Valiathura Pier is an evening picnic attraction located in Thiruvananthapuram. It is a damaged pier out of service for a long time and officially people are prohibited from entering it. Still it is a popular evening tourist destination since it is the only place in Thiruvananthapuram that offers fantastic views of the Arabian sea on one end and excellent view of the coastal line from Sanghumugham to Kovalam on the other end.
The current pier is over 50 years old and has a width of around 7m and a length of over 200 metres. You can still see the remains of the rails used to transport cargo from the pier to the nearby godowns. The pier structure has considerable damage due to heavy monsoon waves and salty winds and no maintenance has been done for a long time. Portions of sidewalls are missing and hence anyone walking on it must be extra careful.
History of Valiathura Pier
Valiathura was one of the oldest ports in south Kerala. In olden times, large steam ships used to bring in cargo to this port. Since the pier was built in shallow waters, the cargo was first transferred from large ships to the pier using smaller boats and was then transferred to the adjacent godown using the rails. Historical records show that Valiathura pier was in existence as early as 1825. In November 23, 1947, a steam ship named S S Pandit lost control and rammed on to the pier destroying it. A large group of local fishermen and port workers who were on the pier had fallen into the sea. According to official records 5 people died in the accident. The current pier was built in 1956 and was inaugurated by Dr. P S Rau.
Valiathura was one of the major ports in south Kerala until the Cochin port was developed as a major port. Valiathura pier and port was declared inactive in 1980s and since then it has been abandoned. Currently the pier is used fishermen for launching their catamarans and for angling. Tourists walk in here in the evening for the mesmerizing views of the Arabian sea.
In 2007, Harbour engineering department announced plans for reconstructing Valiathura pier. The proposal is to convert it into a fishing pier with facilities to support local fishermen. As of 2014, only initial works were carried out.
Getting to Valiathura Pier
Valiathura pier is located about 5km from Thiruvananthapuram city and regular buses are available from the city. There are two main routes to reach Valiathura from city.
Route 1 (6km) : Thiruvananthapuram City => Valiyasala => Attakkulangara => Sreevarahom => Valiathura Pier . This is the shortest route and passes through the southern end of Thiruvananthapuram airport. Halt about 1km away from Valiathura pier to get really close views of the airplanes landing in the airport.
Route 2 (13km): Thiruvananthapuram City => Palayam => Pettah => Chakka => Sanghumugham beach => Valiathura Pier . This is a longer route but gives scenic drive through the airport road and Sanghumugham beach. Take the road to the right in front of the domestic airport to reach Valiathura pier.
Usually you will find parking space near the pier entrance. You will also find a number of street vendors offering ice-creams, peanuts etc.
Main Attractions at Valiathura Pier
Valiathura pier is ideal destination for an afternoon visit. Following are some of the attractions/activities in Valiathura pier and surrounding areas.
Valiathura Pier: Valiathura pier offers fantastic views of the Arabian sea. You will find anglers trying different hooks and techniques for fishing and some of them are really good at this. You may also get to see the time consuming and challenging method of launching catamarans from the pier. For the fishermen, the pier also provides much needed shade to relax.
It might seem dangerous, but you will find locals casually walking on the concrete connecting slabs under the pier. During summer, you will find local children jumping from the top of the storage building located on the left of the pier. If you look closely, you can see armies of small fish floating around the pier.
Fishing Market: You can buy fish from anglers (fresh catch tastes much better!) or from the street side fish vendors located to the right of the pier entrance. Bargaining is the norm here.
Walk to Sanghumugham Beach: Sanghumugham beach is a very popular destination in Thiruvananthapuram during weekends. It is located about 2km from the Valiathura pier towards north. You can walk from Valiathura to Sanghumugham beach. However please note that this area is heavily populated and walking with family or walking in the mornings are not recommended.
Watch Beach Football: There are a number of local football clubs and if you are lucky, you might get a chance to watch beach football. During summer, football tournaments are also organized on the beach.
Photography: The pier and the surrounding areas offer excellent opportunities for photography. The pier is an excellent location for photographing birds in flight.
Fishing: Valiathura pier is a favourite destination for hobbyist anglers. However catching fish is easier said than done! Going alone to pier with expensive angling gear is not recommended.
Valiathura Pier Travel Tips
- Valiathura pier is currently in a dangerous condition due to the extensive damage to the structure. Walking on the pier is not recommended when there are strong waves or when there are too many visitors on the pier.
- Be very careful when taking children on the pier as sidewalls are missing in many places.
- Valiathura is a densely populated fishing village. Like any poor village, there are anti-social elements (who may be drunk) hanging around this area. Always be alert when you are on the pier. If you had to deal with such elements, respond politely and firmly.
- While walking on the pier is tolerated, taking any vehicle on the pier is an absolute no-no. If you do take your car or bike on the pier, local police will confiscate it when they arrive on their usual evening patrol.
- If you buy fish from the anglers on the pier or from the street side vendors haggle to get discount. When you see a stack of fish, expect the worst under the first visible layer!
- You will find people hanging around on the pier even at night and it is an interesting experience. However avoid it if you are with women and children.
- Walk on the road towards east for about 1km to get to the airport boundary. This place gives you fantastic views of the landing airplanes. Airplane landings are also visible from the pier.
Valiathura pier is one of the best spots for watching sunset in Trivandrum. It also offers a way to enjoy sea breeze and to get a view of the traditional catamaran launch. However avoid walking on the damaged pier during monsoon or when the waves are strong. Don’t take children on the pier as the pier walls are damaged and are missing in many places.