History of Ports – 18 Oldest Ports that Lives in Odisha!

At the advent of nineteenth century, with the coming of the Britishers there was a great change in the economic field of Odisha. 

It is revealed from the British records that they possessed a good number of ports in Odisha like (1)False point, (2)Balasore, (3)Dhamarah, (4)Chandbali, (5)Suvernarekha, (6)Lychanpur, (7)Churaman, (8)Baruva, (9)Puri, (10)Chhanua, (11)Sartha, (12)Bavanipadu, (13)Chilika, (14)Ganjam, (15)Gopalpur, (16)Pundi, (17)Sonnapur and (18)Kalingapattam. A detailed accounts of the maritime trade of these ports have been described below.

1.   False Point:

It was an important port of Cuttack, district situated at the mouth of river Mahanadi near 70 miles away from the town of Cuttack. Under the Act XXII of 1855 in the Calcutta gazette of 23 May 1860, False point was declared to be port. This was opened in 1860 for open sea-borne trade. The famine commission report placed it, the best harbor on the India coast between Hooghly and Bombey.10 Kendrapada canal was extended to false point port to enhance its importance. A light house was constructed there in 1860.11 In 1875, Weller the Superintending Engineer furnished the commissioner Rs.2, 33, 189/- for the improvement of the port. At that false point port served the nice-trade with Maurifiles Colombo and the west coast ports.12

2.   Balasore:

The Balasore port which was flourishing till the first half of the 19th century was closed due to sitting at the mouth of Budhabalanga river. So the British Government developed Dhamrah as a port.

3.   Dhamarah:

The port of Damarah was situated near the river Dhamara of the district of Balesore. It was located as the estuary formed by the river Baitarani and Brahmani. In 1858 it was opened13 and a deputy Master attendant was posted to manage the port activities.14 The collector of Balesore estimates that during the famine of 1866-67A.D. out of a total of 3505 tons of rice imported into the district for relief operational probably four fifths were landed at Dhamarah.15 It shows the trade importance of this port.

4.   Chandabali:

It was situated on the mouth of the river Baitarani. In 1867 Chandabali was declared as a port which was named after Ravenshaw and known as Ravenshaw port.16 Mr. Ravenshaw considered it the best port in Odisha for passenger and coasting trade in the country produce. During 1870’s Chandbali rapidly grew into prominence especially after the introduction of the steamer service. This port was connected with the interior by road through Bhadrak and by sea through the Dhamara and Baitarani, the channel of which was marked out with buoys and beacons. It contained a custom house, telegraph and post office, police station, staying bungalow and dispensary.17 Rice, Paddy and Chuda(Flattened rice) were exported from Chandbali port to Bombey, Kutch and Calicut in India gate and Colombo in Ceylon and distant islands to Mauritius and Zanjiber on the eastern coast of African the Indian Ocen.18

5.   Suvernarekha:

Suvernarekha port was situated at the mouth of the river Brahmani and Baitarani and it was not far from Pipili. It was the first place which attracted the European Mercantile Enterprise.19 It was declared as a port of Odisha in 1858 by the Act XI of 1858. During the time of Odisha famine of 1866 this port had the capacity to afford facilities for supply of relief materials to the affected people.

6.   Lychanpur :

This port of Lychanpur was situated 23 miles away from the river Budhabalanga on the south. It was declared as a port by the Act of XI of 1858. The port played a major role for the Balasore coast and sea-coast.20It was closed in 1888.

7.   Churaman:

The port of Churaman was located at the mouth of the river Gamai, 5 miles far from Lychanpur on the North. It served to meet the relief work during the famine. It was the Chief centre of salt and rice export. On 1st September,1804  20,000 mounds of rice were dispatched to Cuttack from Churaman and Dhamara.21In 1809, the Balasore collector of customs work, Churaman is considered the most safe and convenient port on the coast of Odisha and carried on a sea going trade exceeding that of Balasore.22

8.   Baruva:

Baruva was an important port of Ganjam district during the British period.23 But after formation of the province of Odisha (1stApril, 1936), it remained in the Srikakulam district of Andhrapradesh.24 This port was situated on the mouth of river Nagavali (Mahendra Tanaya) at a distance of 33 miles from Berhampur in Calcutta-Madras National Highway.25 There was a custom house and a flag  staff in the port. It played an important role in the sea-borne trade. A good quantity of coconut and coconut oil were exported from this port. The native passengers from Burma and Ceylon were frequently landed there.26

9.   Puri:

The Puri port was opened in 1860. It drew the attention of the Government after famine of 1866. It was the only port in the district to have an open road street. Due to the want of laborers a lot of problems arose for the loading and unloading of merchandise and lack of storage facilities was another impediment for the success of this port. Moreover, this port proved unsafe for the vessels sailing during the south-west monsoon. This port exported rice to Mauritius, Srilanka, and Maldives.27

10.               Chhanua:

This port was situated at the mouth of the river Chhanua and 19 miles away from the sea shore. It was an important port prior to the British conquest of Orissa in 1803 A.D. and then was abandoned by the port Act of XI of 1858.28

11.               Sartha:

Sartha port was situated at the confluence of two rivers Panchapura and Sartha which merged into the Bay of Bengal a few miles below from Balasore district. It was originated in the early years of British rule in Odisha. Thi was a very small port and did not salve the trading interests of the Europeans.29

12.               Bavanapadu:

Bavanapadu was a small port and it was 23 miles away from Kalingapatanam.30 Various articles were exported to the UK from this port in 1881-82 A.D..31

13.               Chilika:

This was not a port but important centre of maritime activities of South Odisha.32 It was situated in between the district of Puri and Ganjam on the eastern coast of Odisha.33According to Brahmanda Purana, ships sailed from this lake to Burma, Ceylone, China, Java and Sumatra.34

14.               Ganjam:

Ganjam was an important port during the British period. It was situated on the mouth of the river Rushikulya. It was developed as a port soon after the British established a factory at Ganjam in 1747-48 A.D. About the port of Ganjam, T.J. Maltby writes in 1882 once this was the chief port of the district now it is a rare that a ship to come.35

15.               Gopalpur:

The port Gopalpur otherwise known as Mansurkota, the chief port of the Ganjam district. It was situated at a distance of 9 miles by road from Berhampur on the river Rushikulya and placed under Madras Presidency. It came under the British in 1766 and since then it was functioning trade and commerce with Burma and South-East Asian countries till 1947. It was a pleasant place of residence for the Europeans. Several bungalows were constructed by European merchants on this place. 

During the famine of 1866 a series of Chhatragharas or alms houses were set up around Gopalpur to provide relief to the destitute. F.J.V. Minchin the proprietor of Aska Sugar Factory had an extensive go-down at Gopalpur.36 

There was a port officer to collect sea custom, maintain law and order and exercise magisterial powers for cases occurring in and around the port area.37 A light house was maintained with its light displayed at night from its flag-staff and visible upto distance of 13 miles. 

Sufficient numbers of bamboo were there for making a temporary hut under the charge of a medical officer since the port did not have a hospital with in an approachable distance from the landing place.

16.               Kalingapatanam:

Kalingapatanam was another principal port, situated on the south bank of the river Vansadhara of the Ganjam District. The name Kalingapatanam itself explains that it was the city of Kalingans. The Kalingapatanam itself explains that it was the city of Kalingas. The archaeological excavations conducted here suggest that it was a fortified city since 3rd century B.C.38 Being located at the river mouth of Vansadhara, it acted as a port of international name and fame from the earliest time. Pliny mentions, Kalingapatanam was one of the famous ports on the east coast.39 With this location the port of Kalingapatanam exported various articles to chief countries like Ceylone, France, Germany, the United Kingdom etc.40

17.               Pundi:

This minor port was situated as the mouth of river Mahendratanaya. The port marked by a white obelisk and flag-staff 50 ft. high on a hillock. There was a traveler’s bungalow on this hillock. Various articles of merchandises were exported to different foreign countries from this port.

18.               Sonnapur:

The port of Sonnapur was situated at a distance of 14 miles from Berhampur where river Bahuda falls into the sea. It was a minor port, although in 1768 it was the principal shipping place in Ichhapur provinces.

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