In the maritime history of India, Orissa (ancient Kalinga) played a significant role in spreading Indian culture to other parts of the world, including Africa, Rome and Southeast Asia. By 400 AD, Orissa was the hub of a trade network that stretched from the Roman Empire to China. The Bay of Bengal adjacent and the Indian Ocean beyond helped the developing international trade and commerce as well as foreign relations. The littoral region provided suitable facilities to set up ports and the deltas served as natural harbours of Orissa. So vibrant was this region with maritime activity that at one time the Bay of Bengal was known as Kalingodra, or the sea of Kalinga, due to the dominance of Oriya ships.
Among the many ports that dotted the coastline of Kalinga were Dhamra and Chandbali Ports which were established near the mouth of river Dhamra. In the Imperial Gazette-1928 AD, Walter Hamilton observed that Dhamra and Chandbali (together known as Kanika Ports) had been a prosperous oceanic trading centre in the medieval period and Point Pamiras of southern side of Dhamra river mouth was one of the most important navigation landmarks of that time. A multitude of commercial vessels were plying on the Indian ocean doing prolific trading through this port. Till about independence and even thereafter it was used for cargo transportation between North Orissa and Kolkata.
Figure: Section of an early nineteenth century map (1832 AD) showing Domrah (Dhamra) and Pt. Palmyras (Point Pamiras)
The port limits of Dhamra were officially notified as far back as 1931. After independence, Dhamra continued to be recognized as a minor port of Orissa. The existing port was identified by the Government of Orissa for development into a modern deep port based on a pre-feasibility study done by RITES. A Concession Agreement was signed between the Government of Orissa and International Seaports Private Limited (ISPL) on April 2, 1998 to expand and develop the minor port of Dhamra on BOOST basis. By the deed of assignment dated May 5, 1999 ISPL has assigned and subrogated all its rights and obligations to DPCL under the Concession Agreement for the implementation of the project.
Port Operations Port User Section Location of Dhamara