Ports in India – List of Important and Largest Sea Ports

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

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. Check here the list of the major ports in India.

Major Ports in India 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 major ports in India 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).

Ports in India

Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has been awarded the Best Global Port in India in Atal Shastra Markenomy Award 2020. Ports are important for a country to foster commercial prosperity and trade. They also serve military purposes because the warships adopt them before proceeding to the battleground.

  • All the Major Ports in India are located in the coastal states of India: Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
  • The Sea Ports in India are both government-owned and private.
  • There are also classified as Natural ports and artificial ports in India.
  • Ports are a key origin of employment, as they employ a significant number of individuals.

Total Ports in India

There are 13 major Ports in India, out of which 12 ports are government owned while one is a private port. Approximately there are 205 minor and intermediate ports. Some important highlights about the major sea ports in India are given below.

Major Ports in India Highlights
Largest Port of India Mumbai Port
Oldest Port of India Lothal Port in Gujarat
Deepest Sea Port in India Gangavaram Port in Andhra Pradesh
First Private Port in India Port Pipavav in Gujarat
Largest Artificial Port in India Jawaharlal Nehru Port
India’s only major Riverine port Kolkata Port
Total Port of India Kandla Port

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. The list of 13 Major Sea Ports in India is given below.

  1. Kochi Port
  2. Ennore Port
  3. Haldia port
  4. Kolkata Port
  5. Kandla Port
  6. Mangalore Port
  7. Marmagoa
  8. Mumbai Port
  9. Jawaharlal Nehru port
  10. Paradip Port
  11. Tuticorin Port
  12. Vishakhapatnam Port
  13. Chennai port

List of Major Ports in India

Below is a compiled list of major ports in India, relevant for all exams. Check here the salient features of the ports of India and the details.

S. No. State Name of Ports in India Points to Remember about the Port of India
1. Kerala Kochi Port or Cochin Port Situated on Willington island on the South-Western coast of India, it is renowned to be the second-largest natural port in India. The port is usually 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 Nadu Ennore India’s First corporatized port and 12th major port of India. It is situated on the Coromandel Coast about 24 km north of the Chennai Port. Trades: Iron Ore, Coal, petroleum products, and chemicals.
3. West Bengal Haldia Situated on Hugli River. Formed to relieve pressure on Kolkata port.
4. West Bengal Kolkata Port It is the only major riverine port in India. It is renowned 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. Gujarat Kandla Known as Tidal Port, located in the Gulf of Kutch. It was built after the partition when Karachi Port was transferred to Pakistan. It also helps relieve the crowding of Mumbai Port. Known as the largest port in accordance with the volume of cargo handled. It has been known as Trade Free Zone.
6. Karnataka Mangalore It is all-weathered and deep water port. Deals with iron ore imports. It is the only major port in the coastal state of Karnataka.
7. Goa Marmagoa Located on the estuaries of the river Zuari. It is a natural harbor and was granted with the status of a major port in the year 1963. It is a chief iron ore exporting port in India.
8. Maharashtra Mumbai Largest harbor and Natural Port in India. The busiest Port in India Priorly, this port location was utilized 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 managing Crude and petroleum products.
9. Maharashtra Jawaharlal Nehru Port or Nhava Sheva Port Largest Artificial Port and also the largest container port of India. The name Nhava Sheva is granted as the name of two villages that existed in that area. It is situated on the eastern shore of Mumbai harbor off Elephanta Island and can be entered 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. Odisha Paradip This is renowned to be the first major port commissioned after Independence. Situated at the convergence of the Mahanadi River and the Bay of Bengal. Manages the export of iron and aluminum, and Iron ore is exported to Japan in huge quantities.
11. Tamil Nadu Tuticorin 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 Pradesh Vishakapatnam This port is renowned to be a natural harbor and also is the 2nd largest port in accordance with the volume of cargo handled. The Port is situated midway between the Chennai Port and Kolkata Port. Trade: Iron Ore, Coal, Alumina, and oil.
13. Tamil Nadu Chennai Chennai Port is the largest port on the East coast i.e. Bay of Bengal, and the second largest port of India, after JNPT. It is an Artificial port.

Major Ports in India Map

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. Given below are the ports in India map for reference. Major ports in India

Major Ports in India on East Coast

Below mentioned is the list of major ports on the east coast of India. These ports are located in the East coach, check the main features of the ports in 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 is 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 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.

Sea Ports in India on West Coast

Below mentioned is the list of major ports on the west coast of India. Check the list of the sea ports that are situated on the West Coast and their features of it.

  • 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 Islands. The port handled over 0.4 million TEU of freight in 2016. 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. It is located on the country’s western coast 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 its economy. It was India’s first cargo terminal, carrying more than 2 million TEU per year.

Features of Ports in India

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 various 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.

Ports in India UPSC

Major Ports in India is a relevant topic of the exam and is relevant as a static part of the UPSC Syllabus. Occasionally, questions on this topic are asked in both Prelims and 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 check the exam pattern and practice the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers. You will be able to gain complete knowledge and details of the topic.

Ports in India UPSC Questions

Major Ports in India should be covered in detail as it is an important static part of the 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) Dahej, (C) Paradip, (D) New Mangalore

Answer: (Option B) Dahej

Question: Which port is known as Nhava Sheva port in India? [A] Jawaharlal Nehru Port [B] Kochi [C] New Mangalore [D] Paradip

Answer: (Option A) Jawaharlal Nehru Port

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