Tuticorin, the Pearl City, is the sea gateway to Tamil Nadu. It is also known as Thoothukudi. The word is a combination of ‘thootu’, which means ‘to dig’ and ‘kudi’ means ‘to drink’. The city had no rivers and wells were the only source of drinking water. Hence, the name!
Tuticorin’s history dates back to the 6th century AD. One of the oldest seaports in the world, it served as the main port of the Pandyan kingdom. It was later taken over by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch and finally by the British.
After Independence, Tuticorin became one of India’s most significant port cities. Its port witnessed a dramatic rise in trade and handled a variety of cargo meant for neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives and other coastal regions of India. To cope with the increasing rate of trade, the Government of India sanctioned the construction of an all-weather port in 1974. Five years later, both ports were merged. Currently, the Port of Tuticorin handles about 42 lakh tonnes of cargo annually.
Tuticorin’s economy revolves around shipping, fishing, salt, and agricultural industries. In fact, 70% of the country’s salt is manufactured in Tuticorin. Three premier national brands are made here – VVD Coconut oil, Agsar Paints and Venus Water Heaters. There are many factors that make Tuticorn an attractive centre for business and industry. The availability of skilled labour, an electricity generating plant, a container facility and a major port are all contributing factors.
A hundred and forty metres long coastline makes Tuticorin the hub of pearl fishing and deep sea fishing. The estimated inland fish catch is 1,583 MT and marine fish catch is 34,066 MT. Prawn culture used to be another flourishing industry here, one that earned considerable amount of foreign exchange before it was banned by the Supreme Court of India due to pollution issues.
The best time to visit Tuticorin is between January and March as the weather is pleasant. At other times, the weather is typically tropical – hot and humid. Tamil is the lingua franca and English is spoken by a big majority of people. During your travel in the region, remember to sample a delicacy of Tuticorin. The famous Macaroon! It is a cookie made up of egg white, cashew, sugar and yeast. You can also relish other popular items like plum cakes, ghee candies, dried ginger water.
There’s a lot to see in Tuticorin:
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park – This is a unique marine biosphere reserve. Spread over an area of about 10,500-sq-kms with 21 islands and continuous stretches of coral reef, it is rich in marine life.
Kattabomman Memorial Fort – Built up by the Government of Tamilnadu in 1974 this fort has a temple dedicated to Sri Devi Jakkammal, the hereditary Goddess of Kattabomman. The fort has now come under the Arhcaeological Survey of India.
Kalakadu Wildlife Sanctuary – Spread over an area of 223 sq kms, this sanctuary is a popular with botanists and ornithologists as it is home to a great variety of flora and fauna. Expect to encounter many exciting species of animals and plants as you navigate through the dense forests of this sanctuary.
The Basilica of a Lady of Snows – Built 400 years ago in the honor of Mother Mary, this Church was elevated to the status of Basilica in 1982. It is popular for its annual festival that takes place every August. Devotees carry the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Snows in a golden car all around town. The procession is worth a watch by visitors and pilgrims alike!