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Municipality town
Kilakarai Lighthouse
Kilakarai is located in Tamil Nadu
Location in Tamil Nadu, India
Coordinates: 9°13′53″N 78°47′04″E / 9.23135°N 78.7844°E / 9.23135; 78.7844Coordinates: 9°13′53″N 78°47′04″E / 9.23135°N 78.7844°E / 9.23135; 78.7844
Country India
StateTamil Nadu
 • TypeMunicipality
 • BodyKilakarai Municipality
Area rank5
17 m (56 ft)
 • Total38,355
 • Rank2
 • OfficialTamil
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
623 517
Telephone code91 4567
Vehicle registrationTN 65
Distance from Chennai558 kilometres (347 mi) S
Distance from Bengaluru539 kilometres (335 mi) S
Distance from Madurai132 kilometres (82 mi) E
Distance from Ramanathapuram18 kilometres (11 mi) S
Distance from Coimbatore365 kilometres (227 mi) W
Distance from Tuticorin121 kilometres (75 mi) N
Distance from Adirampattinam152 kilometres (94 mi) S
ClimateBSh (Köppen)
Precipitation909 millimetres (35.8 in)
Avg. summer temperature30 °C (86 °F)
Avg. winter temperature25 °C (77 °F)

Kilakarai, 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. It is also called as Mini Singapore.


Kilakarai is a 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 "Kelikkarai", "Ninathaan mudithaan pattinam", "Sembi Nadu", "Seppi 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.[1] 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[2] 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 mannan 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.[3] 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 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[4] and then the Thassim Beevi Abdul Kader College for Women[5] 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.


Religious census
Religion Percent(%)
Not stated

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.[6] 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%.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

Areas Around Kilakarai[edit]

  • Ramanathapuram
  • Rameshwaram
  • Ervadi Dargha
  • Kanjirangudi
  • Thirppullani
  • Thiru Uthirakosa Mangai

Educational institutions[edit]


  • Kannadi Vappa International School – Kanjirangudi
  • Hameediah Matriculation Higher Secondary School – West Street
  • Islamiah Matriculation Higher secondary school – South Street
  • Islamiah High School – South Street
  • Mohaideeniah Matriculation Higher secondary school – North street
  • Magdoomiah High School – OJM Street
  • Sathakathun Jariyah Middle School – Middle Street
  • Hameediyah Boys Higher Secondary School – Mulluvadi
  • Hameediyah Girls Higher Secondary School – West Street
  • Hameediah Primary School – West Street
  • Hairathul Jalaliah Higher Secondary School – East street
  • Nooraniah Matriculation School – New Street
  • Dheeniyah Matriculation Higher Secondary School – East Street
  • Pearl Matriculation School – Kilakarai
  • Al Bayyinah Matriculation School – East Street


  • Mohamed Sathak Engineering College
  • Thassim Beevi Abdul Kader College for Women
  • Syed Hameedha Arts and Science College
  • Mohamed Sathak Polytechnic College
  • Mohamed Sathak I.T.I (Industrial Training Institute)
  • Arusiyyah Arabic College
  • Syed Hameedha Arabic College
  • Bukhari Aalim Arabic College

Photo gallery[edit]


  1. ^ Kunz, G.F.; Stevenson, C.H. (2013). The Book of the Pearl: Its History, Art, Science and Industry. Dover Jewelry and Metalwork. Dover Publications. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-486-14274-6. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  2. ^ mohammad suhaib, on 17 August 2012, said: (17 August 2012). "Photo of Kilakarai in an ancient map". Panoramio. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2013.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Ramanathapuram District Population Census 2011, Tamil Nadu literacy sex ratio and density". Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Thassim Beevi Abdul Kader College For Women". 3 April 2013. Archived from the original on 24 September 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Census Info 2011 Final population totals". Office of The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2013. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Census Info 2011 Final population totals – Keelakarai". Office of The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2013. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Population By Religious Community – Tamil Nadu" (XLS). Office of The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2011. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.