(Last Updated on : 28-04-2014)
Tirunelveli district is the penultimate southern-most district of Tamil Nadu
which is also described as a microcosm of the state. This district possesses diverse geographical and physical features like lofty mountains and low plains, cascades and rivers, seacoast and thick inland forest, fertile alluvium and sandy soils, a variety of flora and fauna, and protected wildlife. The crawling clouds on the Western Ghats
, the picturesque Pothigai hills and the Courtallam water falls are the prominent features which make it unique. The district consists of all the five geographical divisions referred to in Tamil literature
. The Western Ghats form the Kurinji region; the Kalakkadu and Mundanthurai forests form the Mullai region; the lands watered by the Tamiraparani and other rivers fall under Marudham; the Radhapuram sea coast is its Neithal land and the Teri land forms the Palai region. The district is abundant in centers of natural beauty, pilgrimage, architectural eminence and memorials to great warriors of Indian freedom struggle.
History of Tirunelveli district
Thenpandiyanadu of the early Pandyas, Mudikonda Cholamandalam of the Imperial Cholas, and Tirunelveli Seemai of the Nayaks, Tinnevelly district of the British East India Company and the British administration and Tirunelveli district of Independent India was bifurcated on the 20th of October 1986. The divided districts are called as Nellai-Kattabomman district and Chidambaranar (Tuticorin
) district. Later, the district name was christened as Tirunelveli-Kattabomman district. According to the decision of the Government of Tamil Nadu to name all the districts in the name of their headquarter town, Tirunelveli-Kattabomman district is now known as Tirunelveli district and the Chidambaranar district is now called Thoothukudi district.
On acquisition from the Nawabs of Arcot
in the year 1801, the British named it as Tinnevelly district though their headquarters was first situated in Palayamkottai the adjacent town, where they had their military headquarters during their operations against the Palayakars. There may be two reasons for naming it after Tirunelveli. It may be because Tirunelveli was and is the chief town of the district and the other is that it was already called Tirunelveli Seemai under the Nayaks and Nawabs.
Geography of Tirunelveli district
The Tirunelveli district is situated between eight degree eight minutes and nine degree twenty three minutes to the North latitude and seventy seven degree nine minutes and seventy seven degree fifty four minutes to the East longitude. The total geographical area of the district is 6,823 square kilometres. It is surrounded by Kerala
, Gulf of Mannar and Virudhunagar district, Thoothukudi district and Kanyakumari district
. During the day the coastal regions are cooler than the interior parts by about a degree in summer and southwest monsoon seasons and warmer by one to two degrees in the rest of the year. The main rainy season in this district starts from the month of October to the middle of January and the average annual rainfall in this district is 814.8 millimetre. Some of the rivers of this district are Tamiraparani, Mundhal Odai, Pachaiyar, Korayar, Aluthakanniar, Aintharuviar, Chittar, Jambunathi, Ramanathi, Hanumannathi, Karuppanathi, Gadananathi, Gundar, Mottaiyar, Nambiyar, Karunaiyar, Manimuthar, Vedamaliyaru, Kothaiyaru, Kottamalaiyaru and Rajasingiyaru.
Administration of Tirunelveli district
The district administration of Tirunelveli is headed by the District Collector with his office at the district collectorate. The responsibilities of the District Collector are the maintenance of law & order, coordinating various development and welfare activities in the district, etc. The Collector is helped by the District Revenue Officer in his work of general administration. There are three revenues, eleven taluks, nineteen panchayat unions, sixty firkas and five hundred and fifty nine revenue villages.
Education in Tirunelveli district
Tirunelveli district is also known as the 'Oxford of South India'. This district possesses a rich tradition in education. It has a large number of educational institutions both in the private and government sector. There are two universities, twenty five arts and science colleges, one medical college, one Siddha medical college, twenty engineering colleges, one law college, about two hundred and forty one pre primary schools, one thousand five hundred and one primary schools, four hundred and thirty one middle schools, one hundred and fourteen high schools, one hundred and eighty five higher secondary schools and twenty eight teacher's training institute.
Tourism in Tirunelveli district
There are several temples of Tirunelveli district which form the major pilgrimage centers in the district. Temples of Tirunelveli district bear the evidences of ancient kings and dynasties that ruled the region. Apart from the temples there are also churches and dargahs which are the major centers of pilgrimage in the district. The Venkatachalapathy temple at Krishnapuram village which is dedicated to Lord Venkatachalapathy with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhu Devi on either side. Other temples in this district include the Nellaiappar temple and the Kanthimathi Ambal temple. The temple of Nellaiappar and Kanthimathi is located at a distance of two kilometres from the Railway station. From a distance itself one can get to enjoy the beautiful view of the great gopuram tower.
Apart from the temples there is the Kappal Matha Church in the Tirunelveli district. Another pilgrimage center is the Holy Trinity Cathedral in this district. It is a small, elegant and beautiful Church constructed in the year 1826 by Rev Rhenius and opened to the public for worship on the 26th of June 1826. There is also another place of pilgrimage where people of all faith including Islam
, etc. visit regularly. It is known as the Pottalpudur Dargha, the oldest dargha constructed around the year 1674.
The Mundanthurai-Kalakad wildlife sanctuary in Tirunelveli district is developed as a National Tiger Reserve from the year 1988 with a total area of 817 square kilometers in the southernmost Western Ghat ranges.
The reserve is the southernmost habitat of the tiger. Other predators like panthers, jungle cats, civets, dhole
, jackals, and striped hyena are also found here. Another attraction in this district is a tiny village called Koonthankulam. It is in the far south in the taluk of Nanguneri in Tirunelveli District. Migratory birds start visiting this place by later half of December and fly away to their northern homes by June or July after they lay eggs and hatch them and the young ones grow old enough to fly with the elders. One of the excellent health resorts of this district is. The picturesque surroundings with the backdrops of cloud capped spurs of the Western Ghats lend an unusual charm to the falls. Another prominent place of tourist interest is the Pulithevan Palace. Another favourable summer resorts in the district of Tirunelveli is Manjolai. It is situated at an elevation of one thousand one hundred and sixty two square meters. On the way to Manjolai from Manimuthar there is a very beautiful place called Dasan Pool with plenty of fresh water, greens and fine climate. Apart from these there are various other attractions including the two tiers over bridge called Thiruvalluvar Bridge at Tirunelveli Junction, the District Science Centre, etc.