Tirunelveli is located on the banks of the river Tamiraparani and it is 630 kms from the State Capital Chennai. It was the capital of Pandiyas and has a history of over 2000 years. A legend says Vedasarma a strong devotee of Lord Siva had sown the paddy and went to the river. There was heavy rain in the area, in spite of the downpour, the paddy did not submerge in the water. Hence this place was called as “Tiru-nel-veli” (Divinely protected paddy). On acquisition from the Nawab in 1801, the British named this area as Tinnevelly. Popular Kanthimathi-Nellaiyappar temple, dedicated to Siva and Parvathy is located here. 1000 pillar hall with musical pillars and beautiful sculptures are special architectural features of this temple. Krishnapuram Temple located 13 kms from the town, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu called as Thiruvenkatanathar. The District has a population of 30,77,233[2011 census] and Town’s population is 4,74,838 [2011 census].
Places of Interest
Kanthimathi – Nellaiappar Temple: This is one of the Five Celestial Dance Sabhas [Divine Dance Stages] of Lord Siva. This temple is called as Thamara Sabhai [ Copper]. Chidambaram [Pon / Gold Ambalam] , Madurai [Velli / Silver Ambalam], Tiruvalankadu [Rathinam / Ruby] and Kutralam [Chitiram / Murals] are the other Four Sabhas of Lord Siva. Most popular and famous twin temple of Kanthimathi Nellaiyappar dedicated to Goddess Parvathi [called as Kanthimathi] and Lord Siva[called as Nellaiyappar] is located in an area of 14 acres. It is one of the biggest of its kind in Tamil Nadu in the heart of the Tirunelveli Town , on the banks of Tamiraparani River.
The Musical Pillars in the Mani Mandapam which produces sound in various pitches when struck, was the creation of Nindrasir Nedumaran [Koon Pandian] in the 7th Century. The Somavara Mandapam, the 1000 pillared hall, and the Tamira Sabha with excellent wood work, are the most attractive and exotic structures of this huge Temple Complex.
In the Earlier Years, the Nellaiappar and Kanthimathi temples were two independent structures with space in between. It was the great efforts of Vadamalaiyappa Pillaiyan who connected both the temples by building a structure called ‘Sangili Mandapam’ or called as Chain Mandapam in English, in the year 1647. A Vasantha Mandapam with 100 pillars, in the midst of a Flower Garden to the west of the Sangili Mandapam was the contribution of Thiruvenkadakrishna Mudaliar in the year 1756.
Within the temple complex, near the sanctum sanctorum , there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu (Nellai Govindan) in the reclining posture. It is believed that, Lord Vishnu descended down to this holy place to solemnize the celestial Wedding of Lord Siva and Parvathi. Nataraja and Sivakami , A shrine to Sandhana Sabhapati (adorned with sandal paste) behind the Thaamira Sabha, and another shrine to Nataraja called as the Periya Sabhapati are the other important deities of the temple. It is a grand spectacle to view Sandhana Sapapathi through Thamara Sabhai. Festivals are conducted on special occasion like Arudhra Darshan [Dec-Jan] to these deities. Vasantha Navarathri, Tirukalyanam, Saradha Navrathri, Ani [Aug-Sept] Brahmotsavam are the important festivals of this temple.
Saint Agastiyar, and Lord Rama after the Mareecha Vadham , killing of Mareecha [Demon in the form of a Deer] believed to have worshipped Lord Siva in this Temple.
Arulmigu Sankaranarayanaswamy Thirukkovil is located in this Town. Car[chariot] Festival and Adi Thabsu Vizha [jun-jul] are popular and important festivals that attracts lakhs of devotees. This town is well connected to Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi and so on.
Located at an altitude of 170m, on the Western Ghats, is called as the "Spa of the South". It serves both as a Tourist Location and Health Resort too. Since water falls rush through forest of herbs, the water has Therapeutic Value. June to September, the best season, attracts thousands of tourists every day.
Located around 60 kms from Tirunelveli. The famous Papanasa Nathar temple dedicated to Lord Siva, is located at the foot hill of the Western Ghats and also very near to the origin of River Tamaraparani. Chithirai Vishu [April] and the Adi Amavasai [Jul-Aug] are the two popular festivals when lakhs of tourists converge in this town.
This is one of the Six Special Abodes [Arupadai Veedu] of Murugan called as Lord Subrahmaniyan. Here Lord Murugan offered prayers to Lord Siva after the Soora Samharam. Popular and great Skandha Sashti Festival is celebrated during November and lakhs of pilgrim worship the Lord here during the festival days. The temple has a 156ft tall nine stage temple tower that dates back to 17th century. Bathing in the Tiruchendur Sea and the Nazhi Kinaru [sacred well], visiting Valli cave are some important rituals practiced by the pilgrims visiting Tiruchendur.
It is 18 kms from Tiruchendur. The Holy Cross Church at Manapad was built in the year 1581. It is said that, fragments of the True Cross was brought from Jerusalem and placed in the Church. Pilgrims visit this seashore Church throughout the year and the Church is connected to St.Francis Xavier.
This was called as Tuticorin earlier. This town is the State Capital and the District Head Quarters of Thoothukudi District. This is also called as Pearl City because of the availability of rich pearls in the sea here. This is a major Salt Production area. This town has a natural harbour. V.O.Chidambaram Pillai, popularly called as VOC, a noted freedom fighter, set sail the First Indian Ship from this port to Colombo, as a protest against the British Supremacy.
It is 3 kms from Ottapidaram and home of the 17th Century freedom fighter Veerapandia Kattabomman. The Memorial Fort built at Panchalankuruchi was built in the year 1974 by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The Fort Complex houses the temple of Devi Jakkamma, hereditary Goddess of Kattabomman Family. Cemetery of British soldiers is located near the fort. The Archaeological Department of Tamil Nadu maintains these sites.
Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary
This is a 900 km2 Project Tiger Reserve sanctuary. Leopard, Sambhar, Sloth bear and many varieties of primates too are found in this forest area. October to January is the best season to visit this sanctuary. For rest house accommodation contact: Chief Conservator of Forests - Tirunelveli – Phone: 0462-2552663.
This is a holy water body located at an elevation of 125 feet on the Agasthiyar Falls and it gets its water flow from this kalyanatheertham. Kodilingeswarar temple dedicated to Lord Siva is located here.
The perennial falls, called as Banatheertham Falls is situated in the Western Ghats, above the Karaiyar Dam. Tamiraparani river meets Kariyar Dam at Baana Theertham. Boat ride across the dam is used to reach this spot and it is a picturesque journey with the forest area of Western Ghats posing a panoramic view. December – January is the best time to visit these falls.
Agasthiyar Temple and Falls
This is 4 kms from Papanasam Sivan temple, midway to Banatheertham, adjoining Agasthiar Falls. 3 km trekking will lead the pilgrims to this temple. Bus facilities are available too.
Upper Kodaiyar and Manjolai
Upper Koaiyar is 5o kms from Ambasamudhram, located at an altitude of 6000 ft. Manjolai an ideal Summer Resort, is a nearby town of Upper Kodaiyar. Winch services are available to reach Lower Kodaiyar. Oothu, Kuthiraivetti, Kalachi, Nalumuku, are the best view points. There is a Balamore - Upper Kodayar Track to reach this place. The Guest House of the erstwhile Royal Family of Travancore called “Muthukuzhi vayal” is located here. Regular bus services are available from Manimutharu and Ambasamudhram.
Kalakadu Wild Life Sanctuary
This sanctuary is very popular with a great variety of Flora and Fauna. Short list includes Tiger, Panther, Jackal and Wild Dogs among the carnivores; King-Cobra, Python and several other Snakes among the reptiles population. The Kalakad Sanctuary was declared a forest preserve for the rare lion-tailed macaque, which is easily spotted here. The best season to visit this sanctuary is between March and September. Trekking is allowed here with the prior permission from the officials of Forest (Wildlife) Department. Other attraction in the vicinity is Kudirai Mozhitheri, a natural spring 12 kms from Tiruchendur.
It is 68 kms from Tirunelveli and 20 kms from kalakadu. Sengaltheri comes under Kalakad Sanctuary zone. Manimutharu originates from here. The perennial waterfall, lush green landscapes attract tourists to this place. In Shengaltheri, Rest House and Watch Tower are available apart from P.W.D. Inspection Bungalow near the Junction. The nearest Railway station is Valliyur and Nanguneri. Contact : Deputy Director, Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Sanctuary – Phone: 04364 – 250594.
This hamlet is 13 kms from Tirunelveli and popular for its cottage industry manufacturing Korai Pai [mat] made out of a type of grass from Cyperus family grown for decorative foliage. This is the birth place of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh.
It is 52 kms from Tirunelveli and one of the 108 Vaishnavite Divya Desams. Thirukkurungudi Alwar attained eternal bliss here. Four of the Twelve Alwars [vaishnavite saints] have sung hymns in praise of Lord Vishnu in this Thirukurungudi temple and Malai Nambi Koil.
Kunthakulam Bird Sanctuary
It is 33 km south of Tirunelveli town. This village is covered with natural forests and ponds. Migratory birds from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka , USA and Australia migrate to this sanctuary for three months between January and April. Ariyakulam is another bird sanctuary 13kms east of Tirunelveli.
It is a Village, 60 kms from Tirunelveli in Radhapuram Taluk on the coast of Bay of Bengal. Popular Swayambulingaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Siva is located at Nadar Ovari. Three important festivals are celebrated annually.
It is 30 kms from Valliyoor between Tiruchendur and Kanniyakumari. Two Domes dedicated to Sufi saints Syed Ali Fathima and Hazrath Sheik Mohammed are located in this Pallivasal. It is believed that they bless the devotees who come here on pilgrimage. Annual festival is being attended by almost 50000 pilgrims.
It is at the foot of Thrikooda Malai [convergence of three mountains]. Kasiviswanathar Temple dedicated to Lord Siva with a 400 years old flag mast is an important landmark here. Tenkasi is revered as Kasi [Varansi] of the South. It is famous for “DRIZZLE” called as Saaral in Tamil. Every year between May–August, locals and Visitors converge here to enjoy this natural phenomenon.
Thirumalai at Panpozhil
Thirumalai koil is a shrine dedicated to Lord Thirumalai Kumaraswamy at Panpozhil near Tenkasi. It is a hilltop shrine, with 625 steps of pathway to reach the top. It was built by Thiruvarutchelvar Sivakami Ammaiyar. Poets Arunagirinather and Achanputhur Subbaiah have written many poems on the saint.
This is the birthplace of revolutionary poet Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiar. He was and is ranked as the best poet of the 20th century. His patriotic poems aroused the sense of nationalism during India’s Freedom Struggle. His home at Ettaiyapuram has been converted as a memorial in honour of him.
It is a panchayat town in Kovilpatti Taluk. Earlier it was known as Araimalai or Thirumalai. There are many relief sculptures dating back to the 8th-9th century A.D. The rock cut image of Baghwan Parshwanatha flanked by two Yakshas are important features of this area. Vettuvan Kovil and Kazhugasalamoorthy are popular temples of Kazhugumalai.
It is 4 kms from Tiruchendur. There is a natural spring that gives fresh water throughout the year. Ayyanar is worshipped as a God protecting the Village. Since the spring is located nearby this temple, it is called as Ayyanar Sunai.
A temple built by the Krishnappa Naicker of Madurai is just 11 kms from Tirunelveli. Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathi temple located here, is considered as the equal of Tirupati, to those who are unable to visit Tirupati to fulfill their prayer or commitments. 11 day Brahmmotsavam in Purattasi (September-October), Vaikunda Ekadasi in December-January are important festivals that attracts lakhs of pilgrims.
Kurukkuthurai Murugan Temple on the banks of the Tamiraparani river is beautifully carved out of a rock known as THIRU VURUVA MALAI. It is said that the same rock was used for carving the temple of Lord Muruga at Tiruchendur in 1653. During the popular Vaikasi Visakam (may-June) festival lakhs of local pilgrims participate in it.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
: There is an elegant and beautiful church, built in 1826 by Rev. Rhenius. This church is under Tirunelveli Diocese and an important land mark too.
Srivaikuntam is famous temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu known as Srivaikuntapathi Swami . It is one of the Nava Tirupati. This temple has a huge Tower. Thiruvengada Mudaiyar Mandapam is rich with sculptures of Yalis, Elephants and Warriors. The Ekadasi Mandapam which is open kept on Vaikunta Ekadasi [Dec-Jan] days contains exquisite and exotic sculptures. Nammalvar, visited this temple and has sung hymns in praise of Srivaikuntapathi.
It is 20 kms from Thoothukudi and 3 Kms from Panchalankuruchi. It is the Birth place of V.O.Chidambaranar. The house he was born has been converted as a Memorial in honour of him. He was a strong freedom fighter and the first one to set his ship sail to Colombo against the East India Company for which he was imprisoned. Because of this brave act, he was given the title Kappal Ottiya Thamizhan.
Kattabomman Memorial Fort
The memorial was constructed here by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1974 in honour of Veerapandia Kattabomman. A temple dedicated to Sri Devi Jakkamma, the family deity of Kattabomman, is located in the fort. A cemetery of British Soldiers is seen near the fort. There are beautiful paintings on the walls of the Hall inside the memorial. The remnants of the old fort are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.