Thirunelveli – History
Under the rule of the Pandyan Dynasty, the district was known as Thenpandiyanadu. The Chola dynasty then named it Mudikonda Chola Mandalam. The Madurai Nayaks called it Tirunelveli Seemai. Under the British East India Company, it was Tinnevelly district, which included the modern Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts and parts of the Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram Districts.
The history of Tirunelveli was researched by Robert Caldwell (1814–91), a Christian missionary who visited the area. Tirunelveli was under the rule of Pandya kings as their secondary capital; Madurai was the empire's primary capital. The Pandya dynasty in the region dates to several centuries before the Christian era from inscriptions by Ashoka (304–232 BCE) and mention in the Mahavamsa, the Brihat-Samhita and the writings of Megasthenes (350–290 CE).
The province came under the rule of Cholas under Rajendra Chola I in 1064 CE; however, it is unclear whether he conquered the region or obtained it voluntarily. Tirunelveli remained under control of the Cholas until the early 13th century, when the second Pandyan Empire was established with Madurai as its capital. The Nellaiyappar temple was the royal shrine of the later Pandyas during the 13th and 14th centuries, and the city benefited from dams constructed with royal patronage during the period.
After the death of Kulasekara Pandyan (1268–1308), the region was occupied by Vijayanagara rulers and Marava chieftains (palayakarars, or poligars) during the 16th century. The Maravars occupied the western foothills and the Telugas, and the Kannadigas settled in the black-soil-rich eastern portion. Tirunelveli was the subsidiary capital of the Madurai Nayaks; under Viswanatha Nayak (1529–64), the city was rebuilt about 1560. Inscriptions from the Nellaiyappar temple indicate generous contributions to the temple.
Nayak rule ended in 1736, and the region was captured by Chanda Sahib (1740–1754), Arcot Nawab and Muhammed Yusuf Khan (1725–1764) during the mid-18th century. In 1743 Nizam-ul-mulk, lieutenant of the Deccan Plateau, displaced most of the Marathas from the region and Tirunelveli came under the rule of the Nawabs of Arcot. The original power lay in the hands of the polygars, who were originally military chiefs of the Nayaks.
The city was the chief commercial town during the Nawab and Nayak era. The city was known as Nellai Cheemai, with Cheemai meaning "a developed foreign town". The polygars built forts in the hills, had 30,000 troops and waged war among themselves. In 1755, the British government sent a mission under Major Heron and Mahfuz Khan which restored some order and bestowed the city to Mahfuz Khan. The poligars waged war against Mahfuz Khan seven miles from Tirunelveli, but were defeated.
The failure of Mahfuz Khan led the East India Company to send Muhammed Yusuf for help. Khan became ruler, rebelled in 1763 and was hanged in 1764. In 1758, British troops under Colonel Fullarton reduced the polygar stronghold under Veerapandiya Kattabomman. In 1797, the first Polygar war broke out between the British (under Major Bannerman) and the polygars (headed by Kattabomman). Some polygars (such as the head of Ettayapuram) aided the British; Kattabomman was defeated and hanged in his home province of Panchalaguruchi.
Two years later, another rebellion became known as the Second Polygar War. Panchalankuruchi fell to the British, after stiff resistance. The Carnatic region came under British rule following a treaty with the Nawab of Carnatic. After acquiring Tirunelveli from the Nawab of Arcot in 1801, the British anglicised its name to "Tinnevelly" and made it the headquarters of Tinnelvelli District. The administrative and military headquarters was located in Palayamkottai (anglicised as "Palankottah"), from which attacks against the polygars were launched.
After independence both cities reverted to their original names, and Tirunelveli remained the capital of Tirunelveli district. In 1910, Ramanathapuram District was formed from portions of the Madurai and Tirunelveli Districts, which comprised portions of the modern Virudhunagar District. After the Independence of India, Tirunelveli District was bifurcated on 20 October 1986 to Nellai-Kattabomman district (Tirunelveli) and Chidambaranar district (Tuticorin).
Subsequently, the Government of Tamilnadu decided to name each district according to the name of the headquarters town, so the region's name changed from Tirunelveli-Kattabomman to Tirunelveli. And now 30 April 2015 by BJP government it's known to be said as the one of the 100 smart cities of India.