Nagapattinam is 320 kms from Chennai) This district came into existence in the year 1991 with its headquarters in Nagapattinam city. Its long stretch of coast line that runs along the Bay of Bengal for 188kms. Nagapattinam has one of the most thriving harbours in India. The Shri Kayahorana Swami Neelayathatchi Amman Temple, Sowriraja Perumal Temple, and Nellukkadai Mariamman Temple are some of the important temples that can be seen here. There is also the mini museum, the towering lighthouse and the long beautiful beach are some of the places worth visiting.
Nagapattinam is a unique district with its own historical and cultural significance. Nagappattinam was one of the constituents of Cholamandalam, and was acclaimed as the most prominent and is said to have contributed to the glory of the ancient Tamil Chola Kingdom. Nagapattinam was the Headquarters of a region during Chola period. Nagapattinam was also known as Cholkula Vallippattinam . The heritage of the town is found in the Burmese historical text dated around the 3rd century B.C. The same text gives evidences of a Buddha Vihar built by the great King Ashoka. The Chinese Traveller Hieun Tsang also mentioned the same Buddha Vihar in his book. Nagapattinam is mentioned as Padarithitha in ancient Buddhist literature. According to scholars, Avurithidal the name of a part of Nagapattinam might have been derived from the word “Padarithitha.” Padarithitha is the name of a fruit tree, very common in this region.
In ancient times, “Naganadu,” “Nagatheezam” are the references made only to this town. Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka had close links with this town. The Anaimangalam copperplate of King Kulothunga Chola notes that Kasiba Thera a Buddhist monk renovated the Buddhist temple in 6th century B.C. with the help of Buddhist monks of Naganadu . This Nagar Annam Vihar later came to be known as Naganana Vihar
The Pallava King Rajasimha (690-720 BC) permitted a Chinese king to build Buddha Vihar in Nagapattinam and once there was a Chinese built Buddha Vihar in Nagapattinam. According to the Anaimangalam copper plate of Kulothunga Chola, Sri Vijayathunga Varman built Raja Raja Perumpalli in the name of Raja Raja Cholan and Rajendra Chola Pepumpalli in the name of Rajendra Chola in 1090 BC. This Buddha Vihar was also called Sudamani Vihar.
Excavations were conducted by the Archaeological Department at Velipalayam in Nagapattinam and more than 300 statues of the Buddha were unearthed and kept at the Museum in Chennai. The dilapidated old Buddhist tower was razed down 200 years ago.
Nagur was called so because it was inhabited by the Nagurs. The Nagapattinam Kayaroganam Shiva temple existed even in the 6th century. Appar, Sambandar, and Sundarar were associated with this temple. The Kaya Roganam Shiva temple is based on the Laguleesa Pasupatha cult. The Soundaraja Perumal Vaishanava temple glorified by Thirumangai Mannan of 9th century A.D. is one of the notable features of Nagapattinam.
This favourite town of Chola Kings was also celebrated later by Vijayanagara Kings. The Portuguese had a commercial contact with this town during the rule of the Thanjavur Nayak Sevvappa Nayakkar and Acchuthappa Nayakkar. A Portuguese commercial centre was established in 1554 and since then Christianity began to take root through this influence. The Portuguese traders took control of ten villages. With the advent of Portuguese, the Velankanni Church came in to existence.
In 1658 the Dutch tried to evict the Portuguese from Nagapattinam to establish their commercial centre there under an agreement they had reached between King Vijaya Nayakkar of Thanjavur and the Dutch in 1662. The ten villages of Nagappattinam Port, Puthur, Muttam, Poruvalancheri, Anthonipettai, Karureppankadu, Azhinji Mangalam, Sangamangalam, Thiruthina mangalam, Manjakollai, Nariyankudi were transferred from the Portuguese to the Dutch.
Ten churches and a hospital were built by the Dutch. They also struck coins with the name Nagapattinam engraved in Tamil letters.
According to the agreement between the first Mahratta king 'Egoji' of Thanjavur and the Dutch, Nagapattinam and the surrounding villages were handed over to the Dutch on 1676. In 1781 this town fell into the hands of the British after the prolonged battles. 277 villages with Nagur as the headquarters were handed over to the East India Company in 1779. Gold coins bearing the names Nagapattinam varagan and Nagapattinam chornam were in circulation during the period of the Thanjavur Maratha Kings.