The State of Tamil Nadu has it all – beautiful beaches, lush hills, fertile plains, large metro cities, tiny old villages, temples and churches, forest cover, great food, classical culture, a flourishing economy. If you’re the kind who loves to go off on a mini adventure every weekend (or even sneak away during the week), you are unlikely to run out of things to do in Southern India.
About 590 kilometres south of Chennai, along the Coromandel Coast, lies Thoothukudi aka Tuticorin. For thousands of years, it has been the centre of maritime trade and pearl fishing in South India. To date, it is known as the “Pearl City.”
Ruled By Many
Thoothukudi has been ruled by the mighty Cholas, the Pandyas, various Sultanates, the Vijayanagara rulers, and later on by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. They all saw it as a goldmine – pearls, beaches, and a harbour? Every ruler’s dream come true!
A historic painting of what the Dutch Fort looked like.
Temples and Churches
Each dynasty left behind a legacy that is seen in the city’s architecture, culture and
infrastructure. On your next visit, be sure to visit the famous Our Lady of Snows Basilica, a catholic shrine with a rich history, and tales of conversion, persecution, and miracles. It was constructed in the 16th Century, in Portuguese style. The church hosts massive festivals through the year – a great time to experience its might.
Our Lady of Snows Basilica, Tuticorin
If you’re one who is thrilled by religious history, also visit the Holy Cross Church in Manapad (60 kilometres south of Tuticorin) that is said to have been visited by St. Francis Xavier, and believed to hold a fragment of the True Cross. Manapad also has a beautiful beach where you can go surfing, the grotto where the Saint is believed to have lived, and a tranquil coastline to sit by and just take in.
On the way to Manapad is the holy town of Tiruchendur, one of the holy abodes of Lord
Muruga. Frequented by worshippers, the temple was at one point occupied by the Dutch,
who are said to have stolen the main idol when they finally left. Plenty of stories for your
Other temples and churches to visit include the Holy Trinity Church, and the beautiful Sri
Forts And Palaces
When the Pandyas ruled Tuticorin district, they appointed Ettappan as the zamindar. Years after his descendants ruled the land, it came to be known as Ettayapuram. It is also the birthplace of the famous poet Bharatiyar. The grand, stunning Ettappan Palace now stands solitary, surrounded by nothingness. Read a lovely report here.
Who hasn’t heard of Veerapandi Kattabomman, the brave chieftain who waged war against the British East India Company? Did you know he was ultimately betrayed by a local ruler, handed over to the British, and hung in Tuticorin? At the remnants of the old fort in Panchalankurchi, a memorial has been constructed for Kattabomman.
Beaches, Hare Island and Shells
Accessible by road is the Hare Island, or Mayul Theevu. Under the purview of the navy,
access is sometimes restricted. But if you go there, you will see a beach filled with glistening seashells and corals, two lighthouses, and some warehouses too. A lovely picnic spot, remember to take all your rubbish back with you when you’re done!
The port city is also known for its salt pans and power plants, so pop by and take a look if
you can. And while you’re there, don’t forget to try the Thoothukudi macroon, head to the
local beach, and pick up some shells as souvenirs!
The Regency Tuticorin by GRT Hotels is located 10 minutes from the railway station, and can assist with planning your itinerary. Call the hotel on 0461-2340777.