Willingdon Island is the largest man-made island in India which is part of the city of Kochi, in Kerala state. The present Willingndon Island was claimed from the Lake of Kochi, which was filled with the dredged soil around the previously existing one that was much smaller in size and natural. The island is home to the Port of Kochi and also to the Kochi Naval Base.
The island is also home to many other establishments which are associated with the port such as the Office of the Cochin Port Trust, the Customs Office and more than two dozen export import offices, warehouses, a few hotels and business centers.
The Inception Of The Island
The idea of constructing a new port in Kochi was first mooted by Sir Robert Bristow, who was appointed by Lord Willingdon, who was the then Governor of the Madras Presidency to create a modern port on the West coast of India at Kochi.
The island was created during the construction of the modern port in the year 1936 with the soil dredged out while deepening the Vembanad Lake, which was being done to accommodate the new port. The place was named after The 1st Earl of Willingdon, who was the Viceroy of India at that point of time.
The pre-planned basic port structure was completed in the year 1939. A deep wharf, a rail bridge and a road bridge to the mainland was added to the infrastructure.
The structure got completed right at the time of World War II, hence a naval base was built up on the nearby Venduruthy Island to prevent the Japanese invasion and in the year 1940 a harbor was constructed in order to facilitate passenger movements and customs clearance.
PC: shankar s.
The Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force very soon made use of the flat land which was conveniently located to construct a large aerodrome, after which this man-made isle became a thriving military base. The present day Malabar Hotel became the quarters for all the staff and it also very soon got a new administrative block adjacent to it.
The control of the transport hub was taken over from the British Raj by India in 1947 after independence. In the hands of the colonial rulers, the island had handled all most one million ton of freight and it doubled up its numbers by 1960. The aerodrome was developed on a large scale and served as the city's modern airport.
PC: Brian Snelson
The Major Port
The island is still a major port of the country and is also one of the important landmarks in Kochi city. The island is connected to the mainland buy the Venduruthy Palam or bridge which has links to road and railways, the airport used to function from here until it moved itself to the present location of Nedumbassery with the shipbuilding yards, wharf and the Naval Command Headquarters along with the customs.
The Island is hub of activity with a large number of offices, branches of many Indian and International banks, warehouses etc.