|Elevation||8 m (26 ft)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|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|
|Precipitation||909 millimetres (35.8 in)|
|Avg. summer temperature||30 °C (86 °F)|
|Avg. winter temperature||25 °C (77 °F)|
Kilakarai is an ancient coastal town and a port, located in the southern Tamil Nadu. It was a flourishing sea port 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 series of small bays and finest coral reefs sheltering the town from the perils of the ocean. It was also called as "Kelikkarai", "Ninathaan mudithaan pattinam", "Sembi Nadu", "lebbat pattan" (pattan mentioned in voyages of Ibn Battuta & map displayed in Ibn Battuta Mall).
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 choked the once robust pearl trade or Muthu Salabam. The conch and coral industries declined due to new regulations and restrictions.
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 and Palaiya Jumma Masjid (Vallal Seethakathi is interred here) at Kilakarai, while the architecture is the same the workforce was provided by the erstwhile ruler 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 is close to the temple town of Rameswaram.
It has the 4th oldest Mosque in the world and the first mosque in India known as the Jumma Palli or Meen Kada Palli. It has a unique Islamic heritage of more than 1,000 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 of where most Arab settlers live and he 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 very highest literary rate. This enable the people of Kilakarai now span the globe and are active merchants in the Gulf, far east, Us and European markets. The younger generation is now gainfully employed a departure from its predominant merchant/trader mindset.
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 TBAK Women's College 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: 03.12.1885. And it has been upgraded as a Special Town Panchayat as per Director of Town Panchayat, Madras as per G.O. No. 1481/82/J5, Dated on 25.1.1982 and then this municipality is upgraded as per G.O. No. 300 and 301 Dated on 24.08.2004 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.
The colleges include Mohamed Sathak Engineering College, Thassim Beevi Abdul Kader College for women, Arusiyyah Madrasah, Syed Hameedha Arts & Science College, Syed Hameedha Arabic College, Mohamed Sathak Polytechnic College, Mohamed Sathak I.T.I (Industrial Training Institute), and Kilakarai Bukhari Aalim Arabic College. An IAS coaching centre is going to be established in Kilakarai.
In the Education World India School Rankings 2015, KannadiVappa International School, Kilakarai has been ranked Ramanathapuram's No. 1 Co-educational Day School, No.27 in the State of Tamil Nadu and No.172 at the National level (India) along with 2 reputed schools of Mumbai. They were ranked high points for Academics, Leadership & Management Quality and co-curricular education.
View of the Kilakarai lighthouse from Dock
- mohammad suhaib, on August 17, 2012, said: (2012-08-17). "Photo of Kilakarai in an ancient map". Panoramio. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "Ramanathapuram District Population Census 2011, Tamil Nadu literacy sex ratio and density". Census2011.co.in. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "Thassim Beevi Abdul Kader College For Women". Thassim.in. 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "Census Info 2011 Final population totals". Office of The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- "Census Info 2011 Final population totals - Keelakarai". Office of The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- "Kilakarai : Educational Institutions/". Servinghistory.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "Tamil Nadu's Kilakarai - the birth place of world famous Indian conches". onlypunjab.com.
- "An oasis in a desert A district bridging the gulf". The Hindu. 2005-08-07.
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