Tenkasi is one of the municipalities in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, India. Tenkasi, South Banaras is also famous for its temple. The story of its temple is narrated in an inscription on a four sided pillar set up in front of the gopuram. It is said that God Viswanatha appeared in the dream of Arikeari Parakrama Pandyan who was living in the fort constructed by him at Vinthankottai which is in the east of Tenkasi the frequently visited Banaras to worship Lord Viswanatha, and Lord ordered him to build a new temple at Tenkasi.The king started the work in 1446 A.D the central shrine, the ardhamantapam and the mahamantapam were finished and the god was established in this shrine. Ten years later the building of the nine stories gopuram began and in six years it was completed. In the same year 1463 A. D the king died. The temple contains many Pandya inscriptions of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is believed that if a person dies in Banaras he will attain salvation. But if a person born, lives and dies in Tenkasi he will get salvation was the verdict of many puranas. Many festivals are conducted in this temple in a grand manner. In the months of Ani (June/July) sangabhishekam is celebrated. In Avani (July/August) float festival is conducted and in the month of Purattasi (September / October) Navarathri festival takes place. Similarly Thirukkalyanam festival in Aypasi (October/November), Surasamharan festival and the Pandya King's great festival in Masi (February/March) are celebrated in grand scale. Thiruvathirai festival in Margali (December/January) is famous here. Thousands of pilgrims assemble in this temple to witness the cosmic dance of Lord Nataraja. During all these festivals Parakkirama Pandya's statute is honoured with poojas and sandal paste is applied to it and even today car festival is started by this king alone. This is the only temple where the founder of the temple is always honoured first. Tenkasi, located just 5 kms. away from Courtallam is also a renowned cultural tourism centre.
According to 2011 census, Tenkasi had a population of 70545 with a sex-ratio of 1,020 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 7,413 were under the age of six, constituting 3,774 males and 3,639 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 14.16% and .47% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the town was 78.49%, compared to the national average of 72.99%. The town had a total of 17887 households. There were a total of 27,885 workers, comprising 279 cultivators, 2,006 main agricultural labourers, 3,332 in house hold industries, 19,903 other workers, 2,365 marginal workers, 28 marginal cultivators, 90 marginal agricultural labourers, 494 marginal workers in household industries and 1,753 other marginal workers.
As per the religious census of 2011, Tenkasi had 62.26% Hindus, 34.79% Muslims, 2.79% Christians, 0.01% Sikhs, 0.01% Buddhists and 0.14% following other religions.
Tenkasi assembly constituency is part of Tenkasi Lok Sabha constituency. Tenkasi is a Lok Sabha (Parliament of India) constituency in Tamil Nadu. The seat is reserved for scheduled castes. Tenkasi Lok Sabha constituency is composed of the following assembly segments (until the 2006 election) Sankaranayanarkoil (SC) Vasudevanallur (SC) Kadayanallur Tenkasi Srivilliputhur Rajapalayam
The nearest airports are as follows:-
- Tuticorin Airport (92 kilometres or 57 miles)
- Trivandrum International Airport (125 kilometres or 78 miles)
- Madurai Airport (157 kilometres or 98 miles)
Tenkasi Junction railway station is served daily by Pothigai Express from Chennai to Shencottah and a bi weekly train Silambu Express from Chennai to Shencottah via chord line. There are also two passenger trains, one from Madurai to Shencottah and another between Tirunelveli and Shencottah.
SETC Bus Service is available from the Tenkasi New Bus Stand to all major locations in Tamil Nadu. All Major Private Omni Bus have daily services connecting Tenkasi and Chennai.
At a distance of 1.5 km from Tenkasi Bus Station, 5 km from Courtallam and 55 km from Tirunelveli, Sri Kasi Viswanathar Temple is one of the main attractions of Tenkasi. Built by the Pandya Kings, the massive gopura of the temple is the second largest in Tamil Nadu. This temple is also known as Ulagamman Temple.
The temple was built by Parakrama Pandyan in Dravidian style. The construction of Rajagopuram was completed in the year 1505. The gopura caught fire in 1824 and was in a bad condition till 1966. Then the renovation began and was completed in the year 1990. The Rajagopuram is 180 feet tall and is a masterpiece of aesthetic beauty. A pathway is also provided up to tower in the 9th tier to have an aerial look of Tenkasi.
The temple is dedicated to Kasi Viswanathar a form of Lord Shiva in a self incarnated form (swayambu). It is believed that worshipping the Lord in this temple is as equal to worshipping the Lord in Kasi. The consort of Kasi Viswanathar is known as Ullagamman in this temple.
This temple has three shrines - Siva, Amman and Murugan. This temple boasts beautiful sculptures and also has musical stone pillars that produce different sounds when tapped with fingers. There are twin statues of Veerabhadra, Nataraja, Rathi-Manmatha, idols of Thirumal and Kali Devi are wonderfully carved. Name of the town is derived from this temple and known as Kasi of South. The nearby river Chittar is considered equivalent to Ganga. People here believe that those who worship in Tenkasi get the same benefit of worship undertaken in Kasi.
The 10 day Masi Magam in February/March, Navarathri in September/October, Tirukalyanam in October/November, boat festival in August/September are the festivals grandly celebrated in the temple.
At a distance of 7 km from Tenkasi, 160 km from Madurai, 62 km from Tirunelveli & 625 km from Chennai, Courtallam, or Kutralam is well known for Courtallam Falls which is one of the most famous waterfalls in Tamilnadu. Courtallam is famed as the 'Spa of South'.
The main attraction of this summer resort is its waterfalls. The waters of Courtallam are believed to have medicinal qualities as it flows through forests of herbs. There are nine waterfalls at Courtallam where the River Chittar cascades over 92 meters at varying volumes. The Main falls or Peraruvi is the most popular and the biggest among the nine falls, at a distance of about 300 meters from Courtallam Bus Stand. Falling from a height of 60 m, it is located right inside Courtallam town. The flow of water is interrupted by the Pongumakadal rock and comes down gently making it a safe place to bath. One can find water not only during the season but also in off season (November to January). During the peak months, this place is frequented by travellers from around the country. The Kutralanathar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva is located near this falls. Road access is available close to the falls.
Chitraruvi or Small falls is situated just above the Main falls. There are steps which provide easy access to the small falls. The size of the falls is comparatively small and the people who are scared of Peraruvi can literally enjoy Chitraruvi. Separate sections are present both for men and women to take bath. Chitraruvi leads to other waterfalls like Shenbagadevi falls and Thenaruvi.
Shenbagadevi Falls or Chembakkadevi Falls is situated above Chitraruvi falls / Small falls, at about 3 kms from Main falls. Visitors have to trek through Chitraruvi forest for about 45-60 minutes to reach Shenbagadevi falls, where the water flows from a height of 40 feet. The falls is surrounded by Shenbaga trees. Entry to this falls is restricted during peak season due to flash floods and not safe for bathing. There is also a temple dedicated to Shenbagadevi Amman near the falls. During full moon days numerous pilgrims visit this temple. Vendors sell the fragrant Shenbaga flowers on the way to the temple, which is an offering here.
Honey Falls or Thenaruvi is further 1 km from Shenbagadevi Falls and 4 kms from the Main falls. It cascades down from a height of 40 m between two large stones. This is the first cascade in the series of Courtallam Falls and considered the most pure. It is named after the beehives that form on the face of the rock during dry season. The picturesque horseshoe shaped waterfall which falls vertically from three sides to join into a small lake, is a wonderful sight. The waterfall is not easily accessible and is a risky trek. The trek will takes almost 30 minutes from Main falls and people are not allowed to bath in the falls as it is very dangerous. Entry to this falls is also restricted during peak season owing to flash floods.
July to October is the best time.
At a distance of 1 km from Ayikudi Bus Stop, 7 km Tenkasi, 12 km from Courtallam and 60 km from Tirunelveli, Sri Ayikudi Balasubramanya Swamy Temple is a small temple situated in the village of Ayikudi on the banks of Hanuman River. It is believed that Lord Hanuman had stayed on the banks of the river during his journey to Lanka.
This temple is dedicated to Murugan in the form of Balasubramanya Swamy, also popularly known here as Rama Subramanya Swamy. The main deity is a small idol with four hands. The three hands illustrate shaktivaram, vajram and abhaya mudra while the fourth hand holds a peacock and the lord sits on a lotus.
The Travancore Royal family took up the temple management and the temple was renovated. The shrine also houses Vishnu, Shiva, Ambikai, and Ganesha and Aditya (Surya).
At a distance of 200 m from Courtallam Bus Station, 7 km from Tenkasi and 62 km from Tirunelveli, The Kutralanathar Temple also known as Thirukkutralanathar is one of the most popular temples of Tamilnadu and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the 275 Thevara Shivasthalas of Lord Shiva. The temple is of 2000 years old and there is lot of old Tamil inscriptions of Chola and Pandyan periods. It is situated near Courtallam Falls.
The main deity of Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a self-manifested Linga. This temple situated in a serene atmosphere and it occupies 3.5 acres of land at the foot hills of Trikoodamalai. This is a conch shaped temple and is referred to as Sangakkovil. In the shrine, the presiding deity Lord Shiva is called as Kuttralanathar and his consort Goddess Parvathi is called as Kuzhalvoi Mozhiammai. There is a separate shrine for Adi Parasakthi which is very popular which is a Shakthi Peetha. Nandi idol is facing the main shrine.
According to the legend, this temple was originally a Vishnu shrine. Lord Siva sent Saint Agastya to the south to avoid an imbalance due to overcrowding in the Mount Kailas on his celestial wedding. At Courtallam Saint Agastya found a Vaishnava temple and by his mystic power Agastya converted it in to a Siva Temple. Vishnu changed into a Sivalingam the conch in his hand expanded as the temple and the chakra rose as the peak. The finger prints of Sage Agastya on the Linga are still visible.
This is one of the Pancha Sabha Kshetram of Lord Shiva known as Chithra Sabha temple. The five dance halls of Shiva are Chidambaram, Madurai, Tiruvalankadu, Tirunelveli and Courtallam. The marvelous Chithra Sabha positioned here is prominent for its stunning wall painting and carvings with a close resemblance to Chidambaram. The Chitra Sabha or the hall of pictures is located in a picturesque location, 500 m away from the main temple. Lord Shiva as Nataraja is brought here during festivals from the Kurumpalaveesar temple.
The initial Thirukkutralanathar temple was constructed by Raja Raja Chola. During the Pandyan reign, the artha-mandapa, maha-mandapa, separate temple for the goddess and several other structures were built. At the time of Nayak rule, parasakthi temple, the compound wall, sangu street, inner street and few other shrines were built.
There are the statues of Lord Vishnu, Kasi Viswanathar, Kasi Visalakshi, Tenkasi Viswanathar Swamy, Ulagammai Ambikai, Nellaiyappar Gandhimathi Ambal and Navagrahas. Lord Vallabha Ganapathy graces this holy place. Lord Muruga in the temple enclosure appears with a bow in his hand with his consorts Valli and Devasena.
The 10-day Purattasi Navarathri for Parasakti in September/October, Brahmotsavam in Aipasi (October/November), Margazhi Tiruvadhirai in December/January, Thai Float festival in January/February, Panguni Uthiram in March/April are the main festivals celebrated in the temple.
At a distance of 4 km from Courtallam Main Falls, 4 km from Courtallam Bus Station and 11 km from Tenkasi, Five Falls or Aintharuvi is another important waterfall in Courtallam. After the main falls, this is the most famous waterfall and the most enjoyable of all falls here.
The water here splits into five branches while falling, so it is called Five Falls. It is unique as water flows in five directions, resembling a 5-headed cobra. It is highly revered among locals as they compare it to Adishesha. Among the five falls, three are open to men and two for women. There is a Swami Ayyappa Temple and Vinayaka Temple close to waterfall. Bathing here is very safe and enjoyable activity. There is also an Eco Park and boat house nearby.
Road access is available close to the falls and about 100 meters walk is required from the parking area to reach the falls.
Fruit Garden Falls or Pazhathotta Aruvi is situated above the Five Falls. This small falls set amidst deep forest range. It is popularly known as VIP Falls or Orchard Falls as only politicians and bureaucrats are allowed to bath in waters here. Others need to seek permission from the Tourism Board for bathing at the Pazhathotta Aruvi.
Palaruvi or the New falls is about 28 km from Courtallam on the other side of the border in Kerala state. The word Palaruvi means stream of milk. Falling from a height of 300 feet, it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kerala.
At a distance of 8 km from Main Falls, 8 km from Courtallam Bus Station and 11 km from Tenkasi, Pazhaya Courtallaruvi or Old Courtallam is also known as Shivamathungai Falls.
The 200 ft fall features steps that are cut out into the rocks for breaking flow of the cascading water to make it safe for bathing. The water flows through two rocks and drop into the valley to form this waterfall. Along with separate bathing areas for men and women, tourists can engage themselves in oil massages. Bathing here is safe and is a popular activity.
Road access is available close to the falls and about 100 meters walk is needed to reach the falls from parking area.
Tiger Falls or Puli Aruvi is situated 2 km from Courtallam bus stand. It is situated between the Main Falls and Old Courtallam. This artificial falls has a moderate flow of water which is collected into a lake and is diverted for irrigation. This falls is situated inside a private property. There is a Sastha Temple and a Bathing Ghat for pilgrims. It is a perfect and safe place for children to enjoy. There is also an old palace, now a private property.
At a distance of 5 km from Panpoli Bus Stop, 14 km Tenkasi, 18 km from Courtallam and 71 km from Tirunelveli, Thirumalai Kovil is a Murugan temple situated at Panpoli. The temple is situated at an altitude of 400 m on a small hill surrounded by Western Ghats on the border of Kerala.
The main deity Murugan is found with four hands in the standing posture. The deity here is called Thirumalai Kumaraswamy or Thirumalai Murugan. Lord Muruga gave darshan to sage Agasthiar at this place. This temple has 2 enclosures and two entrances. The sanctum faces the east. The temple boasts a mukha-mandapa, maha-mandapa in front of the sanctum. At the entrance of the main sanctum, there is a small idol for Lord Ganesha. A three tiered gopura covers the entrance to the inner enclosure. Much of the current structure of the temple dates back to 15th century. There are few 18th century inscriptions found in the temple.
At the entrance of the hill, there is a shrine for Lord Vallabha Vinayaka. There is another Vinayaka shrine in the middle of the hill path. The sacred spring at the top of the hill is called Ashta Padmakulam. A flower called Kuvalai blossomed here. The Saptha Kannikas worshipped Muruga by offering the flower. The idols of Saptha Kannikas are installed on the banks of the spring.
There are 625 steps to reach the temple at the hill top. There is also a motorable road which can take you directly to the entrance of the temple. This hill temple is surrounded by lot of coconut plantations.
At a distance of 1 km from Thirumalapuram Bus Stop, 24 km Tenkasi and 62 km from Tirunelveli, The rock cut cave temples are situated on the hill of Thirumalapuram also known as Varanasimalai in Sankarankovil Taluk of Thirunelveli District. These ancient Cave temples are now under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India.
There are two rock cut cave temples which are excavated by Pandyan Kings in 750 AD. Among the two caves one is finished and other is unfinished. The finished one is more significant with rectangular ardha-mandapa with a flight of steps and cells on the western walls. It contains bas-relief sculptures and two inscriptions from Pandyan period.
This temple has 3 sections with 3 bas-relief structures. The first one is a beautiful dancing Siva with a bhootha gana and bull on both sides. Lord Shiva is seen in dancing posture of Chatura. A dwarf near his foot plays the musical instrument. Second carving is a standing Lord Vishnu with 4 hands and 2 seated bhootha ganas on either sides with sankha and chakra on upper two hands. Seated Ganesha is seen next to him. On one side is the sanctum sanctorum with a Siva Lingam. On either sides of the entrance of sanctum sanctorum are dwarapalakas. There is another relief sculpture of Brahma with 4 hands and 3 visible heads. On the centre of the hall, facing the Siva Linga is a monolith Nandi which is in broken state.
These figures in these temples are excellent examples of Pandyan art. An inscription of 12th century mentions a gift of land to the temple by a prince named Chakravartin Srivallabhadeva.
This dam is located near the Sengottai city. There is a small waterfall near the dam which offers excellent spot for picnic and family outing. Also a park near the dam with numerous flowering plants and green trees is ideal for the children to enjoy. This dam is gaining popularity as a popular tourist spot among the people which was once only visited by people from nearby places.Gundar Dam was constructed in the year 1983 to cater for the irrigation requirements of the Tirunelveli district. Gundar is an earthen dam with a height and length of approximately 15m and 389 m respectively. The Gundar dam reservoir has an overall capacity is 0.70 MCUM. The irrigation capacity of the dam is 454.50 ha of agricultural land.
Tenkasi is located at 8.97°N 77.3°E / 8.97; 77.3. It has an average elevation of 143 metres (469 ft).The town is surrounded by the western ghats in three sides and is situated on the way from Tirunelveli to Kollam and Madurai to Kollam highways. A river called Chittar flows through the city. Historical places near Tenkasi include Thirumalai Kovil, Ilanji and Shencottah