Thirunelveli – General Information
Tirunelveli District is a district of Tamilnadu state in southern India. The city of Tirunelveli is the district headquarters. Tirunelveli District was formed on 1 September 1790 by the East India Company (on behalf of the British government), and comprised the present Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts and parts of Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram districts. It is the second-largest district (as of October 2008), after Villupuram district. As of 2011, the district had a population of 3,077,233.
Tirunelveli also known as Nellai and historically (during British rule) as Tinnevelly, is a city in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. It is the administrative headquarters of the Tirunelveli District. It is the fifth-largest municipal corporation in the state (after Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli). Tirunelveli is located 700 km (430 mi) southwest of the state capital, Chennai and 58 km (36 mi) away from Thoothukudi. The city is located on the west bank of the Thamirabarani River; its twin city Palayamkottai is on the east bank.
Tirunelveli was known in Sambandar's seventh-century Saiva canonical work Thevaram as Thirunelveli. Nellaiyappar temple inscriptions indicate that Shiva (as Vrihivritesvara) descended in the form of a hedge and roof to save the paddy crop of a devotee. 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, the Cholas Mudikonda Cholamandalam and the Nayaks Tirunelveli Seemai; it was known as Tinnelvelly by the British and Thirunelveli after independence. The word Tirunelveli is derived from three Tamil words: Thiru, Nel and Veli, meaning "sacred paddy hedge".
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The district is located in the southern part of Tamilnadu. It borders Virudhunagar District to the north, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala to the west, Kanyakumari District to the south and Thoothukudi District to the east. The district covers an area of 6,823 square kilometers (2,634 sq. mi). It lies between 8°05' and 9°30' north latitude and 77°05' and 78°25' east longitude.
The district contains mountains (a stretch of the Western Ghats) and lowland plains, including sandy soil and fertile alluvium, and a variety of flora, fauna and protected wildlife. The district also has inland and mountainous forests. Tirunelveli is said to be the only district of Tamilnadu to have all the five types of ecological zones as described in the ancient Tamil Literature Kurunji (hilly), Mullai (Forest), Marutham (Flat fertile land), Neithal (area forming the seashore) and Palai (Dry desert lands).
The climate of Tirunelveli is generally hot and humid. The average temperature during summer (March to June) ranges from 25 °C (77 °F) to 41 °C (106 °F), and 18 °C (64 °F) to 29 °C (84 °F) during the rest of the year. Tirunelveli has rainfall in all seasons (953.1 millimeters (37.52 in) in 2005 and 2006), and benefits from both the northeast and southwest monsoons. Most precipitation came from the northeast monsoon (548.7 millimeters (21.60 in)) followed by the southwest monsoon (147.8 millimetres (5.82 in)) and summer rains (184.2 millimetres (7.25 in)).
The district is irrigated by several rivers originating in the Western Ghats, such as the Pachaiyar River, which flows into the perennial Tambiraparani River. The Tambiraparani and Manimuthar Rivers have many dams, with reservoirs providing water for irrigation and power generation. The Tambiraparani River provides consistent irrigation to a large agricultural area. The Chittar River also originates in this district. The Courtallam and Manimuthar waterfalls are the two major falls in the district.
The district is well-connected by a network of roads and railways. Tirunelveli city serves as the main junction. It has no airports; the nearest airports are at Tuticorin (40 kilometers (25 mi) away), Madurai (150 kilometers (93 mi)) and Thiruvananthapuram (158 kilometers (98 mi)). The district has a total of 27 railway stations. Canals, wells, tanks and reservoirs are the sources of irrigation in the district. As of 2005–2006, the district had a total of 151 canals with a length of 499 kilometers (310 mi), 85,701 irrigation wells, 640 tube wells, eight reservoirs and 2,212 tanks. The district also has 21,776 wells used for domestic purposes.
Electricity is provided by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). The district has hydroelectric power plants and windmills, with an installed capacity of 1,089.675 megawatt-hours (3,922.83 GJ); it is one of the major producers of wind energy in the state. The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant project is being undertaken (with Russian aid) at the village of Koodankulam, 24 kilometers (15 mi) north-east of Kanyakumari, 36 kilometers (22 mi) from Nagercoil and about 106 kilometers (66 mi) from Thiruvananthapuram.
Koodankulam is also the location of hundreds of windmills used for power generation, eight of which are located inside the grounds of the nuclear plant. These wind turbines have currently a total capacity of 2000 MW and represent one of the largest wind farms in India. Since the beginning of 2011, this place has been embroiled in a nuclear plant controversy over fears of the plant safety.
Tirunelveli is known for its educational institutions, many of which are located at Palayamkottai (east of Tirunelveli). For this reason, Palayamkottai is known as the "Oxford of South India". The district has a literacy rate of 76.97%, which is above the state average. As of 2005–2006, the district had a total of 2,494 schools. It has one university, the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. There are also four government colleges, eleven government-sponsored colleges and seven private colleges. During the 1790s, Tamil Christians established a number of schools in Tirunelveli. The missionary educational system included primary and boarding schools, seminaries, industrial schools, orphanages and colleges.
The first boarding school for girls was opened in 1821, but its efforts were hampered by the emphasis on Christian education. Thomas Munro (1761 – 1827 CE) of the British East India Company established a two-tier school system: district schools, teaching law, and sub-district schools teaching vernacular languages in the Madras Presidency. Tirunelveli had four sub-district schools: two teaching Tamil and one each for Telugu and Persian. Tirunelveli has 80 schools: 29 higher secondary schools, 12 high schools, 22 middle schools and 17 primary schools; the city corporation operates 33 of these schools.
The city has eight arts and science colleges and six professional colleges. The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University is named for poet Manonmaniam Sundaranar, who wrote "Tamil Thai Vazhthu" the state anthem. Most Christian schools and colleges in the city are located in the Palayamkottai area. Anna University of Technology Tirunelveli was established in 2007, offering a variety of engineering and technology courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Tirunelveli Medical College, Veterinary College and Research Institution and the Government College of Engineering, Tirunelveli are professional colleges operated by the government of Tamil Nadu.
The Jesuit St. Xavier's College, and St. John's College (operated by the Church of South India diocese), MDT Hindu College, Sadakathulla Appa College and Sarah Tucker College are notable arts colleges. The Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) operates a regional unit, the Equatorial Geophysical Research Laboratory, conducting research in geomagnetism and atmospheric and space sciences. The city has a District Science Centre (a satellite unit of Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bangalore) with permanent exhibitions, science shows, interactive self-guided tours, a mini-planetarium and sky observation. Tirunelveli and the district have a high rate of child labour. The drop in female school attendance between ages 15 and 19 is almost four times greater than that in the rest of Tamilnadu.
Tirunelveli has the following educational institutions:
· Universities: 1
· Arts and science colleges: 25
· Medical College: 1
· Siddha medical college: 1
· Veterinary College and Research institute
· Engineering colleges: More than 20
· Law school: 1
· Pre-kindergartens: 241
· Primary schools: 1,501
· Middle schools: 431
· High schools: 114
· Higher secondary schools: 185
· Teacher-training institutes: 28
It has Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU), which was established in 1990. Named after poet Sundaram Pillai, the university has a network of 102 affiliated colleges. Many of these colleges have contributed to higher education for decades; five colleges are more than 100 years old. The University campus is located at Abishekapatti, 9 kilometers (5.6 mi) from Tirunelveli town. Advanced studies are offered in a number of departments, and postgraduate programs in Tamil, Management studies, Chemistry, Communications, Computer science, English, Environmental studies, History, Mathematics, Physics, Sociology, Criminology studies, Psychology and Statistics are offered.
The university has introduced compulsory core courses in Indian studies. The curriculum includes "History of Freedom Movement in India", "Gandhian Thought", "Ecology, Environment and Pollution Studies", "Status of Women in India", "History of Science", "Indian Economy since Independence", "Rural India", "Consumer Protection”, “Social Responsibility in Business" and "Secularism". It has set up a centre for environmental studies at Alwarkurichi in collaboration with the Amalgamations Corporation. Eco-friendly ventures in aquaculture and fishing are encouraged. The centre has developed organic manure, "Mano compost".
In 1878, there were two colleges in the district: the Madurai Diraviam Thayumanavar Hindu College and St. John’s College. The first college for women (and third college of the district), Sarah Tucker College, began in 1895. The fourth and fifth colleges, St. Xavier’s and St. Ignatius Colleges of Education, were established in 1923 and 1957, respectively. In 1963–64, two more colleges, the Paramakalyani and Parasakthi Colleges, were added. The Ambai Arts and Thiruvalluvar Colleges (1969), Muthuramalinga Thevar College and Government Arts College for Women (1970), and the Sadaktathullah Appa and T.D.M.N.S. Colleges (1971) followed. Except for the Government Arts College for Women, all of the schools are private colleges run by educational trusts. There are three self-financing colleges: Saratha College for Women (1986), Sattanathakarayalar College (1994–1995) and Jayaraj Annabakkiam College (1997–1998).
Of the 17 arts colleges in the district, eight are coeducational institutions; five are for women and four for men. The colleges in Tirunelveli district were originally affiliated with the University of Madras. Upon the creation of Madurai Kamaraj University in 1966, they were affiliated with MKU from 1966 to 1990. In 1990, their affiliation transferred to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. The university has granted autonomous status to St. Xavier’s College in Palayamkottai and Sri Parasakthi College for Women in Courtallam. The Regional Directorate of the Collegiate Education in the district was formed on 10 September 1979 to regulate colleges in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts.
In 1986, the Revenue District of Tirunelveli was divided into Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts. A new post, District Educational Officer at Tenkasi, was created. The office of "District Educational Officer, Tirunelveli Central" was changed to "District Education Officer, Tirunelveli"; the "District Educational Officer, Tirunelveli South" was redesignated "District Educational Officer, Cheranmahadevi". The three District Education Officers serve under the Chief Education Officer.
District Educational Officer, Tirunelveli
Taluks of Tirunelveli, Palayamkottai and Sankarankovil
District Educational Officer, Cheranmahadevi
Taluks of Ambasamudram, Nanguneri and Radhapuram
District Educational Officer, Tenkasi
Taluks of Tenkasi, Shenkottai, Alangulam, VK Pudur and Sivagiri
District Adult Education Officer
District Elementary Educational Officer
Entire Tirunelveli district (primary and upper-primary schools)
Assistant Elementary Educational Officers (21)
One for each of the 19 Panchayat unions and two for urban areas
Additional Assistant Elementary Educational Officers (21)
One for each of the 19 Panchayat unions and two for urban areas
In 1996, the Government Law College, Tirunelveli was established to meet the requirements of the people of the southernmost part of Tamilnadu. It opened on 14 October 1996 with 80 students in its three-year law course affiliated to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University as the fifth institution of its kind in the state. Since the academic year 1997–98, the college is affiliated with the Tamilnadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai. At first, classes were held at the Ponnusamy Pillai Bungalow on Tiruchendur Road in Palayamkottai before its new building was constructed. The College has functioned in its own new building in an area of 15 acres adjacent to District Court Buildings on the Tiruchendur High Road since October 2000.
Another milestone in the history of this college was when M.L Degree in Constitutional Law and Human Rights was started in 1997. A five-year B.L. course was introduced in the academic year 2000–01. As directed by the Bar Council of India, a semester system was introduced for both (three years and five years) Law Courses, beginning with the academic year 2002–2003.
The Tirunelveli Medical College and its teaching hospital are located on about 280 acres of land at High Grounds, Palayamkottai. It was established in 1965 and affiliated with the University of Madras, with 75 students for the academic year 1965–1966. These students took their first-year courses at local arts and science colleges. In July 1966, the first group of second-year MBBS students attended the classes in the newly constructed Anatomy Block. Other departments (such as pharmacology, pathology, microbiology and social and preventive medicine) began in subsequent years and the district-headquarters hospital was converted to Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital.
The college was affiliated with Madurai Kamaraj University after its inception in 1967. Since 1988, upon the formation of The TN Dr MGR Medical University, Chennai, it has been affiliated with that university. The college was recognized by the Medical Council of India, New Delhi in 1978. The number of seats for the MBBS course was increased from 75 to 100 in 1980, and that year the state government also authorized postgraduate courses. The college celebrated its silver jubilee in 1990. The number of MBBS seats offered was increased to 150 seats in 2003 and was recognized in 2008 (like Madras Medical College, Government Stanley Medical College, and Madurai Medical College).
The Government Siddha Medical College was established at Palayamkottai on 30 November 1964. This was an affiliated College of the University of Madras until March 1966; from then until 1988 it was an affiliate of Madurai Kamaraj University, and since March 1989 of Dr. MGR Medical University.
Technical education in the district dates to 1844, when Mrs. Caldwell (wife of Bishop Robert Caldwell) began a school to teach girls lace-making at Idyangudi. The government of Tamilnadu set up a State Board of Technical Education and Training and a separate Directorate of Technical Education, effective 1 October 1957. Since then, the Directorate of Technical Education has assumed the administration of both engineering colleges and polytechnics.
The Government College of Engineering was established in October 1981 to fulfill the needs of people in the southern region. At first, the college met in a bungalow near Tirunelveli Medical College, while new buildings were under construction. In 1984, the college moved into the new buildings on its 25-hectare (62-acre) campus, about 8 km from Tirunelveli Junction on the Tirunelveli-Trivandrum Highway.
From its inception, the College admitted students in three undergraduate departments: civil, electronics and communication and mechanical engineering; electrical and electronics engineering was introduced during 1986–1987, and computer science and engineering was added in 1989–1990. A postgraduate course in computer science and engineering was introduced in 1994–1995. It also has post graduate courses in engineering design and power electronics.
Nellaiyappar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva in the form of Nellaiyappar. The deity is revered in the verses of Thevaram, a seventh-century Saiva work by Sambandar. The temple was greatly expanded during the 16th-century Nayak period and has a number of architectural attractions, including musical pillars. The temple has several festivals, the foremost an annual festival when the temple chariot is brought around the streets near the temple. It is one of the Pancha Sabhai temples, the five royal courts of Nataraja (the dancing form of Shiva), where he performed a cosmic dance. The Nataraja shrine in the temple represents copper, and features many copper sculptures.
Tirunelveli has its fair share of temples, dating back to ancient times. It also prides itself as being the site where the Nellaiyappar Temple is located, the state’s largest Shiva Temple. Tirunelveli is also known for halwa, a sweet made of wheat, sugar and ghee. It originated during the mid-1800s at Lakshmi Vilas Stores, which still exist. The art of sweet-making spreads to other parts of Tamilnadu, such as Nagercoil, Srivilliputtur & Thoothukudi. Tirunelveli halwa was popularised by Irutukadai Halwa, a shop opened in 1900 which sells the sweets only during twilight.
A number of state- and national-level sports events are sponsored in Tirunelveli annually. The VOC grounds (in central Palayamkottai) and the Anna Stadium (on St. Thomas Road) are popular venues in the city, and some events are held at scholastic sports facilities. As in India generally, the most popular sport is cricket. Also popular are football, volleyball, swimming and hockey, played on facilities provided by the Tirunelveli Division of the Sports Development Authority of Tamilnadu. The Government Exhibition, an annual event at Exhibition Grounds, attracts thousands of visitors from in and around Tirunelveli.
Inscriptions from the eighth to the 14th centuries (during the rule of the Pandyas, Cholas and later Tenkasi Pandyas) indicate the growth of Tirunelveli as a centre of economic growth which developed around the Nellaiyappar temple. The drier parts of the province also flourished during the rule of the Vijayanagara kings. From 1550 until the early modern era, migration to the city from other parts of the state was common and the urban regions became hubs of manufacturing and commerce. Tirunelveli was a strategic point, connecting the eastern and western parts of the peninsula, as well as a trading centre.
Records of sea and overland trade between 1700 and 1850 indicate close trading connections with Sri Lanka and Kerala. During the 1840s, cotton produced in the region was in demand for British mills. The chief exports during British rule were cotton, jaggery, chillies, tobacco, palmyra fibre, salt, dried saltwater fish and cattle. Occupations in Tirunelveli include service-sector activities such as administration, agricultural trading, tourism, banking, agro-machinery and educational services. In 1991, the Tirunelveli region ranked second in the number of women workers.
Service sectors such as tourism have developed, due to a growth in religious tourism. Tirunelveli has beedi and cement factories, tobacco companies, workshops for steel-based products and mills for cotton textiles, spinning and weaving; there are also small-scale industries, such as tanneries and brick kilns. The agricultural areas, hand-woven clothes and household industries contribute to the economic growth of the city. Food-processing industries have developed since the late 1990s; at the district level, it is the foremost industrial segment.
Industries involving rice-making, blue-jelly metal manufacturing and jem power generating are located on the outskirts of the city. The major agricultural produce in the region is paddy and cotton. Beedi production during the 1990s earned annual revenue of 190 billion and a foreign exchange of 8 billion across the three districts of Tirunelveli, Tiruchirappalli and Vellore. Tirunelveli is a major area for wind-power generation. Most wind-power-generation units in Tamilnadu are located in Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari Districts. In 2005 they contributed 2036.9 MW to the state power-generation capacity.
Many private, multinational wind companies are located on the outskirts of the city. In June 2007 the Tata Group signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government to open a titanium dioxide plant, with an estimated value of 25 billion, in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi Districts. However, the state government put the project on hold after increasing protests against it. Tirunelveli has been an agricultural area throughout its history. The district is a major producer of rice, coconuts, bananas, spices and forest-based products.
The district is home to almost 50% of the buffalo population of Tamilnadu. Since it is a coastal district, Tirunelveli is also involved in fishery development and production. For the period 2005–2006, the total inland fish catch was 1,874 tonnes, and the total marine fish catch was 7,014 tonnes. India Cements Limited is the third largest cement company in India, and began at Sankarnagar in Tirunelveli in 1949. The district is also rich in minerals, with a total of 407 mines and quarries. Limestone, granite and garnet sand are some of the minerals mined or produced in the district. Major industries include textile, food and forestry products.
A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was introduced at Nanguneri in 2001. A pharma park and windmill spare-parts and television-manufacturing factories have been planned in this SEZ. The Tamilnadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) has planned a Rs 700-crore high-tech industrial park in Nanguneri in association with INFAC Group and Axes Technologies Inc of the US. The state government is planning light manufacturing, design and assembly facilities, modern infrastructure facilities and amenities in this SEZ to attract a workforce from around the world.
Places of Interest
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