Uvari Temple Church



Uvari is a coastal village with about 3,000 households and a population of 10,000 in the Tirunelveli district in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is 75 km from Tirunelveli and 45 km from Kanyakumari.

The main occupation is fishing. Many of the men work as sailors, contributing to the local economy. This is a separate Panchayat village, which is beautiful and modern in nature. Uvari has four schools, a Hospital run by Nuns, a Bank, Post-Office and BSNL telecom exchange office.


History and Religion

Uvari is famous for its Uvari Suyambulingaswamy temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the deity is believed to Swayambhoo, Ovari is the only place in Tamilnadu that has a shiva temple beside the sea. Besides Sri Suyambu Linga (Lord Shiva) Brahma Shakthi Amman also showers her blessings presiding in a temple by the left side of Lord Shiva’s shrine.

According to ancient Tamil history, people were called Bharathar‘s of the Neithal (ocean) land. Uvari’s historical name was Obeer Pattanam which was ruled by the Pandiyan dynasty, before they were been converted by Portuguese. (example: for the same reason fish symbol kept on Pandya’s flag. More recently, in the 1530s, Portuguese and Spanish missionaries from Goa had a strong influence when the Bharathars converted to Christianity as a Roman Catholic’s. The priests, acting as godfathers, gave surnames such as Fernando to all Roman Catholic Bharathars as they were been converted by the Portuguese.

According to local myths, a crew of a Portuguese ship which sailed near Uvari about 450 years ago contracted cholera. In an attempt to avert death, the ship’s carpenter carved an image of Saint Antony of Padua from a block of wood. Soon after, the entire crew regained its health. When the ship docked at Uvari, the sailors set up the statue inside a hut in the village.In the 1940s, the villagers built a church with the original statue of St. Anthony holding the Infant Jesus in his hand, on the altar. St Anthony is said to perform many miracles daily,therefore church was upgraded to shrine. Uvari is visited by pilgrims of different religions from all over South India.

The Kappal Matha Church (Our Lady of good health), with the form of a ship carrying an aeroplane, is also well known and worth a visit. The original church of St. Mary was damaged by sea erosion, and replaced by this one built in 1974. There are four shrines and many grottos.

Present situation of Uvari

The village Ovari is divided into two parts, East Ovari and West Ovari. Ovari is a mixture of many communities. The greatness is that they all live together maintaining communal amity. The majority people of East Ovari were Yadahava Community.

Presently Uvari is one of the modest coastal towns among other coastal villages. It has a higher secondary school, a high school, a middle school and an elementary school. It also has a hospital which is run by Nuns. Churches, St. Antony’s Shrine, St. Andrew’s Church, Selvamatha Church [(Our Lady of good wealth)] and Velankanni Matha Church [(Our Lady of good health)]. At least one person from each family works abroad or in shipping line.