Tirunelveli (திருநெல்வேலி)

Nellai (நெல்லை)

—  town  —
Paddy fields around Tirunelveli-Palayamkottai area
Tirunelveli (திருநெல்வேலி)
Location of Tirunelveli (திருநெல்வேலி)
in Tamil Nadu and India
Coordinates 8°44′N 77°42′E / 8.73°N 77.7°E / 8.73; 77.7Coordinates: 8°44′N 77°42′E / 8.73°N 77.7°E / 8.73; 77.7
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District(s) Tirunelveli
Mayor Vijila Sathyanand[1]


474,838 (2010)

3,781 /km2 (9,793 /sq mi)

Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)


108.65 km2 (42 sq mi)

47 metres (154 ft)

Website tirunelvelicorp.tn.gov.in

Tirunelveli (Tamil: திருநெல்வேலி About this sound pronunciation ), also known as Nellai (Tamil: நெல்லை), and historically (during British rule) as Tinnevelly, is a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the headquarters of the Tirunelveli District and the sixth biggest city in Tamil Nadu. It is situated 700 kilometres (435 mi) southwest of the state capital Chennai.

Tirunelveli is an ancient city and is home to many temples and shrines, including the largest Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu, the Nellaiappar Temple. It is located on the western side of the perennial Thamirabarani river, whereas its twin municipal city Palayamkottai, is located on the eastern side.



Ancient temples in the river banks

The history of Tirunelveli was researched by Robert Caldwell, one of the Christian missionaries who visited the area in the nineteenth century for the purpose of both promoting their religious beliefs and educating the people.[2][3][4]

Tirunelveli had been under the prominence of the Pandya kings,[5] serving as their secondary capital while Madurai remained its primary capital. It was an important city of the Chola kingdom (c.900–1200)[6] and of the Vijayanagar empire. The city was the chief commercial town in the period of Arcot Nawabs and Nayaks. They were among the various ruling dynasties of Tamil Nadu. In fact, they called the city "Nellai Cheemai", with cheemai meaning a developed foreign town.[7] 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 its name 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 to their original names.


Panoramic view of Tirunelveli as viewed from the Palayamkottai bank of river Thamirabarani. Sulochana Mudaliar bridge, the 12-arch link between both cities, is on the far right of this Deepavali 2009 image.


Tirunelveli is also called Nellai. The translation in Tamil for paddy (rice fields) is "Nell". Both the names, Tirunelveli and Nellai, directly associate it to rice fields.[citation needed] 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 Puranic association also. 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 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.[citation needed]

The name Halwa City is the a more contemporary nickname of Tirunelveli. A wheat-based sweet called halwa has brought it fame across the southern Indian states.[citation needed]


Tirunelveli is located at 8°44′N 77°42′E / 8.73°N 77.7°E / 8.73; 77.7.[8] 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, Tenkasi and Alangulam 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.[9] 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 Alangaraperi.


The Agasthiyamalai hills, cut off Tirunelveli from the southwest monsoon, creating a rainshadow region.

The climate of Tirunelveli is generally hot and humid.[10] 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.


As of 2011 census of India, Tirunelveli had a total population of 433,352 of which 214,133 were male and 219,219 were female. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%.

As of 2001 the India census,[11] Tirunelveli had a population of 411,298. Males constitute 49% of the population and females 51%. The city 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 six years of age. Among the Municipal Corporations, Tirunelveli has been identified with a gender ratio skewed towards males, with 1,024 females for every 1,000 males.[12] The growth rate of Urban Agglomeration is 20.22%.[13]

The city covers an area of 108.65&nbsp sq. km.[citation needed] The population density of the city had increased to 3781 persons per km² in 2001 from 2,218 persons per km² in 1971.[citation needed] The disabilities in the city as per the 2001 census are 1,308,246, out of which 645,142 are males and 663,104 female.[citation needed] Hindus are the most in urban population. They are followed by Muslims and then Christians. The main language spoken in the city is Tamil although 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.


Tirunelveli has a range of large industries, including cement factories, beedi (tobacco) companies, steel products, and mills for cotton textiles, spinning and weaving.[14] There are also many small scale industries, such as tanneries and brick kilns, many of which are supported by NELSIA (Nellai Small Scale Industries Association).[citation needed]

In June 2007, the Tata Group signed an MOU with the State Government for the opening of a titanium dioxide plant estimated at INR 2500 crore in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts. The original MOU for the techno-economic feasibility study for setting up the project was signed by Tata Group and the State Government in 2002. The project was expected to create job opportunities for over 1000 people directly and an estimated 3000 indirectly. However, the State Government put the project on hold after growing protests against the project.[15]

Tirunelveli is the location for one of several Software Technology Parks of India (STPI).[16]


Tirunelveli assembly constituency is part of Tirunelveli (Lok Sabha constituency).[17] The city is a Municipal Corporation as well as the district Headquarters. The city has a Mayor, Deputy Mayor and several councillors elected by people representing administrative wards, as well as a corporation Commissioner to administer the city headed by the District Collector.


Tirunelveli has an extensive transport network. It is well-connected to other major cities cities by road, rail and air.


The city is located on NH 7, 150 km to the south of Madurai and 91;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 (1½ hours). Tirunelveli is also connected by major highways to Kollam, Tiruchendur, Rajapalayam, Sankarankovil, Ambasamudram and Nazareth.

Bus stands

The main Mofussil bus stand, popularly known as New Bus Stand (Puthiya Perunthu Nilayam) is located in Veinthaankulam. This bus stand was opened for public usage in 2003. There are regular bus services from and to the city. The other bus stands for local services within the city are the Junction Bus Stand (Nellai Santhippu Perunthu Nilayam) and the Palay Bus stand (Palay Perunthu Nilayam).

A network of interstate and intrastate buses travel to various destinations from Tirunelveli.[citation needed]


Tirunelveli Junction

A majestic looking structure with a high elevated façade, Tirunelveli Junction (TEN) is one of the oldest and popular railway stations in India.[citation needed] It is one of the busiest and important stations in Tamil Nadu.[citation needed]

It is connected to major cities in all four directions, Madurai/Sankarankovil to the north, Nagercoil to the south, Tenkasi/Kollam to the west and Tiruchendur to the east.


The nearest airport is the Tuticorin Airport (TCR), located at Vaagaikulam in Thoothukkudi District, about 22 km east of Tirunelveli city. There are daily flights to Chennai provided by Kingfisher Red. The Madurai Airport(IXM) is about 150 km and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport(TRV) is about 130 km away by road.


The Government Exhibition, a popular attraction visited by thousands of people from in and around Tirunelveli takes place annually.[citation needed] Other major entertainment events include an annual circus which draws huge crowds[citation needed] and many state and even national level sporting events in VOC ground and Anna Stadium.

Cinema theatres

Central Theatre in Tirunelveli Town

Tirunelveli has numerous cinema theatres which are mostly constructed in the Art Deco style, and are popular landmarks.

Radio stations

Tirunelveli is served on the FM dial by Suryan FM, run by Sun Network (frequency 93.5 MHz), Hello FM, run by the Malai Malar Group (frequency 106.5 MHz) and Tirunelveli Vanoli Nilayam (All India Radio), by the Government of India. Tirunelveli is among the 40 cities in India to have an FM station. IGNOU has planned to air its distant education lecture (named Gyan Vani) via FM Tirunelveli.


Tirunelveli has a rich religious heritage and has places of worship for all the major Indian religions - Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Jainism. Some of these are of historical importance, such as the Nellaiappar Temple.

Nellaiappar Temple

Nellaiappar Gopuram.

Nellaiappar Temple is in the centre of Tirunvelli city. It is a twin temple dedicated to Goddess Parvathi and Lord Shiva and has two towers (gopurams) built according to the rules laid down in the agama sastras by Rama Pandyan.[citation needed]

Golden Chariot of the Nellaiappar Temple.

Nindrasir Nedumaran (நின்றசீர் நெடுமாறன்), who reigned in the seventh century AD, contributed by constructing and renovating important parts in the temple.[citation needed] A garden next to the Mandapam, designed by Thiruvengadakrishna Mudaliar in 1756, has many colourful and fragrant flowers. A square Vasantha Mandapam with 100 pillars is situated in this garden.[citation needed]

Near Tirunelveli, are the nine Vaishnavite temples dedicated to Vishnu (the Alwar Nava Tiruppatis), the Krishnapuram Venkatachalapati temple with its sculptural work, Tiruchendur with its grand and imposing temple dedicated to Subramanya, and Kutralam a popular tourist resort with its waterfalls and natural beauty.

Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple

Sri Varadharaja Perumal Kovil is situated in Tirunelveli Junction, on the banks of the perennial river Thamirabarani (தாமிரபரணி). It is an ancient and reputed Vishnu temple. tenkasi is a great city of nellai. it contains a kasiviswanathar temple.

Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram Temple

The Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram temple is located 7 to 10 km south west of Tirunelveli, on the banks of perennial river Thamirabarani. Also known as Thirunankovil, it has Lord Srinivasa as the deity.

Keezha Thiruvenkatanathapuram, Keezha Thirupathi

It resembles the thirupathi. Near this temple about ¼ Km., to the east lies the “taen kalahasthi” temple which crowns Lord Shiva. First Lord Shiva is prayed followed by varadharaja perumal and then the "taen thirupathi perumal".


The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University is named after the poet who penned the Tamil Thai Vazhthu, the official song of the state.

Tirunelveli Medical College — auditorium.

To improve the quality of technical education in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu, Anna University of Technology Tirunelveli was established in 2007.[citation needed] The University offers a variety of engineering and technology courses in both undergraduate and postgraduate streams. Research facilities are being established in a start-of-the-art campus near Palayamkottai. Einstein College of Engineering at Sir C.V. Raman Nagar, in Tirunelveli.

The city has many old government and private colleges in the medical, legal, engineering, arts, pharmaceutical and physiotherapic fields. Tirunelveli Medical College[18] and the Government College of Engineering, Tirunelveli[19] are professional colleges run by the government of Tamil Nadu. St.Xavier's College run by Jesuits, and St. John's College run by CSI Diocese, MDT Hindu College,Sadakathulla Appa College and Sarah Tucker College are well-known arts colleges.

There are many higher secondary schools in Tirunelveli, including St. Ignatius' Convent Higher Secondary School. Some schools like Bell School, Jeyandra golden jubilee school have managed to make international connections with foreign schools and run active student exchange projects. Jayendra golden jubilee school have regular interactions with Mill Hill school in London,UK.

The Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) operates a regional unit called the Equatorial Geophysical Research Laboratory on the outskirts of Tirunelveli, near Krishnapuramy. This conducts research in the fields of geomagnetism and atmospheric and space sciences.[citation needed]

Science centre

The city has a District Science Centre, a satellite unit of Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bangalore.[20] The centre is committed to the cause of science education through fun and entertainment. 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 prototypes planted in the campus. Exhibitions and Competitions are also conducted here up to school levels.[21]


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.

English is also an official language. and other languages such as Malayalam, Sauraastra, Telugu and Hindi are spoken.

Major structures

The Thiruvalluvar Bridge at Tirunelveli Junction was constructed in 1973 to ease the heavy traffic at the railway junction. The two tier bridge has a length of 800m. The first of its kind ever constructed in India, it consists of 25 spans, of which 13 are bowstring arch (each with a width of 30.3m) and 12 are single tier RCC girders, each with a width of 11.72m.


Tirunelveli's twin city

Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai being located on either banks of the Thamirabarani River, they are often referred to as twin cities.[citation needed]

Image gallery


  1. ^ "Mayors assume charge". The Hindu. 26 October 2011. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/article2572178.ece. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Caldwell, Robert. (1989) [1881]. The History Of Tinnevelly From The Earliest Period To The Cession To The English Government In 1801 (Reprinted ed.). Asian Educational Services. ISBN 8120601610. http://books.google.com/books?id=zjTneAGmatsC. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  3. ^ Daughrity, Dyron B. (2005). "Hinduisms, Christian Missions, and the Tinnevelly Shanars: A Study of Colonial Missions in 19th Century India". Alberta: University of Calgary. pp. 1–5. http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/axismundi/2004/Hinduisms.pdf. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  4. ^ Daughrity, Dyron B.. "A Brief History of Missions in Tirunelveli1 (Part One): From the Beginnings to its Creation as a Diocese in 1896". Mission Studies. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. http://waybackmachine.org/*/http://www.missionstudies.org/conference/1papers/fp/Dyron_Daughrity_Tirunelveli.pdf. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  5. ^ Tirunelveli
  6. ^ Chola's Imperial town
  7. ^ 400 years sugar cane press
  8. ^ Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Tirunelveli
  9. ^ http://www.nellai.tn.nic.in/general.html#ori_dist
  10. ^ Climatic condition of Tirunelveli
  11. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20040616075334/http://www.censusindia.net/results/town.php?stad=A&state5=999. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  12. ^ Census of Govt of India
  13. ^ Urban Agglomeration growth rate
  14. ^ http://tnulbs.tn.gov.in/tirunelveli_corp/srv_industry.htm
  15. ^ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/karunanidhi-puts-tata-project-on-hold/207767/
  16. ^ Software Techo Park of India, Tirunelveli
  17. ^ "List of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies" (PDF). Tamil Nadu. Election Commission of India. http://archive.eci.gov.in/se2001/background/S22/TN_ACPC.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  18. ^ Tirunelveli Medical College (TvMC).
  19. ^ Government College of Engineering, Tirunelveli.
  20. ^ "Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum Bangalore India: Satellite Units". http://www.vismuseum.org.in/units.html. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  21. ^ `Fun science gallery' inaugurated in Tirunelveli — The Hindu

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tirunelveli — திருநெல்வேலி …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tirunelveli — Ajouter une image Administration Pays  Inde État et territoire Tamil Nadu District …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Tirunelveli — Localidad de la India …   Wikipedia Español

  • Tirunelveli — Original name in latin Tirunelveli Name in other language Tinnevelli, Tinnevelly, Tinnevelly Junction, Tirunelveli, Tirunelweli, di lu nei er wei li, tilunelbelli, tirunalaveli, tirunelabeli, tirunelaveli, tirunelveli, tiruneruvuTirunelvelieri,… …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Tirunelveli — /tear oo nel veuh lee/, n. a city in S Tamil Nadu, in S India. 108,498. * * * ▪ India also called  Tinnevelly        city, southern Tamil Nadu (Tamil Nādu) state, southeastern India. It lies along the Tambraparni River slightly upstream from the… …   Universalium

  • Tirunelveli — Admin ASC 2 Code Orig. name Tirunelveli Country and Admin Code IN.25.1254362 IN …   World countries Adminstrative division ASC I-II

  • Tirunelveli — /tear oo nel veuh lee/, n. a city in S Tamil Nadu, in S India. 108,498 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Tirunelveli Medical College — திருநெல்வேலி மருத்துவக்கல்லூரி Motto Duty, Dignity, Discipline (கடமை, கண்ணியம், கட்டுப்பாடு) Established 1965 Type Government Medical College and Hospital Dean Dr. Manoharan, M.S …   Wikipedia

  • Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai — or Saiva Pillai is a caste from Tirunelveli District of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They are a sub caste of Saiva Vellalar. They have been the original land lords of South Pandya Country and their major source of income used to come from… …   Wikipedia

  • Tirunelveli (Lok Sabha constituency) — Tirunelveli is a Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu.Members of the ParliamentLok SabhaDurationName of M.P.Party AffiliationFirst1951 57P.T. Thanu PillaiIndian National CongressSecondh1957 62P.T. Thanu PillaiIndian National CongressThird1962 67P …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”