Tirunelveli (Tamil: திருநெல்வேலி) city is the sixth largest city in Tamil Nadu, and the district headquarters of Tirunelveli district. The city is considered one of the oldest in Indian Subcontinent, dating back around 3,000 years. It is on the west bank of the Thamirabarani River. Palayamkottai - the twin city of Tirunelveli - is on the east bank. Palayamkottai is known as "Oxford of South India" due to the existence of many schools and colleges.
Tirunelveli is famous for halwa. The city is also called "Nellai "(Tamil:நெல்லை) .
Tirunelveli is well-connected by road. The city is on NH 44 (old name NH 7), 150 km to the south of Madurai and 80 km to the north of Kanyakumari. NH 138 (Old name - NH 7A) , connects Palayamkottai with Tuticorin Port. Tirunelveli is accessible by road from Madurai (3 hours) or Nagercoil (1 1/2 hours). Tirunelveli is also connected by major state highways to Kollam, Tiruchendur, Rajapalayam, Sankarankovil, Ambasamudram and Nazareth.
Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operates local, Mofussil, and long distance buses from Tirunelveli. There are also private bus operators, who operate local and long-distance buses.
There are three main bus stands in the city.
- 1 Bharat Ratna Dr. M.G.R New Bus Stand (Tirunelveli New Bus Stand). The bus stand is located in Veinthankulam. It has regular bus services to nearby cities like Tenkasi, Tiruchendur, Thoothukudi, Kanniyakumari, Nagercoil, Kovilpatti as well as to Major cities of Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring states like Madurai, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Alappuzha, Rameswaram, Velankanni , Tirupathi etc.
- 2 Junction Periyar Bus Stand (Tirunelveli Junction Bus Stand). The bus stand serves as terminal to Local buses which run within the city. The bus stand is under re-modelling now.
- 3 Palayamkottai Bus Stand (Palai Bus Stand). The bus stand, which is loocated in Palayamkottai, also serves as terminal for local buses.
Tirunelveli one of the busiest and most important railway junctions in Tamil Nadu, connected to major cities in all four directions. Madurai to the north, Nagercoil to the south, Tenkasi and Kollam to the west and Tiruchendur, Thoothukudi to the east.
There are also some small railway stations like Palayamkottai and Tirunelveli Town in the city. Only local trains halt in these stations.
- 1 Tirunelveli Junction railway station. A majestic looking structure with a high elevated façade.
The nearest domestic airport is Tuticorin airport, located at Vaagaikulam, Thoothukudi district, about 24 km east of Tirunelveli city. IndiGo Airlines operates flights from here to Chennai and Bangalore. The nearest International airports are Madurai International Airport and Trivandrum International Airport which are located 150 kilometres away from the city.
Local buses are used by most people to get around the city. The buses are operated by both public and private operators within the city. One can also use auto rickshaws and taxis to travel in the city.
4 Arulmigu Nellaiyappar Sametha Arultharum Gandhimathi Amman Temple (Nellaiappar Temple). Arulmigu Nellaiappar - Ganthimathi Temple is one of the oldest and biggest Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu. It is situated in the heart of Tirunelveli. It is famous for its musical pillars, 1000-Pillars Mandapam and Thamira Sabai . The original complex is believed to have been built by Pandyas, while the present masonry structure was added by Cholas, Pallavas, Cheras, and Madurai Nayaks. In modern times, the temple is maintained and adminIstered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.The Nellaiappar Temple is bigger than the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, though the latter is more famous owing to its historical importance.
5 Arulmigu Subramaniya Swami Temple, Kurukkuthurai (Kurukkuthurai Temple). The historic temple, which was built by Nayakas, is located in the banks of river Thamirabarani. Whenever the water level rises in Thamirabarani river due to floods, the temple gets submerged in the river, yet, it is still beautiful and withstands floods.
- 1 Iruttu Kadai (Dark shop). Iruttu kadai, a sweet stall has got its name because the shop opens at 5 P.M in the evening and operates with only 1 or 2 yellow electric bulbs (iruttu kadai translates to dark shop). The halwa (a sweet) from this place is famous all over the country and it's the first thing that comes to mind when you utter the city name. It is located opposite to the Nellaiappar temple and is almost always crowded. The original iruttu kadai is located opposite to the nellaiappar temple. There are no other branches in anywhere in the world.
Tirunelveli is called the Oxford of Tamil Nadu because of the significant number of well reputed schools and colleges in Palayamkottai, a place that forms the heart of the city. Rightly called so, as there is a representation from at least one of these schools in top rankings in the 10th and 12th state-wide public exams conducted each year.
The city has government and private colleges in the medical, legal, engineering, arts, pharmacy, and physiotherapy fields. Tirunelveli Medical College and the Government College of Engineering Tirunelveli are professional colleges run by the government of Tamil Nadu. St. Xaviers College run by Jesuits, St. Johns College and Sarah Tucker College run by CSI Diocese, M.D.T. Hindu College and Sadakathulla Appa College are well-known arts colleges.
The Manonmaniam Sundaranar University is in Nellai, on the Tenkasi road, about 11 km from junction. The university is named after a famed poet who was the author of Tamil Thai Vazhthu (Praise to Mother Tamil), which is the official state song.
With a view to improve the quality of education in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu, the Finance ministry has stated in the budgetary note that one more Anna University is to be created in the city of Tirunelveli.
- Hotel Applet Tree 3 Star, North Bye-pass Road, Vannarapettai
- Hotel Aryaas, Junction
- Hotel Aryaas Residency, Vannarapettai
- Hotel MNH Royal Park, Junction
- Hotel RR Inn 3 Star, Madurai Road,Junction
- Ramanass Inn, Junction
- Sakunthala International, Junction
- Sri Janakiram Hotels, Junction
- Sri Bharani Hotels, Junction
- TVK Regency, near to railway station and local bus stand http://tvkregency.com/[dead link]
- Sivasailam Temple and Gadananathi River Dam (via Poovankurichi & Sivasailam)
- Kanyakumari. The place where the Indian Saint Vivekenanda meditated on Goddess Kanyakumari the consort of Lord Siva, is about 90 km from Nellai.
- Swamithoppe. The place where Ayya Vaikundar carried out his six-year penance.
- Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala. A place of almost surrealistic green landscapes and temples and backwater streams, vast coconut groves is about a 100 km away. Like Kanchipuram, this place houses many famous and ancient temples that possess phenomenal historical and heritage value. Most famous among them is the Nelliappar Gandhimathi temple, a temple of Lord Shiva.