"If the boundary of the town is made with stone, it will not be of aesthetic beauty and therefore boundary is fenced with paddy field" , says a Tamil Poet about Tiru-nel-veli. The town has been surrounded on all sides by paddy fields. As such the town was called as 'Nelveli' i.e., Paddy-Hedge. Since the temple in the town is dedicated to Lord 'Siva', the town around the temple was called Tiru-nel-veli. Around 1560, the town was rebuilt by Viswanatha, the founder of Nayak dynasty who also erected many temples in it. Tirunelveli was the earliest Pandiya's Capital. The Nayaks ruled Tirunelveli from Madurai during the 16th, 17th and early years of 18th Century.
Tirunelveli is situated on the west bank of Thamiraparani River and Palayamkottai on the east bank. Palayamkottai, being the administrative head quarters with the establishment of educational institutions and of various industries, public and semi public offices, exhibits a remarkable development. Palayamkottai was fortified under the native rulers and its defenses were intact at the time when it was passed into the hands of the British. It subsequently followed the base of their operations during the poliger wars. The fort was dismantled till the garrison of one or more native regiments which had been stationed here ever since the British occupation in this place was finally withdrawn.