About Karaikudi - Karaikudi

KARAIKUDI – a land of one of the finest culture and traditional lineage in the world.

About Karaikudi
Karaikudi is the largest town in Chettinad region of Sivagangai district in the Indian state of Tamilnadu. The name Karaikudi originated from the thorny plant's name karai that abounds in the area, and kudi meaning settlement. It belongs to the collection of 80 towns and villages in the Chettinad belt that stretched from Ramnad district to Pudukottai state of then British India. The Chettinad or Chettinadu literally means Chettiars' state. The Nagarathars, a Chettiar community, are the predominant people of the region flourishing in trade and commerce from many centuries. They are institutional in establishing innumerous educational institutions, financial services, temples, festivals, traditional ceremonies, and social welfares.

History of Karaikudi dates back to around 1700. It was an area scattered with settlements. Having the present day Karaikudi as reference, there were four prominent settlements - in northeast is "Jayamkondan puram" [the present day Sekkalai], in northwest is "Muthupattianam", in southwest is "Kallukatti", and in southeast a hamlet known as "Naganatha Pudur" (N.Pudur). These settlements were in between a woody area. There were no proper interlinking road facilities. People were hesitant to travel through these woody areas in the fear of robbers and thieves hiding in these woods.

Around 1900, the woody areas along with the settlements were developing and in due course merged to form a notable village, which was soon brought under Panchayat board management. Later on, major infrastructure developments were undertaken, starting with its administration that was changed to Municipality in 1928, the Railway Junction was created in 1930, a Government hospital [the present day Gandhi Maligai] was established in 1940, and other facilities like road, drinking water, electricity, communication were laid out. All these improvements transformed this village into a well known town. And when, Vallal Alagappa Chettiar established educational institutions in 1947, and in 1948 brought C.E.C.R.I. to Karaikudi; consequently changed Karaikudi into a major township.

The people of Chettinad region took a praiseworthy active part in Indian freedom movement.

Karaikudi has a population of 1.5 lakhs (estimated as of year 2010). The Male and Female ratio is apparently equivalent, but favouring females over male. Karaikudi has an average literacy rate higher than the National average. Karaikudi is considered as the best place to live among other towns in the district, owing to its sound educational infrastructure, good ground water, better heath care facilities, and lucrative business possibilities.

Karaikudi Taluk is located in Sivagangai district, in the Indian state of Tamilnadu. It has an average elevation of 82 metres (269 feet) above sea level. Once this was a small village in the Ramanathapuram district. In 1930, Karaikudi Railway Junction was created linking Tiruchirappalli - Rameswaram and Mayiladuthurai - Rameswaram (mater gauge) railway network by the Southern Indian Railway Company Limited. A river called as Thean aaru (the river with water like honey,) flows through west-southeast direction in the south end of Karaikudi. Karaikudi area has a good water table owing to numerous Reservoirs (tanks and ponds), and the Sambai ootthu (Sambai oottru / Sambai spring / Artesian aquifer) situated nearby Theanaaru, in south end of Karaikudi and adjacent to Karaikudi - Devakottai rastha (road), that provides for the Municipality drinking water.

Karaikudi is located on the Tiruchirappalli - Rameswaram National highway number 210, and is situated between Tiruchirappalli and Madurai at a distance about 100 kms. on either side; and about 440 km. to southwest from the state's capital - Chennai. The Postal code is 630001 [to 630006]; STD code is 04565 (91 4565), ISD code is 004565 (+91 4565), and Karaikudi is abbreviated as KKD or KKDI. Karaikudi is located at latitude 10.07° N and longitude 78.78° E.

After, Karaikudi was constituted as a Municipality in 1928, it was upgraded to Grade-2 Municipality in 1973, and to Selection Grade Municipality in 1988, later to Special Grade Municipality in 2013.

The Nagarathar (also known as Nagarattar, meaning people who live by towns) are a Chettiar community that originated in Kaveri poom pattinam (also known as Poompuhar or Puhar, in present day Nagapattinam district) under the Chola Empire of India. They are a prominent mercantile "Vaishya" caste in Tamilnadu, India. Initially the Vaishyas lived in Sandhyapuri of the Sambu Islands in Naganadu. This borders with the present state of Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.

The strategic location of the Kaveripoompattinam along the banks of the river Kaveri, at the southeast coastline of India made it as one of the major seafaring township under the Chola Empire. It was thriving in trade and commerce reaching far flung nations across seas. The Chettiars became involved in trade and commerce throughout the Chola Empire, and with their unity, discipline and acumen, they prospered. But the majority of Chettiars migrated to higher grounds away from seashore, after the devastating "Aazhi peralai" (the great sea flood - the Tsunami) that practically destroyed the seafaring pattinam (town). They then settled in the demarcated land provided by the Pandiya king Soundarapandian, the present day Chettinad, under his rule. Thereafter, Chettiars gradually spread over 80 towns and villages.

They originally were involved in salt trading, sometime in the 18th century they became more widely known as financiers and facilitators for the trade in a range of commodities. By the early 19th century finance had become the primary specialisation of the Chettiars, and they became famed lenders to great land owning families and in underwriting their trade in grain through the provision of hundis (undiyal) (like money exchange).

They are a very rich community known for their philanthropy, building temples and schools, and maintaining them throughout Asia.

True to the teachings of the saint poetess 'Avvaiyar' that, it is unwise to dwell in the place where there is no temple; Karaikudi and its neighboring places have innumerous temples and shrines among which some of them are world renowned. A Temple is an epitome of heritage and culture. Temples not only served as a place for worship, but also a place for meditation, preaching, education, public meeting, ceremonies, and they patronised literature, poetry, music, dance, plays, fine arts. Even today one can realise these in a temple in varying degrees. Many Temples have [sacred] water reservoir and lands known as 'devasthanam' (god's land) for its financial sustenance.

Important and famous Temples in Karaikudi (Taluk)

Important and famous Temples around Karaikudi / Temples in Sivaganga District
  1. Karpaka Vinayakar rock-cut temple, Pillaiyarpatti
  2. Sundareswarar temple, Amaravathiputhur
  3. "Thenthirupati" Tiruvengadam Udayan temple, Ariyakudi
  4. "Vettudaiyar" Kaliamman temple, Ariyankurichi (Kollankudi)
  5. Rudra Koteeswarar temple, Chaturvedimangalam
  6. Chokkanathapuram temple, Chokkanathapuram
  7. Arulmozhinathar temple, Cholapuram
  8. Meenakshi Sundareswarar (Sekkizhar) temple, Devakottai
  9. Ranganatha Perumal temple, Devakottai
  10. Kottaiamman temple, Devakottai
  11. Andarnatchi Amman temple, Devapattu
  12. Ayyanar temple, Elankudi
  13. Malai Marundheeswarar temple, Eriyur
  14. Aazhi Kandeeswarar temple, Idaikattur
  15. Idaikattur Siddhar shrine, Idaikattur
  16. Sacred Heart church, Idaikattur
  17. Rajendra Chozheeswarar temple, Ilayankudi
  18. Kailasanathar Nithyakalyani temple, Ilayathankudi
  19. Adhistanam temple, Ilayathankudi
  20. Thanthondreeswarar temple, Iluppaikudi
  21. Mummudinathar temple, Iraiyanceri
  22. Aatkondanathar temple, Iraniyur
  23. Kalaiyarkovil temple, Kalaiyarkovil
  24. Somasundareswarar Soundara Nayaki temple, Kallal
  25. Karaimel Azhagar Ayyanar temple, Kanadukathan
  26. Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, Kanadukathan
  27. Swarna Murtheeswarar temple, Kandadevi
  28. Koppudai Nayaki Amman temple, Karaikudi
  29. "Cinna" Muthumari Amman temple, Karaikudi
  30. Brahmapureeswarar (Meenakshi Sundareswarar) temple, Keezha Poonkudi
  31. Kottainachi Amman temple, Kottaiyur
  32. Subramaniar temple, Kovanur
  33. Kotravaleeswarar temple, Koviloor
  34. Shanmughanathar temple, Kundrakudi
  35. Bathrakali Amman temple, Madapuram
  36. Santhiveeran temple, Mallakottai
  37. Sri Kadukavalar Swamy temple, Mampatti
  38. Karanthamalai Aiyanar temple, Mampatti
  39. Chola Vinayagar and Choleswarar temple, Mampatti
  40. Navagraha temple, Managiri
  41. Veera Azhagar Perumal temple, Manamadurai
  42. Someswarar temple, Manamadurai
  43. The Holy Paanch peer (Anjanamar) Five Shuhadaas Dargah, Manamadurai
  44. Thiruchuzhial temple, Manamadurai
  45. Ainootreeswarar Periyanaayagi temple, Mathur
  46. Kailasanathar temple, Melur
  47. Nachiar Amman temple, Nachiapuram
  48. Siva temple, Natarajapuram
  49. Kannudaya Nayaki Amman (Kannathal) temple, Nattarasankottai
  50. Jeyam Kondeswarar temple, Nemam
  51. Pulvanayaki Amman temple, Paganeri
  52. Pillaivayal Kaliyamman temple, Paiyur (Pillaivayal)
  53. Sri Maha Panchamukha Prathyangira Devi temple, Panchaputheswaram (Manamadurai)
  54. "Ashtama Sithi" Dakshinamurthy temple, Pattamangalam
  55. Sri Suganthavaneswarar temple, Perichikoil
  56. Kuberar temple, Pillaiyarpatti
  57. Shree Kailasha Nathar temple, Piramanoor
  58. Piranmalai Kodunkundreeswar temple, Piranmalai
  59. Kailasa Vinayagar temple, Puduvayal
  60. Veerasekarar (Thirumudi Thazhumbar) temple, Sakkottai
  61. Sevuga Perumal Aiyanar temple, Singampunari
  62. Azhagiya Ponnal temple, Sirukai
  63. Ponnazhagiamman temple, O.Siruvayal
  64. Sasivarneswarar temple, Sivagangai
  65. Syambulingeswarar temple, Sivapuripatti
  66. Desikanathar Aavudayanayaki temple, Sooraikudi
  67. Paranjothi Easwarar temple, Thanjakkur
  68. Muthumariamman temple, Thayamangalam
  69. Poomayee Amman temple, Thenmaappattu
  70. Sowmya Narayanan temple, Thirukoshtiyur
  71. Malai Kozhundeeswarar temple, Thirumalai
  72. Sathyagiri Natha (Satyamurti) Perumal temple, Thirumayam
  73. Satyagiriswarar temple, Thirumayam
  74. Bairavar temple, Thirumayam
  75. Tiruthalinathar temple, Thirupathur
  76. Ninra Narayana Perumal temple, Thirupathur
  77. Bairavar temple, Thirupathur
  78. Pushpavaneswarar temple, Thirupuvanam
  79. Nerinjikudi Ayyanar temple, Thiruvilangai
  80. Vanmeekanathar Temple, Tiruvetriyur
  81. Vairavanswami (Valaroli Nathar) temple, Vairavanpatti
  82. Vayanachi Periyanayaki temple, Velankudi
  83. Kailasanathar temple, Vempathur
  84. Sundararaja Perumal temple, Vempathur
  85. Angalaparameswari Amman temple, Vetriyur
  86. Annapoorani Amman temple, Vetriyur

"Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man." - Swami Vivekananda.

Karaikudi is eternally indebted to one man - Padmabhushan Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar. He is called 'Vallal' (philanthropist), more suitably as Vallal Alagappa Chettiar, who gave all his wealth to create an outstanding educational empire in pure nobility to provide affordable quality education to the rural masses; and without whom Karaikudi would have been a trivial town.

Vallal Alagappa Chettiar, founded the "Alagappa Chettiar Educational Trust" with the aim of developing the backward area of Karaikudi into a centre for higher education and provided necessary funds for the establishment of educational institutions.

The education development went to its peak around 1947 when, Vallal Alagappar established the Alagappa Arts College, Alagappa Chettiar College of Engineering and Technology (A.C.C.E.T.), and Alagappa technical institution and school. He was the key person in establishing the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (C.E.C.R.I.) in 1948 at Karaikudi by providing land and funding.

Karaikudi and its adjoining places have a growing array of educational services and facilities right from pre-kg to doctorate.

Karaikudi and its neighboring places have many famous historical significant buildings, and distinguished institutions and places.

Chettinad Mansions / houses
The Chettinad mansions / houses are sumptuous, spacious, and flamboyant with intricate carved structures.

Chettinad mansions / houses are built using bricks (known as 'sengkal'), country made roof tiles (known as 'naattu odu') [preferably from 'Manamadurai', owing to the soil's rich iron content], decorative floor tiles (preferably, the famed 'Athankudi' handmade terracotta tiles), limestone mixture (known as 'santhu kalavai' / 'sunnambu kalavai') for mortar, and stone blocks, wooden support structures, decorative doorframes and intricate carved panels. The teakwood from Burma is the choice wood for woodworks and support structures. The household items range from artistically made wooden furnitures, glasswares, ceramic wares, traditional wares, and to other exotic articles made around the world. These mansions / houses popularly came to be known as Karai veedu (the house built with limestone mixture).

These Mansions / houses are built-in with arrangements for rainwater harvesting, to provide for clean drinking water. The rainwater is [fine cloth] filtered and funneled into large brassware; which then can be stored for weeks. The rainwater being free from [ground] impurities, and by storing it in brassware gets electrically charged, which neutralises [many of the] harmful microorganisms. This provides a clean, healthy, and sweet drinking water that rivals the modern day processed drinking water.

Particularly, the Santhu kalavai, which is made from the mixture of finely ground Santhu (limestone) powder - the raw material, Kadukkai (gallnut) - as accelerant, Egg's white yolk - for smooth finish, and Karuppatti (palm jaggery) - as binder, that are mixed in prerequisite proportions with right amount of water. Sometimes Padaneer (unfermented palm tree sap) - as bonding agent, is also added. This provides a strong crack resistant bond and gives a smooth finish. Many [significant] historical constructions still stand testimony to its strength and longevity spanning many centuries.

Nowadays these Chettnadu mansions / houses are sought after place for film shootings; and are a well known tourist attraction.

Some of Chettinad mansions / houses:



Chettinad has given birth to many great persons who significantly contributed for the good of humanity.

Notable personalities from Chettinad region:
  1. Vallal RM. Alagappa Chettiar, Kottaiyur
  2. Philanthropist, Academician, Business tycoon, Founder of Alagappa educational institutions
  3. Kaviarasar Kannadasan, Sirukudalpatti
  4. Poet, Novelist, Lyricist, Politician, Film producer, Editor
  5. Raja Annamalai Chettiar, Kanadukathan
  6. Industrialist, Philanthropist, Founder of Annamalai University
  7. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Aiyangar, Ariyakudi
  8. Carnatic Maestro
  9. Kundrakudi Vaithiyanathan, Kundrakudi
  10. Violin Maestro
  11. Karaikudi Mani, Karaikudi
  12. Mridangam Maestro
  13. Kamban Adippodi Saw. Ganesan, Karaikudi
  14. Founder of "Tamil Thai Kudil" (temple for Goddess Tamil), Kamban Hall and organiser of Kamban Festival
  15. Dheeran Nelliyan, (Nelliyan Ambalam), Karaikudi
  16. Freedom fighter
  17. A.V. Meiyappan, Karaikudi
  18. Film Producer/Director and founder of AVM studio
  19. S.P. Muthuraman, Karaikudi
  20. Film Director
  21. Panchu Arunachalam, Karaikudi
  22. Tamil Lyricist, Screenplay writer, Film Director/Producer
  23. Rama Narayanan, Karaikudi
  24. Film Director
  25. P. Chidambaram, Kanadukathan
  26. Politician, Lawyer, Finance Minister, Honorable Union Minister for Home affairs
  27. Thavathiru Kundrakudi Adigalar, Kundrakudi
  28. Religious leader, Tamil scholar
  29. M.A. Chidambaram (MA.CT.), Kanadukathan
  30. Industrialist, Philanthropist
  31. M.A.M. Ramaswamy (MAM), Kanadukathan
  32. Industrialist, Philanthropist
  33. Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar, A.Thekkur
  34. Founder of Thyagarajar College of Engineering, Meenakshi Mills, Founder of Bank of Madura, Madurai Insurance Company
  35. S.A.P. Annamalai, Karaikudi
  36. Journalist, Founder/Editor of 'Kumudam' tamil weekly
  37. Tamilvanan, Karaikudi
  38. Writer/Publisher, Established Manimekalai press
  39. A.M.M. Murugappa Chettiar (AMM), Pallathur
  40. Industrialist, Philanthropist, Founder of Murugappa Group of companies
  41. Periyakaruppan Chettiar, Karaikudi
  42. Founder of Ramasamy Tamil College
  43. Suba. Annamalai, Devakottai
  44. Renowned Tamil Scholar
  45. Balakavi Vynagaram Ramanathan Chettiar, Devakottai
  46. Popular writer and eminent scholar in Saiva Sidhdhantham
  47. Porkili Kavignar AR.Somasundaram, Devakottai
  48. a contemporary poet
  49. Vanathi Thirunavukkarasu Chettiar, Devakottai
  50. Founder of Vanathi Pathipakam
  51. SP.VR. Subbiah Chettiar, Devakottai
  52. Storywriter
  53. Kandadevi S. Alagiriswamy, Kandadevi
  54. Violinist and Musician
  55. Narayana Iyengar, Devakottai
  56. Veena Maestro
  57. Vainika Malayappa Iyer, Karaikudi
  58. Veena musician
  59. Venkatesvara Iyer, Karaikudi
  60. Veena musician
  61. S. Subramanian, Karai,udi
  62. Veena musician
  63. Sambasiva Iyer, Karaikudi
  64. Veena players
  65. Valliappa Chettiar, Devakottai
  66. Flute musician
  67. O.M.A.L. Lakshmanan Chettiar, Devakottai
  68. Founder of Kandar Sashti Vizha Kazhagam
  69. KR. Valliappa Chettiar, Devakottai
  70. Founder of Elango Isai Nattiya Palli in Erode
  71. A. Vaidhyanathan, Devakottai
  72. Founder of Thyaga Brahma Mahotsava Sabha
  73. Chinna Annamalai Chettiar, Devakottai
  74. Freedom fighter, Pioneer in Publishing Industry
  75. Dinamani Chettiar, Devakottai
  76. Freedom Fighter and staunch Gandhian
  77. Dr. Arunachalam Chettiar, Devakottai
  78. Freedom Fighter
  79. M.A. Muthiah Chettiar, Kanadukathan
  80. Indian banker, Politician, Philanthropist
  81. M.Ct.M. Chidambaram Chettiar, Kanadukathan
  82. Industrialist, Founder of Indian Overseas Bank
  83. Gandhi Narayanan Chettiar, Devakottai
  84. a staunch Gandhian
  85. Chatram Somasundaram Chettiar, Devakottai
  86. Philanthropist
  87. O.RM.M.SP.SV. Meyyappa Chettiar, Devakottai
  88. Philanthropist
  89. O.RM.M.SP.SV. Sevugan Annamalai Chettiar, Devakottai
  90. Founder of Sree Sevugan Annamalai College
  91. P.S.S. Somasundaram Chettiar, Devakottai
  92. Founder of Somasundara Mills at Coimbatore and Manamadurai
  93. N.RM. Lakshmanan, Devakottai
  94. Leading Textile Industrialist
  95. AL. Chidambaram, Devakottai
  96. Industrialist
  97. OM.SP.L.M. Meyappa Chettiar, Devakottai
  98. Textile Industrialist
  99. Lotus Venkatachalam Chettiar, Devakottai
  100. Philanthropist and Textile Industrialist
  101. E.M.V. Muthappa Chettiar, Puduvayal
  102. Philanthropist
  103. RM.KP. Venkatachalam Chettiar (venga), Amaravathipudur
  104. Humanitarian and eminent Lawyer in Malaya
  105. C. Swaminathan, Vilvampatti
  106. Surveyor, Freedom Fighter and Gandhian

The Chettiars are well known for their business acumen; it no wonder that Karaikudi is next to Mumbai in stock brokerage. Chettiars traditionally involve in occupations like money lending and (wholesale) trading.

Karaikudi area, by its prominent location between two major cities - Tiruchirappalli and Madurai, has become a lucrative business hub for education, healthcare, finance services, small scale industries, construction companies, automobile dealers, textile dealers, jewellery, software, hardware, household items, and many more.

Karaikudi has very much involved in politics from pre-independence. Karaikudi assembly constituency is part of Sivagangai Lok Sabha constituency.

Arts and Crafts
The arts and crafts in the Chettinad region are a unique blend of tradition and modern, which are distinctive to this area. The Chettinad's cookware, furniture, household articles, woodwork, handloom, culinary, and the exceptional Karaikudi Veenai tradition are a mark of this region.

There are various traditions in playing Veenai (a stringed musical instrument). One of the styles that still standout in the generations of musicians is the Karaikudi style of Veenai playing. Some of the well known veenai players are - Malayappa Iyer, Venkatesa Iyer, Subbaraya Iyer, and Karaikudi Veenai brothers Subbarama Iyer and Sambasiva Iyer.

The woodwork, especially on doorframes, wooden panels is crafted decoratively with intricate patterns. The wood panel [placed above doorframe] is usually carved with Gajalakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, and a Kalasam (small pot) with coconut and sprouting mango leaves on top. Themes from Hindu mythology like Ramayana, Mahabharath, Thiruvilaiyadal are also carved elegantly on to these panels.

Athankudi Tiles - the terracotta tiles with flamboyant patterns, which are handmade and sun dried. These tiles have a distinctive gloss finish. Athankudi is famous for its handmade (, now modernised) tile works.

India is well known for its spicy culinary delicacies around the world. Particularly in Tamilnadu, the Chettinad cuisine is world renowned. A unique blend of spices and ingredients and traditional cooking methods handed down from generations that standout from other styles of cooking. The Chettinad Samayal (chettinad culinary / cooking), also known as Aachi Samayal, by tradition uses particular firewood for a particular food to be cooked; as the fumes from the firewood enhances the food's taste [, if it is the right firewood].

There are wide varities of food delicacies for both the Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians. Starting from Paalpaniyaram, Puttu, Idiyappam, Ilandhosai to Karakuzhlambu (hot spicy curry), Kurumakulambu (spicy curry mixed with coconut paste), Vendakaimandi (ladyfinger sour curry), Melagurasam (Indian [pepper] soup) in Vegetarian food, and for Non-Vegetarian food, Karikulambu (mutton curry), Kozhlikulambu (chicken curry), Karuvattukulambu (dried fish curry), Muttaikulambu (egg curry), Biryani, to name a few. Apart from these, there are snack items like Murukku, Adhirasam, Maaurundai, Seepucheedai, Theankuzhal, Karuppatti Paniyaram, Paalkozhlukattai, Cheeyam, Manakolam, and much more.

Chettinad supports quite a number of handlooms that follow years old tradition of weaving. The hand woven Kandangi selai (kandangi cotton / silk saree), Gopura karai selai (temple tower motif border saree) are among the popular.

It is said that, after creating this world for six days, God took a day off.

Festivals and holidays are an important aspect of life. It rejuvenates oneself to perform his duties better. They give us opportunity to get-together and extend our compassion to fellow beings. Being followers of tradition, the Chettinad people celebrate many festivals with splendor and vigor.

Some of the important festivals celebrated in Karaikudi:
Koppudai Nayaki Amman kovil Thear Thiruvizha
Koppudai Nayaki Amman (Koppudaiya Nayaki Amman) - the goddess with golden heart, is the main deity of Karaikudi. This is a midsize temple with moolavar being a beautiful ayinponn (alloy of five metals) statue of Amman in standing pose, installed in its sanctum sanctorum. A magnificent statue of Hanuman god is a recent addition to this temple. A temple tank adjoins left side of the temple. It is located at Kallukatti area of Karaikudi.

Acharya Sri Adi Sankara had visited this temple for worshipping mother Koppudai Nayaki Amman and had installed the Sri Chakra.

"Sevvai Perum Thiruvizha", the grand Tuesday festival is celebrated at the Koppudai Nayaki Amman for ten consecutive days starting from the last Tuesday of the Tamil month Chithirai that falls between the months April and May until the first week of the Tamil month Vaikasi, which falls between the month of May and June. This 10 days festival begins with 'kodi yetram' (flag hoisting), symbolising the start of the ten days long festival. There is 'theppa thiruvizha' (temple float festival), Poocheridal (flower offering festival), and this festival concludes with the grand 'thear thiruvizha' (temple car / chariot festival). The temple car is drawn circling the temple up to the Kattamman (elder sister of Koppudaiyal) Temple situated in Senjai, Karaikudi (southwest), to be returned the next day.

One of the unique characteristics of this temple is that, the moolavar (presiding deity) itself is brought out of the sanctum sanctorum for special oblations and celebrations; instead of urchava murthi (procession deity). Next only to Chidambaram Nataraja temple deity.

Chithirai 1, the Tamil New year that falls on April-14 usually, (falls at mid of April), is celebrated with grandeur, drawing large numbers of people from village area. This temple is few centuries old, which was renovated to its glory a decade ago. The Guardian deity Karuppanna Swami majestically appears on a horse.

Lalitha Muthumari Amman kovil Paalkudam
Muthumari Amman - the goddess who blesses people with pearl drop rain, aka. Lalitha Muthumariamman. There is another temple by this name, the former is known as "Periya" Muthumari Amman situated at Vairavapuram, in northeast of Karaikudi and the later one, the famous "Cinna" Muthumari Amman situated at Meenakshipuram, in northwest of Karaikudi, near the old Meenakshi Amman temple. This small temple draws an ever growing number of devotees for paalkudam the grand finale of the 10 days long festival that begins with 'kappu kattu' (tying of sacred thread) in the month of March. This festival is also known as "Masi Panguni Vizha" held between the Tamil months of Masi and Panguni (March).

Legend/History: Half a Century earlier, a little girl named Lalitha came to this place, (from Samayapuram), suffering with Smallpox. Initially no one noticed her. Later an elderly Muslim noticed her condition and started taking care of her. One day she asked for a Tomato fruit, but he said that it's not possible as it was not the season for it. Still Lalitha inisisted that he will find that tomato fruit near his well. He reluctantly went and to his astonishment found a single tomato fruit which he brought back and gave to her. From that day onwards, whatever she tells became a reality. People started noticing her and her divine foretelling. People came from many places to seek her devine blessings. She asked them to build a Temple in her remembrance, where she will dwell and bless them. And later she attained her salvation. The temple gets its name from the Smallpox that looked like pearl (muthu) on the divine little girl.

The festive season starts in the Tamil month of [last Tuesday of] Masi (last week of February) with Poochorithal Vizha (the Floral festival). Followed by Sumangali Poojai, a week later. Then this festival kicks-off with Ganapathy Poojai and Flag hoisting. And the festival ends with grandness in the Tamil month of Panguni (mid of March).

Right from day one people start taking processions from Muthalamman temple, like - Paalkudam (pot of milk offered for ritual libations), Theechatti (firepot), Kavadi (decorated balance carried on shoulder), Alagu (body piercing), Pookuzli (fire bed walking), Molaippari (pot of tender grain shoots), and other feats as 'nethi kadan' (fulfilling vow), 'nandri kadan' (thanksgiving), 'venduthal' (prayer of requisition) are also performed by devotees symbolising their devotion.

In recent years this, thiruvizha, religious festival has grown to large proportions and became a stellar event.

Meenakshi Sundareswarar kovil Mahasivarathiri
Mahasivarathiri - the grand night for offering our devotion to the supreme Lord Siva (Lord Shiva), the Destroyer of evil. Sivarathiri (the auspicious night in honour of Lord Siva) is observed every month on the day before the moonless day. And the Sivarathiri that falls in the Tamil month of Masi (February) is celebrated as Maha Sivarathiri, the grand night in honour of Lord Siva.

On the day of Maha Sivarathiri, special ritual oblations, libations and procession are conducted. In the night, people stay awake observing, praying, reading, and singing the praise of Lord Siva. Special rituals continue to be observed throughout the night in Siva temples. Pious people observe the ritual fasting for this whole day, as one of the ways to prove their devotion to Lord. Maha Sivarathiri concludes in the next morning with ritual oblation, and subsequently people break their fast.

This religious festival is celebrated in grandeur at the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple situated in southwest of Karaikudi. This midsize temple was built during 1872 and has a beautiful temple tank to its right side. This temple is also known as 'Nagara Sivan Kovil', and there is another Siva temple located at Sekkalai, known as 'Sekkalai Sivan Kovil' that was built later.

On the right adjacent side of this temple there is a shrine having 108 statues of the Lord Ganesh (108 Pillayar temple), which was built by a devotee to show his gratitude towards the supreme Lord Ganesh.

Kamban Thirunal
Kamban Thirunal - a Festival on the world classical language "Tamil" held in honour of the emperor among poets - Kamban. This festival is held for four days in Kamban Manimandapam at Karaikudi every March. Many learned scholars and admirers of Tamizhl (Tamil) language exchange their views on Kavichakravarthy Kamban. The literary works of Kavichakravarthy (emperor among poets) and other great poets are taken for debate.

One of stanch admirers of Kamban, who called himself and whom is known as 'kamban adippodi' Saw. Ganesan founded the "Kamban Aranilayam" (Kamban Trust) and created Kamban Kazhagam (Kamban Academy) of Karaikudi. He was the key person in establishing the Kamban Manimandapam (Kamban monumental hall), and built the only temple in the world for the Goddess of Tamil - the "Tamizhlthai Kovil". This temple also has idols of poetess Avvaiyar and poet Kamban. Saw. Ganesan was the first person to organise the Kamban Thirunal (Kamban day celebrations).

A statue in tribute to Saw. Ganesan was installed on 4 May 2009 at Kamban Manimandapam premises.

Palani Pathayathirai Vizha
Thaipoosam - is the main festival for Lord Murugan that is celebrated on the day of Poosam star in the Tamil month of Thai (January-February). This religious festival draws large number of devotees from Tamilnadu and from other parts of India to the famous pilgrimage town of Palani in Dindigul district, Tamilnadu. The main aspect of this festival is the ritual event where people walk all the way upto "Dandayudhapani Swami" temple atop Sivagiri (palani hill) at Palani, starting from their homes symbolising their devotion.

The people of Chettinad are stanch devotees of Lord Palani andavar (Lord Pazhani). They start their "Palani Pathayathirai" - the pilgrimage walk to Palani (the spiritual journey on foot) with their Kavadis on their shoulders, couple of weeks before thaipoosam from Devakottai, Karaikudi, and from other nearby towns and villages.

Book Exhibition
Karaikudi being an education capital, there is an impressive weeklong Book Exhibition (Puthaga Kankatchi) is conducted at Kamban Manimandapam in every February. Wide arrays of books on many topics are showcased. And in the evening Cultural performances are performed by school students, from one of the schools in Karaikudi everyday.

Other than this annual exhibition, individual booksellers and publishers conduct Book fairs time and again.

Science and Technology Show
The Central Electro Chemical Research Institute at Karaikudi observes Science and Technology Day on February 28. This day is celebrated as the 'Open Day', and people are allowed freely to visit the stalls demonstrating the achievements, technology, and future of Science, as well as the C.E.C.R.I.'s contribution to Science are showcased. This open-day is on some occasions celebrated in the month of September.

Historical events
In 1906, Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyar visited Karaikudi and has sung a poem praising the good work done by Chettiar youths of Karaikudi. A photograph of Bharathiyar that was taken when he visited the Hindu Madhabhimana Sangam at Karaikudi, is an invaluable remainder.

  • In 1927, Mahatma Gandhi visited Karaikudi and delivered two speeches in September 24 and 25, at Karaikudi.

  • In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi visited Devakottai to condole with the death of Poochi, a dalit, in the movement against untouchability, and held discussions with Dalits and Nattars, who were opposed to Dalits wearing shirts.

  • In 1940, Sri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari inaugurated the "Gandhi Maligai" in May 26, at Karaikudi.

  • In 1948, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, laid the foundation stone of C.E.C.R.I. in July 25, at Karaikudi.

  • In 1953, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Vice-President of India, dedicated C.E.C.R.I. to the Nation in January 14, at Karaikudi.

  • In 1953, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of India, laid the foundation stone of A.C.C.E.T.'s main building in February 19, at Karaikudi.

  • Thanthai Periyar, Erode Venkata Ramasamy, (E.V.R.), has given a still famous speech at Karaikudi. [undated]

  • In 1973, Shrimathi Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, presided over the Silver jubilee celebrations of Alagappa institutions and C.E.C.R.I. in September 24, at Karaikudi. Later, delivered a speech at Kamban Manimandapam.

Thanks to Chettiars' acumen as well as their adherence to time-honored practices and with efforts by people of other communities, Karaikudi has become a thriving hub for education, finance, and other influential services.