Infobox Indian Jurisdiction
native_name = Karaikal | type = city | latd = 10.9296 | longd =79.8365

state_name = Puducherry
district = Karaikal
leader_title =
leader_name =
altitude =
population_as_of = 2001
population_total = 74,333| population_density =
area_magnitude= sq. km
area_total =
area_telephone = |04368postal_code = |609602vehicle_code_range = |PY-02sex_ratio =
unlocode =
website =
footnotes =

Karaikal (also Karikal or Karaikkal) is a city and a municipality in Karaikal district in the Indian state of Puducherry.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.


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 5 village for 40000 chakras. On 14.2.1739 the French took possession of Karaikal town, the fort of Karakalcheri and 8 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 3 years against the hypothecation of Mayavaram lands and an annual rent of 4000 pagodas for 5 villages. The French agreed to all the terms except for the payment of 150000 chakras which was reduced to 10000 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 2 villages were ceded to the French. Pratap Singh who succeeded the throne renewed demand for a loan of 100000 chakra and on receipt of the first instalment of 4000 chakras he assigned 8 more villages to the French viz., Codague (Kondagai), Vanjiyur, Arimullimangalam, Niravi, Dharmapuram, Uzhiapathu, Mattakudi (probably Mathalangudi) and Polagam. Then on 12-2-1740 he sold for 60000 chakras these villages which he had assigned only the previous year for 40000 chakras.

The same year he pledged Thirunallar Mahanam for 55350 chakras and also pledged 33 villages for 60000 chakras. By a treaty signed on 12.1.1750 Pratap Singh ceded to the French 81 villages around Karaikal and cancelled the annual rent of 2000 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.

The formation of Karaikal national congress on 13.6.1947 and Students Congress on 31.1.1947 symbolised the first concrete expression of popular desire in Karaikal for freedom from French rule. The French ruled this district till 31st 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 1st November 1954 followed by de jure transfer on 16th August 1962.Until 1 November, 1954, it was under French rule. Though the Territory was handed over to the Republic of India on November 1, 1954 Karikal's municipal administration was continued pursuant to the Arrêté dated March 8, 1880. This was replaced by the promulgation of the Pondicherry Municipality Act, 1973, with effect from January 26, 1974. Mr. Gaudart was the first Mayor of Karaikal in 1884 and Mr. V. Govindarajan was the last elected Mayor of Karaikal up to 1979.V.Govindarajan (well known as VG) was one of the main public person who brought a lot to his town. He was twice Mayor of Karaikal, President of the Congress Party of the Puducherry state, President of Karaikal Rotary Club, President of the Thirunallar temple Devasthanam and he ended up his political career as Pondicherry State Minister of Agriculture and Local Administration between 85 and 90.


Located 132 km south of the city of Pondicherry, Karaikal is known for its rich religious heritage, and is a destination for those seeking leisure and serenity. The town enjoys a harmonious society comprising 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 Tamilnadu.Two famous shrines, Velankanni for Christians and Nagore for Muslims are nearby Karaikal. The French flavour still persists in the peaceful land of Karaikal.


Most of the people in town are office bearers and other sources of town people's income is of petty business. The prominent source of income to the district is of agriculture. The other main source is of liquor as the tax is less and the cost is almost half when compared to neighbouring state of Tamilnadu.

On 26 December 2004, Karaikal faced its worst tragedy. Tsunami waves hit this coastal town in India. More than 500 people, mostly fishermen families, were washed away by the killer waves.

It is one of the towns in South India with high cost of living due to French NRI's presence and educated Karaikal youths working in Indian metro cities with IT salaries.


As of 2001 India census [GR|India] , Karaikal had a population of 74,333. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Karaikal has an average literacy rate of 73%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 79%, and female literacy is 68%. In Karaikal, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.


External links

* [http://karaikal.nic.in/ Official Karaikal website]
* [http://www.mayiladuthuraionline.com Mayiladuthurai Online]
* [http://www.karaikal.com/karaikal.htm]

ee also

*French India
*French colonial empire
*French East India Company
*Municipal Administration in French India
*Causes for Liberation of French colonies in India
*Karaikal Carnival

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