Tamil Nadu is a state with many facets. From rural villages dating back to several centuries to tech savvy cosmopolitan cities, the state has it all. For the history buff, it is a wonderland. One such area in TN that historians and tourists find fascinating is Tirunelveli. Called Nellai during the British rule, Tirunelveli was ruled by the Pandyas and later by the Cholas. Located in the southern-most tip of the Deccan Plateau, Tirunelveli is surrounded by many scenic places along with several historictemples. Some places to check out are:
Nelliappar and Kanthimathi Temples:
These twin temples are very popular religious sites in Tirunelveli. The temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and were linked by a chain mandapam built by Vadamalaiappa Pillaiyan. The beautiful Dravidian architecture and the musical pillars are truly appealing.
The deity of the temple as the name suggests is a combined form of Narayana and Shankara. Aged about 900 years, the temple has a massive dome with nine tiers and a height of 135 feet.
With a number of water falls, Kuttralam is home to a natural bounty of flora and fauna. Many perennial rivers originate from here making it a popular tourist spot. It is also fondly called as the Spa of southern India. The Shenbagadevi Temple near the Shenbagadevi Falls is a must visit too.
Blessed with expanses of green paddy fields and abundant rivers, Papanasam town gives tourists a chance to indulge in natural bliss. Lose yourself in the views of the lush landscapes from the Manjolai Hills and the many dams present in the town. Spend time watching the many species of migratory birds that have made Papanasam their home.
Also called Papanasam Falls the Agasthiyar Falls is on River Tamiraparani and holds a religious belief for many devotees. A person is believed to be washed off his sins with a dip in this waterfall.
Built by the Pandya kings, the Ulagamman temple is located in Tenkasi or South Kasi. The impressive gopuram of this temple is the second largest in Tamil Nadu and built in the characteristic Dravidian style of the Pandyas. The main deity of KasiVisvanath and the intricately carved musical pillars are the highlights of the temple.
Kalakkad Mundhanthurai Tiger Reserve:
Being the second largest protected reserved forest in TN, the Mudhanthurai forest is spread across 895 square kilometres. It is in the Western Ghats at 1800 metres above sea level and is resplendent with greenery and many varieties of plants, birds and animals. It is the habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Kalakkad is biologically one of the most diverse sanctuaries and one among the 18 biodiversity hotspots in India. It is situated at the southern tip of the Western Ghats and makes it a wonderful trekking destination owing to the rocky terrain. The sanctuary is home to jungle cats, panthers, tigers, hyenas and various amphibians and reptiles.
Literally translated as sculptor’s temple, the temple is built from carved rocks. The construction of the temple is incomplete but the sculptures of Dakshinamoorthy, Brahma, Vishnu and Uma Maheshwar can be seen at the top of the temple.
Holy Trinity Church:
With a pristine white exterior, the Holy Trinity Church in Palayamkottai is a popular tourist destination. It is believed that St Xavier stayed here when he visited India. The Church holds one of the most beautiful Christmas celebrations of our country.
Located at a distance of 15 kilometres from Tirunelveli, the Krishnapuram Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is most popular for the beautiful idol of Lord Vishnu and many other life sized sculptures. The temple site is said to be 9000 years old and the temple structure around 700 years.
Located just a few kilometres from Tirunelveli, this temple is also one among the most visited ones in the area. It is dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Vishnu and can be reached by climbing a long flight of stairs as it is on an elevated plane.
Kappal Matha Church:
Built in the shape of a boat the Church is dedicated to St Mary. It is in Uvari, a town inhabited mainly by fishermen. The Church is built on the seashore making it worth paying a visit both for its unique structure and wonderful location.
Owing its ancient temples, river banks and the scenic beauty of the Western Ghats, Tirunelveli is by far one of the most visited places of Tamil Nadu.