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This article is about the municipality in Puducherry, India. For its namesake district, see Karaikal district.


Karaikal Port

Coordinates: 10°55′58″N 79°49′55″E / 10.932701°N 79.831853°E / 10.932701; 79.831853Coordinates: 10°55′58″N 79°49′55″E / 10.932701°N 79.831853°E / 10.932701; 79.831853

Country  India
State Puducherry
District Karaikal
 • Total 160 km2 (60 sq mi)
Population (2001)[1]
 • Total 2,27,589 (2,009)
 • Official Tamil, French
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 609602
Telephone code 91 (0)4368
Vehicle registration PY-02

Karaikal (kāraikkāl also Karikal or Karaikkal) is a major port city of east coast of India and a municipality in Karaikal district in the Union Territory of Puducherry, India. Several explanations are offered for the word 'Karaikal'. The imperial Gazetteer gives it the meaning 'fish pass'. According to Julien Vinson the town is said to have known as Karaigiri in Sanskrit. However, the name Karaikal is no doubt a combination of two words 'Karai' and 'Kal'. Both the words ‘Karai and 'Kal' have several meanings, of which the more acceptable ones are 'lime mix' and 'canal' respectively. Hence it has been suggested that the name may mean a canal built of lime mix. However, no trace of such a canal is evident now.


Kingdom of Thanjavur

Before 1739 Karaikal was under the regime and control of Raja Pratap Singh of Tanjore. In 1738, Dumas, a shrewd calculative prudent man and a lover of peace and above all one who was anxious to extend the French territory in India by smooth means, negotiated with Sahuji of Thanjavur for possession of Karaikal, the fortress of Karakalcheri and five village for 40,000 chakras. On 14 February 1739 the French took possession of Karaikal town, the fort of Karakalcheri and eight dependent villages. The King of Thanjavur raised the price for the town of Karaikal and the fort of Karakalcheri to 50000 chakras.

He also demanded a loan of 150000 chakras without interest repayable in three years against the hypothecation of Mayavaram lands and an annual rent of 4,000 pagodas for five villages. The French agreed to all the terms except for the payment of 150,000 chakras which was reduced to 10,000 chakras while the annual rental was reduce to two or three thousand chakras. The villages so received were Kilaiyur, Melaiyur, Puduthurai, Kovilpathu and Tirumalairayanpattinam. Subsequently two villages were ceded to the French. Pratap Singh who succeeded the throne renewed demand for a loan of 100,000 chakra and on receipt of the first instalment of 4,000 chakras he assigned eight more villages to the French viz., Codague (Kondagai), Vanjiyur, Arimullimangalam, Niravi, Dharmapuram, Uzhiapathu, Mattakudi (probably Mathalangudi) and Polagam. Then on 12 February 1740 he sold these villages for 6,0000 chakras, which he had assigned only the previous year for 40,000 chakras.

French colony

The same year he pledged Thirunallar Mahanam for 55,350 chakras and also pledged 33 villages for 60,000 chakras. By a treaty signed on 12 January 1750 Pratap Singh ceded to the French 81 villages around Karaikal and cancelled the annual rent of 2,000 pagodas payable for the villages. This was all the territory the French possessed around Thanjavur when they surrendered to the British in 1761. The territory then passed twice to the British control before it was finally handed over to the French in 1816/1817 under the Treaty of Paris, 1814.

Independence struggle

The formation of Karaikal national congress on 13 June 1947 and Students Congress on 31 January 1947 symbolised the first concrete expression of popular desire in Karaikal for freedom from French rule. The French ruled this district until 31 October 1954 on which date the French flag flying atop the government house at Karaikal was lowered with due military honors before a large gathering of officials and non-officials. Thus the de facto transfer of power took place on 1 November 1954 followed by de jure transfer on 16 August 1962. Until 1 November 1954, it was under French rule.

Part of India

Even Though the Territory was handed over to the Republic of India on 1 November 1954 Karikal's municipal administration was continued pursuant to the Arrêté dated 8 March 1880. This was replaced by the promulgation of the Pondicherry Municipality Act, 1973, with effect from 26 January 1974. Mr. Gaudart was the first Mayor of Karaikal in 1884.



Karaikal is a small coastal enclave of territory which was formerly part of French India. Together with the other former French enclaves of Pondicherry, Yanam, and Mahé, Karaikal forms the Union Territory of Puducherry. Karaikal is bounded on the North and South by Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu state, on the west by Tiruvarur district (also belonging to Tamil Nadu), and on the East by the Bay of Bengal. The enclave is located 140 km south of the city of Pondicherry, 158 km east of Trichy and is known for its rich cultural heritage.


Karaikal town, about 20 km north of Nagappattinam and 12 km south of Tarangambadi, is the regional headquarters.

Karaikal region is made up of Karaikal municipality and the Communes of

  • Nedungadu
  • Kottucherry
  • Neravy
  • Thirunallar
  • Tirumalarajanpattinam


The main branches of Kaveri below Grand Anicut are the Kodamurutti, Arasalar, Virasolanar and the Vikramanar. Although Arasalar and its branches spread through Karaikal, the waters of Kodamurutti and Virasolanar also meet the irrigation needs of the region


Forming part of the fertile Cauveri delta the region is completely covered by the distributaries of Cauveri. Covered completely by a thick mantle of alluvium of variable thickness, the lie of the region is flat having a gentle slope towards the Bay of Bengal in the east. It is limited on the north by the Nandalar and on the south-east by the Vettar. The group of rocks known as Cuddalore formations is met with in the area contiguous to Karaikal region in Nagappattinam District.


Located 140 km south of the city of Pondicherry, 300 km south of Chennai and 180 km east of Thiruchi, Karaikal is known for its rich religious heritage, and is a destination for those seeking leisure and serenity. The town enjoys a harmonious society made up of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and people of other religious persuasions. Tamil is the predominant native language of the people. As the area was formerly a French possession, the French language is also found, especially among the elder generation.

Karaikal is known all over the country for its unique and the only temple devoted to the Lord Saneeswara (Lord Saturn) at Thirunallar. Karaikal is the Gateway to various places of worship in the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu. Two famous shrines, Velankanni for Christians and Nagore for Muslims are nearby Karaikal. The French flavor still persists in the peaceful land of Karaikal.

In Tirumalairayanpattinam, there is a famous temple called Ayirankaliamman temple, ayiram means 1000. We can see this god once in 5 years, because whatever offerings are given to this god, it should be 1008. So they will open for 3 days once in 5 years, and many devotees from all over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will come and worship.


Most of the people in town are office bearers, industrial workers. There are a number of iron and steel rolling mills, spinning mills, tiles, polythene, rubber and chemical industries in Karaikal. And other sources of the people's income is of business. The prominent source of income of this district is agriculture and fishing. Karaikal is a coastal town with a total coastline of 26 km. There are 12 big fishing hamlets and around more than 25000 fishermen (6000 families) are living in these coastal villages. And their main employment is fishing, exporting and fishing related activities. The other main source is liquor business, the tax is less and the cost is almost half when compared to neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. Karaikal is one of the towns in South India with high cost of living due to French NRI's presence. Thousands of families of origin of Karaikal live in France.

Karaikal port

Karaikal port is a new deep sea water port being constructed in Karaikal. More than 600 acres (2.4 km2) of land was leased out to MARG corporation in year 2005 for 30 years and can be renewed for every 10 years thereafter. The port will have a total of nine berths and is constructed for primary transport of coal, textile and cement. The Karaikal port is intended to primarily handle cement and coal to serve the hinterland in Ariyalur, Perambalur and Tiruchi districts. The port is also expected to provide an alternative to the Chennai and Tuticorin ports, which are the major ports in the coastline but are separated by long distance. Further, Karaikal is in the middle of the Tamil Nadu coast, midway between the two deepwater ports of Chennai and Tuticorin. Karaikal Port has handled a whole range of different cargoes for top industrial houses of the country. Known for its speed of clearance, efficiencies of scale and a diverse cargo mix, a notable achievement has been the port's outstanding record in discharge rate and turnaround timelines.

Karaikal Port is poised to be a multi-cargo handling terminal. So far the port has handled cargoes such as Coal, Pet coke, Raw sugar, Fertilizer, Cement, Project Cargo and construction materials. Containers and liquid cargo are soon to follow. On completion, the port will be capable of handling all types of cargo. Karaikal Port is also a hub for oil exploration activities and OSV/PSVs belonging to companies such a Hindustan Oil Exploration Company (HOEC)and Reliance Petroleum regularly call at the port.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC)'s Asset and Kauveri Basin is at karaikal.[2]

Karaikal Airport

Karaikal Airport is being constructed as a Greenfield project. When completed in 2014, it will be the first airport in the country to be built entirely with private capital. The project received in-principle clearance from the Ministry of Civil Aviation in February 2011. Karaikal Airport's Air Traffic Control, however, will be operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). The Airport, spread across 562 acres, is being developed by Karaikal Airport Private Limited, a subsidiary of Super Airport Private Limited. The first phase of construction includes construction of a 1200 metre runway and a terminal building capable of handling 120 passengers during peak hours. The airport is expected to handle regional turboprop airliners like the ATR-42. The company plans to expand the airport after five years, extending the runway to 2600 metres and increasing terminal building capacity to 500 passengers per hour. A further expansion is planned ten years down the line with a 3500 metre runway and a passenger capacity of 1,000 per hour. Besides serving Karaikal, the Airport will bring air connectivity to the various pilgrim centres and temple towns in the neighbouring regions, tapping its spiritual tourism potential.


The Karaikal Union Territory Struggle Group started in 2005. It asks for separate Union Territory status within India for Karaikal. They especially want to time this with the granting of statehood to Puducherry. The economic backwardness of Karaikal results from development focusing on Pondicherry.[3]

Educational institutions

According to the 2001 Census, Karaikal has literacy rate of 83%. There is a wide network of Educational Institutions right from the Elementary level to Collegiate level in Karaikal region.

National Institute of Technology is recently opened in Karaikal.Closing ranks in AIEEE for this NIT is around 13k all India and 100k for local students.

Karaikal has many schools,From primary to higher secondary.Arignar Anna Govt. Arts College,Avvaiyar Govt. Women college,Bharathiyar college of Engineering & Technology,Vinayaga Mission Medical College are well known institutions of Karaikal[4] RVS is another private instituation who opened their Education trust in Karaikal. PERUNTHALAIVAR KAMARAJAR INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (PKIET)[5] Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru College of Agriculture & Research Institute PAJANCOA & RI is the only PG institute having its main campus in Karaikal. It is also the only Agriculture Institute in U.T. of Puducherry

Banks in Karaikal


In 2011, Karaikal had population of 227,589 of which male and female were 111,492 and 116,097 respectively. In 2001 census, Karaikal had a population of 170,791 of which males were 84,487 and remaining 86,304 were females. There was change of 17.23 percent in the population compared to population as per 2001. The initial provisional data released by census India 2011, shows that density of Karaikal district for 2011 is 1,275 people per km2. In 2001, Karaikal district density was at 1,067 people per km2. Karaikal district administers 157 square kilometers of areas. Average literacy rate of Karaikal in 2011 were 87.05 compared to 81.94 of 2001. If things are looked out at gender wise, male and female literacy were 92.37 and 82.02 respectively. For 2001 census, same figures stood at 89.40 and 74.68 in Karaikal District. Total literate in Karaikal District were 164,916 of which male and female were 84,903 and 79,013 respectively. In 2001, Karaikal District had 142,453 in its district.


  1. Karaikal Ammayar Temple.
  2. The Temple of Lord Saturn (Sanishwaran) Thirunallar.
  3. The Dharga of Masthan Sahib Valiullah
  4. The Church of Our Lady of Angels
  5. Governor Mahal ( Collector's Office )
  6. Karaikal Beach
  7. Karaikal Port.

Nearby landmarks

  1. The famous Abhirami amman temple at Thirukadaiyur, 16 km north of Karaikal.
  2. Lord Singaravelavar temple at Sikkal, 24 km South from karaikal.
  3. The church of Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, Velankanni, 28 km South from Karaikal.
  4. Nagore Dhargah, located 15 km South of Karaikal.
  5. Danish Fort at Tranquebar, 12 km north of Karaikal. World's first printing press was started by Bartholomew Ziegenbalg, in 1706.


Unmaintained open drainage system around the town causing foul stink and source for mosquitoes breeding. Solid wastes scattered around roads which makes municipality's existence a big question.

See also


External links

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