Sivakasi is a town and a municipality in Virudhunagar District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Sivakasi known for firecrackers and matches factories that produce 70% of the totals in India. The town has lot of printing industires and is a major producer of diaries, contributing to 30% of the total diaries produced in India. The industries in the town employ over 25,000 people and the estimated turnover of the firecracker, match making and printing industry in the town is around Rs. 2,000 crore (US$ 364 million). The major issues in the town are the frequent accidents in firecracker factories and the high level of child labour. Sivakasi was established during the 15th century during the reign of the Pandya king Harikesari Parakkirama Pandian.
The town was part of Madurai and has been ruled at various times by Later Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Chanda Sahib, Carnatic kingdom and the British. The town was prominent during the British Raj in 1899 when a fight with two communities leading to the Sivakasi riots. Sivakasi has a dry weather and receives lesser rainfall compared to other parts of the state, making it suitable for dry crops like cotton, chillies and millets. There are five government schools, ten private schools and two engineering colleges in the town. Badhrkali Amman temple is the most prominent landmark in the town and the temple festivals are celebrated as the festivals of the town. AJ Indoor Stadium has a coaching center for badminton and is the major sporting avenue in Sivakasi.
Sivakasi is a part of Sivakasi constituency and elects its member of legislative assembly every five years. It is also part of Virudhunagar constituency that elects its member of parliament every five years. The town is locally administered by a first-grade municipality covering an area of 6.8 square kilometres (2.6 sq mt). Roadways is the major mode of transport to Sivakasi, while the town also has rail connectivity. As of 2001, the city had a population of 721,70.
The town is located to the east of Western Ghats and to the west of Sattur. The topography is almost plain, with no major geological formation. There are no notable mineral resources available in and around the town. The soil type is black and red soil conducive for cotton, chillies and millets. The crops are the predominant because of poor ground water supply. Sivakasi experiences hot and dry weather throughout the year. The temperature ranges from a maximum of 39°C (102°F) to 23°C (73°F). Like the rest of the state, April to June are the hottest months and December to January are the coldest. Sivakasi receives scanty rainfall with an annual average of 812 mm (32.0 in), which is lesser than the state average of 1,008 mm (39.7 in).
Badhrkali Amman temple is the most prominent landmark in the town. The temple has the tallest tower built in Tamil Nadu for a Kali temple. The tower has a breadth of 66 feet (20 m), width of 44 feet (13 m) and the height of 110 feet (34 m) of 7 stages. Panguni Pongal and Chithirai Pongal are annual festivals celebrated for the deities Mariamman and Badrakali Amman in April and May respectively. Both festivals last for ten days from the day of flag hoisting. The traditional garden maintained within the Pathirakaliamman temple complex is very traditional and maintaining its old tradition till today. The garden has lot of peacocks and peahen. Thiruthangal, located in the Virudhunagar-Sivakasi road has the Nindra Narayana Perumal Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu on the hillock that attract lot of pilgrims.
Ayyanar Falls located on the eastern slopes of the western ghats is a popular picnic spot for the residents of Sivakasi. The Venkatachalapathy temple located 25 kilometres (16 mt) off the town attracts lot of pilgrims from southern Tamil Nadu. Periya Palli Vasal mosque and Chinna Palli Vasal mosque are two of the most prominent mosques in the town. The CSI Regland Memorial Church is the most prominent church in the town. AJ Indoor Stadium on Velayutham Road, a coaching center for badminton, is the major sporting avenue in Sivakasi. Many of the badminton championship matches at the district, state and national levels have been held here. It also provides badminton coaching facilities. Many of the students from Sivakasi are trained in this stadium.
The economy of Sivakasi is dependent on three major industries namely fire crackers, match manufacturing and printing industry. The town has 520 registered printing industries, 53 match factories, 32 chemical factories, seven soda factories, 4 flour mills and 2 rice and oil mills. The town is the nodal centre for firecracker manufacturing at the national level. The industry employs over 25,000 people and some of the private enterprises have an annual turnover of Rs. 500 crore (US$ 91 million). The estimated turnover of the firecracker, match making and printing industry in the town is around Rs. 2,000 crore (US$ 364 million). Approximately 70% of the firecrackers and matches produced in India are from Sivakasi.
The hot and dry climate of the town is conducive for the firecracker and match making industries. The raw materials for these industries were procured from Sattur earlier, but was discontinued due to the high power and production cost. The source of raw materials is Kerala and Andaman. The paper for the printing industry is procured from various states. The town is the chief trading centre for the products both at retail and wholesale levels. The city is a major producer of diaries, contributing to 30% of the total diaries produced in India. Printing industry in the town was initially utilized for printing lables for the firecrackers and evolved with modern machinery to grow as a printing hub.
The municipality maintains a total length of 65.151 km (40.483 mt). The city has 13.035 km (8.100 mt) concrete roads and 52.116 km (32.383 mt) BT roads. 2.5 km (1.6 mt) of the state highways is maintained by the State Highways Department. All the commercial activities are around the centre of the town. The four major roads are from Sattur, Virudhunagar, Srivilliputhur and Vembakottai and there are no bypass roads around the town. There are eight major intersections for these major roads. Sivakasi is served by town bus service, which provide connectivity within the town and the suburbs. There are private operated mini-bus services that cater to the local transport. The main bus stand covers an area of 1.39 acres (5,600 sq mt) and is located in the heart of the town.
There are regular bus services from and to the city. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operates daily services connecting various cities to Thoothukudi. The corporation operates a computerised reservation centre in the bus stand of the city. The State Express Transport Corporation operates long distance buses connecting the city to important cities like Chennai and Tiruppur and Thoothukudi. Sivakasi railway station lies in the rail head from Madurai to Tenkasi and Sengottai. It connects Tamil Nadu with Kerala through Rajapalayam and Sengottai. The Podhigai Express connects Sivakasi to Sengottai and Chennai Egmore in either directions. All other express trains ply from Virudunagar station. There are also passenger trains running either side from Madurai to Tenkasi.