historical port town, Keelai Municipality,Taluka
|o Type||Second Grade Municipality|
|o Body||Municipality of kilakarai|
|o Total||2.45 km2 (0.95 sq mi)|
|Elevation||17 m (56 ft)|
|o Density||16,000/km2 (41,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Telephone code||91 4567|
|Vehicle registration||TN 65|
|Distance from Chennai||558 kilometres (347 mi) S|
|Distance from Bengaluru||539 kilometres (335 mi) S|
|Distance from Madurai||132 kilometres (82 mi) E|
|Distance from Ramanathapuram||18 kilometres (11 mi) S|
|Distance from Coimbatore||365 kilometres (227 mi) W|
|Distance from Tuticorin||121 kilometres (75 mi) N|
|Distance from Adirampattinam||152 kilometres (94 mi) S|
|Precipitation||909 millimetres (35.8 in)|
|Avg. summer temperature||30 °C (86 °F)|
|Avg. winter temperature||25 °C (77 °F)|
Kilakarai (alternatively spelled Kilakkarai or Keelakarai) is a municipality in Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. As of 2011, the town had a population of 38,355. Kilakarai is one of the Taluka in Ramanathapuram District.
Kilakarai is a East Coastal Town and a port, located in the southern Tamil Nadu. It was a flourishing seaport and a gateway to places as far as Madurai until the early 20th century. The famous pearl belt known as the Gulf of Mannar in the Bay of Bengal is dotted with small islands Appa Tivu, Nallathanni Theevu, Shuli Tivu, Uppu Tanni Tivu, Talari Tivu and Musal Tivu. The coastal line of Kilakarai is formed by a series of small bays and finest coral reefs sheltering the town from the perils of the ocean. It was also called as "Quilicare", kirkari, Sembi Nadu, Korkai, Powthira Manicka Pattinam, "Kelikkarai", "Ninathaan mudithaan pattinam", "Seppi Nadu", "lebbat pattan" (pattan mentioned in voyages of Ibn Battuta & map displayed in Ibn Battuta Mall). There exist a strong cultural connection exists between Kayalpatnam, Adirampattinam and Kilakarai.
The prime occupations of the people were pearl, conch, sea trade and transport. The mid-20th century saw a decline in the occupations of the people of Kilakarai, with the advent of the surface transport the Merchant Navies faded away and Kilakarai aka Killikare ceased to be a harbour and port. The cultured pearl industry and the mindless dragnet fishing that destroyed the coral reefs, choked the once robust pearl trade or Muthu Salabam. The conch and coral industries declined due to new regulations and restrictions. Vattalappam is a famous dish during Eid and some special occasions
Kilakarai is renowned for its communal harmony. The majority of the population here is Muslim with people of other faith Hindu, Christians living together. The communal harmony that always existed is best exemplified by the famous Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple and Jumma Pallivasal (Vallal Seethakathi is interred here) at Kilakarai, while the architecture is the same the workforce was provided by the erstwhile ruler Sethupathi of Ramnad and most of the materials for both the edifice were supplied by the Kilakarai merchant navies. The town is reminiscent of Spanish Moorish architecture and is located about 60 km south west of the temple town of Rameswaram.
It has the oldest mosque in India known as the kadakarai palli. It has a unique pre-Islamic heritage of more than 200 years. The Kilakarai Muslims or Kilakarai Moors form 80% of the population of Kilakarai. Ibnu Batutah once said in his travel notes "it's the place where most Arab settlers live and he was surprised to see them living as in Arab land".
The migration of the people after the decline of the marine trade and industry resulted in people exploring the other parts of the globe. Kilakarai has a large expatriate population and a high literacy rate. This has enabled the people of Kilakarai to span the globe and become active merchants in the Middle and Far East, US and European markets.
Hameedia Primary School was started as a Madrasa in the year 1870, and gradually became a Thinnai Palli and became a registered School in 1938 due to the efforts of K.T.M. Hussain Sahib, fondly known as Haajiaar. This school is completing its sesquicentennial year (150th year) in 2020. The Hameedia Primary School Alumni Association - (HPSAA) consists of great stalwarts of Kilakarai including the founders of ETA, Crescent, Sathak Group and more than 100 institutions and business enterprises worldwide.
HPSAA is organising an Annual Reunion and Trade Fair annually on 25th & 26th of December, commencing its 150th year in 2019. Trade Fair and business summits, Job Fair, Free Medical Camp, Food Counters, Seminars and Talk shows for the benefit of the People of Kilakarai on a high note. Leading Brands, institutions, Business houses are expected to participate in this years edition.
Hameedia High School founded in 1940s beside the old Arabic Madrasa Aroosiya Thaika, was a catalyst to more graduates from Kilakarai. With the arrival of Mohamed Sathak Engineering College and then the Thassim Beevi Abdul Kader College for Women the number of graduates from this traditional town has seen a steady rise.
Kilakarai was constituted as a panchayat in the year 1885. As per G.O. No. 1157LN, date: 3 December 1885. It has since been upgraded as a Special Town Panchayat as per Director of Town Panchayat, Madras as per G.O. No. 1481/82/J5, Dated on 25 January 1982 and then upgraded as per G.O. No. 300 and 301 Dated on 24 August 2004 as a Third Grade Municipality.
According to 2011 census, Keelakarai had a population of 38,355 with a sex-ratio of 948 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 4,391 were under the age of six, constituting 2,204 males and 2,187 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 2.83% and .% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the town was 82.63%, compared to the national average of 72.99%. The town had a total of : 7448 households. There were a total of 12,033 workers, comprising 29 cultivators, 47 main agricultural labourers, 165 in house hold industries, 10,765 other workers, 1,027 marginal workers, 15 marginal cultivators, 18 marginal agricultural labourers, 38 marginal workers in household industries and 956 other marginal workers. As per the religious census of 2011, Keelakarai had 17.6% Hindus, 79.92% Muslims, 1.16% Christians, 0.01% Sikhs, 0.01% Jains, and 1.31% following other religions.
View of the Kilakarai Lighthouse from the dock
"Tamil Nadu's Kilakarai - the birth place of world famous Indian conches". onlypunjab.com. Archived from the original on 23 May 2007.