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Tirunelveli aka Nellai is a city located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Tirunelveli has located about 700 km from the state capital, Chennai and 58 km from Tuticorin. Tirunelveli has a number of historical monuments. According to 2011 census, Tirunelveli had a population of 473,637. The city covers an area of 108.65 square kilometers. Tamil is the main language spoken in the city, but the use of English is relatively common; English is the medium of instruction in most educational institutions and offices in the service sector. Though it is one of the largest cities in Tamil Nadu and has a booming agrarian economy, Tirunelveli is far from being a regular commercial hub. It has its roots very much intact, with multiple religious splendors waiting to be discovered

Etymology

The city was known as Nellai Cheemai, with Cheemai meaning “a developed foreign town”. The word Tirunelveli is derived from three Tamil words: thiru, nel and veli, meaning “sacred paddy hedge”.

Economy

Migration to the city from other parts of the state was common and the urban regions became hubs of manufacturing and commerce. Tirunelveli was a strategic point, connecting the eastern and western parts of the peninsula, as well as a trading center.

Occupations in Tirunelveli include service-sector activities such as administration, agricultural trading, tourism, banking, agro-machinery and educational services. In 1991, the Tirunelveli region ranked second in the number of women workers. Service sectors such as tourism have developed, due to a growth in religious tourism. Tirunelveli has beedi and cement factories, tobacco companies, workshops for steel-based products and mills for cotton textiles, spinning and weaving; there are also small-scale industries, such as tanneries and brick kilns. The agricultural areas, hand-woven clothes, and household industries contribute to the economic growth of the city. Food-processing industries have developed since the late 1990s; at the district level, it is the foremost industrial segment. Industries involving rice-making, blue-jelly metal manufacturing and gem power generating are located on the outskirts of the city. The major agricultural products in the region is paddy and cotton.

Tirunelveli is a major area for wind-power generation. Most wind-power-generation units in Tamil Nadu are located in Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari Districts Many private, multinational wind companies are located on the outskirts of the city.

Geography

It is located at the southernmost tip of the Deccan plateau. The Tamirabarani River divides the city into the Tirunelveli quarter and the Palayamkottai area. The river is the major source of irrigation and is fed by the northeast and southwest monsoons. The major lakes in the city are Nainar Lake and Udayarpetti Lake. The area around the Tamirabarani River and the Chittar have five streams: Kodagan, Palayan, Tirunelveli, Marudur East and Marudur West, and the Chittar feed fifteen other channels. The soil is friable, red and sandy. The climate of Tirunelveli is generally hot and humid.

Transport

Tirunelveli has an extensive transport network and is well-connected to other major cities by road, rail and air.

Roadways

Tirunelveli city is well-connected by roads. It is located on NH 7. Tirunelveli is accessible by road from Madurai (3 hours) or Nagercoil (1.5 hours). Tirunelveli is also connected by major highways to KollamTiruchendurRajapalayamSrivilliputturSankarankovilAmbasamudram, and Nazareth. Two tier over the bridge at Thirunelveli Junction known as Thiruvalluvar Bridge is the first of its kind in India. The main bus station was relocated from Palayamkottai to Veinthankulam at the outskirts of the city in 2003. A large network of interstate and intrastate buses plies to various destinations. There is a good co-existence of both private and public transport networks in the city round the clock.

Rail

The city is beautified by a majestic looking structure with a high elevated façade, is one of the busiest and most important stations in Tamil Nadu. It is connected to major cities in all four directions, Madurai to the North, Nagercoil to the South, Tenkasi to the West and Tiruchendur to the East.

Airport

There is no airport in Tirunelveli. The closest airport to Tirunelveli city is the Thoothukudi airport (TCR), located at Vaagaikulam, Thoothukkudi district, about 28 km east of Tirunelveli. Connections to Chennai and Bangalore are twice a day. The Madurai Airport and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport are about 150 km away by road.

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