Tirunelveli an ancient city is about 2000 years old and is a town of hoary tradition also known as Nellai is a city which is located on the west bank of the Thamirabarani River, it’s twin city Palayamkottai is on the east bank. Tirunelveli is believed to be an ancient settlement it has been ruled at different times by the Early Pandyas, the Medieval and Later Cholas, the later Pandyas, the Ma’bar and Tirunelveli sultanates, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Madurai Nayaks, Chanda Sahib, the Carnatic kingdom and the British. Tirunelveli has a number of historical monuments, the Nellaiappar Temple being the most prominent. In Hindu legend, the place was known as Venuvana (forest of bamboo) due to the presence of bamboo in the temple under which the deity is believed to have appeared. The early Pandyas named the city Thenpandiyanadu and then it was known as Tinnelvelly by the British and Thirunelveli after independence. The word Tirunelveli is derived from three Tamil words: tiru, nel and veli, meaning “sacred paddy hedge”.
Nellaiappar Temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, Shiva is worshipped as Nellaiappar (also called Venuvananathar) represented by the lingam and his consort Parvati is depicted as Kanthimathi Amman. The temple is located on the northern banks of Tamiraparani River in Tirunelveli district. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the Nayanmars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The temple complex covers an area of six acres and all its shrines are enclosed with concentric rectangular walls. The temple has a number of shrines, with those of Nelliappar, Nataraja and his consort Kanthimathi being the most prominent. The original complex is believed to have been built by Pandyas, while the present masonry structure was built during the 16th century by Madurai Nayaks. In modern times, the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathy Temple (also called Krishnapuram Temple) in Krishnapuram, a village in Tirunelveli district is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. It is located 10 km from Tirunelveli. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is a storehouse of Nayak architecture. A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all its shrines. The temple has a five-tiered raja gopuram, the temple’s gateway tower. The Vijayanagar and Nayak kings commissioned pillared halls and major shrines of the temple during the 16th century. The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship. Four daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple, of which the ten-day annual Vaikunta Ekadasi during the Tamil month of Margazhi (December – January).
District Science Centre is located on the shores of River Thamirabarani. It is part of the National Council of Science Museums and is among the 124 science centres in India. It was built with the notion of imparting scientific knowledge. It has three permanent galleries based on oceans and a semi-permanent gallery based on popular science. A science park, spread over 6 acres, is also situated within the premises of this centre. This centre organises video and planetarium shows. Various other programmes are also organised here, such as the temporary exhibition, science fair, mobile science exhibition and science drama.
Kulasekara Perumal Koil in Mannar Koil Kulasekara Azhvaar spent the last 30 years of his life at this 1000-year-old Mannar Koil and is said to have attained Moksham here One sees several inscriptions in this historical temple dating back to the Chozha Period. The present temple region was once dense with Jack trees. Sages Brigu and Markandeya visited many Perumal temples and came to this place for penance. Pleased with their penance, Lord Perumal granted darshan. The sages wished that Perumal should be equally merciful to all devotees visiting this place and bless them with family happiness and prosperity. Responding to their wishes Perumal consented to stay here as Lord Veda Narayana. Later, Chera, Chola and Pandya kings improved the temple.
Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) is the second-largest protected area in Tamil Nadu State behind only Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary in Erode. This reserve forms part of the inter-state (Kerala and Tamil Nadu) Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve. This part of Agastya Mala hills in the core of reserve is considered one of the five centres of biodiversity and endemism in India by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Western Ghats, Agasthyamalai Sub-Cluster, including all of Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
Koonthankulam Birds Sanctuary is a unique sanctuary actively protected and managed by the Koonthakulam village community. The largest breeding water bird reserve in south India attracts more than one lakh birds annually. It is located 35 km away from Tirunelveli in Tirunelveli Thisaianvilai Road comprising of Koonthankulam and Kadankulam tanks covering an extent of 129.33 hectares and declared as a sanctuary in 1994. It is significant that the local people have taken a keen interest in protecting this sanctuary and they live together in a totally symbiotic relationship. The birds coming to their backyards for five generations are protected vehemently by villagers and regarded as harbingers of luck. The excreta of birds ‘guano’ is collected by villagers in summer along with salt to use as fertiliser in their fields. From children to grannies in the village, all protect them, their nests and fledgelings. Chicks fallen are taken care of in the rescue centre till they are able to fly on their own. Anybody troubling the nests is punished in their own methods of shaving the head or making the procession on a donkey. Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary is a 1.2933 Square KM protected area declared as a sanctuary in 1994. It is just 38 km away from Tirunelveli. This is the largest reserve for breeding water birds in South India.
Holy Trinity Cathedral (Oosi Gopuram) situated 3kms from Tirunelveli at Palayamkottai is one of the oldest and gorgeous church named Holy Trinity Cathedral built by Rev Rhenius in 1826. It took only 175 days for its structure at an expense that was given as donations by the people belongs to diverse religions. With the way of time, further developments, expansions and reconstruction works have been made. The major attraction of the church is the large royal tower called Oosi Gopuram measuring a height of 158 feet and it is considered as the sight of Tirunelveli city. In that tower, there is a clock that was set during 1850 and is still in working condition. Another speciality of the church is a bell which was imported from England and installed in the same period. The church was raised to the position of a Cathedral in the year 1940 by the Bishop Stephen Nellai. The Cathedral plays an imperative role in the religious uplift of the people along with the material uplift of providing education, distributing free food and clothing and helping them to build their houses.
Kappal Matha Church in Tirunelveli A small church for St. Mary which was under the control of pastors of Goa mission existed here. In course of time, in 1903, this church was converted into a school. On important occasions as per the wishes of the people, festivals were conducted and prayers were offered to her. There was a custom among the young maidens to go to the nunnery in the night and sleep there. On one such occasion, they saw a bright light surrounding this Selvamatha statue even though nobody lit a candle. Many people of Uvari witnessed this light which was there for over an hour. This incident occurred on 18th September which is celebrated as a festival. People used to keep this statue in a chariot and come around this town to bestow the blessing of Mary to the people of Uvari. Due to sea erosion, the old church got damaged. Therefore the people decided to construct a new church for which the foundation stone was laid down by Fr.Thomas in 1970, 25th January and the work was finished on 1974. This church designed as a ship is called Kappal Matha church after its design. It is beautiful church facing the blue sea. The waves rolling near this church gives us an impression that this ship-shaped church is sailing on the sea which is a feast to eyes.
Courtallam or Kuttralam or Kuttalam, Spa of South India, is a panchayat town situated at a mean elevation of 160 m (520 ft) on the Western Ghats in Tirunelveli District. Much seasonal and few perennial rivers such as the Chittar River, the Manimuthar River, the Pachaiyar River and the Tambaraparani River originate in this region. The numerous waterfalls and cascades along with the ubiquitous health resorts in the area have earned it the title the Spa of South India. The falls carry a good amount of water only when there is a rain on the hills. The season begins from June of every year till September. The South West Monsoon brings in the cold breeze with mild temperature. From October to December North East Monsoon sets over in Tamil Nadu and the climate is cold and the rains are very heavy sometimes. Sometimes the falls get flooded and people are not allowed to take bath during floods. The 60 ft Peraruvi (Main Falls) the prominent falls has a deep crater at Pongumakadal that controls the rush of water. Chitraruvi (Small Falls) with a thin flow of water attracts tourists prominently. Tourists can reach Shenbagadevi, Tehnaruvi and the Herbal farm from here by trekking. Shenbaga Devi Falls rushes through the Shenbagam Trees [michaelia Champak] and the temple of Shenbaga Devi Amman temple is located here. Thenaruvi (Honey Falls) because it is full of Honeycombs where there is no water hence it is called by this name. It is 3 km from Shenbagadevi falls in the form of a cascade between two large rocks. Aintharuvi (Five Falls) five different cascades of rushing water are called by this name. Bathing in this will be on the agenda of every tourist. Pazhathotta Aruvi gets this name as water flows down from beneath the Orchard. Puli Aruvi (Tiger Falls) is an artificial waterfall and the water from here is collected in a lake and used for irrigation. Because tigers are sighted here sometimes it is called by this name. Pazhaya Courtallam (old fall), Palaruvi are the falls found in the Courtallam area. Tirumalai Aruvi located at 15 km distance has the popular Lord Murugan temple. Peraruvi [main falls], Aintharuvi [five falls] Pazhaya Courtallam [old falls] are the falls that can be reached by road. The rest of the falls should be reached by trekking only. Boat Houses, Aquarium, Children”s Park, Snake Park, Swimming is the other options available besides the Waterfalls.
Sankarankovil Like every other temple, Sankarankovil has its own interesting story. Once the devotees of Lord Hari (or Vishnu) and Lord Shiva quarrelled with each other to determine whose god is powerful. Then Lord Shiva appeared as Sankaranarayanan to mark his devotees to understand that both Hari and Shiva are one and the same. So it is held sacred by Saivites and those Hindus who believe that Siva and Vishnu are a single deity one in one and accordingly, desire to worship the two gods into one form.
Pottalpudur Dargah is situated in the district of Tirunelveli. Pottalpudur Dargha was erected in the latter half of 17th century. More specifically, the year of establishment of this dargah is known to be 1674 A.D. This Dargah was constructed following the architectural style of the Hindu temples and is revered as a famous pilgrimage site. The local community considers this dargah to be no less sacred than the Nagore Dargah and next to Baghdad. This dargah is considered to be the oldest dargah of Tirunelveli district.
Manjolai is a hill station, at a height of around 1162 m. This place is famous for its tea plantations, amongst which the Bombay Burma Tea Estate is the most prominent. Due to its scenic beauty, this place is compared with Udhagamandalam (Ooty). Other important tourist spots near Manjolai are the Kakkachi and Nalumukku. Manjolai area is located deep in the Western Ghats within the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tirunelveli district. The area around Manjolai hills comprises tea plantation, Upper Kodiayar Dam, a view point named Kuthiravetti and small settlements. One can spot three tea estates within the Manjolai area. A trip to Manjolai is worth the visit. There are many small waterfalls amidst lush greenery all the way to the top. The place has not been, however, disturbed by mankind and the birds with their cries and chirps welcome all visitors to the place. Manjolai is also called the ‘poor man’s Ooty’. This place is a hill station above the Manimuthar Dam.