About Tirunelveli


Tirunelveli or Nellai, is a 2000 year old city located on the west bank of the only perennial river of the south, the Tamraparni. It grew into prominence during the  Pandya Regime and served as their capital for some time. The city surrounded by paddy fields is known for its reed mats, palm handicrafts, palm sugar and temples especially the Kanthimathi Nellaiyappar Shiva temple after which the city is named. The   crawling   clouds  on the Western Ghats, the picturesque Pothigai hills and the Courtallam water falls are  the  special features which make  Tirunelveli  unique.  


The puranic version goes that one Vedasarma, a staunch devotee of Shiva, on his pilgrimage from the North to the South was invited by Lord Shiva in his dream to his abode on the banks of the sacred river Tamiraparani. The delighted devotee came to 'Sindupoondhurai' on the banks of the river and stayed there with his family.  Once there was a famine which forced Vedasarma to collect paddy by way of begging and continuing his daily prayers. One day he spread out the paddy to dry under the Sun before the Lord, and went for his ablutions in Tamiraparani. He prayed to the Lord for rain which he thought  could be a remedy for the famine. His prayer was answered and when he was bathing, a thunder storm broke-out and it rained heavily. Vedasarma rushed to the place where he had spread the paddy. He witnessed a miracle. Despite rain around the area, the paddy that he had spread did not get even a single drop of rain and did not get soaked. Since then according to the purana the Town is called as “Tiru-nel-veli” (Sacred hedged paddy). (Interactive map of Tirunelveli)


Places of interest 

Kanthimathi Nellaiyappar Temple

This twin temple dedicated to Siva (Nellaiyappar) and Parvathi (Kanthimathi) is situated in the heart of the city. Built by the Pandyas in the 13C but entirely remodeled and extended in 17C - 18C , the main deity is a 'Suyambu Lingam' or a Shiva Lingam which erupted from underneath the earth. The temple is worth seeing for its beautiful sculptures, musical pillars, valuable jewels, a golden lily tank and a thousand pillared mandapa. The famous Car festival here is celebrated during June- July.


Palayamkottai twin town of Tirunelveli, situated 3km east of the city is the headquarters of the Church Missionary Society in Tamil Nadu. Trinity Church erected in 1826 the Society's main place of worship has a 35m tall spire, a land mark for miles around. The Jesuit mission also has a church of St. Francis Zavier built in 1863.  


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