Port, formerly known as Madras Port, is the second largest port of India
, behind the Mumbai Port, and the largest port in the Bay of Bengal. Being the third oldest port among the 12 major ports of India, it is over 125 years old, although maritime trade started way back in 1639 on the sea shore.
It is an artificial and all-weather port with wet docks. It was a major travel port before becoming a major container port. It is a substantial reason for the economic growth of Tamil Nadu
, especially for the manufacturing boom in South India, and has contributed in no small measure to the development of the city.
It is due of the existence of the port that the city of Chennai became known as the Gateway of South India. The port with 3 docks, 24 berths and draft ranging from 12 to 16.5 m (39 to 54.1 ft) has become a hub port for containers, cars and project cargo in the east coast of India. From handling a meagre volume of cargo in the early years, consisting chiefly of imports of oil and motors and the export of groundnuts, granite and ores, the port has moved towards handling 60 million tonnes of cargo in recent years.
Chennai Port is one of the five major ports in the country that have been identified by the Ministry of Shipping for development of cruise terminals, the other four being Goa, Cochin, Mumbai and Mangalore.The port has had passenger and tourist services to Burma, Malaya, Singapore
, Manila, London, Suez, Aden and Colombo for over 100 years.The number of tourists visiting the port in 2008-09 was 2,616, which rose to 3,401 in 2009-10.
Lights and lighthouses
There are both historic and modern lighthouses in and around the port, some of which have been decommissioned. The port is the location of one of Chennai's earliest lighthouses—the entrance channel tower. The 24 m (79 ft) tall tower with a focal plane of 26 m (85 ft), flashing white, red and green lights, is located north of the port.
The present lighthouse is located about 6 km south of the port on the Marina Beach
. It is a 46 m (151 ft) tall, 11-storied triangular cylindrical concrete tower with lantern and double gallery, attached to a 3-story circular harbour-control building, emitting light from a height of 57 m (187 ft) from the mean sea level.