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Willingdon Island, Kochi Overview

The Willingdon Island is one of the largest human-made islands in India which is named after Lord Willingdon, the British Viceroy of India. This beautiful island provides various links between Kochi port and other national and international ports. Furthermore, the island is home to some of the lavish hotels and commercial and industrial buildings of the district. It is between Ernakulum Jetty and Kochi Port and the ferry costs around INR 6. There is a bridge that connects the mainland of Kochi to Wellingdon Island. This human-made island also serves as the headquarter for the southern naval command of India.

Created by Sir Robert Bristow, a visionary harbour engineer, the island is significant as it is the habitat for the Port of Kochi, the Kochi Naval Base of the Indian Navy and Central Institute of Fisheries Technology. Apart from commercial purposes, the island has a museum and natural habitat to explore.

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Construction of Willingdon Island

While constructing the new Kochi Port in 1936, the island was created with the soil left out in the process of deepening the Vembanad Lake to accommodate the new Kochi Port. It was then named after the 1st Earl of Willingdon, the respectable Viceroy of India, who successfully commissioned the major project. The chief protagonist and the engineer of the project, Robert Bristow, owned the first building on the island; which is now under the Cochin Port Trust and Indian Navy. The first liner which was a part of Bibby Line arrived here on March 9 in the year 1935. Malabar Hotel was a port hostel for the people who wished to relax on the island.

The basic structure of the Willingdon Island got completed during the time of Second World War, i.e. 1939. A rail bridge, wharf, road bridge, naval works, and all kinds of infrastructural spaces joined together to form this massive island. During the 1940s, custom houses and passenger jetty were built alongside the hotel. They even had a passenger platform on it.

Willingdon Island as a British Military Base

The Royal Air Force due to the island's convenient location used this flat expanse for constructing a large aerodrome. The man-made isle soon became a flourishing military base. The Malabar Hotel was used as quarters for the wartime staff members. Moreover, it got a new administrative block next to it. An open-air swimming pool, a new post office, and a bank branch completed the remaining amenities.

Willingdon Island as a Transport Hub

In 1947, after India's independence, the authority of Willingdon Island was transferred from British to the former. The developments during the British Raj made the island a significant territory of India. By the year 1960, the traffic had almost doubled, since it is an all natural weather harbour. The modern techniques incorporated in the airdrome made it city's old airport. Presently the airstrip here serves as an air station for INS Garuda. The remaining space became the commercial throb of the ancient city of Cochin.

Today, the Willingdon Island continues to serve as a link between India and other seaports of the world. It is a landmark of the city in which it exists. Furthermore, it is connected to the town by Venduruthy Bridge, which has both roadway and railway links. Southern Naval Command of the honourable Indian Army and Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industries are also situated here. Due to a good number of resorts and the calmness it offers, the island now has become famous among the travel lovers.

How To Reach Willingdon Island

Nearest railway station to the island is Ernakulam South, which is situated at a distance of 3 km, and the nearest airport, Cochin International Airport is 26 km from the island. The island is well connected by road and the railway via Venduruthy Bridge. There are ferries at regular intervals to take you to the island. Hence, Willingdon Island is an easy reach.

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