Dhamra is one of the most ancient ports on the eastern coast of India. The history of the site goes back to the 15th century AD when the Chandbali Port was established near the mouth of river Dhamra in the present day Bhadrak District of Orissa. This port was used for transportation of cargo between North Orissa and Kolkata, till the time of Independence. AD Walter Hamilton observed in the Imperial Gazette in 1928, that the Dhamra-Chandbali Port (then called Kanika Port) was a prosperous centre for sea trade in Orissa. He also remarked that Point Pamiras located to the south of the Dhamra rivermouth was an important navigation landmark at that time.
However, it was in 1930 that the port limits of Dhamra were officially notified and post-Independence Dhamra continued to function as a minor port. On the basis of a pre-feasibility study done by RITES, the Government of Orissa decided to develop the existing port into a modern deep seaport. On April 2, 1998, Government of Orissa signed a Concession Agreement with International Seaports Pte. Limited (ISPL), to develop and expand the Dhamra port on BOOST basis. On May 5th, 1999, ISPL signed a Deed of Assignment, by which it has assigned and subrogated all its rights and obligations to DPCL (Dhamra Port Company Limited).