Thoothukudi, formerly Tuticorin, is a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Thoothukudi is the headquarters of Thoothukudi District which is located at the southeastern part of Tamil Nadu. It is almost 580 km away from Chennai, about 261 km away from Tiruchirappalli and about 133 km away from Madurai.
Names of the city
Tuticorin (in English) or Thoothukudi (in Tamil) used to be called Thirumandhira Nagar. There are three theories as to the origin of the name Thoothukudi. First, thoorthu is Tamil for "dig", and kudi means "drink": The town had no rivers and the only source of drinking water was from wells. Second, thoortha means "land reclaimed from the sea" while kudi also stands for "settlement" or "colony". Finally, the Tuticorin name was used by Dutch people who got there before the English, so some people have suggested they named the city.
Thoothukudi has been known for its pearl diving (thus the nickname Pearl City (Muthu Nagaram in Tamil) and for shipbuilding. Thoothukudi became the centre of the Indian independence movement in the early 20th century, with such leaders as the poet Subramanya Bharathy, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Venni Kalady, Vellaya Thevan, and V.O. Chidambaram Pillai. In 1906, the freedom fighter V. O. Chidambaram Pillai, with the help of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, launched the first Swadeshi ship S.S. Gaelia from this port town in British India.
The major harbour of Thoothukudi is one of the oldest sea ports in the world, was the seaport of the Pandyan Kingdom after Korkai and later was taken over by the Portuguese in 1548, captured by the Dutch in 1658, and ceded to the British in 1825. The lighthouse built in 1842 marked the beginning of the history of Thoothukudi harbour's development. Thoothukudi was established as a municipality in 1866 with Roche Victoria as its first chairman.
During World War II, when India was still under British dominance, the economic and strategic importance of V. O. Chidambaranar Port Trust made the town vulnerable to enemy bombings. Sirens and bomb shelters were installed in the town.
After independence, the Port of Thoothukudi witnessed a flourishing trade and handled a variety of cargo meant for neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives, as well as various coastal regions of India.
To cope with the increasing trade through Thoothukudi, the government of India sanctioned the construction of an all-weather Port at Thoothukudi. In 1974, the V. O. Chidambaranar Port opened as the 10th major port in India.
The economy of Thoothukudi is based on shipping, fishing, salt pan, mineral and agricultural industries (rice and palmyrah trees, from which jaggery is made, are cultivated nearby). 30% of India's salt is produced in this district. V. O. Chidambaranar Port is one of the major ports in India, the second-largest port in Tamil Nadu after Chennai Port and third-largest container terminal in India after Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai and Kolkata Port Trust in West Bengal. Due to its proximity with Colombo, Thoothukudi is a major hub for India's trade with Sri Lanka.
- 1 Tuticorin Airport (TCR IATA Thoothukudi Airport) (at Vagaikulam, 15 km from the heart of the city). Spicejet operates flights to Chennai and Bangaluru (Bangalore). There are taxi options to get there. The State Government has planned to extend the runway (over 280 ha/700 acres of land is under approval) and modernize the airport to handle more traffic and bigger aircraft. The airport runway is being extended to facilitate landing of large airplanes and the night landing facility will be established soon.
- 2 Tuticorin Railway Station.
A popular way of getting here is by train, most useful is the daily Pearl City Express service from Chennai which departs 7:35PM every evening, arriving the next morning at 7:30AM. Bangalore and Mysore have night trains bound for Thoothukudi, with a departure time from Mysore at 6PM and from Bangalore 9:20PM, arriving 10:45AM the next day. Regional destinations with direct trains include Coimbatore and Tirunelveli.
Thoothukudi City is well connected by road with rest of the country. The major highways are,
- Thoothukudi - Madurai (NH 45B);
- Thoothukudi - Palayamkottai(NH 7A);
- Thoothukudi - Tiruchendur (State Highway);
- Thoothukudi - Ramanathapuram (State Highway);
- Thoothukudi - Madurai (NH 45B) and Thoothukudi - Tirunelveli (NH 7A) are being converted into 4-lane Expressway.
V. O. Chidambaranar Port is the gateway to India when it comes to shipping with cargo ships arriving daily, some of these accept paying passengers. It's also the only port in the country with a weekly direct cargo service from USA, taking 22 days. Europe, China and several ports along the Red Sea have direct routes too.
Thoothukudi has two main bus stations, namely the New Bus Stand and Arignar Anna Bus stand. Town buses connect both of them with other parts of the town. A network of mini-buses makes getting around Thoothukudi easier.
Auto-rickshaws are also preferable. If you want to travel by the auto, consult local friends or relatives beforehand to find out reasonable prices for the distance you intend to go and negotiate a rate with the driver before the journey.
Palayamkottai Road (stretching westward from Arignar Anna Bus Stand), areas surrounding the Lord Bhagam Priyal temple, Lord Shiva and Lord Perumal temples, WGC (West Great Cotton) Road, its parallel V.E. (Victoria Extension) Road and the streets adjacent to WGC Road form the main area of Thoothukudi. One should be careful and aware of the one-way traffic along the WGC Road.
Places of worship
- 3 Sri Santhanamari Amman kovil (near Mattakadai).
- 4 Our Lady of Snows Basilica (Beach Road, Tutocorin Town). The church dates back to the 16th century. The basilica is dedicated to Lady of Snow a title given to St. Mary.
- 5 Rajaji Park (Rajaji Water Tank Park).
- 6 Sacred Heart Cathedral (Chinna Koil), Tuticorin Town.
- 7 St. Antony's Church (Near V.O.C. Market).
- 8 Holy Trinity (CSI) Church. Built by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) the church dates back to 1750. The VOC monogram and the year 1750 (in Roman numerical) are displayed above the main entrance. The floor plan of the church represents a Greek cross with equal arms.
Tuticorin is famous for Our Lady of Snows Shrine Basilica festival which takes place during August every year. To show their love and gratitude, devotees presented a golden car which is used to carry the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Snows around the town during her feast day. The Golden Car first appeared in procession on 2 February 1806 and since then on 5 August of every year. A big star rests over the royal crown on the top of the car, signifying the name of Our Lady as the Star of the Sea (Stella Maris). The statue is one of three works of religious art brought by explorer Ferdinand Magellan to the Philippines, the others being the Santo Niño de Cebu and the Manapad altar crucifix.
The Lady of Snows is fondly called by the local people Maathaa (literally Mother). This church is known for religious harmony among Hindus and Christians in Tuticorin. Peoples of all religions from Hindu and Muslim also come to the festivals. Some Hindus light the candle and pray (by standing in front of Lady of Snows). You can see portrait of Maathaa along with other Hindu deities in some Hindu houses.
Thoothukudi provides a host of aquatic activities like surfing, kite surfing, snorkeling, kayaking
There are many restaurants in Tuticorin. Most of them are of South-Indian cuisine. Some are vegetarian and some are non-vegetarian. Enquire with your hotel receptionist or Auto-Rickshaw driver or Taxi Driver or any local friends or relatives for restaurants.
Besides hotels and restaurants, there are a lot of tea and coffee bars, snacks stalls, fruit juice corners, bakeries, and sweet stalls which can be found at any main area.
Tuticorin is famous for a wide variety of sweets, snacks, and the famous "Parotta Salna Set". Tuticorin has its own version of the "macaroon", this version differs from the French version since its made with egg whites, cashew, sugar, and yeast. Alagu Vilas, Lala Mithai Kadai, Namachivaya are all famous sweet meat shops that sell delicious traditional sweets and savories.
Thoothukudi macaroon: Thoothukudi is known for its bakery items especially Macaroon. Macaroon is cake or cookie of European origin. It is a light, baked confection including ingredients like almonds, coconuts and nuts. Thoothukudi macaroon is slightly different from European macaroons since it contains cashew as a main ingredient.
Ganesh Bakery on VOC Road sells the famous macaroon and while you are stocking up on their macaroons, you could also pick up their delicious cakes and cookies. Another sweet worthy of mention is thenkuzhal made of molasses, a sinful combination of flour and molasses in a unique floral-ring shape. You can find this in Alagu Vilas. You need to specifically ask for "karupatti thenkuzhal". Palayamkottai Rd and WGC Road have a slew of bakeries along their stretch.
If you are in South Tuticorin near Beach Road, you must try the local delicacies - vazhapazha innipu (banana halwa), dodol (yes, a local version of the Indonesian sweet), paaghu (made with brinjal and palm jaggery), puttu karupatti (cute molasses candies). These are all made in the houses that line the Beach Road and Lady of Snows Church. It would be a good idea to ask the locals to find these houses. If you are near the old bus stand, do pick up "Nut Bars" from Gnanam Bakery - a delicious nut candy made with oodles of ghee.
Thoothukudi is not famous just for the sweets, this is a town famous for its hot, spicy meat fare made right on the streets. Alwar Night Club is where the locals go berserk over deep fried parotta pieces coated with chicken/mutton gravies. For vegetarians, Brindavan Hotel offers traditional Chettinad delicacies like hot and sweet paniyarams. There is something in Tuticorin for every palate - two things you shouldn't leave without sampling are the macaroons and the salna set from Alwar.
Lodges exist in areas around the Old Bus Stand and along V.E road.
For Police, Dial 100;
For Ambulance/Fire Service, Dial 101.
Medical stores and pharmacies can be found along the main roads and main streets, but if you regularly take a medicine, it is best to bring that along with you.
- Radio - Tuticorin has All India Radio Station which Carries AIR External Services for South Asia in English, as well as Sinhala and Tamil (1053 kHz).
- Rameswaram: An island connected to the mail land by a land and rail bridge
- Courtallam (Kutrallam) - Courtallam (Kutrallam), the 'Spa of the south', which is famous for its waterfalls is about 112 km west from Tuticorin and 61 km west from Tirunelveli.
- Ettaiyapuram - Ettaiyapuram is the birth place of the great Tamil Poet Mahakavi Bharathiar. Muthuswami Dikshitar, one of the triad of Carnatic music also was patronised in his final years by the ruler of Ettaiyapuram.Umaru Pulavar a Tamil Islamic poet also lived here. Ettaiyapuram is about 42 km north of Tuticorin, located on the Tuticorin - Madurai national highway (NH 45B).
- Festivals in Thiruchendur - Soorasamharam is performed here. Brahmothsavam in the month of Magha (February – March), Vasanthothsavam for 10 days in Chaitra (April – May), Visaka Visakam for 12 days in Vaisakha (May – June) and Skandha Sashti in Asvini (October – November) are celebrated in this temple.Besides these, there are two Maha Utsavams called,in Tamil, as Aavanipperunthirunaal and Maasipperunthirunaal being conducted and celebrated in a grand fashion during Simharavi i.e.,Tamil month of Aavani(August-September)and Kumbharavi i.e., Tamil month of Maasi(January-February) respectively. These are 12 day festivals which happen twice every year,during the above said periods. Thiruchendur is about 38 km south of Tuticorin.
- Kanyakumari - Kanyakumari is 133 km south-west of Tuticorin. Kanyakumari which is also called Cape Comorin is located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula. Kanyakumari has the temple for Kanya Devi, an avatar of Goddess Parvati.
- Kanyakumari is popular in India for its spectacular and unique sunrise and sunset. The confluence of three ocean bodies - the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea - makes the sunrise and sunset even more special. On balmy, full-moon evenings, (locally called Chitra Pournami) one can also see the moon-rise and sunset at the same time - on either side of the horizon.
- On two rocky islets just off the shore are the Vivekanda Rock Memorial, built in 1970, and the gigantic 133 feet statue of Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar. Swami Vivekananda is said to have seated on a rock in deep meditation. That rock is now called Vivekanda Rock Memorial. Also on this rock, there is a Dhyana mandapam, an area for meditation. Boat services are available to reach the Vivekanda Rock Memorial and the Thiruvalluvar Statue. The famous temple Thanumalayan Temple Suchindram is located in Kanyakumari.
- Kulasekarapattinam - Lord Mutharamman Temple is in Kulasekarapattinam. It is the only temple in South Asia where God and Goddess are in the same shrine. Kulasekarapattinam is very famous for Dasara Festival. In India, Dasara is very famous after Mysore. The Dasara festival takes place during October. In the past there was trade between Kulasekarapattinam and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Trade between Kulasekarapattinam and Colombo (of Sri Lanka) was very high that Kulasekarapattinam was once called by the title Chinna Colombo (Small or Little Colombo). Kulasekarapattinam is about 51 km south of Tuticorin and about 13 km south of Tiruchendur.
- Lord Nellaiappar - Kanthimathi Amman Temple is a vast temple with many unique features such as the Manimandapam near the Nandi mandapam that has two huge pillars carved out of a single stone. Each giant pillar has 48 small pillars which produce musical sounds when struck.
- Manappadu - The Holy Cross Church at Manapad was built in 1581. Thousands of worshippers congregate during the festival season from 1 to 14 September every year. The church is associated with St. Francis Xavier. Manappadu is about 52 km south of Tuticorin and about 18 km south of Tiruchendur.
- Ottapidaram - Ottapidaram is birth Place of V.O. Chidambaram, a great Freedom Fighter who launched the first indigenous Indian shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo with the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, competing against British ships.. Ottapidaram is the biggest taluk in Tamil Nadu state. Ottapidaram is only a few kilometres north-west of Tuticorin.
- Panchalankurichi - Panchalankurichi is the birth place of the brave Veerapandiya Kattabomman, a 17th century Palayakarrar (or Polygar), who opposed the British colonial rule in India and their Tax collecting methods. Today Panchalankurichi is a historically important place and tourist center with Kattabomman Memorial Fort being the major attraction. Panchalankurichi is also only a few kilometres north-west of Tuticorin.
- Thiruchendur - Lord Muruga Temple in Thiruchendur is the second of the Arupadai Vedu(six abodes) of Lord Muruga. It is a holy place to the Ayyavazhi. The Avatharappathi here is one of the most important pilgrim centers of Ayyavazhi. Naazhi Kinaru (sacred well), is outside the temple at a distance of 100 m south of the temple. Devotees are allowed to bathe by scooping out the water with a vessel and the water in the well never dries up. Despite the temple being on the seashore, the water is not salty
- Tirunelveli - Tirunelveli is about 51 km west from Tuticorin. Lord Nellaiappar - Kanthimathi Amman Temple is in the city of Tirunelveli. It is one of the famous Tamil Nadu temples, deep in tradition and history and also known for its musical pillars and brilliant sculptural splendours. It is the largest Shiva Temple in TamilNadu. Nellaiappar Car is the third largest car in Tamil Nadu. temple is a complex of two huge temples covering an area of 14 acres and linked by the Mandapam (pillared hall) which has pillars with beautiful life-sized sculptures carved into them, as do many of the Mandapams there. The thousand-pillared hall is of great beauty. The musical pillars in the Mani Mandapam produce sound in various pitches when struck and are from the 7th century AD.
- Tirunelveli is also famous for the Halwa sweet. Lala snacks are also popular here.
- Uvari - Uvari is a coastal village few kilometres further south of Manappadu. It is 75 km from Tirunelveli and 45 km from Kanyakumari. The Kappal Matha Church (our lady of health), with the form of a ship carrying an airplane, is located here. The original church of St. Mary was damaged by sea erosion, and replaced by this one built in 1974. There are three shrines and many grottos.
- The sister town of this village is known as Keezha Uvari which is famous for an ancient Shiva temple, Sri Suyambulingaswamy Thirukovil. Today little is left except the remnants of gate arches carved out of rock and an abandoned temple, a little away from the newly constructed main temple.