Gobichettipalayam (also known as Gobi) is a town and municipality in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is the second largest city and urban agglomeration in Erode district and is the administrative headquarters of Gobichettipalayam taluka, revenue and educational districts. It is situated at the center of the South Indian Peninsula, about 400 kilometres (249 mi) southwest of the state capital Chennai and about 80 kilometres (50 mi) east of Coimbatore. Agriculture and textile industries contribute majorly to the economy of the city. Gobichettipalayam is one of the leading producers of silk cocoon, turmeric, coconut and plantain in the state.

Gobichettipalayam is a part of Gobichettipalayam constituency and elects its member of legislative assembly every five years, and a part of the Tirupur constituency that elects its member of parliament. The city is administered by a municipality established in 1949. The city is situated at 213 meters above sea level and had a population of 60,279 in 2011. Roadways is the major mode of transport to the city while the nearest rail head and nearest airport are Erode junction and Coimbatore International Airport respectively. Gobichettipalayam is also known as 'Chinna Kodambakkam' ('Mini Kollywood') because of the film shooting that takes place here. Many films in Tamil and other languages have been shot here.

History

A major part of present Gobichettipalayam was previously known as Veerapandi Gramam, and documents and records still use that name. The city was named after Gobi Chetti Pullan, a scholar of older times. The place was a part of the country ruled by the great king Vel Pari, who is regarded as one of the Kadai ezhu vallal (literally meaning, the last 7 of the lines of great patrons).[3] Pariyur, a temple town near Gobichettipalayam was named after him. The land was later ruled by the Cheras and captured by Tipu Sultan. After Tipu's defeat, British annexed it to their territory.

Demographics

According to 2011 census, Gobichettipalayam had a population of 60,279 with a sex-ratio of 1,062 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 4,669 were under the age of six, constituting 2,364 males and 2,305 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 10.74% and .08% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the city was 78.52%, compared to the national average of 72.99%. The city had a total of 17064 households. There were a total of 25,225 workers, comprising 512 cultivators, 2,035 main agricultural labourers, 637 in house hold industries, 21,070 other workers, 971 marginal workers, 15 marginal cultivators, 308 marginal agricultural labourers, 57 marginal workers in household industries and 591 other marginal workers.

The population is dominated by the Kongu Vellalar community. The taluk also has a number of Uralis. There are a significant numbers of people from other cultures like North Indians, Gurkhas, Malayalis and people from northeastern part of India. Because of the cultural and religious importance, people as far as from North India with roots in Tamil Nadu conduct their marriage rituals here

Geography and climate

Gobichettipalayam is located in Kongu Nadu, the northwestern part of Tamil Nadu about 390 km south west of Chennai. Western Ghats forms the border of the region resulting several hill locks. River Bhavani traverses across the region. The temperature is moderately warm in Gobichettipalayam, except during the summer months when it is very hot. Rainfall is moderate to high, unpredictable and unevenly distributed. The city is not windy but the abundance of trees and vegetation surrounding the city makes its climate pleasant. The soil mainly consists of black loam, red loam and red sand. In general, the soil in and around the city is fertile and good for agriculture purposes. The surrounding water logged rice fields contribute to the high humidity levels.

Administration

Gobichettipalayam Municipality was constituted on 1 October 1949 as III grade as per G.O. Ms. No. 1948 (Local Administration Department) dated 12 August 1949 with effect from 1 October 1949 and was elevated to Grade II as per G.O. Ms. No. 194 (Local Administration Department) dated 10 February 1970 and to first Grade with effect from 1 October 1977 as per G.O. Ms. No. 1532 (R.D & L.A.), 21 September 1977, and to Selection Grade as per G.O. Ms. No. 238 (MA&WS), 2 December 2008.

Politics

Gobichettipalayam was a parliamentary constituency until 2009. It was replaced by the newly formed Tirupur Constituency during delimitation by Election Commission. Now Gobichettipalayam assembly constituency is part of Tirupur (Lok Sabha constituency).

Transport

The municipality of Gobichettipalayam has 67.604 km of roads, 6.6 km of which are owned by the State Highways Department. Gobichettipalayam city is well connected by major roads passing through the center of the city. The following are the arterial roads that connect the city with other major towns: State Highway 81, State Highway 15, State Highway 15A are some of the state highways that pass via the town. The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) has a depot apart from a large central bus stand in Gobichettipalayam. Originally called as Jeeva Transport Corporation (JTC), it came into being by bifurcation of the Cheran Transport Corporation (headquartered at Coimbatore). As of 31 March 2005 it was in possession of 1218 buses. Buses ply from the Central Bus Stand to all major towns and cities within Tamil Nadu and other states. A number of Karnataka State Roadways Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses ply to here due to its proximity to the state of Karnataka.

The nearest major railway station is Erode Junction(38 km). A proposal to construct a railway line connecting Mysore with Erode via Gobichettipalayam was mooted during the British rule in 1915. Four official surveys were made in 1922, 1936, 1942 and as recently as 2008. The plan failed to take off due to the concerns of railway line passing through the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary.

The nearest airport is Coimbatore International Airport (74 km) which has regular flights[14] from/to various domestic destinations like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Pune and international destinations like Sharjah and Singapore.

Education

Gobichettipalayam has a good educational infrastructure. Notable schools are Diamond Jubilee Higher Secondary School, established over a 100 years ago and visited by Mahatma Gandhi and Shree Vidyalaya, which has a full-time dyslexic center. The city is also home to Gobi Arts and Science College, one of the oldest arts colleges in the state. The city itself has only a few engineering colleges, but its proximity to Coimbatore and Erode makes it an ideal educational hub.

Economy

The city is developing quickly and has been described by the government as "Bi-functional", with 31% of the work force engaged in agriculture, 56% in trading and other activities and 13% in industry. A number of banks have been established in the town in recent years, testimony to the growth and prosperity of the local economy. ICICI Bank established its third branch in Tamil Nadu here. The economy is predominantly dependent on agriculture.

The economy of Gobichettipalayam centers on agriculture, with paddy, sugarcane, plantain, tobacco and turmeric being the principal crops. The taluk is known for its lush green paddy fields which attracts cine industry. Gobichettipalayam is well known for its plantain cultivation and the production of coconuts. There are regulated market places run by the Government of India for the trade of agricultural products mainly turmeric, copra and bananas.

Gobichettipalayam is one of the leading producers of silk cocoon in the country. Mulberry cultivation has increased in the recent years and a silk research extension center was established by the Government of Tamil Nadu in collaboration with the Central Silk Board.[15] India's second automated silk reeling unit was established in here in 2008.

A large number of spinning mills have come up in to support to the weaving and knitwear to supplement Tirupur. IT and BPO sector is also developing with a few start up companies based out of the city. Other industries include cotton textiles, motors, pumps, automobile spares, textile machinery manufacturing, castings and machined parts.

Culture

Kongu Tamil, a dialect of Tamil is the language spoken by majority of the people. English is used as an official language along with Tamil. Other languages spoken include Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu. Gobichettipalayam cuisine is predominantly south Indian with rice as its base. Most locals still retain their rural tradition, with many restaurants still serving food on a banana leaf. North Indian, Chinese and continental cuisines are also available. Mysorepa (a sweet made from lentil flour and Halwa (a sweet made of different ingredients like milk, wheat, rice) are famous. Idly, Dosa, Vada-Sambar and Biryani are popular among the locals. Coffee shops and Chat Centres have been on the increase, and serve as meeting places for young people.

Utility services

Four major English language newspapers The Hindu, The Times of India, Deccan Chronicle and The New Indian Express are available in the city. Tamil newspapers include DinaMalar, Dina Thanthi, Dina Mani, Dinakaran (all morning newspapers) and Tamil Murasu and Malai Malar (both evening newspapers) among others.

A medium wave radio station operated by All India Radio and five FM radio stations namely Rainbow FM, Suryan FM, Radio Mirchi, Radio City and Hello FM operating from Coimbatore are available. Television relay started in 1985 from Delhi Doordarshan. In 1986, after inception of a repeater tower at Kodaikanal, telecast from Madras Doordarshan commenced. Nowadays, television channels are offered through cable operators and DTH services. About 10 local channels are also available apart from the major national and regional channels.

Gobichettipalayam has good a communications infrastructure, provided by all major service providers namely Airtel, Vodafone, Tata Docomo, Tata Indicom, Reliance Communications, Aircel, Videocon, Idea, MTS and Uninor apart from BSNL. Services available are DOT landline, CDMA, GSM, 3G Mobile Services and Wimax. Fiber optic cables were laid in 2001, improving Internet access, which had begun with the establishment of a Dial-up and Broadband connection in 1996.

Apart from the Government hospital, several multi-facility hospitals function in the city. These hospitals attract people from other districts and states contributing to medical tourism. The polio eradication programme is heavily assisted by the Government.


Places of Interest

Kodiveri Dam/Anicut

Kodiveri Dam is situated in Gobichettipalayam Taluk, about 13 km. west of Gobichettipalayam in the village of Periya Kodiveri. It was constructed by the Maharaja of Mysore in the 17th century. Two channels arise from the dam, One is on the northern side of Bhavani River and the other on the southern side viz “Arakkan Kottai Channel” and “Thadapalli Channel” respectively.[17][18] Lands north of Gobichettipalayam City are fertile due to the flow of the Thadapalli channel. Cultivation of sugarcane and paddy are predominant in this area. Kodiveri Dam is a popular tourist spot welcoming a large number of people from all over the state.

Reserve Forests

The Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and the reserve forests of Anthiyur are about 25 km away from Gobichettipalayam. The T. N. Palayam forest range comes within the Gobichettipalayam Taluk. Abundant flora and fauna thrive in these forests which form a part of the rich biosphere of the Nilgiris. The wildlife includes Indian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Black Buck, Spotted deer, Peacock, Porcupine and Gaur. The area has the largest elephant population in the country. The area has been proposed to be converted into a Tiger Reserve as per notifications from the Government of India.

Bhavani Sagar Dam

Another important dam that has been constructed over the Bhavani River is the Bhavanisagar Dam. It is located about 35 km from the town. The dam was completed in 1953. There is a large park with various attractions drawing huge crowds towards this place.

Temples

Pariyur

Pariyur Kondathu Kaliamman Temple is situated in Pariyur, about 3 km from Gobichettipalayam, where a 'Fire Walking Ceremony' (Kundam) is held during January every year. The annual Temple Car festival is celebrated here with grandeur, and the temple attracts a large gathering from the surrounding places all the time. Around 1500 years old, the inner sanctum of the temple is made of black marble. The protector God of this temple is Maha Muniappan, who blesses couples with children and chases fear away from the minds of the people. There are many shrines dedicated to Ganesha, and shrines of Saptha Kannigai, Ponkaliamman, Brahma and other Hindu Gods. The temple has a marriage hall and a golden chariot dedicated to the goddess.

Amarapaneeswarar Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Soundaranayaki Amman located in Pariyur. The temple itself is built completely of white marble and there are separate shrines dedicated to warlord Karthikeya with his wives Deivayanai and Valli, Ganesha known as Anukkai Vinayakar, Nandhi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. There are also shrines dedicated to Navagraha, Bhairava, Nayanmars and other Hindu Gods. Maha Shivaratri and Pradhosam is celebrated with much grandeur apart from other festivals of Shiva and Murugan.

Adinarayana Swamy Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located at Pariyur and the chief deity the temple is Adhi Narayana Perumal. He is seen along with his companions Sri Devi and Bhu Devi. The specialty of the temple is that, there is a separate shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The statues of Sanjeevi Anjaneyar, Veera Anjaneyar and Alwars are seen inside the main temple complex. Garuda Alwar is seen in front of the main sanctum. The main Gopuram of the temple depicts the scene of narration of Bhagavad Gita, the holy book of Hindus. Vaikunta Ekadashi and other festivals of Vishnu are celebrated here.

Hill Temples

Balamurugan Temple, Pachaimalai is one of the two old hill temples dedicated to Lord Murugan while the other being Muthukumaraswamy Temple, Pavalamalai. Both the temples are located within a few miles from the heart of the town. All Saivite, Koumaram and other Hindu festivals are celebrated at the temples, especially Thai Poosam, Panguni Uthiram and Skanda Sashti. At Pachaimalai, there is a huge statue of Lord Senthilandavar, which can been seen miles away from the temple. Apart from his normal gold peacock mount, the temple also has a Golden Chariot. It is believed that sage Dhurvasa initially installed the deities at both Pachaimalai and Pavalamalai.

Bannari

Bannari Mariamman Temple is located at Bannari about 35 km northwest of Gobichettipalayam. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Mariamman and attracts huge crowds round the year. The temple also has a marriage hall associated with it.