Karaikal is an ancient temple town situated along the eastern coast of the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Karaikal is a popular destination of tourists as well as pilgrims. It is located on the Koramandel coast of the Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 300 km from the south of Chennai and 135 km from Pondicherry.
Situated on the delta of the River Cauvery, Karaikal is the second largest among the four regions in the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Karaikal is bounded by Nagappattinam and Thiruvarur Districts of the southern State of Tamil Nadu.
History of Karaikal
Karaikal is a place with rich cultural and religious history. This place has been mentioned in the ancient texts of Nayanmars and Alwars. Karaikal was known by the name Karaigiri in Sanskrit, which came from two words 'Karai' and 'Kal'. The town of Karaikal was under the rule of the Pallava dynasty during the 8th century AD. Sekkizhar, a renowned poet of the early 11th century, has mentioned about the town of Karaikal in his Peria puranam.
The later historical records about Karaikal remain rather obscure until the 18th century. Then, Karaikal was an integral part of the Thanjavur Kingdom. In 1738, Dumas, a dignitary from France bargained with the Sahuji of Thanjavur for the town of Karaikal, Karakalcheri Fort and 8 villages under the its rule.
In the year 1739 the French took possession of Karaikal town from the King of Thanjavur. The French expanded their province later on by acquiring the surrounding villages from Pratap Singh, the successor to the throne of Thanjavur.
When the French surrendered to the British in 1761, the vast territory that the French possessed around Thanjavur came under the British rule. In accordance with the 1814 Treaty of Paris, the British gave the territory back to the French. Karaikal continued to be under French rule until 1954. Even today, the town retains a French flavour.
Things to do in Karaikal
Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple, Lord Saneeswara Temple at Thirunallar, Sri Dharbarenyeswaraswamy Temple, Badrakaliyamman Temple, Ayiramkaliyamman Temple, etc. are some of the prime pilgrim centres in Karaikal.
The proximity of pilgrim destinations like Velankanni and Nagore also attracts tourists to Karaikal. The presence of the Lord Saneeswara (Saturn) Temple makes Karaikal a unique pilgrim destination.
Best time to visit Karaikal is during winters between November and February.
Travelling to Karaikal
The nearest international airport to Karaikal is in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. From Chennai to Karaikal the distance is around 300 km, while 7 to 9 hours by road. The other nearest airport is ay Trichy.
The nearest railway station to Karaikal is at Nagore, which is 10 km away. Karaikal is directly connected to major cities of Tamil Nadu which include Chidambaram, Mayiladuthurai, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli, Thiruvarur, Velankanni and Nagapattinam.
Pondicherry Road Transport Development Corporation, Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and private buses ply to Karaikal from major places of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu. Taxis, auto-rickshaws and local buses are available for local transportation.
Accommodation options in Karaikal
There are numerous accommodation options in Karaikal. These include hotels ranging from budget to luxury catering to the needs of the travellers.