Tirunelveli The Ancient City of Temples


Ancient City of TemplesAbout the City
Tirunelveli is one of India’s richest cultural and religious cities. The city houses many magnificent temples and shrines. It is a rich and fertile land covered by paddy fields. It has a beautiful landscape with some prominent and sacred hills on which sects of devotees worship. Tirunelveli is in the state of Tamil Nadu and about 700 km from the state capital, Chennai.

The roots of the people of Tirunelveli are deeply set in Hinduism. There are other religious sects including Christians, Muslims and Jains in the city as well. The city enjoys a peaceful, harmonious and good blend of the different religious sects. However, it is Hinduism that gives the city its face and bears the rich cultural heritage. The architecture, art, sculptures and great edifices are what make the city famous among tourists. Some of the temples in Tirunelveli are briefly described below but a visit to the city will unravel more than you can read about.

Nellaiappar Temple
This is one of the largest temples in Tirunelveli and the largest Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu. It is located at the centre of the state. The architecture is splendid and its huge sculptures beam with glamour. Nellaiappar Temple is a twin temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvathi. Its huge towers can be seen afar off. The temple dates back to AD 700. Some of its remarkable features worth seeing include; the Golden Lily Tank, the Hall of a Thousand Pillars and Musical Pillars. It is adorned with rare jewels. The temple has cars to carry tourists around. It has one of the heaviest and largest human powered car in South India weighing about 400 tons. The temple houses a large garden of colourful and fragrant flowers that was founded in 1756. In the midst of this garden is a 100 pillar square.

TempleSankaranarayanan Koil (Sankarankovil)
Sankaranarayanan Koil Temple is one of the oldest temples in Tirunelveli which is about 900 years old. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu and the two together are called Sankaranarayanan. In the temple is a massive dome (Gopuram) which is 135 ft high and with 9 tiers. It is an interesting site to visit, especially during the festival of Adi Tapas celebrated between the July and August.

Ulagamman Temple
This is one of the major temples built by the Pandya kings. It is located in Tenkasi (South Kasi). The temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Kasi Visvanathar, a form of Lord Shiva. Ulagammam temple also has a massive dome (Gopuram) which is the second largest in Tamil Nadu. The temple has one of the nicest architectural designs in a distinctive Pandya Dravidian style. One of its nicest features is the intricately carved musical pillars characteristic of all Dravidian temples.

Venkatachalapathy Temple
Venkatachalapathy Temple is one of the oldest temples in Tirunelveli and can be located in the village of Krishnapuram. It is dedicated to Venkatachalapathy, a form of the Hindu deity, Lord Vishnu. The temple site is about 9000 years old but its current structure is about 700 years. It has a brightly adorned and colourful Gopuram.

Other Ancient temples in the City
Other ancient temples in and around the city worth visiting are; Sri Chekkadi Saasthaa Temple for Lord Ayyappan, Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram Temple with Lord Srinivasa’s statue, Vaithya Lingam Temple, Azhagiya Kootthar/Sivagami Ambal Temple, Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple on the banks of Thamirabarani River and many others.

Access to the City
Access to Tirunelveli is easy. The city is well connected to the rest of India and the outside world by rails, roads and even by air. The nearest airport is at Tuticorin, about 22 km from the Tirunelveli. Its railway system is one of the oldest connecting cities like Nagercoil, Kollam, Sankarankovil, Tiruchendur and Madurai.

For those desiring to visit and stay a while, there are numerous modern hotels to choose from. Hotels include the three star RR Inn, Hotel Aryaas and many others. There are nice guest houses and inns to lodge in.