Valiathura is a suburb of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala, India. This was once the only port along the South Kerala coast. When Kochi became the prominent port in Kerala, Valiyathura lost its significance as a major port. Now Valiathura is considered as a fishing port.
It is located at, near Shankhumugham. It is a typical coastal region. The vegetation consists mainly of coconut trees. The land is higher in Valiathura, so calamities due to the monsoon tides are less compared to the other nearby coastal regions.
Valiyathura was known as Raithura or Rajathura from the time of Travancore Kingdom. but the history goes beyond; from the time of King Solomon Valiyathura port was active and used to export spices and articles. the Saint Antony's Cathedral has the history of more than 500 years and the New Year day celebration started more than 120 years. At the battle between Marthanda Varma and Ettuveetil Pillai, one of the pillai and his soldiers were protected by the fisher people of Valiyathura and some of those people married a few Valiyathura girls and settled in Valiyathura.
Valiathura is famous for its pier. The 60-years-old, 703-foot (214 m) pier and the godowns (warehouses) behind it are a far cry from the past, when up to 50 cargo ships used to call here at a time. Opened in 1956 by the advisor to the Rajapramukh Dr. P.S. Rau, it was the only port along the South Kerala coast.
Supported by 127 concrete piles, the pier had four 3-tonne cranes and one 10-tonner to unload cargo from the ships. Since the pier was located in shallow waters, heavy ships had to anchor in the deep sea and transport their ware in smaller boats. With the development of the Kochi port with facilities for berthing of huge cargo ships, Valiathura lost its significance. It was declared a 'dead port' in the early 1980s.
All five cranes were dismantled and sold as scrap as disuse and constant exposure to salty winds eroded their structure. The four godowns were rented out to industrial units on the Veli belt. The rails used by trolleys to transport cargo to the godowns have rusted away.
The pier which consumed 571 tonnes of cement and 250 tonnes of steel, cost about Rs.10 lakhs (Rs. one million) to build. Till today, the fishermen along the coast use the weakened structure to launch their catamarans during the rough monsoon months, when the rough sea makes the beaches inaccessible. They then jump into the sea and swim to the catamarans.
Waves here very rarely fall below one metre, and often exceed four metres during the monsoon period of May to October.
There are many anglers who occupy strategic points on the pier, holding on to their line patiently waiting to hook a fish. Avoiding sophisticated angling gear, these people use their hands to hold the line instead of the angling rod. The anglers here are mostly labourers and daily-wage workers.
The hooks range from 18 to 24 on a single line. There are also hooks that do not need any bait on them. But these should be regularly pulled and loosened in the water in order to attract prey. As the water current is towards the shore, the anglers need something to take the line down to the waters. For this, they use iron weights attached to the line, which provides the thrust while the line is thrown into the sea.
Malavu, a fish that visits the coastline occasionally from inland waters, is another temptation for the anglers. para, kanava and kozhiyala are among the other visitors that swim into the trap.
A few years ago, one of the weakened piles on the right head of the 60-years-old pier developed a crack leading to the collapse of a platform measuring about 20 square feet (1.9 m2). And on July 8, a portion of the sidewall gave in to the powerful waves lashing the structure and plunged into the sea.
Currently visitors are prohibited from going out on Valiathura pier. In 2007, the Harbour Engineering Department announced a project for its reconstruction.