History of district:
There are urn burials in and around the city from the Sangam period indicating some level of human habitation. The neighbouring port, Kaveripoompattinam (modern day Poompuhar), was the capital of the Chola kingdom of the Sangam Age, referred widely in Tamil scriptures like "Pattinapalai". The early works of Tevaram by the 7th-century poets Appar and Sambandar mention the town had fortified walls, busy roads buildings and a busy port. The inscriptions from the Kayarohanswami temple indicate the construction was initiated during the reign of the Pallava king, Narasimha Pallava II (691 – 729 CE). A Buddhist pagoda was built under Chinese influence by the Pallava king and town was frequented by Buddhist travellers. Thirumangai Azhwar, the 9th century vaishnavite saint poet, is believed to have stolen the golden Buddha statue to fund the Ranganthaswamy Temple at Srirangam; the authenticity of the theory is questionable. In the 11th century CE, Chudamani Vihara, a Buddhist monastery was built by Javanese king Sri Vijaya Soolamanivarman with the patronage of Raja Raja Chola. Nagapattinam was the prominent port of Cholas for trade and conquering gateway to the east.
In the early 16th century the Portuguese started commercial contacts with the town and established a commercial centre in 1554 CE. The Portuguese also conducted missionary enterprise in the town. In 1658, the Dutch established an agreement between King Vijaya Nayakkar of Thanjavur on 5 January 1662. Ten villages were transferred from the Portuguese to the Dutch - Nagappattinam Port, Puthur, Muttam, Poruvalancheri, Anthanappettai, Karureppankadu, AzhingiMangalam, Sangamangalam, Thiruthinamangalam, Manjakollai, Nariyankudi. Ten Christian churches and a hospital were built by the Dutch. They also released coins with the name Nagappattinam engraved in Tamil letters. As per agreement between the first Maratta King Egoji of Thanjavur and the Dutch, Naagappattinam and surrounding villages were handed over to the Dutch on 30 December 1676. In 1690, the capital Dutch Coromandel changed from Pulicat to Nagapattinam.
This town fell into the hands of the British in 1781 after the two naval battles between British and French fleets were fought off the coast of Negapatam, as it was then known: the first in 1758 as part of the Seven Years' War and the second in 1782 as part of the American Revolutionary War. The town was taken by the British from the Dutch in 1781 (who had been formally brought into the war in 1780). When the Dutch and British reached a peace agreement in 1784, Nagapattinam was formally ceded to the British. 277 villages with Nagore as the headquarters were handed over to the East India Company.
From 1799 to 1845 CE Nagapttinam was the headquarters of Tanjore district. Nagapattinam and Nagore were incorporated as a single municipality in 1866 CE. The town remained one of the chief ports to the Madras Presidency. The port suffered decline after the inclusion of Tranquebar and Tuticorin. Nagapattinam was one of the regions severely affected by the tsunami which followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
Main occupation of the district:
The main occupation of Nagapattinam is fishing in the waters of Bay of Bengal. The fish are sold in the daily and weekly fish markets in the town. There is a large number of ice factories for preserving the fish. The industry suffered a setback after the tsunami that struck the coast on 26 December 2004.
There is limited agricultural activity, but much agricultural commerce is conducted in the town. A majority of the people are employed in service industry, belonging to the teritiary sector. The town is also the centre of retail provisions trading for the towns and villages surrounding Nagapattinam.
Tourism is a major economic driver with the presence of heritage and historic points like Nagore, Velankanni, Sikkal, Kodikkarai, Vedaranyam, Mannargudi and Tharangambadi.
There is limited industrial activity - the major industries are household, tailoring, embroidery, plastic wire and metal manufacturing. Cauvery Basin Refinery, a subsidiary of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) is near Nagapattinam. Established in 1993, it is a major contributor to the economy of the town. The development of industries is constrained by the town being linear and by the applicability of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations[clarification needed] that prevent large-scale construction and industrial buildings.
All major nationalised banks such as State Bank of India, Indian Bank, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and private banks like ICICI Bank, City Union Bank have branches in Nagapattinam. All these banks have their automated teller machines located in various parts of the town.
Road: Nagapattinam municipality accommodates 104.539 km (64.958 mi) of roads; 27.328 km (16.981 mi) of cement roads, 72.993 km (45.356 mi) of bituminous roads, 1.2 km (0.75 mi) of WBM roads and 3.018 km (1.875 mi) of earthern roads. Nagapattinam is connected by two national highways, NH 45A to Villupuram and NH 67 to Coimbatore and Gundlupete in Karnataka state. Nagapattinam is connected with Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Karaikal and other major towns of Tamil Nadu through the state highways SH 22 from Grand Anaicut to Kaveripoompattinam, SH 23 from Mayiladuthurai to Thiruthuraipoondi, SH 64 from Kumbakonam to Sirkazhi, SH 67 from Nagore to Nachiyar Koil, SH 147 from Kumbakonam to Karaikkal, SH 148 from Nagore to Vettar. SH 149 from Sembanarkoil to Nalladai, SH 150 from Vaitheeswarankoil to Lower Anaicut and SH 151 from Kilvelur to Kachanam. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation operates close to 175 daily services connecting various cities to Nagapattinam. Most of the buses via Nagapattinam operated by the corporation ply between Trichy and Velankanni. The corporation operates a computerised reservation centre in the municipal bus stand of Nagapattinam. It operates 25 town buses satisfying the local transport needs of Nagapattinam and the neighbouring villages. The State Express Transport Corporation operates long distance buses connecting Nagapattinam to Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Marthandam.
Train: Great South Indian Railway Company (GSIR) had its headquarters at Nagapattinam between 1861 and 1875. A broad gauge railway [BG] line was operated between Nagapattinam and Tiruchirapalli via Tiruvarur, Thanjavur between 1861 and 1875. During 1875 it was converted into a meter gauge (MG) line. The GSIR headquarters was shifted to Tiruchirapalli during 1875. The railway workshop was at Negapatnam till 1929 and contributed to the growth of the town. It was also moved to Golden rock [Ponmalai] during 1929. Nagapattinam railway junction connects Thiruvarur in the west, Nagore in the north, Velankanni in the south and Karaikal in the east. There are passenger trains to Trichy, Thanjavur, Mayiladuthurai, Karaikal, Mannargudi and Thiruthuraipoondi. There is a daily express train to Chennai via Mayiladuthurai and Ernakulam via Coimbatore. There are two triweekly trains from Mannargudi to Tirupati and Velankanni to Goa that pass via Nagapattinam.
Sea: The port of Nagapattinam is in the Bay of Bengal in the mouth of river Kuduvayyar. Nagapattinam was the most important port of the Chola empire. All the eastern naval expeditions of Rajendra Chola I (1012–44 CE) were through the port. The port was widely used by the Dutch, Portuguese and British as one of the major ports of the Coramandel Coast for trading purposes. Most of the principal exports to Sri Lanka from the port during the British period were rice, piece goods, livestock, cigars, tobacco and hides. The trade of Nagapattinam was mostly with Sri Lanka, Straits Settlements, Burma and to a small extent to the United Kingdom and Spain. The port also served passenger traffic to Singapore, but this was susepended due to a fire accident. The modern day port has a commercial port complex and a dockyard that are protected by a river mouth sand bar facing the port. The port handles only a limited amount of edible oil imports. The Nagapttinam lighthouse is the first conventional 20 m (66 ft) high lighthouse tower, built inside the port premises by the British in 1869. The port and the lighthouse are maintained by the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board under the Government of India.
Tourism plays a key economic role for the town even though fishing is the major occupation.
Kayarohanaswami Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, is located in Nagapattinam. The temple has been in existence from the 6th century CE and has been reverred by the verses of Tevaram, the 7th-8th century Saiva canonical work by Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar. The temple is one of the seven temples of the Thyagaraja cult, classified as Saptha Vidangam, where the deity Thyagaraja is believed to portray different dance styles. The temple is also known for the shrine of Neelayadakshi, the consort of Kayarohanaswami.
Soundararajaperumal Temple is a Hindu temple in Nagapattinam dedicated to Vishnu. It is one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu reverred in Nalayira Divya Prabandham by the Tirumangai Azhwar, one of the 12 poet saints called Alwars of the 6th-9th century. The other prominent Hindu temples in the district are Sikkal Singaravelan Temple at Sikkal, Vedaranyeswarar Temple at Vedaranyam, Ettukudi Murugan Temple and Koothanur Maha Saraswathi Temple.
Nagore Durgha, a 16th-century minaret located in Nagore, is one of the important pilgrimage centre of the town. Kanduri festival is a 14 day event celebrated for the annual urs (anniversary) of the saint Hajrath Shahul Hamid (1490 - 1579 CE), after whom the minaret is built. The festival is celebrated in commemoration of the anniversary of the saint's death, and pilgrims from various religions participate in the rituals and rites. The festival is also seen as a sacred exchange between Hindus and Muslims expressing solidarity of mixed faith in the region. It is believed that 60 percent of the shrines were built by Hindus and historically the minaret garners lot of domestic and international visitors. There are three other prominent mosques; one near Nagai Pudhur Road, one near the new bus stand and one another at Moolakadai Street.
Velankanni is a pilgrimage centre located 10 km (6.2 mi) from Nagapattinam. The town is known for the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, a Roman Catholic church built during the 17th century. Pilgrimage to the basilica is common during September when people of many faiths, especially Hindus, Muslims and Christians of all denominations visit the basilica.