There are many temples in Tirunelveli but the most famous one is the Nellaiappar temple, located 1 km from Tirunelveli junction. There are many buses plying from Tirunelveli junction to this temple. The name of the main deity here is Nellaiappar and the Ambal's name is Gandhimathi.
According to historical facts, this town was known as Venuvanam. There was a Siva devotee named Vedapattar. Lord Siva wanted to test Vedapattar's devotion. So he made Vedapattar lose his wealth and suffer. Still, he did not give up the habit of praying to God.
One day, Vedapattar left some paddy in the sanctum of Lord Siva and went to take bath in the river. Meanwhile, it started pouring. Seeing this, Vedappatar rushed to the sanctum to save the paddy. To his suprise, he saw that there was no rain around the paddy, and God had put a fence around it and saved it.
He ran to inform the king, Rama Pandian, about the miracle. From then on the city came to be known as Nel veli - paddy that was saved by a fence. The name Nelveli got changed to Tirunelveli in time.
Sage Agastya has worshipped Lord Siva in this temple. The Lord is also called as Venunathar, Veithanathar, Nelvelinathar and Salivanathar. The Ambal is also called Vadivudaiamman and Thirukamakottamudaiya Nachiar. Lord Vinayaga is also called Polla Pillaiyar and Lord Muruga, Arumuga Peruman.
Saiva saint Tirugnana Sambandar has also sung about this temple. The 2,000-year-old temple has 32 theerthams. The speciality of this temple is that there are a lot of stories about it. Nellaiappar temple is one of the five temples where Lord Siva has danced in the form of Nataraja.
According to Hindu belief, devotees who worship the Lord in this temple will get mental peace and live well. Those who worship Gandhimathiamman would prosper in life.
Devotees can donate curd, milk, oil and other items to the temple. Navaratri festival, Tirukkalyanam in the Tamil month of Aippasi and Arudra Darisanam are the main festivals celebrated here.