Tirunelveli Knowledge Guide
The history of Tirunelveli was researched by Robert Caldwell (1814–91), a Christian missionary who visited the area. Tirunelveli was under the rule of Pandya kings as their secondary capital; Madurai was the empire's primary capital. The Pandya dynasty in the region dates to several centuries before the Christian era from inscriptions by Ashoka (304–232 BCE) and mention in the Mahavamsa, the Brihat-Samhita and the writings of Megasthenes (350–290 CE). The province came under the rule of Cholas under Rajendra Chola I in 1064 CE; however, it is unclear whether he conquered the region or obtained it voluntarily. Tirunelveli remained under control of the Cholas until the early 13th century, when the second Pandyan empire was established with Madurai as its capital.The Nellaiappar temple was the royal shrine of the later Pandyas during the 13th and 14th centuries, and the city benefited from dams constructed with royal patronage during the period. After the death of Kulasekara Pandian (1268–1308), the region was occupied by Vijayangara rulers and Marava chieftains (palayakarars, or poligars) during the 16th century. The Maravars occupied the western foothills and the Telugas, and the Kannadigas settled in the black-soil-rich eastern portion. Tirunelveli was the subsidiary capital of the Madurai Nayaks; under Viswanatha Nayak (1529–64), the city was rebuilt about 1560. Inscriptions from the Nellaiappar temple indicate generous contributions to the temple. Nayak rule ended in 1736. The region was captured by the subjects of the Mughal Empire such as Chanda Sahib (1740–1754) who declared himself "Nawab of Tinnevelly" as well as the Nawab of the Carnatic. In 1743 Nizam-ul-mulk, lieutenant of the Deccan Plateau, displaced most of the Marathas from the region and Tirunelveli came under the rule of the Nawabs of Arcot. The original power lay in the hands of the polygars, who were originally military chiefs of the Nayaks. The city was the chief commercial town during the Nawab and Nayak era. The city was known as Nellai Cheemai, with Cheemai meaning "a developed foreign town". The polygars built forts in the hills, had 30,000 troops and waged war among themselves. In 1755, the British government sent a mission under Major Heron and Mahfuz Khan which restored some order and bestowed the city to Mahfuz Khan. The poligars waged war against Mahfuz Khan seven miles from Tirunelveli, but were defeated. The failure of Mahfuz Khan led the East India Company to send Muhammed Yusuf for help. Khan became ruler, rebelled in 1763 and was hanged in 1764. In 1758, British troops under Colonel Fullarton reduced the polygar stronghold under Veerapandiya Kattabomman. In 1797, the first Polygar war broke out between the British (under Major Bannerman) and the polygars (headed by Kattabomman). Some polygars (such as the head of Ettaiyapuram) aided the British; Kattabomman was defeated and hanged in his home province of Panchalaguruchi. Two years later, another rebellion became known as the Second Polygar War. Panchalankuruchi fell to the British, after stiff resistance. The Carnatic region came under British rule following a treaty with the Nawab of Carnatic.After acquiring Tirunelveli from the Nawab of Arcot in 1801, the British anglicised its name to "Tinnevelly" and made it the headquarters of Tinnelvelli District. The administrative and military headquarters was located in Palayamkottai (anglicised as "Palankottah"), from which attacks against the polygars were launched. After independence both cities reverted to their original names, and Tirunelveli remained the capital of Tirunelveli district. A separate Thoothukudi district was split off in 1986. In 2019 , Tenkasi was split from Tirunelveli District forming Tenkasi District.
Nellaiappar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva in the form of Nellaiappar. The deity is revered in the verses of Tevaram, 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 Nellaiappar Temple is locatedTirunelveli 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 spread to other parts of Tamil Nadu, such as Nagercoil, Srivilliputhur and Thoothukudi. Tirunelveli halwa was popularised by Irutukadai Halwa, a shop opened in 1900 which sells the sweets only during twilight. Tirunelveli has a number of cinemas which predominantly play Tamil movies. It is among the 40 cities in India with FM radio stations. Tirunelveli's stations are Tirunelveli Vanoli Nilayam (All India Radio, from the Government of India), Suryan FM (operated by Sun Network on 93.5 MHz) and Hello FM (operated by the Malai Malar Group on 106.4 MHz).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 Tamil Nadu.The Government Exhibition, an annual event at Exhibition Grounds, attracts thousands of visitors from in and around Tirunelveli. the District Science Center - Tirunelveli is in the centre of the city. Near the city are regional tourist attractions such as the Manimuthar and Papanasam Dams, the Ariakulam and Koonthakulam Bird Sanctuaries, Manjolai and Upper Kodaiyar.