"Nagercoil, the temple of snakes" Nagercoil by TRC123

Nagercoil Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 26 photos


Nagercoil is the capital of Kanyakumari. Until 1956, it was a part of Kerala, but now it is in Tamil Nadu. Nagercoil is famous for Nagaraja Temple and the name derived from this Temple. It is situated at the Southern part of Tamil Nadu.

Nagercoil - is the southernmost city of mainland India, situated close to the tip of the Peninsula (Kanyakumari) in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The town is also the administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District. It was a part of Kerala, the erstwhile Travancore state, till almost a decade after India's Independence from Britain in 1947. In 1956, it was merged with Tamil Nadu. The town and its surroundings were known in olden days as Nanjilnadu.

The District is one of India's most naturally and topographically diverse districts - with sea on three sides, and yet with thick jungles and virgin rainforests on the Western Ghats with a variety of flora and fauna - all in a radius of 35 km of the town.

The Nagaraja temple

The Nagaraja temple situated here is unique in many respects. Though Nagaraja (Serpent God) is the presiding deity, the images of Lord Siva and Anathakrishna (Vishnu) are also enshrined. The Nagaraja is installed on the ground where it was originally found.

The prasadam distribution to the devotees is wet sand scooped out from the ground where the image of the Nagaraja deity is enshrined. The images of the Jain Theerthakaras, Mahavira and Parswanathar are found in the pillars of the temple. The entrance to the temple is reminiscent of the Chinese architecture of Budha Vihara. The Nagalinga flower found here is also symbolic of Nagaraja.

Nagercoil is 19 kms from Kanyakumari on the way to Padmanabhapuram

Location map and history

'Nanjilnad' came under the rule of various kingdoms at various times, notably the Chera, Chola and Pandya Kingdoms. Historical records reveal that these various kingdoms fought over the control of the fertile area of Nanjilnad and Kottar at various points in history. Archaeological records also show Jain influences in ancient times.

The modern history of the town is interwoven with the history of Travancore. The modern town of Nagercoil grew around Kottar, now a part of Nagercoil and a place mentioned in old Tamil writings and maps of ancient India. The town took prominence during and after the reign of Maharaja Marthanda Varma, the great king of erstwhile Travancore, the capital of which was Padmanabhapuram, about 20 kilometres to the north of Nagercoil. The Capital was later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram(Trivandrum), the present capital of Kerala state, about 65 km to the north of Nagercoil.

Foreign colonial powers, most notably the Dutch, tried colonizing the areas around Nanjilnad and Colachel during the 18th century, but were subdued. The Dutch East India company, also known as Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC, with a keen eye on the spices of Travancore, tried to establish a trading post at the port town of Colachel, near Nagercoil. In the famous Battle of Colachel, a Dutch naval fleet under the General, Captain Eustachius De Lenoy (called 'Valia Kaaptain' locally) gained control of the lands from Colachel to Nagercoil, but was subsequently defeated by the Travancore forces. Several Dutch men were killed and several fled to their ships. Captain De Lenoy and 24 other Dutch men were taken as prisoners, but in a strange story of trust and understanding between the King (Marthanda Varma) and the European naval commander (De Lenoy), De Lenoy was released ; later he proved his trust and mettle to the king and was eventually made the Commander of the entire Travancore Forces. De Lenoy taught the use of gun powder and modern arms to his forces and modernised the Travancore Army on European lines ; raised the regiments, built forts and established defences at key places (some forts like Udayagiri and Vattakottai near Nagercoil were built under his guidance). Captain De Lenoy was a skilled military strategist and won many battles for Marthanda Varma. Travancore grew in size and strength. (Captain De Lenoy and his military contribution to the old Travancore state has been undermined in the Indian history text-books). Captain De Lenoy is buried in a small chapel inside Udayagiri Fort, near Nagercoil.

From the middle of the 18th century, after the reign of the great king Marthanda Varma, the successive Travancore kings and Queens gradually developed the whole infrastructure relating to irrigation systems, dams, roads, schools (along with European missionaries) and developed the judicial system, revenue system, literacy and awareness of the people. The British in India called Travancore a 'model native state'.

At the time of India's independence from Britain, the then Dewan (Prime-minister) of Travancore, Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer, preferred Travancore to be a separate country, but eventually gave up after a tough stand by the 'Iron Man of India', Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer is still kept in high esteem in Nagercoil, for the many projects and developments that took place during his tenure.

When the states in India were re-organized in the 1950's, under the States Reorganisation Act, the then Government of Kerala gave Kanyakumari District to Tamilnadu (because of a major Tamil-speaking population in the District) in exchange for Palghat District.

The town, which was the second most important town in the state of Travancore, after the capital Trivandrum, became less important in the years after India's independence and also after integrating with the state of Tamilnadu. It has not seen any major developmental project or infrastructure development from the Tamilnadu state Government, after integration

  • Intro Updated Feb 16, 2006
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