Tirunelveli (திருநெல்வேலி) is a city in Tamil Nadu, and was formed into a municipal corporation in 1999, by merging three municipalities viz., Tirunelveli city, Palayamkottai and Melapalyam, and a few Panchayat areas. Its the 6th largest city in Tamil Nadu, South India, and the district headquarters of Tirunelveli district. The city is considered to be one of the oldest in the Indian subcontinent, with a history that dates back to 1000 BC. Tirunelveli city is located on the west bank of the perennial river, Thamirabarani, whereas Palayamkottai is located on the right bank; for this reason, they are referred to as the "twin cities". Tirunelveli is also often called the "Halwa City" for its very famous sweet Halwa.
Tirunelveli is culturally an ancient city, as evidenced by the findings of archaeological excavations that have been carried out since the 1840s, in the outskirts of the city in Adichanallur (now under Tuticorin district). At this site, the archaeologists have unearthed an urn which could date back to 500 B.C, containing a complete human skeleton and clay vessels with some rudimentary Tamil Brahmi script inscribed on them. Other ancient urns in which the elderly were buried have also been found in the same district. Along with skeletal finds, husks, grains of rice, charred rice and celts have also been found. More recent excavations at this site has led to the discovery of habitational site of the Iron Age people. Archaeologists opine that it is about 3000-3800 years old from the Neolithic period. This has assured that Tirunelveli has been an abode for human habitation for at least over 3000 years. Now, Adhichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.
The first nursing home in tirunelveli history was dr.velayudhan pillai nursing home started by dr.velayudhan pillay,FRCS,london in 1966, and it is still marching ahead.
The city holds the proud heritage of the Swamy Nellaiappar Temple and Sri Kandimathi Ambal temples, both of which are ancient saivite temples.
The etymology of Tirunelveli has a strong Puranic perspective. It is said that a devotee was invited by God in his dream to settle with his family near the Tamirabarani river. There was a famine in the region for a long time, and the man had to beg and collect paddy from other people. He spread out the paddy to dry under the sunlight and went for his ritual ablution in the river. He then continued to pray to the Lord for rain. Suddenly a thunderstorm broke out and it rained heavily. Although his prayer was answered, he was worried about the paddy he had spread out to dry in the sun. So he ran to collect it but what he saw was nothing short of a miracle. Not a drop of rain had fallen on the paddy he had laid out to dry. Since then, the city has been called as Tirunelveli - 'Tiru' meaning respectable, 'Nel' meaning paddy and 'Veli' meaning a protective fence. In other words, the etymology relates to the city having paddy fields as a protective fence.
Tirunelveli first came into prominence under the Pandya kings, serving as their secondary capital when Madurai remained its primary capital. Tirunelveli was an important city of the Chola kingdom (c.900 – 1200) and of the Vijayanagar empire. The city was the chief commercial town in the period of Arcot Nawabs and Nayaks. They were one of the various ruling dynasties of Tamil Nadu. In fact, they called the city as "Nellai Cheemai", with cheemai meaning a developed foreign town. It was the Nayaks who in 1781, granted its revenues and local administration to the British. In 1801, it was annexed by the British, who governed it until India achieved independence in 1947. On acquisition from the Nawab of Arcot in 1801, the British anglicized it as Tinnevelly and made it the headquarters of Tirunelveli district. This happened despite the fact that their administrative and military headquarters was located in Palayamkottai (which was also anglicized as Palankottah),during their operations against the Palayakars. Post-independence, both towns reverted their anglicized names to their original names and grew together as twin cities.
Tirunelvei also has the nickname of Halwa City. A wheat-based sweet, Halwa is very famous in Tirunelveli, which brought it fame across the southern Indian states.
The climate of Tirunelveli is usually tropical- generally hot and humid.. The average temperature during summer (March to June) ranges from 23 to 36° Celsius and 18 to 30°C during the rest of the year. The average annual rainfall is 680 mm, most of which occurs during the northeast monsoon (October-December). Since the economy of the district is primarily based on agriculture, fluctuations in the monsoon rains or flooding of the Thamarabarani river has an immediate impact of livelihood in the area.
There have been no earthquakes in the recorded history of the region. However, there have been a few instances of floods and cyclones caused by the monsoons.
The Tirunelveli city spreads over an area of 128.65 km². The population density of the corporation had increased to 3781 persons per km² in 2001 from 2218 Persons per km² in 1971. The disabilities in the city as per the 2001 census are 1308246, out of which 645142 are males and 663104, female. Hindus are the most in urban population. They are followed by Muslims and then Christians. The language mainly spoken in the city is Tamil. The usage of English is relatively common. The vast majority of official dealings and the medium of instruction in most educational institutions is in English. The Tamil dialect spoken in this region is very lucid and is popular throughout Tamil Nadu.
|Sl. No||Domain||Rank in population||Rank in UA||Source|
A vast majority of the middle class population in Tirunelveli city are either government employees, teachers, professors or others working in educational institutions. Skilled labourers and specialists in fields relating to science and technology are literally absent in Tirunelveli. The living cost of the city is considerably low when comparing with other large cities in Tamil Nadu. Many of the basic raw materials for food are easily available at affordable prices. Recently the Tata Group has signed for the opening of a titanium dioxide plant estimated at Rs.2500 crore in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts. The project is expected to create job opportunities for over 1000 people directly and an estimated 3000 indirectly.
|Tirunelveli City officials|
|Mayor||Mr. A.L. Subramanian|
|Deputy Mayor||Mr. K. Muthuramalingam|
|Collector||G. Prakash I.A.S|
|Police Commissioner||Ashokkumardos I.P.S|
|Member of Legislative Assembly-Tirunelveli||N. Malai Raja (D.M.K)|
|Member of Legislative Assembly-Palayamkottai||T.P.M.Mohaideen Khan (D.M.K)|
|Member of Parliament||Dhanushkodi Athitan(I.N.C)|
Total population in Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation as per 2001 census.
|Tirunelveli City voters|
|Number of Wards||55|
The Tirunelveli sub-division of the TNSTC (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation), Madurai Division services the district's road transport needs with a string of local and mofussil (out-of-town) services. The State Express Bus Corporation (SETC) operates express services to Chennai, Bangalore, Salem, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Nagapattinam, Erode, Villupuram, and Tirupati.
This railway station produces profit for the Madurai Railway division. The Nellai Express — a super-fast train connecting Tirunelveli and Chennai Egmore — runs packed almost throughout the year. The station has six platforms . Tirunelveli Junction is coded as TEN. Any train passing through the station halts in Tirunelveli Junction station. It is one of the oldest and popular stations in Indian Railway.
The major trains at Tirunelveli Junction:
There are Six local railway stations in the city
|Sl No.||Station Name||Station Code|
|Tirunelveli Junction||627 001|
|Tirunelveli Town||627 006|
|Kokkirakulam (Collectorate)||627 009|
|Industrial Estate, Pettai||627 010|
Nellaiappar Temple is famous all over Tamil Nadu as the largest Shiva temple, steeped in tradition and also known for its sculptural splendours. The temple is situated in the centre of the city at a distance of two kilometres from the railway station. It is a twin temple dedicated to Goddess Parvathi and Lord Shiva. Even from a considerable distance, one can have a good view of the gopurams (towers). Both the gopurams were built according to the rules laid down in the agama sastras by Rama Pandyan. Rare jewels, the Golden Lily Tank, Musical Pillars, and the hall of a Thousand Pillars are worth seeing. The temple dates back to 700 AD and contains inscriptions which can be traced to be made around 950 A.D. It is believed there were two distinct temples, built separately for Shiva and Parvati, the consort to Lord Shiva, by the Pandyan kings. The Sangili Mandapam, a big terraced hall, linking these two was built in the 17th century. The towers also date back to the early 17th century. Vishnu and Agastya are believed to have worshipped Shiva here. There is also an interesting legend that there exists a tunnel behind the Ravana sculpture in the temple corridor that connects Tirunelveli and Madurai. This tunnel was supposed to have been used by the Pandya kings and their spies on secret missions.
The Nellaiappar temple car weighs approximately 400 tons and is the third largest temple car in Tamil Nadu. It is also said to be the largest human-powered car in South India. The car's axle was fabricated in steel during the British colonial period. Recently, steel rims were also used to reinforce the gigantic, yet aging wooden wheels. The Aani Car festival is the most popular festival associated with the temple, and the five cars (for Vinayakar, Murugan, Nellaiappar, Kanthimathi and Sandikaeswarar) by themselves are minor landmarks in the city.
Nindrasir Nedumaran (நின்றசீர் நெடுமாறன்), who reigned in the seventh century AD, contributed by constructing and renovating important parts in the temple. A beautiful garden founded in 1756, next to the mandapam, welcomes visitors with many colourful and fragrant flowers. The garden was designed by Thiruvengadakrishna Mudaliar. A square vasantha mandapam with 100 pillars is found in the midst of this garden. The Nellaiappar Temple is bigger than the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, though the latter is much more popular owing to its historical importance.
In the view to improve the quality of education in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu, the Finance ministry has stated in the budgetary note that one more Anna University is to be created in the city of Tirunelveli.
The city has many prestigious old government and private colleges in the medical, legal, engineering, arts, pharmacy, and physiotherapy fields. Tirunelveli Medical College and the Government College of Engineering Tirunelveli are professional colleges run by the government of Tamil Nadu. St. Xavier's College run by Jesuits, St. John's College and Sarah Tucker College run by CSI Diocease, M.D.T. Hindu College and Sadakathulla Appa College are well-known arts colleges.
Students from the city's schools have been consistently performing well in the state examinations.
|Sl No||Educational Institutions||No of Institutions|
|1||University||2 (Anna University Tirunelveli, M.S.university)|
|2||Arts and Science College||21|
|4||Devendrar college of Physiotherapy||1|
|7||Pre Kindergarten School||201|
|12||Teacher Training Institute||6|
The city has a District Science Centre, a satellite unit of Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum, Bangalore. The centre is committed to the cause of science education through fun and entertainment. The Centre has an evergreen science park in sylvan surroundings and is located adjacent to the perennial river Thamirabharani, along the highway to Kanyakumari. Permanent exhibitions, science shows, interactive guide tours, a mini-planetarium, sky observation through a telescope are some of the activities of the Centre. Many scientific experiments proto-types planted in the campus. The building has two floors. Many school students from various nearby villages, towns and cities use to visit throughout the year. Exhibitions and Competitions are also be conducted here up to school levels. The visiting charges collected to enter into it is just two rupees. `Fun science gallery' inaugurated in Tirunelveli — The Hindu
There are many hot spots to buy halwa around the Nellayappar temple and near the main railway station. Two of the most famous halwa stores are Irutu Kadai halwa (Transliterated as the dark halwa store with no lights), situated near the Nellayappar temple, and the other being Shanthi Sweets. The name Irutu Kadai of the former store derives from the fact that the looks of the store has been kept unchanged from the date it was started. Till date, there is no bright electrical lamp or even a board to display the shop's brand. Ironically, their new branch near the railway station is unusually well-lit with neon signs.
Additional places of interest include:
Tirunelveli was infamous in the past for communal violence and minor political clashes. Statues of eminent leaders have often been the subject of vandalism, and their encaged appearance all across the city is a grim reminder of the turbulent political past. Although civil unrest has never taken off to violence frequently, the people of Tirunelveli have strong political views, and are generally assertive about their opinions. This fact is often exaggerated in Tamil movies, where people from Tirunelveli are portrayed to take out their aruval (machete), when they are provoked or feel threatened.
Despite having numerous hospitals, maternity care centres, dispensaries and reputed medical colleges (government medical college and Siddha college), only basic medical facilities are readily available. Tirunelveli lacks specialized medical facilities and for most major surgeries and complicated medical procedures, one has to travel to the bigger cities like Madurai and Chennai.
Even though the highly profitable Madurai-Kanyakumari rail stretch of the Southern Railways passes through Tirunelveli, it has neither been double tracked nor electrified- hampering the railway traffic heavily. People are forced to opt for alternate modes of transport like buses and hence many private buses prey on this opportunity. Moreover, the city does not have an airport, which is instrumental for the development of IT parks and other major industrial developments.
Palayamkottai is known for its educational institutions and is referred to as "Oxford of South India ." The town, surrounded by paddy fields, has a rich heritage in education dating back to the pre-independence era. Almost all the colleges and institutions of higher education located in the area are in Palayamkottai, some of them having been in existence for more than a century and a half. They include the Tirunelveli Medical College, Government Siddha College, Government Engineering College, Francis Xavier Engineering College, St. Xavier's College, St. John's College and Sarah Tucker College.This area is one which is well suited for IT sectors since it is in the city centre with all the facilities around.
The city is a main centre in South India for Christian missions and there are quite a few churches, the major church being Holy Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral church of a diocese of the Church of South India.
It has two sports grounds: Anna Stadium and the VOC Ground. The latter holds field hockey and kabbadi matches at both the district and state levels. Republic Day and Independence Day ceremonies are also held here.
There is a large market in Palayamkottai, along with the Ulavar Santhai where farmers sell their products directly.
Palayamkottai is also known for its Central Prison, which housed a lot of freedom fighters during the struggle for Indian independence. It is still notable for its capacity and security. Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathy spent a part of his life here.
Jurong International, Singapore, has submitted its conceptual master plan, according to which the industrial sector would include ready built factories, custom built factories, units of multi-national corporations, science, business and hi-tech or information technology parks.
The final hurdle for establishing a hi-tech park in the proposed Nanguneri Special Economic Zone (SEZ), transfer of of land by the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments to the promoter, was cleared on Wednesday.
With the transfer, the minimum area of land required for establishing an SEZ – 10 km² – has been achieved.
This has revived hopes of people here that work on the Rs. 14,000-crore project may take off soon.
Once the IT park is in full-fledged operation, it is expected to provide a colossal opportunity for about 100 thousand jobs directly and 200 thousand indirectly in Tirunelveli district and the adjoining districts such as Tuticorin, Nagarcoil, Virudhunagar.
The STPI centre, Tirunelveli is situated in Vasanthapuram Tirunelveli bypass road.