|Elevation||82 m (269 ft)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Karaikudi is a city in Sivaganga district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is part of the area commonly referred to as "Chettinad". Karaikudi is declared a heritage town by the Government of Tamil Nadu, on account of the palatial houses built with limestone called karai veedu.
Karaikudi comes under the Karaikudi assembly constituency which elects a member to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly once every five years and it is a part of the Sivaganga (Lok Sabha constituency) which elects its Member of Parliament (MP) once in five years. The city is administered by the Karaikudi municipality, which covers an area of 13.75 km2 (5.31 sq mi). As of 2001, the town had a population of 86,596. Cauvery delta region, but salt extraction and prawn cultivation are the major occupations. Roadways are the major mode of transportation to Karaikudi and the nearest airport is Madurai Airport, located 80 km (50 mi) away from the town.
The town derives its name from thorny plant Karai referred in ancient literature as Kareekudi, which in modern times became Karaikudi. The town is believed to have been formed during the 1800s and the oldest structure in the town is the Koppudaiya Nayagi Amman Temple. Mahatma Gandhi delivered two speeches in Karaikudi in 1927 Bharathiyar, a freedom fighter and poet visited Karaikudi in 1919 to participate in a function organized by the Hindu Madhabhimana Sangam. Post independence, the town registered significant growth in the industrial sector.
The town is home to Nagarathar, a business community of Tamil Nadu. Karaikudi and surrounding areas are generally referred as "Chettinadu". Chettinadu is a collection of 76 villages and towns. Chettinad includes areas in modern day Ramnathapuram District and Pudukottai State of British India. The Chettiars are the financiers and trade facilitators. By the early 19th century finance had become their primary occupation and they became famed lenders to land-owning families and in underwriting the grain trade through the provision of hundis. Several members of the Chettiar community migrated to nearby Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Burma in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
As of the census of India 2001, Karaikkudi had a population of 86,596 comprising 43,179 males and 43,417 females, making the sex ratio (number of females per thousand males) of the town to 1,006. A total of 9,696 people were under six years of age and the child sex ratio (number of females per thousand males under six years of age) stood at 954. The town had an average literacy of 87.37%, higher than the national average of 59.5%. A total of 4,935 comprising 6.42% of the population belonged to Scheduled Castes (SC) and 283 comprising 0.37% of the population belonged to Scheduled tribes (ST). There were are total of 19,924 households in the town. As of 2001, Karaikkudi had a total of 27,853 main workers: 184 cultivators, 198 agricultural labourers, 1,055 in house hold industries and 26,416 other workers. There was a total of 933 marginal workers: 10 marginal cultivators, 28 marginal agricultural labourers, 139 marginal workers in household industries and 756 other marginal workers.
Karaikudi is located in Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu State. The Trichy–Rameswaram Highway passes through Karaikudi. Earlier, Karaikudi was a small village in Ramanathapuram District, and in 1928, its status changed from Panchayat to Grade III Municipality. The city became well connected by railways and roadways in 1930. Karaikudi was upgraded to Grade II Municipality in 1973 and later to Selection Grade Municipality in 1988 and now upgraded to special grade Municipality in 2013. The area of municipality is about 13.75 km2, comprising the revenue villages of Kalanivasal, Sekkalai kottai, Elappakudi Area, Ariyakudi Area and Senjai. The Thennar River flows through South Karaikudi. It is 300 km from Coimbatore, 90 km from Trichy, 80 km from Madurai, and 400 km from Chennai, 40 km from Pudukkottai.
Karaikudi is located at . It has an average elevation of 82 metres (269 ft). The terrain of Karaikudi is predominantly flat. Rocky areas are found in the surrounding areas of Karaikudi town and intensity of rocks is more towards western side of the town. The soil is hard red lateritic type and is not suitable for cultivation.
The water table in the area is generally at depths of 3 to 6 feet and rises to nearly 1m below the ground level during rainy seasons. Some bore wells operate at a depth of 100’ to 200’. The most important source of groundwater is from the deeper aquifer under artesian conditions. Locally known as "Semponootru" or "sembaiyootru", springs produce water near the Devakottai Rasta. Since 1970s the water supply for the Karaikudi residents is dependent on the deeper aquifers. The average maximum temperature is about 34°C and average minimum temperature is about 24°C. The annual average rainfall in Karaikudi is about 920mm.
Municipal administration and politics
|Member of Legislative Assembly||Cholan CT. Palanichamy|
|Member of Parliament||P. Chidambaram|
Karaikudi was constituted as a municipality in 1928 and promoted to selection-grade during 1988. The Karaikudi municipality has 36 wards and there is an elected councillor for each of those wards. The functions of the municipality are devolved into six departments: general administration/personnel, Engineering, Revenue, Public Health, city planning and Information Technology (IT). All these departments are under the control of a Municipal Commissioner who is the executive head. The legislative powers are vested in a body of 36 members, one each from the 36 wards. The legislative body is headed by an elected Chairperson assisted by a Deputy Chairperson.
Karaikudi is a part of the Karaikudi assembly constituency and it elects a member to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly once every five years.  From the 1977 elections, All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) won the assembly seat four times (in 1977, 1984, 1991 and 2009 elections), two times by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK, 1980 and 1989), once by Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC, 1996) and once by Indian National Congress (INC) won once during 2006 elections. The current MLA of Karaikudi constituency is Cholan CT. Palanichamy from the ADMK party.
Karaikudi is a part of the Sivaganga (Lok Sabha constituency) – it has the following six assembly constituencies – Thirumayam, Tiruppattur,Karaikudi, Alangudi, Manamadurai and Sivaganga. The current Member of Parliament from the constituency is P. Chidambaram from the Indian National Congress (INC), who is also the Finance Minister of the country. From 1967, the Sivangang parliament seat was held by the Indian National Congress for eight times (during 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1999, 2004 and 2009 elections), ADMK once (during 1977 elections), Tamil Maanila Congress twice (during 1996 and 1998 elections) and Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam twice (during the 1967 and 1971 elections).
Law and order in the city in maintained by the Sivaganga sub division of the Tamil Nadu Police headed by a Deputy Superintendent. There are three police stations in the town, one of them being an all-women poice station. There are special units like prohibition enforcement, district crime, social justice and human rights, district crime records and special branch that operate at the district level police division headed by a Superintendent of Police.
Kundrakudi Shanmuganathan Temple, located 8 km (5.0 mi) away, Ariyakudi Thiruvengamudayan Temple located 3 km (1.9 mi) away, Pillayarpatti Karpagavinayagar temple located 10 km (6.2 mi) away, Thirumayam Permual Temple located 35 km (22 mi) away from Karakudi are the prominent temples around the town. Kannadasan Mandapam, Kamban Manimandapam, Thousand windows house and Chettinad Raja Palace are other visitor attractions in Karaikudi. The first Temple for Mother Tamil is located in Karaikudi. The foundation stone for the temple was laid on 23-04-1975 and the construction was completed in 1993.
Karaikudi is a developing urban center in the backward Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu. In May 2007, through the “Network of Indian Cities of Living Heritage,” UNESCO, in cooperation the Chettinad Heritage Committee with the support of Government of Tamil Nadu, organized a three-day international workshop in Karaikudi on the Heritage-Based Local Development of Chettinad. An early vision for the creation of a “Heritage House” came to fruition in June 2009. UNESCO has offered to set up a 'Chettinad Heritage Museum' in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu recognizing the unique style of architecture in the region. According to UNESCO India director, Minja Yang, a draft action plan to set up the museum has been put forward.
Chettinad Kottan are Palm leaf baskets woven in the Chettinad region by women of the Chettiar community as a hobby. Chettinad Kottan has been noted for its unique style and colors. It is used as a gift during festivals. The traditional 'Chettinad Kottans’ was granted Geographical Indication tag  following efforts by Revive Kottan (Palm Leafs Knitting) Society 
Chettinadu Kandangi sarees are very popular type of sarees produced in the region. Athangudi tiles are basically cement tiles like mosaic used for building the palatial houses in the town and in modern times, is a source for handicraft industry. The intricate woodcraft made in the region by the local carpenters to produce delicately carved sculptures, statues and artifacts and temple chariots and mounts or vehicles for a deity in Hindu mythology, form an important industry in the area.
Indian Overseas Bank was founded February 10, 1937 in Karaikudi by M. Ct. M. Chidambaram Chettyar with an objective of specializing in foreign exchange solutions required by Indian traders in South East Asia. The bank is a nationalised bank in modern times.
Two Bus terminals include the "Old Bus-stand", (formerly, "Rajaji Bus-stand") in south Karaikudi and the "New Bus-stand" in north Karaikudi. Buses that connect the nearby villages and smaller towns (example Devakottai, Peerkalaikadu, Puduvayal, Thirupathur, Thirumayam, Rangiyam, Kadiyapatti and Kallal) terminate at the Old bus-stand. The State Transport Corporation runs long-distance buses to Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore from Old bus-stand. All mofussil buses that connect Karaikudi with towns such as Pudukkottai, Trichy, Madurai, Sivagangai, Sivakasi, Dindigul, Palani, Pattukottai, Thanjavur, Theni, Salem, Erode, Aranthangi, Nagoor, Thiruvarur, Mannargudi, Velankanni,Rameshwaram, Ramanathapuram, Kalayar Kovil, Paramakudi, Mudukulothoor, Nagapattinam, Tirupur, Coimbatore(TNSTC)Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, Bangalore(KSRTC)Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation terminate at the New bus-stand.
Karaikudi Junction is located where two railway lines viz. Trichy/Rameshwaram and Karaikal/Quilon join. There are daily trains to Rameshwaram and Chennai and weekly trains to Pondicherry, Kanyakumari, Bhubaneshwar and Varanasi. It has also got few daily DEMU's and passenger trains to Rameswaram, Trichy and Virudhunagar . A new weekly train to Coimbatore is slated to be introduced shortly. The meter gauge section between Karaikudi and Pattukottai (part of the Karaikudi/Thiruvarur section) has been taken up for conversion into Broad Gauge and therefore traffic has been stopped in this section from March 15, 2012.
Education and utility services
As of 2011, there were 18 government and private schools in Karaikudi. There was one engineering colleges, one arts and science colleges, one polytechnic college, one college of physical education and one college of education in the town. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, opened CECRI along with Dr. Alagappa Chettiar and Dr. SS Bhatnagar in 1948  Dr. Rajendra Prasad, then Vice-President of India, laid the foundation stone for Alagappa Chettiar College of Engineering and Technology main building on 19 Feb 1953 
Electricity supply to Karaikudi is regulated and distributed by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). The town along with its suburbs forms the Sivaganga Electricity Distribution Circle. A Chief Distribution engineer is stationed at the regional headquarters. Water supply is provided by the Karaikudi Municipality from seven deep borewells is located at Sambai Oothu in Karaikudi Madurai Road. In the period 2000–2001, a total of 7.5 million litres of water was supplied everyday for households in the town.
As per the municipal data for 2011, about 45 metric tonnes of solid waste were collected from Karaikudi every day by door-to-door collection and subsequently the source segregation and dumping was carried out by the sanitary department of the Karaikudi municipality. The coverage of solid waste management in the town by the municipality had an efficiency of 100% as of 2001. There is no underground drainage system in the town and the sewerage system for disposal of sullage is through septic tanks, open drains and public conveniences.
The municipality maintained a total of 46.55 km (28.92 mi) of storm water drains in 2011. As of 2011, there was one government hosptial and 13 private hospitals that take care of the health care needs of the citizens. As of 2011, the municipality maintained a total of 4,243 street lamps: 200 sodium lamps, 72 mercury vapour lamps, 3,966 tube lights and five high mast beam lamp. The municipality operates two markets, namely the Anna Daily Market and Uzhavar Santhai that cater to the needs of the town and the rural areas around it.
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