India > Vizhinjam


Vizhinjam is a natural port located close to international shipping routes in Thiruvananthapuram city in the Indian state of Kerala. Kovalam beach lies 3 kilometres from Vizhinjam while the area is known for its Ayurvedic treatment centers and internationally acclaimed beach resorts. As of 2001, the population was 18,566.

Seaport development

Vizhinjam International Seaport is an international deepwater multi-purpose shipping hub in its initial stages of development. The total project expenditure is pegged at Rs 6000 crores over three phases and is proposed to be developed on the landlord model with a view to catering to passenger, container and other clean cargo. The Kerala cabinet has decided to award the multi-thousand crore Vizhinjam international port and deep-water container transshipment terminal to Adani Ports and SEZ.

Wave energy

Vizhinjam harbour is the site of a unique demonstration plant that converts energy from waves to electricity using Oscillating Water Columns (OWCs). The electricity generated is then fed into the local grid. A caisson was constructed on the site in December 1990 and two generations of power modules have so far been tested. The plant was first commissioned in October 1991. The physical processes involved in the energy conversion are now much better understood, which has led to a threefold increase in power output from the plant.

At present, more than 80% of the cost of the wave energy plant has been in the construction of concrete caissons. Considerable cost savings can be obtained using the concept of multi-functional breakwaters wherein a power module forms an incremental addition to a caisson breakwater. It is proposed to demonstrate the utility of this concept with the design and construction of a breakwater with a number of power modules.


Vizhinjam dates back to the rule of the Ay dynasty. Circa 850 AD – 1400 AD, the region was the scene of many battles between the Kulasekhara dynasty and the Later Cholas, and Vizhinjam, the then capital, was sacked by the Cholas.

When the kings of the Ay dynasty shifted their capital to Vizhinjam, they built a fort dating to the eighth or ninth century. A preliminary investigation by a team of archaeologist under Dr. Ajit Kumar, University of Kerala, has revealed the fort might have originally been 800 m² in area. The fort's wall can be found on the northern and western (seaside) parts and has been constructed using large boulders set in mud mortar. The wall, with a wide base, tapers on its way up. Even now this part of Vizhinjam is known as Kottapuram, ("Kotta" in Malayalam means Fort. According to Dr. Ajit, one important clue in dating the fort is that the walls have no battlements or `loop holes' (holes to place cannons in). This is typical of early forts, he says. Another complex of walls, near the present Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, probably relates to the Portuguese period.

The team was also able to trace literary and epigraphical references - of 9 AD to 12 AD vintage - to a fort and port at Vizhinjam. Sangam literature such as `Pandikkovai', `Iraiyanar Ahapporul Urai', `Kalingattup-parani', of Jayamkondar, and `Vikrama-solan-ula' are said to have numerous references to the existence of a fort, port and a mansion at Vizhinjam.

Moreover, the Srivaramangalam copper plate's of Pandyan King Nedum Chadayan ( 8 AD) have clear reference to Vizhinjam and its fort. "Here, the fort is described as surrounded by waters of three seas, protected by a wide moat, high walls which the sun's rays do not touch and so on. Leaving aside the hyperbole typical of such inscriptions, the ground evidence at Vizhinjam that fits this description of the old fort. In fact the port at Vizhinjam has been mentioned in the work `The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea', a work of the first century AD. Here Vizhinjam has been called as Balita," said Dr. Ajit.

Recent excavations carried out by Dr.Ajit Kumar and Dr. Robert Harding at Vizhinjam have brought to light archaeological evidences of international maritime trade flourishing from here. The discovery of possible amphora potsherds indicate that Vizhinjam had maritime trade with the Red Sea Coast during the early Christian Era (Roman period). It would support the identification of the port with Balita or Blinca of the Greco-Roman records. A large number of sherds of the Torpedo Jar and Turquoise Glazed Pottery types indicate trade relations with the Persian Gulf region from perhaps the 8th century onwards. East Asian trade connections are indicated by Chinese and Thai ceramics, ranging in date from (possibly) the 9th century to the colonial period.

The Portuguese and the Dutch had commercial establishments here. The Portuguese have built a church in Vizhinjam near to the sea shore, which is still functional and is referred as the Old Vizhinjam Church (Old St. Mary's Church). It is located in the Vizhinjam fishing harbour area.

Cave temple

Kerala cave temples, of which ten exist, are distributed accordingly in three groups. The southernmost group consists of those at Tirunandikara, Vizhinjam, Tuvarankad, and Bhutapandi. All the cave temples in the southern group are examples of one called shrines, mostly enshrining a lingam. The best example of this group is the niche cave on a boulder at Vizhinjam, the capital of Ay rulers, a sea port and the scene of battles between Pandyas and Ay Kings. This cave has unfinished reliefs of Siva Kirata Murti and Siva dancing with Parvati. Some scholars hold the view that the bas-reliefs of Vizhinjam with their slender forms and rhythmic lines, show Pallava affinities.


Regular buses operate in Vizhinjam from the City Bus Stand at East Fort, and as well as from the Central Bus Stand at Thampanoor. Taxis and auto rickshaws can be also hired at the bus stations.


At the 2001 India census, Vizhinjam had a population of 18566 with 9278 males and 9288 females.

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