Colachel harbour
Nickname(s): Kolachal

Location in Tamil Nadu, India

Coordinates: 8°10′N 77°14′E / 8.17°N 77.24°E / 8.17; 77.24Coordinates: 8°10′N 77°14′E / 8.17°N 77.24°E / 8.17; 77.24
Country  India
State Tamil Nadu
District Kanniyakumari
  Type First Grade Municipality
  Body Colachel Municipality
Population (2011)
  Total 23,227
  Official Tamil
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Colachel (Tamil:குளச்சல்) is located within the administrative jurisdiction of Kanyakumari District. Colachel is a second grade Municipal town situated on the west coast of Kanyakumari District. It is a port on the Malabar coast, 20 km north-west of Kanya Kumari (Cape Comorin), the southernmost tip of peninsular India. As of 2011, Colachal had a population of 47007.


It is an ancient port town, Vasco da Gama called it ‘Colachi’. Before the State re-organization in 1956, it was part of the Travancore State. After the defeat of the Dutch by King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma in 1741, a victory pillar had been erected near the beach in commemoration of the victory. The town is bounded on the south by Arabian Sea. It has Pampoori Vaikal in its Western side. Nagercoil the headquarters of Kanyakumari District is 20 km away from this town in the North East Direction.

Battle of Colachel

Main article: Battle of Colachel

Colachel was the location of the battle between the Travancore (Anglicised form of Thiruvithaamkoor) forces led by King Marthanda Varma (1729–1758) and the Dutch East India Company forces led by Admiral Eustachius De Lannoy on August 10, 1741. It was the first time in Indian history that an Asian country defeated a European naval force.[1]

The Dutch marines landed in Colachel with artillery and captured the land up to Padmanabhapuram, the then capital of Travancore. The arrival of Marthanda Varma's Nairs (the warriors) from the north forced the Dutch to take up defensive positions in Colachel, where they were attacked and defeated by the Travancore forces. Twenty-eight high level Dutch officers, including Admiral D'lennoy, were captured. The defeat of the Dutch in Colachael was the turning point of the Travancore-Dutch War. D'lennoy went on to serve Marthanda Varma for the next two decades and was promoted to the post of the Valiya kappithan (Senior Admiral) of the Travancore forces same status like a Nair lord. He modernised the Travancore army, and built the Nedumkotta, a line of fortifications in the north of the kingdom, which held up the army of Tipu Sultan in 1791, during his ill-fated invasion of Travancore. D'lennoy is buried in the Udayagiri Fort, also known as Dillanai kotta (D'lennoy's fort) which is located 7 kilometres north of Padmanabhapuram (about 14 kilometres from Nagercoil).

Colachel Pillar

Colachel is currently in the Kanya Kumari District of the Tamil Nadu State of India, and is an important port on the west coast of that state.The Travancore Army completely exterminated the superior and better equipped Dutch Forces which landed at Colachal in July 1741 during the reign of the Travancore King, Sree Padmanabhadasa Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Veera Bala Marthanda Varma Kulasekharaperumal. In the battle of Colachal, Capt. Eustace De Lannoy, the Dutch Naval Forces Commander, was captured. In order to commemorate this victory of the Travancore Army over the Dutch at Colachel, the Travancore Government installed The Colachel Pillar at the very spot where the Dutch had capitulated to the King of Travancore. The Colachel Pillar stands 17 feet high and has a radius of four feet. It has conch at the top of the pillar and on its base the following words are inscribed : In memory of the fallen brethren during the battle.


The town is well connected to all parts of the state through road. Nagercoil, the district headquarters of Kanyakumari is situated 22 km from Colachel in the north-east direction. Frequent bus services from Colachel are available to the various places of the district.


The broad gauge rail link between Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari passes at a distance of 8 km from Colachel town. The nearest Railway station is at Eraniel Code (ERL) (Monday Market).


The nearest Air Terminal to the town is Thiruvananthapuram,the capital of Kerala, which is located 65 km away in the northwest direction.


The town is located on the western coastal side of Kanyakumari District and falls in the coordinates of 8°09′N 77°08′E / 8.15°N 77.14°E / 8.15; 77.14.[2] The average elevation of the town is 25 meters (82 ft) above Mean Sea Level (MSL). Town is mostly characterized by a flat terrain with a few areas in the northwest region having elevation difference with other parts of the town. Generally the town is sloped gently from North to south direction and also sloping in a radial direction towards centre portion of the town from east and west directions.



The town has a pleasant Climate favourable and creating a pleasing living atmosphere. The maximum and minimum temperature rarely reach 33 °C and 22 °C respectively.


The average annual rainfall is 1,400 mm. The rainfall is distributed from the months of April to December which falls under three seasons namely hot weather seasonal rainfall, South West monsoon and North East monsoon.

Soil Type

The soil is generally red gravel but sandy loam soil also exists in some places. Rubber is the principal crop; Coconut, Cashew nut and Tamarind are the predominant trees found in this region.


According to 2011 census, Colachel had a population of 23,227 with a sex-ratio of 974 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929.[3] A total of 2,661 were under the age of six, constituting 1,361 males and 1,300 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 1.96% and .% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the town was 80.52%, compared to the national average of 72.99%.[3] The town had a total of : 5205 households. There were a total of 7,902 workers, comprising 185 cultivators, 131 main agricultural labourers, 183 in house hold industries, 6,624 other workers, 779 marginal workers, 11 marginal cultivators, 110 marginal agricultural labourers, 83 marginal workers in household industries and 575 other marginal workers.[4]

Places of interest

This small coastal town is near to the route from Thiruvananthapuram to Kanyakumari on National Highway 47 in present-day state of Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari district in India. It is situated very close to Mahendragiri, where the Indian Space Research Organisation's rocket testing facility is located. Efforts are being made by the port advisory committee for the construction of a ship yard and for the development of a natural harbour at Colachel. Colachel beach is a local tourist attraction. People often visit to see the St.Mary's Church and prayer hall at Colachel. In and around Colachel, there are many Catholic churches. St. Joseph's Church, Kalimar St.Antony's Church are among them. Other places of attraction near Colachel include Padmanabhapuram palace and Pechupparai dam. One of the most important Hindu shrine is the Mandaikkadu Bhagwathi Temple at Mandaikkadu. An annual Pongala is held at the Temple which attracts scores of devotees. There is a very ancient church, locally known as Thomayar koil at Thiruvithamcode on the way to Azhakiyamandapam claiming its ancestry to 63 AD and believed to be consecrated by none other than St.Thomas, the apostle of Jesus. This was recently declared as an International Pilgrim Centre(Arappally) of the Syrian Christians of Kerala, the neighboring State. The lifelike image of Devi with a smiling face is a combination of innocence, purity and beauty. Smeared with sandal paste, decked with different varieties of valuable ornaments and decorated with beautiful garlands of flowers. She creates a sense of devotion and "peace that pass the understanding" in the mind of every worshipper. There is one version that Adi Sankara composed Soundaryalahari after seeing the sunrise, sunset and moon rise on the full moon day of the Tamil month of Chithrai at Kanyakumari praising the virgin Goddess. The beauty of Devi Kanyakumari reflects in the opening lines of his divine work. On the golden sands of Kanyakumari stand the shrines of Adi Sankara with his disciples, Swami Vivekananda in meditative mood and Gandhi Smarak Mandir in Oryan style. The reputed Vivekananda Rock Memorial on the sea-girl rock is a "visible symbol of invisible strength, invisible faith and burning devotion that Swami Vivekananda personified". Near Gandhi Smarak Mandir stands a memorial to our beloved leader Karmaveerar Kamaraj. The off shore 133 feet tall statue of Thiruvalluvar at Kanyakumari is a notable landmark of Tamil Nadu tourism places.

Colachel Municipality

Colachel was formed as Grade III Municipality in the year 1920, is one of the oldest municipalities formulated, under Travancore Kingdom. The Municipality consists, Colachel as its only revenue village within its jurisdiction and in its LPA. The Municipality of Colachel consists of 24 wards and the elected representatives from each ward constitute the council. Colachel Municipality consists of five functional departments. Each department consists of Head who reports to the Municipal Commissioner and functions as per the responsibilities prescribed in the Act and as delegated by the Commissioner. Mr. Nasir is the elected chairman of Colachal municipality. Names of some of the previous chairmen are Mr. Jasiah, Mr. M.A.James, Mr. Ismail, Mr. Neelaraj etc.[5] The chronological order of the activities in formulation of the urban local body and its up gradation are listed below:

  • Constituted as Grade III Municipality in 1920
  • Colachel Local Planning Area was declared in G.O Ms. No. 654 RD & LA dated 16.03.1974 which contains Colachel Municipal limits only. Colachel Local Authority was declared as Colachel Local Planning Authority (LPA) in G.O. Ms. No. 650 RDLA dated 08.04.1975
  • Colachel Town was declared as a ‘heritage town’ as per G.O. Ms. No. 191 MA&WS department dated 18.07.1994.
  • Upgraded as Second Grade Municipality with effect from 1998 vide the MAWS Department Government Order No.85 dated 22-08-1998.

Traffic and Transportation

The Traffic flow is found to be in high West coast road (Colachel - Nagercoil road) when compared with other roads. This road is the major spine, from which the other roads start. All the major roads meet in this junction causes heavy traffic congestion during the peak hours.

Bus Stand

The Town has one Bus stand under C category. More than 120 buses daily pass through the town. It is located along the Colachel – Nagercoil State Highway next to the municipality office. The total extent of the bus stand is 3282 sq. Kolachal bus stand has good bus facilities. It has the buses to chennai, madurai, trivandrum, nagercoil and other surrounding areas. Kolachal point to point bus to Nagercoil is very famous bus among the local commuters and college students due to its high speed. It is the trendsetter bus and it never stop between Kolachal and Nagercoil expect Monday market, iranial. This bus is considered as fastest suburban bus in Kanyakumari district.The travel time is just 40 minutes for this bus.

5G V.FAST(Nagercoil-Simoncolony) is also another important bus from this bus stand. It has the chennai non stop service everyday ( ultra deluxe and super deluxe from kolachal depot) and this bus never enter into any cities on its way.

Colachel Harbour

There are many rumours surrounding the would-be Colachel Harbour. Some believe that the project is moved over to pave way for the Vizhinjam harbour in Kerala. A part of the people is satisfied with a Goods harbour; and the rest still fight for a harbour. In every election, be it Legislative Assembly or Parliament, this is sure to catch both the voters' and candidates' attention. But in due course forgotten. Now a big fishing harbour is under construction. Building harbour at Colachel has been declined by the union government recently followed by the proposal of new harbour at enayam. The new harbour will be constructed jointly by Chennai and Tuticorin port (Voc Port)

Local Economy

The people of Colachel do a variety of jobs based on their backgrounds. This includes fishing with catamarans, deep sea fishing with mechanized boats, exporting fish, coconut fibre production, fibre works, coir making, palm fibre works, selling general merchandise, agriculture, etc. There used to be a factory for manufacturing fibre based products (Thumbaabees) but is closed now. Also there is a nearby natural mineral extraction factory called Indian Rare Earths Limited(IRE). But the local people say that they do not get much employment with this company though the company used to mine for minerals in their localities.[6]


Most of the people are educated. There are two higher secondary schools (St.Mary's and V.K.P. higher secondary schools), one high school (Govt. High School)Ellapavilai, a primary school (St. Mary's Primary School in Colachel beach) and many primary, (Government Middle School colachel) middle schools in this town. There are many matriculation schools also in Colachel. From that Joseph's Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Sastankarai, St. Mary's Mariculation school in Simon colony, St. Joseph's Marticulation school in Velliakulam, Orient Matriculation school in Kamarajar salai and St. Anne's Matriculation School, which is run by the St. Anne's Education and Charitable Trust. There are some nursery schools which were managed and run by the state government of Tamil Nadu is situated in maramdi street. For higher education few engineering, arts and science colleges are also available in its proximity.

2004 Tsunami

The December 2004 Tsunami of the Indian Ocean caused huge devastation and damages. In Colachel, it caused the death of around 500 people. As the land near the coastline is flat and at sea level with no seawall(Anti sea erosion), water travelled inland carving out new streams and estuaries. The waves were reported to be around 5m high and a run up height of 2.6m. Maximum number of casualties happened near the A.V.M. Canal as well as around the open trenches being used by the local coconut fibre industry.[7] Colachel is said to be the last place(southwards) which is affected severely by Tsunami.

The government and several non-governmental agencies have been providing relief works for those affected by the tsunami.

Folk Arts

Though the natives of Colachel do not earn a living by performing folk arts, several folk arts are being practised in temples and churches during the annual festivals. Ayya Narayana swamy Temples in Thiru Aadu Vassipu (Aakilathirattu Ammanai reading), Villupattu, Kaniankoothu, Thiruvathirai Kali, Kalial and Ottam Thullal are some of the folk arts performed during temple festivals. Most usually, rural artists and natives perform Kadhaprasangam, Natagam (drama), rural dances, etc. during the annual festivals of churches and temples.


Colachel assembly constituency is part of Kanyakumari (Lok Sabha constituency) (previously Nagercoil).[8]


  1. The Hindu — A different battle at Colachal
  2. TIDCO — Tamilnadu Infrastructure
  3. 1 2 "Census Info 2011 Final population totals". Office of The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  4. "Census Info 2011 Final population totals - Colachel". Office of The Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  5. Colachel Municipality
  6. Indian Rare Earths Mining Areas
  7. Effect of 2004 Tsunami pages S446-S447
  8. "List of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies" (PDF). Tamil Nadu. Election Commission of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
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