Thiruchendur or Tiruchendur is a small coastal town in the Toothukudi District of Tamil Nadu. Known also as Thirucheer Alaiwai, Thiruchendur is a popular pilgrimage destination situated in the Gulf of Mannar.
Thiruchendur town, located about 45 km from Tuticorin, is surrounded by ‘Theri’ (coastal) forests or arid forests. The red coloured soil of Thiruchendur dry land forests is believed to be due to a bloodshed caused by the execution of a thief, as per the ordinance of Karkkuuvel Ayyanar, a local god. These dry land forests are also noted for its rich vegetation of tropical plants and palm trees and cashew plantations.
History of Thiruchendur
As per ancient texts, Thiruchendur was a famous pilgrimage site that goes back to the pre- Christian era. It is believed that Lord Murugan killed the demon Surapadman at this place. This town is considered to be one of the six holy abodes or ‘Aarupadai Veedu’ of Lord Murugan, the others being Thiruparamkundram, Palani, Swamimalai, Thiruthani and Pazhamudhircholai.
Thiruchendur, which means ‘sacred and prosperous town of victory’, is the second sacred abode of Lord Murugan. Thiruchendur Murugan Kovil of Thiruchendur is also the only shrine of Lord Murugan which is located on a seashore, the others being situated on hilltops or forests.
Brahmothsavam, Vasanthothsavam, Visaka Visakam, Skandha Sashti, Aavanipperunthirunaal and Maasipperunthirunaal are the most celebrated festivals of Thiruchendur. The Swing Festival or Oonjal Sevai in which Lord Murugan swings with his consort is also popular among the pilgrims.
Thiruchendur was earlier known by the name Kapadapuram. It was later changed to Tiruchen-Chendiloor which in course of time became Thiruchendur. The town witnessed the rule of many dynasties like the Cheras, Pandyas, etc. In the year 1649, Thiruchendur was attacked by the Dutch, in their attempt to capture Toothukudi from the Portuguese.
The Portuguese, together with the forces of the Nayaks of Madurai, defeated the Dutch and they were forced to leave Thiruchendur. The Dutch took away the Panchaloka idol of Arumuga Perumal with them but were forced to leave the idol in the sea. Later, the idol was recovered by Vadamaliyappa Pillai and Athitha Nadan and it was re-consecrated in the temple in 1653.
Things to do in Thiruchendur
At Thiruchendur, pilgrimage attraction such as Valli's Cave or Dattatreya's Cave, which is situated towards the northern seashore from the Muruga Kovil is popular. Pilgrims can also sign up for Thiruchendur holiday packages to plan their holiday to Thiruchendur better.
Travelling to Thiruchendur
Thiruchendur is easily accessible as it is well connected by road. The nearest airport to reach Thiruchendur is Tuticorin Airport, which is about 40 km away. Thiruchendur is connected with Tirunelveli Junction (60 km) by rail, which in turn is connected with major towns and cities of India. The best time to visit Thiruchendur is from October to March.
Accommodation options in Thiruchendur
There are several budget hotel options in Thiruchendur for tourists. Pilgrims are advised to book hotels in advance during peak season as the town is thronged by pilgrims between October and March.