The port city of Tuticorin or Thoothukudi is the Municipal Corporation and the headquarters of Tuticorin District of Tamil Nadu. Tuticorin is well-known as a centre for sea trading and pearl fishing for over a century.
Tuticorin lies along the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu by the Gulf of Mannar. Surrounded by the Tirunelveli District on its north, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram on the east and by Tirunelveli district on the west and south-west, Tuticorin is located at a distance of about 600 km from Chennai and 190 km from Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).
The port city of Tuticorin is famous for pearl diving, fishing and shipbuilding. Popularly referred to as ‘Pearl town’, the commercial port town of Tuticorin serves the whole of southern Tamil Nadu that includes inland cities such as Coimbatore, Madurai and Tirunelveli.
Tuticorin or Thoothukudi was known by the name ‘Thirumanthiranager’ in the ancient times. As per folklore, Hanuman camped at this place during his journey to Lanka in search for Sita. Since he was the Thoothan (messenger) of Rama, the place came to be known as ‘Thoothuvankudi’ which was later shortened to Thoothukudi.
The word ‘Thoothukudi’ may also have come from two Tamil words – ‘Thoorthu’ (land reclaimed from sea) and ‘Kudi’ (settlement). Thoothukudi got the name ‘Tuticorin’ when it came under the rule of the Portuguese. Today, Tuticorin is also referred to as ‘Pearl City’ and ‘Muthu Nagar’.
Tuticorin is situated in the close vicinity of the East -West International sea route, about 124 M (nautical metres) away. This unique location has in fact helped this place to become a major sea port of India since the 6th Century AD. It was the principal sea port of the Pandya Kingdom in the 16th century when it was taken over by the Portuguese in 1548.
Tuticorin became a flourishing Portuguese colony within decades. The Dutch captured Tuticorin from the Portuguese in the year 1658 and the British seized it in 1825. The British built a light house in Tuticorin in 1842 which brought developmental changes in the harbour. Tuticorin rose to become a Municipality in the year 1866. Roche Victoria was the first Chairman of the Tuticorin Municipality.
In the 20th century, Tuticorin became a prominent centre for the Indian Independence Movement. Subramanya Bharathy, Kattabomman and V.O. Chidambaram Pillai were the freedom fighters from Tuticorin who fought for Independence. Post-Independence, Tuticorin achieved the status of Corporation in the year 2008.
Today, the port city of Tuticorin is well known for its Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). Other popular attractions of Tuticorin are Thoothukudi Tiruchendur, Manapad Kalugumalai, Ottapidaram Ettayapuram, Panchalankurichi Nava Thiruppathi, Korkai Athichanallur and Vanchi Maniyachi. Tourists can also opt for one of the many Tuticorin holiday packages to explore the sights and sounds of the city.
The Tiruchendur Temple is the prime attraction of Tuticorin. Other famous attractions at Tuticorin are Kalugumalai and Korkai. Kalugumalai is famous for its ancient rock cut Jain cave temple and Vettuvan Kovil, where as Korkai is a popular picnic destination that has Korkai Tank and Vettrivelamman temple.
Tuticorin is well connected to Chennai and other cities in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states. It is connected by road and rail. To reach Tuticorin, travellers can board buses that ply between cities like Madurai, Trichy, Vellore and Tiruchendur to the destination. Tuticorin has a railway station regular trains are available from the destination to Mysore, Tirunelveli, Tiruchendur, Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai. The best time to visit Tuticorin is from November to January.