Puranic Association

The Tirunelveli Sthalapurana prescribes a tradition for the origin of the name Tirunelveli. The puranic version goes that one Vedasarma, a staunch devotee of Shiva, on his pilgrimage from the North to the South was invited by Lord Shiva in his dream to his abode on the banks of the sacred river Tamiraparani. The delighted devotee came to 'Sindupoondhurai on the banks of the river and stayed there with his family. Once there was a famine which forced Vedasarma to collect paddy by way of begging and continuing his daily prayers. One day he spread out the paddy to dry under the Sun before the Lord, and went for his ablutions in Tamiraparani. He prayed to the Lord for rain which he thought could be a remedy for the famine. His prayer was answered and when he was bathing, a thunder storm broke-out and it rained heavily. Vedasarma rushed to the place where he had spread the paddy. He witnessed a miracle. Despite rain around the area, the paddy that he had spread did not get even a single drop of rain and did not get soaked. Since then according to the purana the Town is called as “Tiru-nel-veli” (Sacred hedged paddy).

Origin Of the District

On acquisition from the Nawab of Arcot in1801, the British named it as Tinnevelly district though their headquarters was first located in Palayamkottai the adjacent town, where they had their military headquarters during their operations against the Palayakars. Two reasons may be attributed for naming it after Tirunelveli. One is because, it was and is the chief town of the district and the other is that it was already called as Tirunelveli Seemai under the Nayaks and Nawabs. Both Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai grew as the twin towns of the district.

Geographical Data

The Tirunelveli District is located in the world map, between 08o 8’ and 09o 23’ latitude and 77o 09’ and 77o 54’ longitude. The total geographical area of the district is 6,823 sq. km.


The district is surrounded by the State of Kerala, Gulf of Mannar and the districts of Virudhunagar, Thoothukudi and Kanniyakumari.


Land Category Area in Hectares
Wet 79,668
Dry 3,58,151
Assessed Waste 39,274
Unassessed Waste Dry 57,696
Poramboke 25,456
Forest lands 1,22,055
Total 6,82,300


Mineral Resources


It is available at several places in the district. The major part comes from the crystalline limestone deposit occurring near Ramayanpatti, Talaiyuthu and Padmaneri. A total reserve of 4.06 million tonnes limestone up to a depth of 15.2 meter in Ramayanpatti band and 5.08 million tonnes up to a depth of 15.25 meter in Talaiyuthu band has been estimated. The limestone available here contain Calcium Oxide (Ca O) from 34.97 to 55.49 percent, Magnesium Oxide (Mg O) from 0.31 to 7.24 per cent.

The Padmaneri band consists of six limestone lenses with an aggregate strike length of about 800 meter. The average width is 4.75 meter 0.199 million tonnes of cement grade limestone is estimated from this band. The Singikulam band extends over a strike length of 17 km. It contains seven limestone lenses with an aggregate strike length of about 6.4 km. and average width of 13 meter. About 3.160 million tonnes of cement grade limestone is estimated from this band.

Six bands of good quality limestone occur near Pandapuli and 4,34,000 tonnes of limestone suitable for the manufacture of cement and chemical industries have been estimated .


Light traces of sulphides occur in and around Pattankadu and Munradaippu. This mineral is of no economic importance.

Ilmenite - Garnet Sands

Occurrence of red garnet sands in the beds of the river Nambiar and Uvari has been recorded. The proportion of garnet is 75 per cent in the rich deposits and 45 per cent in the surface sands. Local concentration of limenite sands are noticed near Vijayapatti and Kuttankuli.


The total area of the forest of the district is 1,22,055 ha. of which 81700 ha. is set apart for Tiger reserve of Mundanthurai and Kalakadu. The entire forest of the district stretches along the Western ghats.

Various types of forests from luxuriant tropical wet evergreen forests to southern thorn scrub forests occur in the district. Owing to its diverse geographical factors. The forests in the district are technically classified as Southern hill top tropical evergreen forests, West Coast tropical evergreen forests, Southern moist mixed deciduous forests, Ochlandra reed forests, Carnatic umbrella thorn forests Southern Euphorsia scrub and Southern thorn scrub.