The Union Territory of Puducherry constituted out of the four erstwhile French establishments of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam and specifically Karaikal District is embedded in the Nagappattinam and Tiruvarur District of Tamil Nadu State. Latitude of this district lies between 10 o 49' and 11 o 01' North and longitude lies between 79 o 43' and 79 o 52' East. Total area of the district about 161 sq. km. has a population of 1,70,640 as per the 2001 census. Karaikal is on the east coast about 140 kms South of Puducherry and 300 kms South of Chennai, located on the Coramandel coast of the Bay of Bengal. Karaikal District is made up of the Communes of Karaikal, Kottucherri, Nedungadu, Thirunallar, Neravy and Tirumalairajan pattinam (TR Pattinam). Karaikal district formed an integral part of the Pallava Kingdom in the Eighth century (Ca. 731-796).

Medieval History

In 1738, Dumas, a shrewd calculative prudent man and a lover of peace and above all one who was anxious to extend the French territory in India by smooth means, negotiated with Sahuji of Thanjavur for possession of Karaikal, the fortress of Karakalcheri and 5 village for 40000 chakras. On 14.2.1739 the French took possession of Karaikal town, the fort of Karakalcheri and 8 dependent villages. The King of Thanjavur raised the price for the town of Karaikal and the fort of Karakalcheri to 50000 chakras.

He also demanded a loan of 150000 chakras without interest repayable in 3 years against the hypothecation of Mayavaram lands and an annual rent of 4000 pagodas for 5 villages. The French agreed to all the terms except for the payment of 150000 chakras which was reduced to 10000 chakras while the annual rental was reduce to two or three thousand chakras. The villages so received were Kilaiyur, Melaiyur, Puduthurai, Kovilpathu and Tirumalairajan Pattinam. Subsequently, 2 villages were ceded to the French. Pratap Singh who succeeded the throne renewed demand for a loan of 100000 chakra and on receipt of the first instalment of 4000 chakras he was assigned 8 more villages to the French viz., Codague (Kondagai), Vanjiyur, Arimullimangalam, Niravi, Dharmapuram, Uzhiapathu, Mattakudi (probably Mathalangudi) and Polagam. Then on 12-2-1740 he sold these villages for 60000 chakras which he had been assigned just a previous year for 40000 chakras.

The same year he pledged Thirunallar Mahanam for 55350 chakras and also pledged 33 more villages for 60000 chakras. However, a treaty signed on 12.1.1750 Pratap Singh ceded to the French 81 villages around Karaikal and cancelled the annual rent of 2000 pagodas payable to the villages. All the territory the French possessed around Thanjavur when they surrendered to the British in 1761. The territory then passed twice under the British control before it was finally handed over to the French in 1816/1817 under the Treaty of Paris, 1814.

Modern History

The formation of Karaikal National Congress on 13.6.1947 and Students Congress on 31.1.1947 symbolised the first concrete expression of popular desire in Karaikal for freedom from French rule. The French ruled this district till 31 October 1954 on which date the French flag flying atop the government house at Karaikal was lowered with due military honors before a large gathering of officials and non-officials. Thus the transfer of power took place on 1 November 1954 followed by de jure transfer on 16 August 1962.

Economy of Karaikal District

Economy of Karaikal District is dependent on agriculture. Situated in the Kaveri delta, the irrigation facilities of this district permit the cultivation of rice over large areas. Sugarcane is also cultivated here but only as a subsidiary crop. The cultivation of millets is very little or practically nil. Karaikal region lies in the fag end of Kaveri Delta. Main source of irrigation is river water by canal system. Other sources are deep bore wells and filter points. In addition to paddy crop, pulses, cotton, groundnut, banana and vegetables are also encouraged. Karaikal region has 10 fishing hamlets.


Forming part of the fertile Cauveri delta the district is completely covered by the distributaries of the river Cauveri. District is covered completely by a thick mantle of alluvium of variable thickness. In general, district has only flat terrestrial surface with gentle slope towards the Bay of Bengal in the East. District is limited on the North by the Nandalar and on the South-East by the Vettar. The group of rocks formations in the district known as Cuddalore formations is met with in the area contiguous to Karaikal region in Nagappattinam District.

Land use

The percentage of cultivable area to total area and percentage of irrigated area to total cultivable area in Karaikal are 84.92 and 82.81 respectively. This shows that Karaikal is predominantly an agricultural area. In the year 20007-2008, the following land use classifications were identified in this region. The area occupied by each classification and their percentages in total extent of the region were calculated accordingly.

Forest Cover Map of Karaikal District

Land Use/Land Cover in Karaikal Region (2007-2008)

Land use

Area in hectares

Total area


Forest lands


Non available for cultivation


Other Uncultivated Land (a+b)


a) Permanent pastures and other grazing lands


b) Misc. tree crops and groves not in the net area sown


Fallow Lands


Net Area Sown


Total cropped area


Area sown more than once



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