The district of Tirunelveli is bounded on the north by
Virudunagar district, on the east by Tuticorin district and Travancore
areas of Kerala State
and Kanyakumari district on the west. The
southern side is bounded by the Gulf of Mannar. In the west, hills of the
Western Ghats ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 metres form the dominant
boundary. Tirunelveli is the district headquarters of the district of the
The City Of Tirunelveli
Tirunelveli, a city of cultural tradition lies in the fertile alluvial valley of the Thamirabarani River, slightly upstream from the city of Palayankottai (Palamcottah). Next to Madurai, it was an important city of the Pandya Kingdom as it served as their capital for sometime. Tirunelveli was a commercial centre during the Pandya dynasty.
Thamirabarani River rises in the Western Ghats mountain range and flows eastwards to eventually empty into the Gulf of Mannar. The Tambraparni provides irrigation water for crops of rice and cotton. The locality's chief large-scale industry is cotton milling. With electricity supplied from the Papanasam dam on the Tambraparni River, Tirunelveli is now an industrial city specialized in the manufacture of textiles, cigars, and jewellery; it has motor workshops too.
The Name Of The City
The city is surrounded on all sides by paddy fields and earlier the city was called as 'Nelveli' i.e., Paddy-Hedge. Since the temple in the town is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the town around the temple was called Tiru-nel-veli (derived from the Tamil words Tiru ("holy"), Nel ("paddy"), and Veli ("fence")) referring to a legend that the god Shiva protected a devotee's rice cro p there.
The history of Tirunelveli district is bound up with that of the Pandya dynasty just like Madurai and Ramanathapuram areas. Even earlier, a pre-historic race is said to have occupied this land. During the latter half of the 18th century, the East India Company was frequently at war with the Poligars on behalf of the Carnatic Nawab in Tirunelveli and Madurai.
With the fall of Tipu in 1799, British concentrated their force in the south and suppressed the Poligars. At about this time, the Nawab of Carnatic became powerless and left the management of the territory to the British. The Nawab was pensioned off and the management of the revenues of Tirunelveli was taken over by the British in 1801 under a treaty. Thus the British rule started which lasted till 1947.
Before the establishment of British rule, the Portuguese and Dutch occupied Tuticorin and other port areas. After the British rule began in 1801, Swaraj movement was started and a number of prominent persons of this district fought against the British and clamoured for independence of the country. In the year 1986 the district was divided into two parts namely, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin.
Kanthimathi - Nellaiyapper Temple
Kanthimathi - Nellaiyapper Temple is a Shivastalam with sprawling Mandapams decked with life-sized images situated in the town of Tirunelveli. It is one of the most beautiful temples in India and is hailed as one of the 5 Pancha Sabhas of Nataraja housing Tamra Sabha (the copper hall) - a beautiful hall with exquisite woodwork, where Nataraja is worshipped during Arudra Darisanam. The image above is that of the approach to the Tamrasabha, with the Sandana Sabhapathi shrine behind the dance hall. Rare Jewels, the Golden Lily Tank, Musical Pillars, the hall of thousand pillars and abundance of sculptures in stone and in mortar are worth seeing.
Located at a distance of 59-km from Tirunelveli, Courtallam is the main place of tourist importance of the district of Tirunelveli. It is famous for its season and the beautiful waterfalls.
Kalakadu Wildlife Sanctuary- Mundanthurai Tiger Sanctuary
47-km from Tirunelveli, the Kalakadu wildlife sanctuary is very popular with botanists and ornithologists as it has a great variety of fauna and bird life. Situated closeby is the Mundanthurai wildlife sanctuary that boasts of dry deciduous to tropical wet evergreen forest patches of pure reeds.There is nothing to differentiate this sanctuary from that of Kalakadu, except the absence of Elephant and the Gaur.
Situated 56-km from Tirunelveli, Sankarankovil is famous for the Sankara Narayan Temple. The city burst's with people during the Car festival and 'Adithabasu Vizha' in June-July.
Papanasam is a small village located at a distance of 60-km from Tirunelveli, where the river Thamirabarani flowing from the Western Ghats reaches its plains and drops to form a small waterfall. It is believed that people who bathe in this waterfall are relieved of all sins as Papanasam means absolution of sins.
Agasthiyar Temple And Falls
This Temple adjoining the falls named Agasthiyar falls is located half way to Panatheertham, which is at a distance of 4-km from the Papanasam Shiva Temple.
Manappad, 71-km from Tirunelveli is a remote village and an important place for Christians. It is a place, which lead to the origin of Catholicism in South India. It is believed that St. Francis Xavier lived in this cave and preached the gospel to the fisherman during the early 14th century.
Tuticorin, 48-km from Tirunelveli, is the district head quarters of the district of the same name. It is one of the major ports in the country and was at one time known for its pearls and was one of the most prosperous cities on the Fisheries Coast.
Just 3-km from Ottappidaram and 68-km from Tirunelveli is Panchalankurichi, the home of the Patriot Veerpandiya Kattabomman, a 17th century freedom fighter. The Government of Tamil Nadu constructed the Kattabomman Memorial Fort in 1974, while the original fort now in ruins is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India. Also near the fort is a cemetery of British soldiers and the Jakkammal Temple dedicated to the family deity of Kattabomman.
Shengaltheri, which is situated at a distance of 68-km from Tirunelveli is located in Kalakadu Mountain area. This area comes under Kalakadu Wild Life sanctuary. This place is a very famous picnic spot and also popular for its natural beauty and lovely climate, and water falls. For going to Shengaltheri prior permission has to be obtained from Deputy Director of Wildlife-Ambasamudram, Mundandurai and Kalakadu wild life sanctuary.
Pathamadai is situated at a distance of 13-km from Tirunelveli. It is the birthplace of Swami Sivanandha of Rishikesh. It is a small town but has very good cottage industry. One can see the beautiful Korai mat-manufacturing unit.
Thirukkurangudi, located in the Western Ghats in Tirunelveli district is 52-km south of Tirunelveli. It is one of the 108 divine Vaishnavite shrines. Thirukurangudi Alwar attained the feet of the Lord from this place. Among twelve Alwars of Vaishavism, four Alwars had sung the glory of the Lord at Thirukurangudi and Malai Nambi Koil.
Kunthakulam Bird Sanctury
Kunthakulam bird sanctuary is situated 33-km south of Tirunelveli in Nanguneri Taluk (also spelt as Taluka). Kunthakulam is a small and natural scenic village, which is covered with natural forests and ponds. During the season January to April every year more than 10 thousand birds from various countries like Pakistan, Myanmar, Srilanka, USA, Australia migrate here and when the season is over the birds return. Every day more than 5,000 people come here and enjoy. Ariyakulam, 13-km east of Tirunelveli has another bird sanctuary.
Ovari, a village 72-km from Tirunelveli is located on the sea shore of Bay of Bengal. Nadar Ovari is very famous for the ancient temple of Swayambulingaswami (Shiva Temple). Bharathar Ovari is a Roman Catholic centre where one can visit an ancient church and also modern church (the structure is just like an aeroplane).
Tenkasi meaning 'Kasi of the South' is located at a distance of 58-km from Tirunelveli. There is a beautiful Shiva temple here, which has a flagstaff that is 400 years old and beautifully sculptured.
Thirumalai At Panpozhil
Thirumalai at Panpozhil, located 74-km from Tirunelveli, is worth visiting for the beautiful temple of Lord Muruga, which is situated on the top of a hillock.
Ettaiyapuram, 72-km from Tirunelveli is the birthplace of the great revolutionary poet Subramanya Bharathi, who is ranked as the best Tamil poets of modern era. His home has now been converted into a memorial.
Kazhugumalai, 76-km from Tirunelveli has Jain temples that are the oldest in the country and are of great importance to the Jains. The bas-relief sculptures found here are the contribution of Jains and are among the earliest of such works. The rock-cut cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is also worth visiting.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Madurai, 151-km away.
Rail: Tirunelveli is an important railway junction on the southern railway and is connected to all major cities of South India .
Road: Tirunelveli is served by a good network of roads. There are bus services to Chennai, Madurai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, etc. For local transportation taxis and auto rickshaws are available.
Accommodation is available at the moderate class and small budgeted hotels and lodges in Tirunelveli.
Tirunelveli is famous for silk saris, jewellery and sweets
For Silk Saris
Nalli Silks - Swami Sannathi, Tirunelveli
Pothys - North Car Street, Tirunelveli
RMKV - North Car Street, Tirunelveli
For Tirunelveli Halwa
Lakshmi Vilas - T.M. Road, Tirunelveli Junction
Santhi Sweets - T.M. Road, Tirunelveli Junction.
Raja Sweets - Near Bus stand, Tirunelveli Junction.
Arasan Bakery & Sweets - Madurai Road, Tirunelveli Junction
MKM Jewellers - S.N. High Road, Tirunelveli
MH Jewellers - West Car Street, Tirunelveli
VRC Jeweller - Madurai Road, Tiurnelveli
AVL Jewellers - West Car Street, Tirunelveli
V. Lakshmana Pillai & Sons Jewellers - West Car Street, Tirunelveli
Other Places to Shop
Poompuhar Handicrafts Sales Emporium - S.N. Nellayappar High Road.
Tamil Nadu Khadi and Village Industries Sales Centre - Raja Buildings.
Kanthimathi Co-optex Sales Emporium - Bus Stand.
Fairs And Festivals
"Kodaivizha" popularly known as "Kodal", is the famous festival celebrated in Tirunelveli district. The festival is intended for the propitiation of village deities. It usually commences from the month of "Thai" i.e. after the 15th January and is celebrated throughout the district. There is no particular day for this festival. Car festival of the Tirunelveli Kanthimathi - Nellaiyapper temple attract large number of devotees.
Area: 87.64 sq.km
Population: 79,3,810 (1991 Census)
Latitude: N 8 o 4' to 9o 27'
Longitude: E 77o 06' to 78o 0'
Altitude: 100 m
Clothing: Light Cottons
Languages Spoken: Tamil and Telugu
STD Code: 0462
Temperature Range (deg C):
Summer - Max 34.8ºC, Min 25.6ºC
Winter - Max 21.6ºC, Min 17.8ºC
Kalakkadu - 55-km
Nagercoil - 6-km
Sankaran Kovil - 126-km
Sivagiri - 113-km
Tenkasi - 27-km
Tuticorin - 119-km
Virudunagar - 150-km