Tenkasi, the second largest town in the Thirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most popular tourist places to visit in the state. Located 56 kilometres from Tirunelveli, 100 kilometres from Kollam, 109 kilometres from Trivandrum, 132 kilometres from Kanyakumari, and 160 kilometres from Madurai, Tenkasi is famous for ancient temples and waterfalls. Amidst the Western Ghats, the town locates on the Kollam-Madhuari highway and attracts hundreds of tourists from different parts of the country. The prominent places to visit in Tenkasi include several temples, natural wonders, picturesque waterfalls, and the rich culture of Southern Tamil Nadu. Before heading to read about the best tourist places in Tenkasi, learn some facts about this South Indian district, which is historically, culturally, and naturally rich and splendid.
Facts & History of Tenkasi
Tenkasi means Kasi (holy place of Hindus in India) of the South. Surrounded by the Western Ghats on three sides, Tenkasi is located at an average elevation of 143 metres (469 ft). Tenkasi was founded by the Pandyas, who ruled Southern Tamil Nadu for a long time. In fact, Tenkasi refers to the Kasi Viswanathar Temple in the town, which is known as the Kasi of the South. Once destroyed by lightning, the temple was renovated in the 1990s, and it was later painted in 2006. The Chittar river flows through the city. Now, continue reading to get a picture of the incredible places to visit in Tenkasi.
Tourist Places in Tenkasi
Renowned as a popular tourist destination in South India, Tenkasi is most recognized for its temples and waterfalls. If you want to know the top tourist places in Tenkasi, then, this list will suffice for you. At Tenkasi, you can visit places of great historical and religious importance, and other naturally beautiful places such as waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, reserve areas, and more.
- Kasi Viswanathar Temple
Kasi Viswanathar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the major tourist attraction in Tenkasi. Construction of the temple in the 13th century was initiated by the Pandya King Parakrama Pandian. The temple is famous for its magnificent sculptural and massive tower, which is the second highest in Tamil Nadu. The temple has exquisite carvings to go through and is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams of Lord Shiva. The worship of Shiva here, along with his consort Ulagamman, is considered similar to worshipping Shiva in Varanasi. Built in Tamil Nadu-style architecture, the temple has granite walls, enclosing all its sanctums. The temple has seven-tiered towers at the main entrance, a pillared hall, magnificent paintings of Kasi Viswanathar, and smaller shrines of Nataraja, Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Navagrahas and Arumugar in the precinct around the shrines of Kasi Viswanathar and Visalakshi. The temple is the gateway to the famous Courtallam waterfalls and Kerala.
- Coutrallam Waterfalls
Coutrallam/Kuttalam falls is one of the must-visit places in Tenkasi. Descending from the forest, herbs and pristine nature, the waterfalls are said to have medicinal values. The place Coutrallam boasts 5 different waterfalls such as Main Falls (Peraruvi), Small Falls (Citharuvi), Five Falls (Iyentharuvi), Tiger Falls (Puliyaruvi), Old Courtallam Falls (Palaiya Courtallam), Senbahadevi Falls (Senbakadavi), and Honey Falls (Theanaruvi), each of which are located within 1km radius. This popular tourist place in Tenkasi is frequented by monkeys, tigers, and different other species of animals.
Tenkasi is impossible without seeing Sundarapandiyapuram. A small village in the Tenkasi district, Sundarapandiyapuram is famous for its picturesque sunflower fields. The place has been featured in so many Tamil movies including Mani Ratnam’s super-hit film Roja. The place is visited by hundreds of people from across the state and Kerala. One of the oldest temples in Sundarapandiapuram town is Rukmani Sathyabama Sameda Sri Rajagopala Swamy temple, which is said to be around 4000 years old.
- Papanasam Falls/Agasthiyar Falls
Papanasam falls, the flowing white saree from 12o metre height in sheer volume is a mesmerising view for tourists here. The name Papanasam falls imply the total dissolution of all your sins in the blessed water. As per the Hindu myth, Papanasam is connected to the wedding of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi. Sage Agasthya who came to watch the wedding could not view the event due to the heavy crowd, prayed to Shiva at this place to get him a view of the wedding. Pleased by the devotion of the sage, Lord Shiva along with Parvathi appeared before the sage and his wife, in their wedding attire. Shiva made the location his abode and came to be called Papansanathar and the waterfalls nearby the place got the name, Agasthiyar Falls.
- Avaranap Pillaiyar Koil
The Aavaranap Pillaiyar Koil Temple, maintained by the temple Devasthanam is one of the oldest Vinayakar temples in the country that attracts a lot of tourists every year. The deity in this temple is carved of a single rock and is considered to be a very powerful one.
- Anniyan Para
Anniyan para viewpoint is another amazing place to visit in Tenkasi. The Anniyan Para rock got its name from the Tamil movie Anniyan, in which a famous song of this movie was shot here. The surrounding areas of Anniyan Para are farming fields and animals grazing meadows.
- Sivasailam Temple
Sivasialam Temple, located 3 miles away from Alwarkurichi in Tenkasi, is an old Siva temple with some wonderful sculptures and inscriptions. Built by Pandiyas, Sivasailam is surrounded by Velli Malai (Silver Hill), the Western Ghats and Mulli Malai, which is situated near the Gadananathi River. The temple is vast, with many mandapams and sculptured pillars. The main gopuram has five stories and is adorned with numerous statues. The enormous Nandi statue is the temple’s distinctive feature. Vinayakar, Murugan, Dakshina Moorthy, Natarjar, and 63 Nyanmars are the other deities in this temple. In close proximity to the main sanctuary is a separate shrine dedicated to the goddess Parvati.
- Kappal Matha Church
Located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal at Uvari village in Tenkasi, Kappal Matha Church is dedicated to Mother Mary. Constructed in 1974, the church is built in the shape of an aeroplane placed over a ship, hence its name, Kappal Matha Church. The crashing waves towards the church give an impression that the church is sailing on the sea.
- Ayyanar Sunai
The Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve was formed in 1988 by merging Kalakad Wildlife Sanctuary and Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary, both established in 1962. Kalakkad Wildlife Sanctuary, the second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, is one of the few national parks in South India. This protected area is home to many amazing wild species, including the tiger, Nilgiri Tahr, Lion-tailed Macaque, Flying Squirrel, Wild Boar, and others. If you are an adventure junkie, try trekking and safari also here.
- Thirumalai Kovil
Thirumalai Kovil is a Murugan temple located at Panpoli, 14km from Tenkasi. Surrounded by the Western Ghats, the temple is situated at an altitude of 400 metres on a small hill, on the border of Kerala. The deity here is called Thirumalai Kumaraswamy or Thirumalai Murugan. In the temple, you can see the main deity Murugan with four hands in a standing posture. The temple comprises a Mukha mandapa, Maha mandapa, a three-tier gopura, an idol of Lord Ganesha at the entrance of the sanctum, etc. The existing architecture predates dates back to the 15th century, and it
- Ayyanar Sunai
Plan a one-day trip to Ayyanar Sunai, one of the main places to visit in Tenkasi. One of the holy rivers situated in Tamil Nadu, Ayyanar Sunai, with the presence of a temple -Arunchunai Kaatha Ayyanar Temple, on the river’s bank, is well-liked as a picnic spot and a place of devotion. The place is frequented by visitors throughout the year, due to the scenic beauty of the river gushing into a little creek (Sunai), its breathtaking atmosphere, and to see Lord Arunchunai Kaatha Ayyanar. Since there are no restaurants nearby, one should bring food, water, and snacks.
- Gundaru Dam
The Gundar Dam is just one of the many attractions in the city of Tirunelveli, which historically served as the seat of the powerful Pandya Kings. A little waterfall close to this earthen dam is a great location for a picnic and family outing. Additionally, a park close to the dam that is abundant with lush trees and flowering plants is perfect for kids to play in.
- Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary
Located about 16km away from Tenkasi town, Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area under the control of Agasthiarmalai Biosphere Reserve. Established in 1984, this wildlife sanctuary is famous for its unique flora and fauna, biodiversity, and beauty. The name is the corruption of a rare tree Chengurinji, native to the forest. If you are planning a visit to Shendurney, enjoy the trekking trails through the evergreen forest, boating at the Parappar Dam Reservoir (built across the Shendurney river), and camping to enjoy the wilderness of the place.
- Chithira Sabai Temple
When it comes to talking about the places you must visit in Tenkasi, Chithira Sabai Temple is one among them. Located in close proximity to the main falls of the Coutrallam, the Chithira Sabai Temple stands as an embodiment of true art forms with sculptures, murals, paintings and wooden figurines that Siva-Nataraja as Tandava Murti. The Sabai is constructed in a rectangular shape with a wooden entrance and a pyramidal style of roofing. The paintings in the Sabha are of different sizes and portray some very fascinating stories. A few of the murals in the hall depict Coutrallam’s history, the sacred union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, Lord Vishnu in a reclining position (Anantha Sayanam), episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
- Arulmigu Sankaranarayana Swamy Temple
Built in the 10th century AD, Sri Sankaranarayana Swamy Temple, located in Sankarankovil, Thirunelveli, stands as an architectural marvel. The deity of the temple is a united idol of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu as Sankaranarayanar, symbolising the unity of Saivism and Vaishnavism. The interesting part of the architecture is that the morning sunlight enters the sanctum of Lord Sankaralinga Swamy on the days of the equinox every year.
- Karuppanadhi dam
Located at the foothills of the Western Ghats, 27km from Tenkasi, the Karuppanadhi dam is one of the major places to visit in Tenkasi. This earthen dam, located at Chokkampatti in Thirunelveli, is built across the Karuppanadhi river, a branch of the Tamirabharani. Constructed in 1971, the dam is 34m in height and 899m in length. The best time to visit the dam is during the monsoon season when the dam is full and the gates are open.
- Thirumalapuram Rock-Cut Cave Temples
The Thirumalapuram Rock-Cut Cave Temples, located on the hills of Thirumalapuram, have great historical importance. It comprises two rock-cut temples—one in the form of a Shivalinga and the other in an incomplete look. The temple also houses the idols of Vishnu, Nataraja, Ganesh, and Brahma. This ancient temple, which is now under the Archeological Survey of India, has evidence of people living here almost 10,000 years ago. The inscriptions and architectural features of the temple make it one of the top tourist places in Tenkasi
- Palaruvi Waterfalls
Your visit to Tenkasi won’t be complete without a trip to the nearby Palaruvi waterfalls. When you Google search for the major tourist places in Tenkasi, you can find that Palaruvi, which is about 28 km from Tenkasi, is listed as one of the must-visit places during your trip. Palaruvi, which literally translates to “Stream of Milk,” flows down from a height of about 300 feet. Cascading down through rocks, this beautiful waterfall is surrounded by natural herbs and a lush green valley. Located deep within the forest, this waterfall is at its best during the monsoon season.
So, the list of places to visit in Tenkasi, is now ready. Make plans to visit anytime between July to October, to enjoy the waterfall season, outdoor activities and sightseeing. Tenkasi requires a full day or two days to completely visit all the major attractions of the district. Don’t miss visiting the major tourist places in Tenkasi including Kutralam Falls, Kasi Viswanathar Temple, Thirumalai Kovil, Sundarapandiyapuram, Thirumalapuram Rock-Cut Cave Temples, Kalakkad Mundathurai Tiger Reserve, Palaruvi Waterfalls and Gundaru Dam.