History of Thengapattanam English


A beautiful town located on the shores of Arabian Sea in the southern part of kanyakumari district in Tamil nadu.  Comparative research about this town indicates that it has, since then, been known for its vital role in politics, religion, business, history and tourism.



The history of this beautiful coastal town dates back to more than 2000 years to the reign of Chera Kings.  It was, then an important port of Chera Nadu, when trade relations boomed with the Middle East and the Arab world.  There was direct cargo boat service between Thengapattinam and other foreign maritime towns around the world.  Part of the culture and tradition found here was inherited through its trade relations with the Arab world.  The king Cheraman Perumal had passed through this tiny town when he went to Mecca to embrace Islam after witnessing the moon splitting miracle.  It was part of the Travancore State until 1956 before it merged with Tamil Nadu. This Muslim town has a Juma Masjid known as Valiya Palli, which is more than 1200 years old.  It was designed and constructed by Malik Ibn Deenar (Rahmathulla Alaihim), a contemporary disciple of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him).  Thengapattanam was also called “Dharmapattanam” and “Kuzhanthai Nagar” in the early days.



It is a coastal town which is 35 KM away from Nagercoil, headquarters of Kanyakumari District and 45 KM away from Trivandrum, capital city of Kerala.  It shares borders with Mullimoodu and Erayumman Thurai on the western side, Panankalmukku and Mullor Thurai on the east, Amsi on the north and the Arabian Sea on the south.  It is well connected with nearby villages and town by road and waterways.  It is a flat, plain land with intermittent rocky hills – Chentapalli Parai – on the eastern side and Aarttupalli Parai on the western side. The Kovalam – Colachel Canal, popularly known as AVM Canal (Ananda Victoria Martanda Varma Canal) which passes through this town linking upto Kanyakumari was encroached by settlers.  This waterway was operation from Mandaikadu to Poovar 30 years ago.  In some places it is filled with coconut trees and suffered encroachment.  AVM Canal merges with Kuzhithurai River at Thengapattanam and known as Valiyar.  The development project mooted to revive AVM Canal Waterways would link Thengapattanam with Kanyakumari in the east and Kasargode in the north-west in Kerala, when it becomes operational.  The Valyar, a tributary of Kuzhithurai River known as Tamiraparani flown and merges with Arabian Sea here.

The five mosques, including the Valiya Palli, the landmark of this beautiful town, are situated at five vital areas, making it convenient for all the people to come and offer their prayers.  The Valiya Palli, which is at the centre of Thengapattanam, is surrounded on the four sides at the north near the bus stand by Rifai Masjid, at the west byKuzhathu Palli, at the west on the river bank of Valiyar by Attupalli, which is situated on the rocky hill and on the south close to the beach by Muhiyuddin Masjid. Chenta Palli, the ruins of which are present on the hilly rock at the eastern side is still considered as a holy place.



Chilappathikaram, the Tamil epic refers thengapattanam as the capital of “thenga nadu” – one of the 48 countries of lemuria, otherwise known as ‘kumari kandam’, where the Dravidian civilizations known as the ‘cradle of civilizations’ flourished.  

via: Wiki


via Wiki

The world renowned historical research traveler ‘dalami’ refers this place as a ‘harbour town’ in this book written in ad 100.  The king of ‘thenga nadu’ karunan thadangal is said to have ruled from here.




Umayamma Rani via Wiki

(From Wiki : Aswathi Thirunal Umayamma, popularly known as Umayamma Rani, was the Regent of Venad from 1677 to 1684 on behalf of her nephew Rajah Ravi Varma who ruled thereafter till 1718. )

This area, once under the domain of chera, pandya and nayakkar kings, was later ruled by the kings of travancore.  Attingal queen got the right to rule this area in ad 1700.  During this time in the middle of the 17th century, the naval forces headed by the Dutch colonel nicolfwar besieged this town and gained control of it.  The Dutch records of ‘wrin-de-herik’ state that after the take over a Dutch infantry division, a go down and a church were established here in ad 1678.    In ad 1694, the forces attingal queen fought the Dutch, chased them out and regained its control.



The Dutch again attacked thengapattinam, when it became part of ‘venad’ under the rule of marthanda varma maharaja.  during this battle fought to chase out the Dutch, many Muslims lost their lives.


The ‘kuntadipattan paarai’ which came under the heavy attack of the Dutch cannons stand out to be a ‘living memorial’ today.  Later, due to the ‘Tamil nadu liberation movement’ this part was annexed to Tamil nadu in 1956.

It is worth mentioning here that the famous raja kesavadas, the then divan of the king Rama varma of travancore was brought up in his youth in the well known ‘puthen veedu” here.



“Thengapattinam”, thennaipattinam” and “thenpattinam” are the other relevant names of this town.  it is called so because of the dense coconut groves found everywhere here, being located on the coast of Arabian sea, and sitting on the southern tip of India in kanyakumari district in Tamil nadu.



This name is found in books “manampuri masala” and “kunju moosa vazhthu maalai”.  The words naariel in Malayalam means ‘coconut’ and ‘pathathan’ means town in Arabic.  These are Arabic translated names.  Thengapattinam is also shortly known as “thengai” and “thengaiyoor”.  it is also called as “thenpaththan” a mixture of the Tamil word ‘then’ which means south and the Arabic word ‘paththan’ which means town.



The great poet of thengapattinam kunju moosa in his epic poem “seyedathu padai pore” refers the above names.  The real name of this poet is ‘kunju moosa pillai’.

He Malayalam word ‘kunju’ means child or baby.  A coconut sapling is called ‘thennam pillai’ in Malayalam.  So, in order to associate the name of his native place with his own name and also to mean as ‘thennam pi  The name ‘kuzhanthayoor’ is also referred in this epic.  Here in ‘thengaiyoor’ round furrows are dug in the ground to plant coconut saplings.  The fertile land of this beautiful town is enriched with sea, river and canal water which springs out and form small ‘pools’.

Coconut saplings are called ‘thai’ in Malayalam.  Thus it would have, probably, been named as ‘kuzhanthayoor’ – meaning – the place where the sapling (Thai) grows in kuzham (pool). llai nagar’ he would have referred it as ‘kuzhanthai nagar’ and ‘kuzhanthayampathy’.



Thengapattinam is a place blessed with the beauties of nature.  It is surrounded by sea, river, canal, paddy fields, rocky mountains and lush green groves which lend a magic spell to the serene atmosphere.  The water way mooted by the then travancore government popularly known as avm canal originates from Mangalore in Karnataka and reaches thengapattinam without any hurdles.  Even now passengers and goods are ferried through this canal to places like poothurai, thoothoor, vallavilai, neerodi, kollencode and poovar.  The merger of the Tamiraparani River here with the Arabian Sea is something very unique and only one of its kind in the state itself.  It is a spectacular scene that keeps the tourists spell bound.

This town is a delight to the eyes of the beholder, one of the few picnic spots in the district, where nature has showered her blessings abundantly.  The beautiful beach (next in comparison with Cape-Comorin beach) with its breath taking sunset, the tiny hill-tops and the backwater beckon the tourists where one enjoys a refreshingly cool wind that blows throughout the year.


Sea-short with backwaters, it is an ideal place for eveningers who come from nearby places to enjoy a stay and fun & frolic on the waters, in small boats of Valiyar.  The merger of this river with sea (estuary / firth) known as ‘Pozhi” in local vernacular is a star attraction and the one and only of its kind in the State itself.



People are bi-lingual who speak both Tamil and Malayalam.  English is also spoken and understood.  Tamil is spoken with Malayalam accent.  Tamil spoken here is difficult to understand for other Tamils of the state.  Some words originated from the influence of various cultures, such as Olungu (mosquito) …………… etc. is spoken and understood only by the natives.  The impact of Malabar Muslim culture is very much felt here.  One example for this is the usage of Arabi-Malayalam (Malayalam language written in Arabic script) which can only read by those who know Arabic and understood only by those who know Malayalam.



It is a Muslim town which has close links with nearby towns as Thuckalay, Thiruvithancode, Colachel, Midalam, Enayam, Enayam Puthenthurai, Poothurai, Nambali and Poovar in the nearby Kerala State.  Marriage and social relations thrive among the people of these towns.  Other than the above, Thengapattinam has closely connected by trade and social relations with Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala State.  A big number of people from Thengapattinam engage in various trade activities in Trivandrum. Houses, here, are built with separate compounds for each house.  Sweet drinking water is in plenty with each house a separate well in it.

A proportionate number of people pursue trade and business activities whereas a large chunk has moved to various Gulf countries to earn their livelihood.  ‘Gulf’ is craze here that it is not uncommon to hear that a male member of a house is working in U.A.E., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman.  Families living here are inter related that they celebrate family gatherings with the help of each other not feeling the absence of male-members.  Though the majority of men fold is in ‘Gulf’, their hears go out to reach the dear and near ones in time of happiness and distress.  It is common here to see a handful of men enjoying their vacation from Gulf everyday.

Thengapattinam is a main commercial hub for more than 50 small surrounding places, to name a few are, Mulloor Thurai, Raman Thurai, Enayam, Enayam Puthen Thurai, Erayumman Thurai, Poothurai, Panankal Mukku, Arasa Kulam, Keezhkulam, Chentharai, Amsi, Painkulam, Parakkani, Maniyaran Kunnu etc.

A daily market locally known as “Anthi Kadai” is a main hub here for the localers and surrounding villagers for their business and trade activities.



Thengapattinam has the unique and rare distinction of being one of the few first places in India where Islam was propagated and accepted during the time of Prophet Muhammad (sal).  Islam got firmly rooted here due to the peaceful propagation of the great spiritual leader malik ibn deenar (rah) who came from Arabia in the 7th century a.d. through kodungalloor in kerala.  His Arabic team built a big mosque here made of hard rocks which is known here as ‘valiapalli’.  The ancient Arabic history book ‘rihlathul muluk’ states that the headquarters of syed ubaithath kazhi’ appointed as the religious propaganda secretary of the district was located here.  The descendents of Arabia known as ‘thangal’, ‘koya’, ‘kazhi’ are still living here that speaks of the religious antiquity of this place.  Many Islamic religious scholars later came to this place to propagate Islam.


The mosque built of hard rocky stones knows as malik ibn dinar palli or valia palli, the aatttupalli built on the rocky mountains by the shores of the sea and river bank, the mohideen palli located near the canal in thoppu, the chenta palli built on kuntadipattan paarai, the rifai palli located close to the bus station and the khaja palli located by the shores of the arabian sea are the mosques of this tiny town.



The great poets kunju moosa pillai and alim lebbai haji whose famous literary works include the two epic poems and 14 other works such as ‘masala maalai’ ammanai’, were the natives of this town who lived here in the 18th century.  Other poets of literary renown fakkir meeran pillai, Mohammed pulavar and thoppu noohkhan also lived here during the same time.


Originally from: Thengapattanam.com

Special Thanks to Prof. Thirumalar Meera,, Prof Mohamed Noohu, MN Hameed

THENGAPATTANAM A beautiful town located on the shores of Arabian Sea in the southern part of kanyakumari district in Tamil nadu.  Comparative research about this town indicates that it has, since then, been known for its vital role in politics, religion, business, history and tourism.   PRIDE OF KANYAKUMARI The history of this beautiful coastal…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *