The Port of Cochin (also called Kochi) is an important seaport on the Arabian Sea in southwest India's Kerala State. Located about 565 kilometers southwest of the Port of Chennai and about 930 kilometers south-southeast of the Port of Mumbai, this deep-water harbor and port has road, rail, air, and water connections with the region's hinterlands and other major Indian cities. In 2001, the Port of Cochin was home to over 513 thousand people, and some 1.5 million live in the urban area today.
The Port of Cochin boasts a system of inland waterways through beautiful lagoons and backwaters that parallel the coastline and provide easy and inexpensive transportation that encourages trade. The 21st Century brought an era of economic growth to the Port of Cochin, with growing information technology, international trade, and tourism industries. Like other growing cities in the region, the Port of Cochin struggles with rapid population growth, environmental pollution, and seriously congested traffic. Having attracted migrants over centuries, the Port of Cochin is a cultural melting pot and a diverse city with a rich history and a unique mix of traditional and contemporary life.
For many long centuries, the Port of Cochin was an important center for the Indian spice trade, and it received ancient visitors from Greece, Rome, Arabia, and China. The Kingdom of Kochi rose to power in the early 12th Century. Ruled by the Cochin Royal Family, the Port of Cochin was the capital of the princely state, even when India was under the control of foreign powers.
The Port of Cochin's importance as a commercial center began to grow after the port at Kodungallur was destroyed by a terrible flood in 1341. Chinese traveler Ma Huan wrote about the Port of Cochin during his visit to the city in the 15th Century. Italian Niccolo Da Conti wrote about his visit to the city in 1440.
Portugal ruled the Port of Cochin from 1503 to 1663, and the Jews of Kochi suffered from the imported Inquisition. For a time, Vasco da Gama, the first European to sail to India, was buried in the city. The Dutch followed the Portuguese to the Port of Cochin.
Mysore King Hyder Ali had made the Port of Cochin and the Malabar region a part of his kingdom by 1773. At the same time, European powers negotiated for control of the region, and the Port of Cochin passed to the United Kingdom under a treaty with The Netherlands.
Fort Kochi, the future Port of Cochin, became a municipality in 1866. Under the rule of the British, the Maharaja of Cochin formed town councils in Mattancherry and Ernakulam in 1896. The Kochi legislative assembly was formed in 1925 as a result of public pressure.
By the end of the 1800s, the Port of Cochin had grown, and cargo volumes placed pressure on the port's infrastructure. Lord Willingdon, the Governor of Madras, bought engineer Robert Bristow to the Port of Cochin in 1920. Over two decades, Bristow made the Port of Cochin one of the safest ports in the area with modern facilities and equipment to serve the most modern cargo vessels.
When Indian won its independence in 1947, the Port of Cochin quickly joined the new Indian Union. In 1956, the new state of Kerala was formed, and it included the Port of Cochin. In 1967, the Corporation of Cochin was formed with the merger of the municipalities of Fort Kochi, Ernakulam, Mattancherry, Willingdon Island, and several villages and small islands.
For several decades after Indian independence, the Port of Cochin suffered economic stagnation that continued until the mid-1990s when the central Indian government introduced economic reforms.
Since the beginning of the 21st Century, the Port of Cochin's service sector has boomed, and the city's economy has begun to recover its old vitality. Several new information technology industrial parks have been established in the Port of Cochin, and port-related construction has also boosted the local economy. Today, the Port of Cochin is the commercial capital of the State of Kerala as well as a leading seaport for the country.