Tirunelveli – The city of temples, waterfalls, dams and food!

Tirunelveli
Temple
Amazing Temple Corridors

Tirunelveli city is a 2000 year old city on the banks of the river Tamiraparani in Tamil Nadu. The city is about 75 kms from Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India and twice as far from the temple city Madurai. While a lot of crowd comes to visit Madurai and Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli gets left out by many. Not many people know about the charms of this beautiful city.

The city and nearby Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) district are filled with beautiful temples including Navakailayam, which are nine temples of Lord Shiva. Tirunelveli itself has the famous Nellaiappar temple which is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and his wife Parvathi. The temple has Musical pillars, there is a hall with thousand pillars and has an abundance of stone sculptures.

Tirunelveli is known for the famous Coutralam waterfalls and there are more waterfalls and dams in the surrounding areas too. Add to all this a wildlife sanctuary in Mundathurai, a bird sanctuary in Koonthankulam and a hill station in Manjolai this place becomes an ideal place for a memorable holiday.

Getting to Tirunelveli city

Tirunelveli is on the  NH7 and NH7A and is connected to Chennai, Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Trivandrum by road.

By Air:-

  • The nearest airport is Tuticorin Airport (Vagaikulam) and is 22kms from the city.
  • There are flights from Chennai daily to Tuticorin
  • The other two airports that are Madurai International airport which is around 150 kms and Trivandrum International airport which is around 130 kms from Tirunelveli,

By Train:-

  • Tirunelveli city is well connected by train to all over India.
  • There are regular trains to Chennai, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Bangalore, Mysore, etc.
  • All trains going towards Kanyakumari will stop at Tirunelveli.

By Road:-

  • NH7 connects Chennai with Tirunelveli city. There are regular buses from Chennai, Trichy, Madurai and other towns and cities in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • NH7A connect Tuticorin port with Tirunelveli city.
  • The roads are very good and wide and are excellent to drive.

Weather in Tirunelveli:

  • Summer is very hot and the temperatures can reach upto 35 deg C
  • Rains occasionally from June to December with  October having the highest rainfall.
  • Best time to visit will be during rainy and winter seasons.

Tirunelveli Tourism – Places to visit in and around Tirunelveli:

Nellaiappar Temple:

pillars
Pillars of Temple

This temple is one of the five places where Lord Shiva is in the dancing pose. It is said that the temple was built in the 7th century. If you love art then this is a place not to miss. The temple is rich with a lot of sculptures which are lifelike. The musical pillars and the thousand pillar hall add to its beauty.

Navakailayam Temples:

The four Navakailaya temples in Tirunelveli are

Cheranmahadevi

  • Papanasam
  • Cheranmahadevi
  • Kodaganallur and
  • Kunnathur

The other five are in in Thoothukudi district and is not far from Tirunelveli, they are

  • Murappanadu
  • Srivaikundam
  • Thenthirupperai
  • Rajjapathi
  • Senthapoomangalam

Other temples to visit in and around Tirunelveli include:

Sankarankovil

  • Uvari
  • Thirukutralanathar temple (Coutrallam)
  • Krishnapuram Vishnu Temple
  • Kurukkuthurai Murugan Temple
  • Thirumalai Kovil
  • Tenkasi
  • Thirukarunkudi
  • Thiruchendur
  • Thirupudaimarudur
  • Thiruvenkatanathapuram
  • Sankarankovil
  • Ayikudi Sri Balasubramaniasamay Temple
  • Sri Sorimuthu Aiyanar Temple

Dams to visit around Tirunelveli:

Manimuthar

  • Manimuthar Dam
  • Papanasam Dam
  • Gundar Reservoir
  • Adavinainar Dam
  • Ramanathi Dam
  • Gadana Nathi Dam

Waterfalls around Tirunelveli:

Coutrallam

  • Coutrallam. – Coutrallam itself has nine different falls, including the main falls and five falls which attract the maximum crowd during the season.
  • Agasthiyar Falls
  • Manimuthaar Falls

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Tirunelveli:

Mundanthurai

  • Mundanthurai wildlife sanctuary is a tiger reserve. There are many animals other than the tiger that can be spotted. It is a great spot to go trekking too. There are forest guest houses available in Mundanthurai for people that are interested in going for a trek and staying there overnight.
  • Koonthankulam bird sanctuary near Nanguneri on the banks of river Tamiraparani is the largest reserve in South India for breeding water birds.

Other places of interest:

Manjolai

  • Manjolai – This is a hill station at a height of 1162 meter. There are tea estates and the place is calm and scenic.
  • The Science centre – The district science centre in Tirunelveli is big and very good. A place for kids to enjoy and learn. They have a few different galleries including a planetarium.

Tips:

  • Though buses are pretty good here, it is preferable to hire a car so you can choose to cover a few places in one day.
  • Food is good and local South Indian food is available in and around Tirunelveli. Nellai Saravana Bhava is one good hotel which has branches all over town and the food is nice. They serve local and healthy food and in the evenings one may even get kambu dosai, chola dosai, etc
  • There are pretty decent places to stay like Hotel Janakiram, Hotel Bharani, Hotel Appletree, Hotel TVK Residency which are pretty inexpensive and clean and food is also available in the hotels.
  • The food that you should absolutely not miss is the “Iruttukadai halwa” which is basically wheat halwa made with plenty of ghee. This is a particular shop in front of Nellaiappar temple without a name board. There is always a queue and the shop opens only in the evening and the shop is open till its stock sells out for the day which is pretty much in less than an hour on most days. Tirunelveli Halwa is available in many sweet shops around the city but none come close enough to Iruttukadai in taste and texture.
  • Other food items to try are Susiyam, kuzhi paniyaram (both sweet and savoury) and poli.
  • Shop for wooden toys, wooden cooking sets for children at the shops around the Nellaiappar temple.
  • The area around the railway station is very lively and is generally open till well past midnight. Food, clothes and book shops are open well past midnight here.