickstarts a region’s socio-economic development by not only accelerating trade purposes but also serving as a social centre. The classification of ports into major, minor, and intermediate has administrative significance. The Union Shipping Ministry handles the major ports, and the minor and intermediate ports are administered by the relevant departments or ministries of the respective coastal states. Several questions and updates have been asked about their crucial role in the international North-South Trade Corridor (INSTC).

Table of Content

Importance of Ports

Ports are important for a country countries to foster commercial prosperity and trade. They also serve military purposes because the warships adopt before proceeding to the battleground.

Ports are a key origin of employment, as they employ a significant number of individuals. The ports assist frequent cargo dealings, and most ports, (particularly sea ports) are now well equipped with specialized equipment like gantry cranes and forklifts.

Features of Port

Ports can accommodate both huge maritime ships and inland waterways like rivers and lakes. The port's depth is critical in permitting different types of ships to enter and berth at the port.

A port, however, nowadays is provided with a variety of amenities and facilities in addition to its primary function. The following are some of the most frequent port facilities given by some of the most prevalent types of ports:

  • Loading and unloading facility: Every port must have a loading and unloading facility to facilitate freight and passengers to be loaded and unloaded.
  • Special warehouse: This is accessible at all ports and is used to keep goods and maintain regular stock levels.
  • Port reception: The reception has a record of all anticipated shipments as well as a guide to the port facilities.
  • Fishing facilities: Fishing ports offer fishing aids and facilities to their clientele.
  • Workshop: Every one of the larger and more important ports have a vessel workshop in this location where spare parts and attachments can be procured. In addition, out-of-service vessels or fixed and serviced in the workshop.
  • Other amenities: For port visitors, other amenities such as hotels, eateries, restaurants, and cafes are offered at seaports. Some ports give medical services to the people that visit them.

Major Sea Ports in India

As per the Ministry of Shipping, seaports handle 95% of India’s overseas trade. The International North-South Commerce Corridor (INSTC), which links the Indian Ocean for trade with Eurasian trade networks and the Arctic, relies heavily on these ports. Nine of India’s 13 major seaports are located along the coast of Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, and West Bengal.

 Major Ports of India

List of Major Ports in India [East Coast]

Below mentioned is the list of major ports on the east coast of India.

  • Chennai Port (Tamil Nadu): The port of Chennai is India’s third-largest port, with 1.5 million TEU in yearly traffic. It began operations in 1881 and is one of India's oldest. It holds the distinction of being the first specialized container terminal in India which opened in 1983.
  • Ennore Port (Tamil Nadu): Located 24 km from Chennai, this port is now called Kamarajar Port Ltd. It is India’s inaugural corporate seaport and it is a public business with governmental ownership of 68%.
  • Kolkata Port (Kolkata): With yearly traffic of 796000 TEU, Kolkata port is India’s fourth busiest port, Haldia docks, and Kolkata docks are the two dock systems used. It was built by the British East India company.
  • Paradip Port (Orissa): located at the junction of the Mahanadi and the Bay of Bengal in Orissa, it was the first seaport built on India’s eastern coast after independence; this weather port is located a hundred kilometers east of Cuttack. A depth of 12 meters surrounds the port allowing it to carry cargo weighing more than 60,000 DWT.
  • V.O.Chidambaranar Port (also called Tuticorin port) Tamil Nadu: The V.O. Chidambaranar Port trust sees over 698000 TEU in annual traffic. The all-weather port is also India’s fourth-largest cargo terminal by volume.
  • Visakhapatnam Port (Andhra Pradesh): The Visakhapatnam Port often known as Vizag port, is India’s oldest shipyard, located on the country‘s east coast; it was established in 1933 and its 24 berths handle 1.2 million metric tonnes of cargo each year.

List of Major Ports in India [West Coast]

Below mentioned is the list of major ports on the west coast of India

  • Cochin Port (Kerala): The port of Cochin is one of the most important ports in southwest India, handling 11 million metric tonnes of imports annually. It was founded in 1928 and is located on two islands- Vallarpadam and Willingdon Island. The port handled over 0.4 million TEU of freight in 2016. The spices, coffee mineral oils, and fertilizers are the most common exports and imports.
  • Kandla Port (Gujarat): This port is located 90 km from the Gulf of Kutch in the Kandla Creek area. It was built in the 1950s and was India’s first export processing port.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Port (also called Nhava Sheva port) Maharashtra: With yearly traffic of 5.05 million TEU, the Nhava Sheva port is one of India's busiest container ports. It handles 56% of India’s cargo transportation and will virtually travel capacity once the fourth terminal is finished.
  • Mangalore Port (Karnataka): It is a new port in the state of Karnataka, located in Panambur, at the junction of the Gurupura River and the Arabian Sea. The port started out small, with only a few docks for small vessels.
  • Mormugao Port (Goa): Located at Alto Desterro, Mormugao in Goa, it is a major iron ore exporter. The port is also a popular tourist destination as the Konkan railway has elevated the attraction of this port.
  • Mumbai Port (Maharashtra): It is India’s largest port in terms of size and maritime traffic, and is located on the western coast of the country with a depth of 10- 12 meters allowing large cargo ships to dock and pass easily. It handles 20% of India’s international trade and is vital to the country‘s economy. It was India’s first cargo terminal, carrying more than 2 million TEU per year.

List of Major Ports in India

Below is a compiled list of major ports in India, relevant for all exams.

S. No.StateName of PortPoints to Remember
1.KeralaKochi Port or Cochin Port

- Located on Willington island on the South-Western coast of India, it is the second-largest natural port in India.

- The port is generally called the natural gateway for the industrial and agricultural produce markets of South-West India.

- Exports spices, tea, and coffee.

- It is one of the centers for shipbuilding.

2. Tamil NaduEnnore

- India’s First corporatized port and 12th major port of India.

- It is located on the Coromandel Coast about 24 km north of the Chennai Port.

- Trades: Iron Ore, Coal, petroleum products, and chemicals

3.West BengalHaldia

- Situated on Hugli river.

- Formed to relieve pressure on Kolkata port

4. West BengalKolkata Port

- It is the only riverine major port in India.

- Known for twin dock systems viz. Kolkata Dock on the eastern bank and Haldia Dock on the western bank of river Hooghly

- Trade: Jute, tea, Coal, Steel 

5.GujaratKandla

- Known as Tidal Port, located in the Gulf of Kutch.

- It was constructed after the partition when Karachi Port was transferred to Pakistan.

- It also relieves the congestion of Mumbai Port.

- Largest port by volume of cargo handled.

- It has been acknowledged as Trade Free Zone

6.KarnatakaMangalore

- It is deep water, all weathered port.

- Deals with the iron ore anorts.

- It is the only major port in the coastal state of Karnataka.

7.GoaMarmagoa

- Situated on the estuaries of the river Zuari.

- It is a natural harbor and was awarded the status of a major port in the year 1963.

- It is a leading iron ore exporting port in India.

8.MaharashtraMumbai

- Largest harbor and Natural Port In India.

- The busiest Port in India

- Earlier, this port location was used by the navies of Shivaji.

- This port has 3 enclosed wet docks, Prince’s Dock, Victoria Dock and Indira Dock.

- Jawahar Dweep is an island in the harbor, for Crude and petroleum products handling.

9.MaharashtraJawaharlal Nehru Port or Nhava Sheva Port

- Largest Artificial Port and also the largest container port of India.

- The name Nhava Sheva is given because of the names of two villages that existed in that area.

- It is located on the eastern shore of Mumbai harbor off Elephanta Island and can be accessed via Thane Creek.

- This port is the terminal point of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor of Indian Railways.

- Trade: Textiles, sporting goods, carpets, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, etc.

10.OdishaParadip

- First Major Port commissioned after Independence.

- Located at the confluence of the Mahanadi river and the Bay of Bengal.

- Deals with the export of iron and aluminum and Iron ore is exported to Japan in huge quantity.

11.Tamil NaduTuticorin

- This port has been renamed as V.O.Chidambaranar Port.

- It is an artificial port located in the Gulf of Mannar.

- It is famous for its pearl fishery in the Bay of Bengal and is thus also known as the pearl city.

- Trade:  coal, salt, petroleum products, and fertilizers 

12.Andhra PradeshVishakapatnam

- This port is a natural harbor and also is the 2nd largest port by volume of cargo handled. 

- Port is located midway between the Chennai Port and Kolkata Port.

- Trade: Iron Ore, Coal, Alumina and oil. 

13.Tamil NaduChennai

- Chennai Port is the largest port on the East coast i.e. Bay of Bengal and the second largest port of India,after JNPT.

- Artificial port.

Major Ports in India UPSC Question

Major Ports in India should be covered in detail as it is an important static part of the UPSC Syllabus. The list of major seaports in India is discussed in detail and should be covered diligently. Go through the article to prepare Major Ports in India.

Question. In India, the ports are categorized as major and nonmajor ports. Which one of the following is a non-major port?

A) Kochi

B) The age

C) Paradip

D) New Mangalore

Answer: Option B.

Major Ports in India UPSC

Major Ports in India is a relevant topic of the UPSC Exam and is relevant as a static part of the UPSC Syllabus. Occasionally, questions on this topic are asked in both UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. Major Ports in India can be covered under the Geography section and could be covered through the NCERT Books for UPSC along with the basic UPSC Books.

To get an idea of how the questions are asked, aspirants should see the UPSC Exam Pattern and practice the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers.

Major Ports in India UPSC Notes PDF

Major Ports in India should be covered in detail for every competitive exam. The major ports should be at the fingertips of each UPSC aspirant. The PDF provided contains the consolidated list of the Major Ports in India relevant for the IAS Exam.

Download Major Ports in India UPSC Notes PDF

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FAQs on Major Ports in India

  • A port is a place on a coastline where ships can unload. Ports might have one or multiple harbours that are employed for the transportation of cargo and passengers to and from land. The port's location is chosen to provide the best possible access to land and navigable water for economic interest and as a haven from winds and waves. Ports are also a session essential in war-like conditions.

  • In operation since 1873, Mumbai Port is India's second oldest port (Kolkata being the oldest). It is also India's largest port by size, spread over a 46.3-hectare area with a pier length touching 8,000 km.

  • The list of eastern coast ports in India is given below:

    • Chennai Port in Tamil Nadu
    • Ennore Port in Tamil Nadu
    • Kolkata Port in Kolkata
    • Paradip Port in Orissa
    • V.O.Chidambaranar Port (also called Tuticorin port) in Tamil Nadu
    • Visakhapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh
  • The largest container port in India is Jawaharlal Nehru Port, often called Nhava Sheva port. The majority of India’s docker trade is carried by JNPT, which is located in Maharashtra, east of Mumbai, and serves as the hub for long-distance calls to and from the developing market economy. The 13092 TEU MSE Perle has been put to use in the autonomous Himalaya express service run by a Mediterranean shipping company between India and Europe.

  • Krishnapatnam Port, which is capable of handling 75 million tonnes of cargo per annum, is the deepest port in India with a draft of 18.5 metres.

  • To download the list of Major Ports in India UPSC Notes PDF, click here. You can also go through the article to get an idea about the topic.

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