In Literature, the earliest mention has been made in 88 AD in Greek work "Periuplus of the Erythrean Sea". In AD 124, the earliest reference was made by Ptolemy who has observed - "Country of Kareoi, in the Kolkhic Gulf, where there is a pearl fishery, Sosikourai and Kolkhoi, and emporium at the mouth of the river Solan". There is little doubt that Ptolemy's Sosikuorai is no other place than Tuticorin. From AD 200 to AD 1000, no records pertaining to Tuticorin are available. However, the Tamil Literature of the period, Thevaram, Seevaha Chinthamani and Periyapuranam mention the pearls but ignore the source. James Harnell in his report to the Govt. of Madras has highlighted the Indian Pearl Fisheries of the Gulf of Mannar discussed about Tuticorin. Although in Tamilnadu, there is a mention of Ports like Korkai, Puhar etc. Tamil literature and historical records have highlighted the Pearl Fisheries of Tuticorin and Trading in Pearls. The 7th to 9th Century AD were ruled by Pandya Kings and 10 to 12 Century AD it was ruled by Chola Kings. There is a mention that there was a well guarded and natural Harbour where ships could anchor in safety in Tuticorin. Portuguese, Dutch and British ruled India in different time frame. Portuguese sailed into Tuticorin in 1532. In 1649, Dutch captured Tuticorin. Many European visitors particularly English travelers have meticulously recorded their impression of Tuticorin in 17th Century. The impression recorded by Philip Baldaeus, an English missionary, who visited Tuticorin in 1675 are graphic and valuable. The lucrative pearl fishery that flourished under the Dutch is vouchsafed by Jean De Lacome. The English East India Company took over the administration of Tuticorin and its other dependent cities like Kayalpattinam, Punnakayal, Manapad etc. on the 1st June 1825.
Role of Tuticorin in India's Independence
Tuticorin become the citadel of freedom struggle in the early years of 20th Century. V.O.Chidambaram sowed the seeds of Nationalism and independence with the doctrine of Swadesism and boycott. After undergoing ordeals and struggle, he was able to launch the First Swadeshi Navigation Company in 1907. The Swadeshi vessels N.N.Gaelia and N.N.Lavo were operated between Tuticorin and Colombo. Launching of Swadeshi ship despite adverse environment was an important milestone in freedom struggle. Patriots like Subramania Siva and Vanchi Iyer have helped V.O.Chidambaram in spreading of the seeds of Indian Freedom to gain independence from the clutches of the colonial rule. Thus, Tuticorin played a significant role in the Independence struggle initiated by Mahatma Gandhiji.