Mangalore tiles

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Mangalore tile

Mangalore tiles (also Mangalorean tiles) are a type of tile native[1] to the city of Mangalore, India. The tiles were first introduced to India in 1860 by a German missionary.[1] Since that time, the industry has flourished in India with these red tiles, prepared from hard laterite clay, in great demand throughout the country. They are exported to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the Far East and even as far as East Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia[citation needed].[2] These were the only tiles recommended for government buildings in India under the British Raj.[3][4]

Old Manglore tiles, from an old site in Karachi, Pakistan.

These tiles still define Mangalore's skyline and characterize its urban setting.[5] They are a popular form of roofing and are preferred over concrete due to their good quality.[6]


These tiles are native to Mangalore, a city in the former South Canara district on the western coast of India. Hence they were named Mangalore tiles by the tile factory manufacturers.[1]


Tile Factory in Feroke, India

The German missionary Plebot (Georg Plebst in reality) set up the first tile factory at Mangalore in 1860,[1] after he found large deposits of clay by the banks of the Gurupura (also Phalguni) and Nethravathi (also Bantwal) rivers. It was called the Basel Mission tile factory, and was the first ever tile factory in India, located on the banks of the Nethravathi river, near Morgan's Gate,[7] around 100 metres (0.10 km) from Ullal bridge.[5] Currently Mphasis, An HP company has been established in this area.

Several other tile factories were established in the years that followed. In 1868, the Albuquerque tile factory producing these tiles was started by Mr.Pascal Albuquerque at Panemangalore in South Canara.[4] These were the only tiles to be recommended for Government buildings in India during the British regime.[3] The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a World Heritage Site is also topped with these tiles due to their excellent quality and were preferred over Bombay tiles by the structure's architect Frederick William Stevens.[6]

Mangalore tile manufactured by J. H. Morgan & Sons (Mangalore)

Since the opening of the Albuquerque tile factory, Mangaloreans have been actively involved in manufacturing these red Mangalore tiles.[4] In 1878, it was followed by the Alvares tile factory established by Mr.Simon Alvares of Bombay at Mangalore. The tiles produced by the factory were in great demand throughout the Indian subcontinent and East Africa.[8] Abundant deposits of clay, plenty of firewood from the Western Ghats and cheap skilled labour helped the industry flourish.[5] By the 1900s there were around 25 tile factories situated in and around Mangalore. By 1994 around 75 tile factories were present in Mangalore.[1] As per the years 1991—1992 out of a selected 12 tile factories, 6 were owned by Hindus and the other 6 by Christians. The factories along with these tiles also manufactured materials such as ridges, limestone[3] and bricks.[9]

The Calicut Tile Co. (CTC) was the first fully mechanised roofing tile manufacturer in India. It was started in the year 1878. Besides roofing tiles CTC also manufactures, ceiling tiles, hourdees, hollow blocks, paver tiles, decorative garden tiles and terracotta products. The company is fully operational even now. The products CTC at Ferok are known and sold under the brand name QUEEN. They have another factory in the state of Karnataka. The products are known under the brand name KING.

In 2007, the industry suffered a loss with about 10 tile factories shutting down due to scarcity of raw materials like clay. and as factories struggled to find skilled and cooperative workers.[7]

Quality and Usage[edit]

These tiles define Mangalore's skyline and characterize its urban setting

They provide excellent ventilation especially during summer and aesthetically as well. Some of them are especially made to be placed over kitchen and bathroom for the smoke to escape. Over a period of time, these tiles become dark to black from constant exposure to soot and smoke. These red colored clay tiles, unique in shape and size are so famous and export to all the corners of world. They are unique and are made or available in different size and shapes depending on the users need.

These tiles are not only eco-friendly but also cheap, durable and costs only one third that of cement. Some of the buildings which are 100 yrs old still have tile roofing.These tiles are suited for regions experiencing heavy rainfall as water drains easily and fast. The Mangalore tiles are generally placed at forty five degree slant. The tiles get their robust red colour due to the high proportion of iron compound found in the laterite clay.[10] A tile weighs about 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) to 3 kilograms (6.6 lb).[11] These kind of tiles are most popularly used in Canara, Goa, Kerala, and the Konkan.


First part is to collect enough clay and place it in a mold and is cut to exact measurement. Then that rectangular piece of clay with exact length and thickness is placed on another machine which puts the factory logo and shapes it into a tile. Then with hand any extra clay is removed and sent to be carried for firing and later glazing. It was interesting to say the least to see how both men and women worked cooperatively to produce the final product. Once fired and glazed it is ready and is stored for transport/shipping.[11]

Trade and commerce[edit]

Tiles are exported to east Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, and the Middle East[citation needed].


  1. ^ a b c d e Giriappa 1994, p. 61
  2. ^ "Mangalore—Tiles". Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b c Somerset & Bond Wright, p. 510
  4. ^ a b c Somerset & Bond Wright, p. 511
  5. ^ a b c Babu, Savitha Suresh (2007-02-17). "Tiles for style". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  6. ^ a b John B. Monteiro (2005-06-21). "Mangalore Tiles Crown Victoria Terminus". Daijiworld Media Pvt Ltd Mangalore. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  7. ^ a b Belgaumkar, Govind D. (2007-11-12). "Tiles are strong, industry is brittle". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  8. ^ Somerset & Bond Wright, p. 517
  9. ^ Giriappa 1994, p. 62
  10. ^ India: Physical Environment Geography Standard (Grade) IX 2007, p. 37
  11. ^ a b Belgaumkar, Govind D. (2005-11-26). "Have an imaginative roof over your head". The Hindu. Retrieved 2009-01-31.