This small town is at the foot of the Brahmagiri hill. The drive to Tirunelli is fascinating and through tea, coffee, rubber estates, elephant sanctuaries and bamboo forest. Tirunelli has a small population mostly of adi vasis (indigenous people) The temple dates back to perhaps the 9th/10th century, renovated over the ssubsequent centuries and is dedicated to Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe.
The name of the temple is derived from the ` sacred gooseberry’ that was available to the tired pilgrims. Gooseberry in Ayurveda is considered a fruit with extraordinary medicinal qualities and literally `ambrosia’. There is a cave dedicated to Shiva, the destroyer for creation. Hence this place is twice blessed as the abode of Vishnu and Shiva.