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10 Largest Ports in India

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Updated on 07 Feb 20226 min read

Getting to know the ports of India is an exciting task as it would reveal a lot about its business and economy. It's especially important for shippers to help them make an informed decision about where in India to send in their cargo.

The largest ports in India are located at different locations such as Mumbai, Chennai, New Mangalore, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mundra port, etc. Here is a list of ports of India by size and shipping traffic.

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1. Kandla Port

Kandla Port is India’s largest port with a total of 63.55 MMT (million metric ton) capacity for handling both liquid and dry bulk cargo. It is located in Gujarat, near its border with Pakistan. It lies between the ports of Mundra and Nava Sheva on India's west coast.

The Kandla Port is known as the busiest port in India, thanks to its import and export activities on oil and grains. It also brings goods such as chemicals, textiles, petroleum, salty, and heavy machinery to the Indian territory.

The Port started off as a major port project initiated by Nehru (the first prime minister of independent India district) to make sure that ports are developed all along the western coastline so it can become a world-class infrastructure system. The Kandla Port Trust was established following an Act passed by Parliament in 1964 for the development and regulation of ports at Kandla and Mandvi in Kachchh under the Indian Union Territories Act, 1963.

2. Mumbai Port

Mumbai Port is the oldest operating port and the biggest container port in India in terms of shipping traffic and size. It was initially established back on May 18, 1736, to serve as a trading post for the British East Indian Company. Its ports have remained relevant since then not just because of its strategic location, but also due to having one of the largest container terminals which cater to more than 50% of the country's total containerized cargo volume and handle 20% of foreign trade.

JNPT Mumbai handles close to a million containers every year, importing and exporting goods such as liquid chemicals, petroleum oil, crude, tobacco, manganese, and leather.

Another reason why this port remains competitive is that it offers many transshipment routes with neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka or Southeast Asia ports, hence making these ports an ideal choice for shippers who want their cargoes moved from point A to B quickly and efficiently.

3. Chennai Port

Chennai port is second place in the running of India’s busiest port title. It is located in Tamil Nadu, on the Coromandel Coast. It is Tamil Nadu’s main destination for sea transport, making it a very important contributor to the country’s economy. It serves as a gateway to southern parts of India for Indian and foreign vessels through its entrance into the Bay of Bengal, which was earlier known as Madras when it was first established back in 1794 by the East Indian Company.

Aside from transporting goods, Chennai Port is also a prime tourist destination because of its surrounding lighthouses.

4. Port Blair Port

Port Blair Port is an Indian port which is located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a Union Territory of India situated near the Bay Of Bengal. The Port was built on Ross Island during World War II overlooking Vengurla Passage along with its sister ports like Chennai ports & Mumbai ports. Its location makes it ideal for ships to dock here when they want to have quick access into the mainland via the West Coast route.

The world’s largest naval base, INS Jarawa, has been established by the Indian Navy in close proximity to this port, which makes it also suitable not just for commercial but military vessels as well.

The Port Blair Port is a connecting port that makes transit from the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea more seamless. This, and other contributions to the economy, prompted the Indian government to name it as the official shipping and cargo port of the country.

5. Kolkata Port

Kolkata ports is the most important port in eastern India located on the river Hooghly which flows into the Bay of Bengal. This port remains one of the country’s busiest ports mainly because it handles bulk cargo such as coal, iron ore, etc., accommodating ships up to 500 feet in size.

This makes Kolkata Port very competitive against other ports around India. The size & location of its terminals allows for efficient logistical movement between New Delhi Mumbai corridors, thus making shippers rely on Kolkata Ports much more often during the shipment process.

6. Tuticorin Port

Tuticorin Port is one of the most important ports in India located on the southern coast. Over the years, this port has managed to become very profitable and competitive due to its location right off the Bay Of Bengal, since the majority of India's import & export activities are carried out through sea transport.

This port serves larger vessels with a total capacity of more than 80 MMT annually, thus making it the second-largest port containerized tonnage wise after JNPT Mumbai Ports. Not only that, but Tuticorin ports is also home to the country’s largest coal handling terminal, which handles close to 50% of total coal volume in the nation.

7. Cochin Port

The Cochin port is one of the most important seaports in India located on the Malabar Coast in Kerala. Revenue from this port plays a vital role for the state government of Kerala since it offers employment to more than 100,000 people.

Cochin Port has been ranked the number one port in India for the last four consecutive years because it handles cargo such as crude oil, fertilizers, coal, etc., moving 11 million metric tons of imported goods annually.

8. Ennore Port

Ennore ports is one of India’s new ports located in North Chennai. It has good road and railway links, making its sea transport process seamless and less congested. The port is a prime handler of coal, moving over 16 million metric tons annually. Although it has a small harbor, it boasts an anchorage debt of 16 meters.

Unlike most other ports in India, the Ennore port is privately owned. It is expecting an expansion project, which is proposed to give the port more container and multi-purpose berths.

9. Panambur Port

Originally a fishing village, the Panambur Port in India is a deep, all-weather port that doesn’t stop its operations all year long. It is located in Mangalore, known as India’s coastal city. The port’s location makes it a prime trading point for the areas of Kerala and Karnataka, with most of its imports consisting of goods such as petroleum, timber, fertilizer, and wood pulp. The port of Panambur exports goods like cashews, coffee, manganese, and iron ore.

10. Vizag Port

Also known as Visakhapatnam, the Vizag Port is the oldest shipyard in the entire country. Similar to other ports in this list, it is located along the Bay of Bengal but sets itself apart as the only natural harbor in the area.

It became a major seaport in the year 1933 and since then has handled an average of 1.2 million metric tons of cargo annually. It is primarily engaged in the sea trade of oil, aluminum, coal, and iron ore.

Despite being the oldest port, the Vizag has plans for modernization, expecting a project to soon improve its harbor. The Indian government is currently making plans for this project.

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