Definitions

venerational

Tirunelveli

[teer-oo-nel-vuh-lee]

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.

History

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.

Etymology

Tirunelveli is also called Nellai. The translation in Tamil for paddy (rice fields) is "Nell". Both the names, Tirunelveli and Nellai directly associate to rice fields. Even on satellite imagery, it can be seen that the city is surrounded by fertile paddy fields enriched by the perennial river "Tamirabarani". The river has a wide network of canals and waterways which irrigate numerous rice fields and support the villages around the district which primarily thrive on cultivating rice. The region is also heavily dependent on the monsoon rains.

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.

Geography

Tirunelveli is located at . It has an average elevation of 47 metres msl(154 ft). It is located in the southern-most tip of the Deccan plateau. Tirunelveli is an important junction in the National Highway No 7 connecting India from the North to South (Kashmir to Kanyakumari). The nearest pivotal towns are: Gangaikondan in the north, Tuticorin in the east, Alangukulam in the west, Kalakkad in the southwest and Nanguneri in the south. It is also flanked by the state of Kerala to the west, Gulf of Mannar and the districts of Virudhunagar, Thoothukudi and Kanniyakumari. Thamiraparani river roughly divides the city into the Tirunelveli quarter and the Palayamkottai area. The major lakes in the city are Nainar lake and Udayarpetti lake. Three rivers (Chitraru, Thamirabarani and Kothandarama river) converge at a place called Sivalai, making the area very fertile. The closest town to this location is Kuppakkurichi.

Neighbouring cities & towns

Climate

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.

Demographics

As of 2001 India census, Tirunelveli had a population of 411,298. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. Tirunelveli has an average literacy rate of 78%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 83%, and female literacy is 73%. In Tirunelveli, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.Among the Municipal Corporations, Tirunelveli has returned the best sex ratio with 1024 females for every 1000 males. The growth rate of Urban Agglomeration is 20.22%.

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.

Projected Population

Year Population Type Source
1991 345,772 census official
2001 431,603 census official
2009 597,979 calculation

Sl. No Domain Rank in population Rank in UA Source
1 World not-defined not-defined
2 Asia 440 400
3 India 89 87
4 Tamil Nadu 6 7

Economy

The economy of Tirunelveli district is chiefly agrarian in nature and people are engaged in the cultivation of spices and condiments (like cumbu, ragi, pulses) groundnut, gingelly, coconut, chillies, indigo and cotton. It is rich in mineral resources like limestone, sulphides and ilmenite-garnet sand. The city of Tirunelveli has quite a number of industries in its area like cement factories, cotton textile mills, spinning and weaving mills, beedi (tobacco) companies, steel products and so on. A large number of small scale industries supported by NELSIA (Nellai Small Scale Industries Association) are active. Tannery industries in small scale are also found here. In addition to these industries, a few small scale units of brick kilns and oil mills exist in the industrial area.

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.

Civic administration



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
Total population 411,832
Male population 203,232
Female population 208,599

Transport

Roads

Tirunelveli is well-connected by road. The city is located on NH 7, 150 km to the south of Madurai and 80 km to the north of Kanyakumari. NH 7A, an extension of NH 7, connects Palayamkottai with Tuticorin Port. Now 4 lane track has been under progress and NH 7A stretch is almost in finishing stage. Tirunelveli is accessible by road from Madurai (3 hours) or Nagercoil (1 1/2 hours). Tirunelveli is also connected by major highways to Kollam, Tiruchendur, Rajapalayam, Sankarankovil, Ambasamudram and Nazareth.

Bus stand

The main mofussil bus stand is located in Veinthaankulam. This bus stand was opened for public usage from 2003 onwards. Here buses from and to outside the city and state operates services. The other bus stand for local services (within the city) Junction (Nellai Santhippu Perunthu Nilayam) Palai Bus stand (PalaiPerunthu Nilayam). Both Government and private buses are being operated for city travel round the clock.

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.

Railways

A majestic looking structure with a high elevated façade, is one of the busiest and most important ones in Tamil Nadu. It is connected to major cities in all four directions, Madurai/Sankarankovil to the north, Nagercoil to the south, Tenkasi/Kerala (kollam) to the west and Tiruchendur to the east.The segment Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur broad gauge conversion has been completed and will be opened for traffic October-2008 onwards. Train Engine maintenance service station in under construction at Tirunelveli Junction railway station. At present, the engine and coaches are being sent to Nagarcoil for maintenance. The railway station is facilated with computerized ticket booking and touch screen to know the train schedule and train running status. It is proposed computerized ticket booking center at Palayamkottai to clear the extra rush at Junction station. Although Tirunelveli Junction station is one of the most important stations in the state, only 2 express trains having origination, Nellai Express(Night Train to Chennai Egmore)and Kollam Mail.

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:

* Nellai Express
* Tirunelveli - Mayiladuthurai - Erode Passenger
* Kanniyakumari Express
* Ananthapuri Express
* Guruvayur Express
* Nagarcoil-Mumbai Express
* Kollam Mail
* Thirukural Express
* Kanyakumari - Howrah Express
* Nagercoil-Coimbatore Express

There are Six local railway stations in the city

Sl No. Station Name Station Code
1 Tirunelveli Junction TEN
2

Tirunelveli Town TYT
3 Palayamkottai PCO
4 Pettai PEA
5 Melapalayam MP
6 Thalayoothu TAY
7 Maharajanagar Requested

Airport

The closest airport to Tirunelveli city is the Tuticorin airport (TCR), located at Vaagaikulam, Thoothukkudi district, about 22 km east of Tirunelveli. Connections to Chennai are via Air Deccan, once a day. The Madurai Airport and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport are about 150 km away by road. An unused runway between Gangaikondan and Kayathar, 22 km north of the city, will become operational once the IT park at Gangaikondan is set up.

Media & Communications

Print

Dina Thanthi, Dina Malar, Dinakaran, Dina Mani, Dina Vel, Tamil Sudar, Kathiravan, Tamil Murasu, Malai Malar, Malai Murasu (an evening paper) are the prominent Tamil news dailies currently printed in the city. The Hindu is the most widely read English daily. The news daily The Hindu published at Madurai is being circulated here. Published at Trivandrum for Tamil Nadu editions are also being circulated occasionally. Both the cities are almost equidistance from the Tirunelveli city.

Local cable TV

Air Media Network, Karan TV, and Krishna TV are the local cable television networks.

Radio stations

Tirunelveli is served on the FM dial by Suriyan FM, (frequency 93.5, run by the Sun TV Network), Malai Malar's 'Hello FM' (frequency 106.4 MHz),and Tirunelveli Vanoli Nilayam (AIR by the Government of India). Tirunelveli has been identified as one of just 40 cities in India to have its own FM stations. IGNOU has planned to air its distance education lectures (named Gyan Vani) soon via FM.

Sports

Many sport events such as hockey, kabbadi, volleyball, kho-kho tournaments are conducted at Anna stadium and VOC grounds. Both are situated in Palayamkottai and primarily used by school students for playing cricket during their leisure hours and holidays. An excellent public swimming pool and a well-maintained hockey field are among the facilities of the Anna stadium.

Pincodes

Pincode is the postal numbering system used in India.
Location Pincode
Tirunelveli Junction 627 001
Palayamkottai 627 002
Pappankulam 627 110
Vannarpettai 627 003
Pettai 627 004
Melapalayan 627 005
Tirunelveli Town 627 006
Perumalpuram 627 007
Gandhinagar 627 008
Kokkirakulam (Collectorate) 627 009
Industrial Estate, Pettai 627 010
Maharajanagar 627 011
Abisheikapatti 627 012
Sankarnagar 627 357
Thachanallur 627 358

Religion

Tirunelveli has a rich religious tradition. Though the roots of the city can be traced to associate with Hindu mythology, Tirunelveli is populated by people of all religions, with Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Jains forming a major proportion of the local people. Consequently, the city has places of worship for people of all these religions, several of which are of historical importance. Palayamkottai has a large proportion of Christians and Christian educational institutions. It was one of earliest south Indian sites of missionary activities in the 17th and 18th centuries. Melapalayam is mostly populated by Muslims. Despite having a pluralistic population, Tirunelveli in general, enjoys religious, racial and cultural harmony.

Popular Temples

Nellaiappar Temple

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.

Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple

Sri Varadharaja Perumal Kovil at Tirunelveli is situated in Tirunelveli junction. This temple is an ancient and reputed Vishnu temple. It lies on the banks of the Thamirabarani river. This area is also known as Veerarahavapuram.

Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram Temple

The Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram temple's sanctum has a Lord Srinivasa statue. The temple is located about 10 km south west of Tirunelveli, also beside the banks of Thamirabarani river. This temple is also called Thirunankovil.

Keezha Thiruvenkatanathapuram Temple

Sri Varadharaja Perumal Kovil is located in "Keezha Thiruvengadanaadhapuram", which is just half a kilometer from the famous "Then Thirupathi Shri Venkataachalapathy temple". Due to presence of red soil in the area where the temple is located, it derives its name of Sengani - Sen meaning Red and Kani meaning Land in Tamil. The name was later changed to Sangani. This temple lies to the east of "Then Thirupathi Perumal", about 6 km from Tirunelveli.

Education

The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University is located in Nellai, on the Tenkasi road, about 11 km from junction. The university is named after a famed poet who was the author of Tamil Thai Vazhthu (Praise to Mother Tamil), which is the official state song.

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
3 Medical College 2
4 Devendrar college of Physiotherapy 1
5 Engineering College 12
6 Law College 1
7 Pre Kindergarten School 201
8 Primary School 1521
9 Middle School 394
10 High School 114
11 Higher Secondary 148
12 Teacher Training Institute 6

Science Centre

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

Language

Traditionally, it has been noted that the Tamil language originated from the Pothigai Malai, a hill situated in the Western Ghats near Papanasam, a small village in the Tirunelveli district. As per Brahminical legend, Lord Shiva sent two saints, Vyasa and Agatyar (in Sanskrit Agastya) to create the divine languages of Sanskrit and Tamil. Agatyar came to Papanasam first and established the Tamil culture from the Pothigai Malai. Today, the Tamil language as spoken in the Tirunelveli district is called as Nellai Tamil. Nellai Tamil uses words like Annachi (a venerational salute to the elders), unique to the region. Nellai Tamil is also spoken relatively fast, in comparison with other dialects of the language. The Tirunelveli accent appeals to all Tamil speaking people and it is considerably different from the Madras Bashai, which is a more anglicized Tamil dialect. Since Tamil is believed to have originated from the Pothigai Malai, Nellai Tamil is considered to be the first and purest form of Tamil. It is also said to be the sweetest form of Tamil. However, Tirunelveli accent is often satirically mocked in Tamil films.

Cuisine

Halwa

The city is noted for the sweet halwa (pronounced locally as ulva) which is made from wheat and sugar. Halwa is a golden brown, semi-solid in texture and contains a lot of ghee/vanaspati which gives it the oily look. It tastes best when served fresh and hot. Tirunelveli halwa is said to owe its uniquely rich taste to a special recipe of this region, blended with the renowned sweetness of the Thamarabarani river. The Halwa was made famous by a Marwari family which settled here more than 300 years ago. The original shop started by them is the Lakshmi Vilas. Slowly, others borrowed the formula and now the halwa has become synonymous with this city.

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.

Local dishes

Some of the unique and popular dishes in Tirunelveli are Sodhi, Kootan Choru and Ulunthamparupu choru with yellu thovayal. Sothi is a delicious gravy made of coconut milk and vegetables. This is served at marriage feasts, especially during the Maruveedu (return marriage) ceremony which takes place the day after a marriage. Kootan Choru is a hot spicy vegetable rice made with dhal, rice, vegetables and a mixture of coconut and red chillies. Ulunthamparupu choru is rice and ulunthamparupu (Urad Dhal) cooked together. Ulunthamparupu choru is taken with yellu (Sesame seeds) thovayal (chutney).Elango Porotta of tirunelveli with the kuruma(salna) gives an added taste. In vegetarian item, Avieal is a famous side dish. It is prepared by mixing all vegetables and boiled. The taste of the Avieal is bit of sourness and sometimes called as "Nellai Avieal", which is one of the main side dishes served during marriage functions.

Some places of interest

The two tier over Thiruvalluvar Bridge at Tirunelveli Junction was constructed to avoid the heavy traffic and railway line crossing. The total length of the bridge is 800 metres. This bridge is the first of its kind ever constructed in India. It was opened to traffic in 1972. It consists of 25 spans, of which 13 are bow string arch, each with a width of 30.3 metres, and 12 are single tier R.C.C. girder, each having a width of 11.72 metres.

Additional places of interest include:

  • District Science Centre at Vannarpet.
  • V. O. Chidhambaram Pillai Memorial Hall at the Exhibition Ground
  • Krishnapuram Temple
  • Papanasam, Manimuthar dam
  • Panathirtham Falls, near Papanasam Dam
  • Agasthiyar falls, Papanasam
  • Courtallam (the Spa of the South, 50 km from Nellai)
  • Mancholai, Kakaachi, Kuthiravetti Hill Stations and Tea estates
  • Sankarankovil Arulmigu Gomathi Amman Temple (50 km from Nellai)
  • Tenkasi Kasiviswanathar temple (50 km from Nellai)
  • Tiruchendur subramaniyaswamy temple (50 km from Nellai
  • Koodankulam Water Birds Sanctuary
  • Navaneethakrishnan Temple in Melasevel Village- 16 km from Tirunelveli to Ambasamudram
  • Navathirupathis- Nine temples in and around on the Highway leading to Tuticorin from Tirunelveli Anciednt temples at Nanguneri and Thirukurungudi-40 km from Nellai
  • Navaneethakrishnan, Megalingeswarar temples at Melasevel Village-16 kilometers from Tirunelveli
  • Sivasailappar Temple, Sivasailam (around 50 km from Palayamkottai)

Local problems

Although Tirunelveli is one of the major cities in Tamil Nadu, the dearth of prospective new industries has resulted in most young people migrating to other parts of Tamil Nadu like Chennai, Coimbatore and Tirupur for higher education and better job opportunities. It has been speculated that the failure of the Government to create job opportunities could also be a factor in this migration, which has subsequently resulted in one of the slowest growth rates of the city among the major cities in Tamil Nadu. Major project proposals initiated by the government or large private organizations suddenly coming to a standstill is not uncommon in Tirunelveli. Even though Nanguneri Special Economic Zone was announced in the year 2000, it is yet to take off successfully.

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.

Notable People from Tirunelveli

Palayamkottai

Tirunelveli's twin city

The twin city of Tirunelveli is Palayamkottai, on the eastern bank of the perennial Thamirabarani river, while Tirunelveli is on the western bank.

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.

The city also has several Hindu temples: the Gopalaswamy temple, Siva Temple, Ramar Temple, Uchini Makali temples and a number for the goddess Amman.

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.

Palayamkottai central prison

The Palyamkottai Central Prison is another historically important land mark as some eminent personalities like Kalaignar M. Karunanithi and other political leaders had served their prison terms here.

Industries Proposed

SEZ

The state and Central government has agreed a bid to set up an Information Technology park in the view to develop this district. Time has now ripened for the development part in the lower part of Tamil Nadu. The government of India has approved Naguneri, a town which is 28 km away from the city as Special Economic Zone (SEZ, previously known as Hi-tech Industrial Park) for the promotion of Electronic/Telecom/Computer Hardware manufactures, Manufacture of white goods/entertainment electronics, Software development, Agro based Industries, Food Processing and Precision Engineering Industries. The promoter for this project are M/s. INFAC India Group, USA., and Axes Technologies Inc., USA. The estimated cost of this project is around Rs 7000 million. More than 25 km² of lands were earmarked for this project; 90% of the land had already be acquired. Utilities viz Water at 6.77 Million Gallons per Day from the river Tamiraparani and Uninterrupted Power supply assured by TNEB by stalling a dedicated sub-station in the vicinity, are tied up for this project. Further Tirunelveli is having better rail link, road link and air link compare to the past. Moreover better higher education institutions including professional education is situated in Tirunelveli. The skilled labour is cheaper and its availability is in abundance. Nearest Port at Thoothukudi will be a boon for export / import. Koodankulam Power Project is also a boon. Industrialist and entrepreneurs must invite foreign direct investment by inviting them to Tirunelveli. A company viz. ATMAC Ltd was incorporated to implement the project. It is reported that JTC, Singapore has prepared the Master Plan.

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.

STPI

Tirunelveli is one of the Software Technology Parks of India. With major cities like Madurai, Trivandrum, Kollam, Tuticorin and Nagercoil in close proximity, and with good rail and road connectivity to various parts of India, the state government has laid the foundation stone for the emerging software park. STPI has registered Rs.0.43 Crores of software exports during 2003-04 and the Software Development activity is excepted to grow in the coming years. STPI-Tirunelveli is one of the international gateways of STPI-Chennai, which is located in premises of M/s.Global Software Solutions (TVL) PVT LTD. Moreover, BSNL is ready to provide high speed data communication facilities for STPI and thus Tirunelveli is on the verge of becoming an emerging IT destination.

The STPI centre, Tirunelveli is situated in Vasanthapuram Tirunelveli bypass road.

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