Tiruchirappalli (tiruccirāppaḷḷi) (formerly Trichinopoly in English), also called Tiruchi or Trichy, is a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the administrative headquarters of Tiruchirappalli District. It is the fourth largest municipal corporation and the fourth largest urban agglomeration in the state. Located south of Chennai and north of Kanyakumari, Tiruchirappalli sits almost at the geographic centre of the state. The Kaveri Delta begins west of the city as the Kaveri river splits into two, forming the island of Srirangam now incorporated into Tiruchirappalli City Municipal Corporation. Occupying , the city was home to 916,674 people as of 2011.
Tiruchirappalli's recorded history begins in the 3rd century BC, when it was under the rule of the Cholas. The city has also been ruled by the Pandyas, Pallavas, Vijayanagar Empire, Nayak Dynasty, the Carnatic state and the British. The most prominent historical monuments in Tiruchirappalli include the Rockfort, the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam and the Jambukeswarar temple at Thiruvanaikaval. The archaeologically important town of Uraiyur, capital of the Early Cholas, is now a suburb of Tiruchirappalli. The city played a critical role in the Carnatic Wars (1746–1763) between the British and the French East India companies.
The city is an important educational centre in the state of Tamil Nadu, and houses nationally recognised institutions such as the Anna University, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and the National Institutes of Technology (NIT). Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Golden Rock Railway Workshops and Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli (OFT) also have factories in Tiruchirappalli. The presence of a large number of energy equipment manufacturing units in and around the city has earned it the title of "Energy equipment and fabrication capital of India". Tiruchirappalli is internationally known for a brand of cheroot known as the Trichinopoly cigar, which was exported in large quantities to the United Kingdom during the 19th century. A major road and railway hub in the state, the city is served by an international airport which operates flights to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. According to the National Urban Sanitation Policy (2010), Tiruchirappalli was one of the ten cleanest cities in India.
Early and medieval history
Tiruchirappalli is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Tamil Nadu; its earliest settlements date back to the second millennium BC. Uraiyur, the capital of the Early Cholas for 600 years from the 3rd century BC onwards, is a suburb of present-day Tiruchirappalli. The city is referred to as Orthoura by the historian Ptolemy in his 2nd-century work Geography. The world's oldest surviving dam, the Kallanai (Lower Anaicut) about from Uraiyur, was built across the Kaveri River by Karikala Chola in the 2nd century AD.
The medieval history of Tiruchirappalli begins with the reign of the Pallava king Mahendravarman I, who ruled over South India in the 6th century AD and constructed the rock-cut cave-temples within the Rockfort. Following the downfall of the Pallavas in the 8th century, the city was conquered by the Medieval Cholas, who ruled until the 13th century.
In 1736 the last Madurai Nayak ruler, Meenakshi, committed suicide, and Tiruchirappalli was conquered by Chanda Sahib. He ruled the kingdom from 1736 to 1741, when he was captured and imprisoned by the Marathas in the siege of Tiruchirappalli (1741) led by general Raghuji Bhonsle under the orders of Chhattrapati Shahu. Chanda Sahib remained prisoner for about eight years before making his escape from the Maratha Empire. Tiruchirappalli was administered by the Maratha general Murari Rao from 1741 to 1743, when it was acquired by the Nizam of Hyderabad, who bribed Rao to hand over the city. Nizam appointed Khwaja Abdullah as the ruler and returned to Golkonda. When the Nawab of the Carnatic Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah was dethroned by Chanda Sahib after the Battle of Ambur (1749), the former fled to Tiruchirappalli, where he set up his base. The subsequent siege of Tiruchirappalli (1751–1752) by Chanda Sahib took place during the Second Carnatic War between the British East India Company and Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah on one side and Chanda Sahib and the French East India Company on the other. The British were victorious and Wallajah was restored to the throne. During his reign he proposed renaming the city Natharnagar after the Sufi saint Nathar Vali, who is thought to have lived there in the 12th century AD. Tiruchirappalli was invaded by Nanjaraja Wodeyar in 1753 and Hyder Ali of the Mysore kingdom in 1780, both attacks repulsed by the troops of the British East India Company. A third invasion attempt, by Tipu Sultan—son of Hyder Ali—in 1793, was also unsuccessful; he was pursued by British forces led by William Medows, who thwarted the attack.
The Carnatic kingdom was annexed by the British in July 1801 as a consequence of the discovery of collusion between Tipu Sultan—an enemy of the British—and Umdat Ul-Umra, son of Wallajah and the Nawab at the time, during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. Trichinopoly was incorporated into the Madras Presidency the same year, and the district of Trichinopoly was formed, with the city of Trichinopoly (or Tiruchirappalli) as its capital.
During the Company Raj and later the British Raj, Tiruchirappalli emerged as one of the most important cities in India. According to the 1871 Indian census—the first in British India—Tiruchirappalli had a population of 76,530, making it the second largest city in the presidency after the capital of Madras. It was known throughout the British Empire for its unique variety of cheroot, known as the Trichinopoly cigar. Tiruchirappalli was the first headquarters for the newly formed South Indian Railway Company in 1874 until its relocation to Madras in the early 20th century.
Contemporary and modern history
Tiruchirappalli played an active role during the pre-independence era; there were a number of strikes and non-violent protests during the Quit India Movement, notably the South Indian Railway Strike that took place in 1928. The city was the base for the Vedaranyam salt march initiated by C. Rajagopalachari in parallel with the Dandi March in 1930. Tiruchirappalli was an epicentre of the anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu when a team of Tamil language supporters gathered and organised a rally from the city to Madras in 1938. Later in 1965, Tiruchirappalli was made the base of the "Madras state Anti-Hindi Conference" convened by C. Rajagopalachari. The population of Tiruchirappalli continued to grow rapidly, achieving a growth rate of 36.9% during the period 1941–51. After independence in 1947, Tiruchirappalli fell behind other cities such as Salem and Coimbatore in terms of growth. Tiruchirappalli remained a part of Madras State, which was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969. The city underwent extensive economic development in the 1960s with the commissioning of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited. In the early 1980s, M. G. Ramachandran, then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu drafted a plan to move the state's administrative headquarters to Tiruchirappalli. A satellite town was developed near Navalpattu on the outskirts of the city, but the proposed move was shelved by successive governments.
Like much of Tamil Nadu, Tiruchirappalli remains prone to communal tensions based on religion and ethnicity. There have been occasional outbreaks of violence against Sri Lankans. In 2009, the offices of a Sri Lankan airline were attacked in the city. In September 2012, two groups of Sri Lankan pilgrims who had visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health in Velankanni and the Poondi Madha Basilica had their buses attacked in Tiruchirappalli by a group of Tamil activists. Owing to a series of terrorist attacks in Indian cities since 2000, security has been increased at sites such as Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.