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Kayalpattinam ; korkai
Country  India
State Tamil Nadu
District(s) Tuticorin (formerly V.O.C.)
Nearest city Tuticorin
Assembly constituency 1
Civic agency many(more than 10)
32,664 (2001)
2,613 /km2 (6,768 /sq mi)
Sex ratio 1000:1177 /
Literacy 88.67%
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
12.5 km2 (5 sq mi)
0 m (0 ft)

Kayalpatnam(aka Kayalpattinam, Tamil - காயல்பட்டினம்) or Korkai is a town in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, India. Kayal is referred to in Marco Polo's travel diaries dating to 1250 AD. Korkai or Kayal (Chayal) was an ancient port dating to the 1st centuries of the Christian era and was contemporaneous to the existence of Kollam, another Pandyan port. Kollam served the Pandyas on the west coast while Korkai/Kayal served them on the east coast connecting them to Ceylon and the pearl fisheries in the Gulf of Mannar facing the Tirunelveli Coast. Kayal has Muslim settlements dating from 7th century AD but Marco Polo's reference to the tomb of Thomas and the Christian communities would indicate Syrian Christian communities in the region prior to that era. The ancient port had connections with Egypt, Rome and Greece. The other ports on the Coromandel Coast were Kaveripumpattinam (Poompuhar) and Arikamedu (near Pondicherry). On the west coast the ancient ports were Kollam and Kodungallur and Barugachha (Broach) in Gujarat.[1]

A famous port during the times of the Pandyan kingdom, it is also a chief port of Mabar (Tirunelveli Coast or Coromandel Coast adjoining the Gulf of Mannar). Since 8th century AD, Kayal is inhabited by Muslims belonging to the Dravidian race. The current population has also people from the Nadar, Devar, Harijan Adi Dravidian and Christian communities living in peace. It is believed that the original inhabitants of this town migrated from Egypt.

There are several references to this trading port in various literary works, notably in the travel work of Marco Polo. Kayalpatnam was also an important trade centre even before the arrival of Islam. Five thousand years ago, it was the capital of second Tamil Sangam, called Kapadapuram. The northern part of Kayal is called Palaiya Kayal and Punna Kayal. The town has a number of mosques. Prominent among them are Kutba Periya Palli, Kutba Siru Palli, Al-Jamiul Azhar, Kaadiriya Kodimara Siru Nainar Palli, Kuruvithurai Palli, Erattai Kolathu Palli, Appapalli, Maraicar Palli, Kadal Karai Palli (the second mosque in India, first mosque of the town), Karup-Udaiyar Palli, Kattu Mogudoom Palli, Mogudoom Palli of Mogudoom street and Yusuf Appa Palli



Few doubt today that an ancient city called Kayal (Qail, Quil) ever existed. It is widely acknowledged by the scholars that a city by that name did flourish in ancient time as a commercial port - carrying on trading with countries as far away as Greece and China.

There are several references to this trading port in various literary works, notably in the travel work of Marco Polo. What is less certain, however, is whether that ancient port is what that exists today as the bustling town of Kayalpatnam. Several archeological evidences seem to suggest so, but still some doubts persist.


Early settlers of Kayal

The First Wave

In about 875 AD, or so the legend goes, not far way from Cairo, the capital of Egypt, on the shadows of Mount Mukhadham, existed a town called Qirafathul Kubra. It was from this town that year, the legend continues, about 224 men, women and children, all descendants of the first caliph of Islam, Abubacker Siddique (Ral), belonging to the Bakhri tribe, left the Egyptian shores, under the leadership of Mohamed Kalji, in a ship made of wood (hence marakayar?) and eventually landed on the shores of Kayal.

This region, at that time, was under the rule of the Pandya king Abhirama Raja Adhiraja Raja Jayaveera Rajukaar. It is said that the new arrivals were given land by the King to settle and carry on their trading. A land title was also issued by the King to this effect.

The Second Wave

In about 1284 AD, it is said, 5 boat loads of people, escaping repression and natural disaster, left Egypt to various destinations. One such boat people, it is believed, reached the city of Kayal. The number of people in this 'second major wave' of settlers is unknown, but they were reportedly well received by the Pandya ruler of the time, Sundarapandya Thevar. The settlers were led by Syed Jamaludeen, believed to be the 21st descendant of Prophet Muhammed (Sal).

It is said that the Pandya king sent Syed Jamaludeen as his emissary to the court of Kublai Khan. After his return, it is believed, Syed Jamaludeen regularly supplied horses to the king and eventually rose to become the commander of the king's army. Following the death of Sundarapandya in 1294 AD, Syed Jamaludeen is believed to have succeeded to the throne.

Is Kayalpatnam remnant of an ancient city?

Literary Argument

As evidences to the claim that the present Kayalpatnam is indeed on the site where ancient Kayal existed, several passages from literary works are quoted. One such is from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Discovery of India. Bishop Caldwell's History of Tinnevelly is also quoted. But these are not conclusive evidences.

Archeological Argument

Burial grounds of Kayalpatnam have turned in few objects of interest. At one place, Chinese porceleins were found. They are believed to be centuries old. At another place, swords and other arms were found. These, it is suggested, probably belonged to a dead soldier who was buried along with his armaments. In the least, these evidences point to a well developed, major urban settlement dating to some time early in the present millennium.

Numismatical Argument

Bishop Caldwell, in his History of Tinnevelly[2] reports discovery of large quantities of Arabic coins on the roads leading to Kayalpatnam. It is a well established belief that there was brisk trade between the people of Kayal and other foreign countries. Discovery of these coins so near Kayalpatnam does add more weight to the belief.

Tombstones Argument

The Muslim community of Kayalpatnam must have mostly consisted of Arabs and also some Persians. This is reflected in the early tombstones found in the town. Some of the tombstones record the origin of the deceased as al-qahiri, indicating that the person or his ancestors were from Egypt. Another tombstone at a different site records the origin of the deceased as al-Iraqi. Some other tombstones carry the surname al-mabari (the natives). These tombstones seem to be, by far, the most persuasive of all the evidences.

Doubts raised

There are many who dispute the claim that Kayalpatnam is the Kayal of the legend. Among them is Henry Yule, who has translated the works of Marco Polo. He says that the real site of this once celebrated port (Kayal) has never been identified in any published work. He continues,

They state also that the name of Kayalpattanam has only recently been given to it, as a reminiscence of the older city. The old Kayal, and the erroneously named Koil in the Ordinance Map of India, is situated on the Tamaraparni river about a mile and a half from its mouth.

Yule tentatively suggests Nagore as the probable site. There are also many other suggested sites.

There are old Dutch nautical maps dating back to 1665 demonstrating Kayalpatnam, suggesting that this was a busy port at the time, and unlike Bishop Caldwell says, not a town of recent times. See link below.

Yet they all could not produce any proof for their claim. So, unanimously it is accepted that all the facts about the kayalpatnam discussed above and also that follows to be the truth.

Why the name 'Kayalpatnam'?

In Tamil, the word Kayal stands for the sea and the adjoining lands. Patnam literally means a city or town. Hence Kayalpatnam refers to the city adjoining the sea. Few towns nearby also carry Kayal as part of their name.

Food & Culture

In Kayal, as the habitants are mostly Muslims, almost all the hotels available there are genuinely HALAAL according to the certificates issued by its own Ulemas who regularly are consulted and where given high priorities in the society. Kayal Halwa,Damaday, Kayalpatnam WAADA, Maqroon, Shepaniyam, vengayapaniyam, vellariaaram, nanakatha, andikottai biscuit etc. are world famous.


Population: 45,000 (1999) Area: 32 km2. Density: 1400 persons/km2. Sex Ratio: 1000:1005 (1990) (Male:Female) % of Muslims in the population: 77.35 (1990)

No. of Wards: 18 No. of Streets: 110 No. of Houses: 9,400

No. of Voters: 28,176 (2001)


Kayalpatnam has many Masjids. People can pray their prayers without fails in Masjids nearest for them. It has Masjid for each Streets. These include:

  • Sahib Appa Thaika [Thaika Street]
  • Masjid-ul-Khabeer [periya khutba palli][1000 Years old Masjid}
  • Masjid-ul-Sagheer [Siriya khutba palli]
  • Al Jamiul Azhar Jumma Masjid (In Bazaar)
  • Magdoom Palli (Built 1050 years ago)
  • Haji Appa Thaika Palli [available at Main Road and Inaugurated after reconstruction on 28-08-2008; 1428 Shahban 25]
  • Karpudayaar Palli
  • Araam Palli
  • Kadaipalli (consider located very straight to Kaaba)
  • Kuruvithurai Palli
  • Marickar Palli
  • Appa Palli
  • Kuttiappa Palli
  • Hafil Ameer Palli
  • Masjid-ul-Thayim
  • Mela Palli
  • Shaik Hussain Palli - behind USC ground
  • Pudhu Palli (Masjithul Jatheeth) (In front of Moghdoom Street)
  • Arushiya Palli
  • Mohideen Palli
  • Koman Palli
  • Kosumarai (used to be Masjid)
  • Irattai Kulathu Palli ( Meeqail Mosque)
  • Ahmed Nainar Palli
  • Siru Nainar Palli [also called as Kathiriyya kodimara siru nainar palli]
  • KMT Palli Vasal
  • Masjid seyyidina BILAL raliyalallahuthala(2009)

and more. And it is also said that there are more than 100 Masjids and mostly having its Historical Monuments.

People can hear the sound of azan during each waqt of prayers with beautiful voices.

Kayal Streets(Alphabetical order)

  • Alagapuri
  • Aliyar Street
  • Ambala Maraicar Street
  • Appapalli Street
  • Arampalli Street
  • Arunachalapuram
  • Azad Street
  • Bye-pass Road
  • Cross Street
  • DCW Colony
  • Deevu Street
  • Gurusadi
  • Hajiappa Thaika Street
  • Jailani Nagar
  • Kadarkarai Poonga (North)
  • Kandipichai Thottam
  • Kattu Thaika Street
  • Keela Nainar Street
  • KMK street
  • Kochiyar Street
  • Koman Street
  • Komanputhur
  • KTM street
  • Kuthukal Street
  • Lakshmipuram
  • L.F Road
  • Maatukulam
  • Magdhoom Street
  • Mangala Vinayagar Koil Street
  • Mangalavadi
  • Maraicar Palli Street
  • Maruthuvar Street
  • Melanesavu Street
  • Melapalli mela srreet
  • Muhyideen Street
  • Muthraman Koil Street
  • Muthuwappa Thaika Street
  • Nainar Street
  • Odaikarai
  • Parimar Street
  • Periya Nesavu Street
  • Poonthottam
  • Pudhukadai Street
  • Quai-e-milleth Nagar
  • Ratnapuri
  • Sadukai Street
  • Seethakathi Street
  • Sethuraja Street
  • Singhithurai
  • Sinna Nesavu Street
  • Sitthan Street
  • Sivan Koil Street
  • Solukkar Street
  • Thaika Street
  • Thaikapuram
  • Thenga Pandaka Salai
  • Uchinima Kaalimamman Street
  • Vaaniyakudi
  • Vandimalaichi Amman Koil Street
  • Vannakudi Street
  • Veerasadachi Amman Koil Street
  • Visalachi Amman Koil Street

If some of the streets are not above listed you can edit by yourself


The town of Kayalpatnam had good philanthropists to promote education amongst not only in Kayalpatnam, but also in the neighboring towns. Some of the leading schools and colleges were promoted by the people from the town. These include:

Islamic Colleges

  • Muaskar Rahman Women's Arabic College, Cholukkar St.
  • Ayesha Siddeeka Women's Islamic College
  • Mahlara Arabic College, Ambala Maricar St.
  • Zaviya Arabic College, Keemu Kacheri St.
  • Hamidhiyya Quran Hifl Madhrasa, Muthuwappa Thaika St.
  • Hamidhiyya Islamic Fundamental Educational Center, Muthuwappa Thaika St.
  • Malharul Abdeen Islamic Fundamental Educational Center, Thaika St.
  • Arusul Jannah Women's Arabic College, Deevu Street

Institutes of Kayalpatnam

  • Central Matriculation Higher Secondary School for Girls
  • Central Higher Secondary School for Boys
  • Elkay Higher Secondary School
  • Government Girls Higher Secondary School
  • Kamalavati Higher Secondary School
  • Kayalpatnam-Arumuganeri(KA) Higher Secondary School
  • Muhyiddeen Matriculation Higher Secondary School for Boys
  • Muhyiddeen Matriculation Higher Secondary School for Girls
  • Thulir Institution For Mentally Disabled Children
  • Wavoo Wajeeha Women's College of Arts And Science
  • Zubaida Higher Secondary School For Girls

A good advantage of education here is the students shine excellent in both general studies as well as Islamic studies. We can see lot of Kayal Engineers/Chartered Accountants(one of the most sought pofession for KAYALITES)/ doctors/ graduates across the world, who also did their Haafiz [memorizing the Holy Qur'an] course during their childhood.

Kayal Tamil

Vaapa = Father
Umma = Mother
Kaaka = Elder Brother
Raatha / Laatha = Elder Sister
Sachappa = Paternal Uncle
Sachi = Maternal Aunt
Appa = Grand Father
Vaapicha = Paternal Grand Mother
Moomaa / Kannumma / Kammaa = Maternal Grand Mother
Pootee = Great Grand Mother
Pootee Appaa = Great Grand Father
Pootan = Great Grand Son
Ootee = Great Great Grand Mother
Ootee Appaa = Great Great Grand Father
Ootan = Great Great Grand Son
Pasaaaru = Break Fast
Aanam = Gravy
Puliaanam = Tamarind Water (Rasam)
Valanthu = Utensils
Nasuvu (as in Nasuvuraan) = Cheating
Vaanaa/Maana = (I) Don't Want
Eekithu = It is there/Available
Appittaa/Appittan = (She/he) has grabbed (it)
Sepaale/Devu = Stupid
Moandhu = Kiss
Baangu = Any of Five Times obligatory prayer call
Adupaangara = Kitchen
Peethuraan = Being Proud
Jeyppu = Pocket
Angana Kulley = Somewhere there
Ingana Kulley = Somewhere here
Kadavaapotti = A basket made of palm leaves - used to carry grocery edibles
Kuththuppanium = Sweet lozenges
Palkuthi = Spleen
Maangaa = Kidney
Avantharai = Danger
Jaans = Gents Drawing Room
Vootankilai = Ladies Drawing Room
Thatotty = Terrace
Vattilappam = Egg Pudding
Sadavaa Irukuthu = Feeling Lazy
Navulu/Navunduko = Move/Give Way
Mudukku = Lane (in between houses)
Kaluvu = wash (used for both clothes,utensils; word 'thuvai' is not used) Kanambo = much more

Historical Philanthropists

Kayalites too can also feel proud that their town produced numerous philanthropists like Lebbappa brothers (300 years ago), and Vallal seethakkaathi etc.

Lebbappa Brothers: History has little mentioned about Shaik Abdul Kader alias Sinna Lebbappa and Mohamed Abdul Kader alias Peria Lebbappa, descendants of Prophet Muhammad, who lived 300 years ago during the reign of Mogul Emperor Aurangazeb. The generous mind of Lebbappa brothers bears tokens of proof even today 300 years after they had left the world. The numerous square shaped wells(நால்முனை கிணறு) built by Lebbappa brothers all over Tamil Nadu(for the benefit of general public) remain as a standing reminder for the contemporary community, urging them also to involve in social activities.

Lebbappa brothers, benevolently donated to the poor and needy. In fact, these brothers who were also rich merchants dealing in precious stones(மாணிக்கம்) were not only generous men but also teachers who taught to the poor, at the same time providing them with food and shelter. The Muthu Mandapam in Madurai was built by Lebbappaand similar such structures were built by them elsewhere to enable travellers[from kayal] to rest during their tiresome journeys of those times. The Jamia Masjid Tuticorin was also built by the Lebbappas. Their nobility extended even up to Sri Lanka, during times when mobility was such a difficult issue. Khazana vilai now known as kachanavilai was a village was used by Lebbappa brothers as their Granary from where abundant Food grains were stored. They were also very big land lords who distributed land freely to the less fortunate ones. The same generosity and social attacement is still found in hearts of Lebbappa's children who still live in this town today (and in Sri Lanka).


The highway connecting Rameswaram and Kanya kumari passes through Kayalpatnam. The road length in Kayalpatnam was, in 1999, about 40 km (all types).Kayalpatnam is located near Tiruchendur and is well connected by roads from Tuticorin and Tirunelveli.


There is a 110/29 kv sub-station and 250/5 kv sub-station providing electricity to the town. There are about 750 street lights in the town excluding the 200 Sodium Vapour lights. In 2008, there were about 10,400 electric connections.

Water Supply

First plans to supply Water to the town were drawn in 1945. A storage tank with the capacity to hold 300,000 litres of water was inaugurated by the then CM of Tamil Nadu, Mr. K. Kamraj. It cost 37.5 lakh rupees to construct.The land was donated by Tholshop family for Panchayat board about acre.

In 1970, under Kayalpatnam Water Supply Development plan, a storage tank with the capacity of 400,000 litres was constructed. The then DMK government contributed 7.5 lakhs to the total cost of 24 lakhs. The rest was obtained from LIC as loan.

In 1981, with the help of the then Tiruchendur MP Mr. K. T. Kosalram, a third water tank was constructed.

In 1988, a fourth water storage tank was constructed near Appapally Grounds, with the help of Haji V.M.S. Lebbai.

There are 5 storage tanks of combined capacity to hold 1.1 million liters of water. In 1999, there were about 5100 connections.

See also


Kayalpatnam have more than 4 local cable tv channels and வெள்ளிநிலா ( vellinila) , THE TAMIL MONTHLY Magazine is widely read in kayalpatnam.


1"History of Kayalpatnam"
2"Lankan Muslims' historical links with India"
3"Onthe sands of time", The Hindu


  1. ^ K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, History of South India, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 1958
  2. ^ Robert Bishop Caldwell (1982) "A history of Tinnevelly" New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.

External links

Coordinates: 8°34′N 78°07′E / 8.567°N 78.117°E / 8.567; 78.117


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