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Coimbatore (Tamil: கோயம்புத்தூர்; [kɔəjmbaːʈɔrɪ]), also known as Kovai (Tamil: கோவை; pronounced [kɔʋaːəj] ( listen)), is the second largest city [1][2][3] in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a major commercial centre in Tamil Nadu and is known as the “Manchester of South India”.

It is a heavily industrialised city and a regional hub for textiles, manufacturing, software services, education and health care. The city has over 25,000 small, medium and large scale industries and 2 IT SEZs. Coimbatore is known as the “Manchester of South India” due to the presence of a flourishing textile industry. Known for its entrepreneurial spirit, Coimbatore is the administrative headquarters of the Coimbatore District.

Coimbatore ranked 4th among the Indian cities for the investment climate and ranked 1st in consumer confidence index according to studies done by CII and Economic Times (ET) respectively. The city also ranked at par with Chennai, Kolkata and Noida as a most favoured investment destination in a study by Frost and Sullivan.[4]

Coimbatore has a well-developed educational infrastructure, with 7 Universities, 2 medical colleges and over 54 Engineering Colleges and 70 Arts and Science colleges. The city is also a major health care and an emerging medical tourism destination with many super specialty hospitals and as many as 750 hospitals and medical centres in total. The hill stations of Ooty, Coonoor and Valparai are close to the city making it a good tourist attraction throughout the year. The city is situated about 500 kilometres (311 mi) southwest of state capital Chennai, on the banks of the Noyyal River and is close to the Siruvani Waterfalls.


One theory for the city’s name states that the name is a derivation of Koyanputhur (lit. new town of Koyan), after the 12th Century Irula chieftain Kovan or Koyan, who ruled region around the city during the reign of Kulothunga Chola I. This information is present in the Irula oral tradition and is corroborated by the 16-18th Century poem Cholapurvapattayam.[5] Kovanpudur or Koyanputhur evolved and became Koyambuthur or Koyamuthur; it was anglicized as Coimbatore.[6] Another suggested etymology involves the Dravidian root āru ‘river’ (DED 4233).[7] Yet another theory states that the name could have been derived from Koniamman after the goddess whose temple is situated in the city.[citation needed] Henry Whitehead in his Village Gods of South India (1921) states that the goddess worshiped by Koyan came to be called as Koyanamma which evolved into Kovaiamma and later Koniamma.[


Information about the origins of Coimbatore is scarce and speculative. The Kossar tribe mentioned in the second century CE Tamil epic Silappathikaram and other poems in Sangam literature is associated with the Coimbatore region (Kongu Nadu).[9] During 12th Century CE, Coimbatore was ruled by Irulas, whose chieftain Kovan, gave his name to the city.[10] Coimbatore is situated at the eastern entrance to the Palakkad Gap, the principal trade route between the west coast and Tamil Nadu. Large numbers of Roman coins and other artifacts have been unearthed around Coimbatore, indicating the region’s ties with Roman traders. The Coimbatore region is in the middle of the “Roman trail” that extended from Muziris to Arikamedu.[11][12] The medieval Cholas conquered the Kongu Nadu in the 10th century CE. A Chola highway called “Rajakesari Peruvazhi” ran through the region.[13][14] Much of Tamil Nadu came under the rule of the Vijayanagara Empire by the 15th century. The Vijayanagara reign brought new settlers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In the 1550s, the military governors (Telugu speaking Nayakars) of the Vijaynagara Empire took control of the region. After the Vijayanagara Empire fell in the 17th century, the Madurai Nayaks established their state as an independent kingdom, with other Vijayanagar offshoots forming new kingdoms in Vellore, Tanjore, Gingee, Chandragiri and Mysore. The Nayaks introduced the Palayakkarar system under which Kongu nadu region was divided into 24 Palayams.[15] Between 1623 and 1672, Coimbatore was part of a territorial dispute between the Thanjavur Nayaks and Madurai Nayaks.[16]

In the later part of the 18th century, the Coimbatore region came under the Kingdom of Mysore, controlled by Hyder Ali and later Tipu Sultan. After defeating Tipu Sultan in the Anglo-Mysore Wars, the British East India Company annexed Coimbatore to the Madras Presidency in 1799. Coimbatore played a prominent role in the Second Poligar War against the British in 1801, as it was the area of operations of Dheeran Chinnamalai.[17] In 1865, Coimbatore was established as the capital of the newly formed Coimbatore district and in 1866 it was accorded the municipality status.[18] Sir Robert Stanes became the first Chairman of the Coimbatore City Council.[19] Industrialization of the region begin in 1888 and continued into the 20th century. The region was hard hit during the Great Famine of 1876–78 resulting in nearly 200,000 famine related fatalities. On February 8, 1900 an earthquake struck Coimbatore damaging many buildings. The first three decades of the 20th century, saw nearly 20,000 plague related deaths and an acute water shortage.[20][21] The city experienced a textile boom in 1920s and 1930s due to the decline of the Cotton industry in Mumbai.[22] The region played a significant role in the Indian independence movement.[23] Post independence, Coimbatore has seen rapid growth due to industrialization. In 1981, Coimbatore was constituted as a corporation.[24]


Coimbatore is situated in the west of Tamil Nadu, bordering the state of Kerala. It is surrounded by the Western Ghats mountain range on the West and North, with reserve forests and the (Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve) on the northern side.[25] The Noyyal River runs through Coimbatore and forms the southern boundary of the corporation.[26][27] The city sits amidst Noyyal’s basin area and has an extensive tank system fed by the river and rainwater.[28] The eight major tanks / wetland areas of Coimbatore are – Singanallur, Valankulam, Ukkadam Periyakulam, Selvampathy, Narasampathi, Krishnampathi, Selvachinthamani, and Kumaraswami tanks.[29] Sanganur pallam, Kovilmedu pallam, Vilankurichi-Singanallur Pallam, Karperayan Koil pallam, Railway feeder roadside drain, Tiruchy-Singanallur Check drain and Ganapathy pallam are some of the streams that drain the city.[26][30]


The eastern side of the Coimbatore district, including the city is predominantly dry. The entire western and northern part of the district borders the Western Ghats with the Nilgiri biosphere as well as the Anaimalai and Munnar ranges. A western pass to Kerala, popularly referred to as the Palghat Gap provides its boundary. Because of its close proximity to the Western Ghats, the district is rich in fauna. The Coimbatore urban wetlands harbours around 116 species of birds. Of these, 66 are resident, 17 are migratory and 33 are local migrants.[31] Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Open Billed Stork, Ibis, Spot-billed Duck, Teal, Black Winged Stilt are some of the migratory birds that visit Coimbatore wetlands regularly.

Apart from the species common to the plains, wild elephants, wild boars leopards, tigers, bison, various species of deer, Nilgiri Tahr, sloth bear and black-headed Oriole can also be found.[32] The Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary 88 km (55 mi) in the Western Ghats at an altitude of 1,400 meters covers an area of 958 km². Among the region’s livestock animals are Kangeyam bulls. This breed, which helped the region gain a foothold in the dairy industry, are found only in Coimbatore and neighbouring districts. More than 20% of the district is classified as forest, lying in the west and north. The forests here are abundant in commercially significant trees such as teak, sandalwood, rosewood and bamboo. The Nilgiris slope of the Mettupalayam range is rich in sandalwood trees and bamboo. They vary from rich tropical evergreen forests of Punachi range to jungles of shrubs in southern ranges. Apart from the high altitude regions of Western Ghats, most of the forest area has come under Lantana invasion. The locals refer to it as Siriki Chedi.

Updated on 19th July 2012
Updated tags on 19th July 2012
Updated tags on 19th July 2012

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