Tamil Nadu, the land of the Tamils, is one of the most beautiful and captivating states of India. Since time immemorial Tamil Nadu has attracted a large number of travelers from the country and abroad.
Situated in the far south of the Indian subcontinent, Tamil Nadu is bounded by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the north and Kerala in the west. The eastern and western points of Tamil Nadu are marked by the Point Calimere and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuaries, while the northern and southern tips are defined by the Pulicat Lake and Kanyakumari respectively. Tamil Nadu is also washed by the waters of Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. The state spreads over an area of 1,30,058 sq. Kms and has a population of 6,21,10,839.
Tamil Nadu is a land where various cultures and traditions have been flourishing in perfect harmony for past several centuries. The state abounds in magnificent temples and enchanting forts & monuments, which portray the glory of the Dravidian culture, art, architecture and spiritual values. Not only the temples, but also the mosques and churches depict the religious harmony of the Tamils.
A number of fairs and festivals are celebrated throughout the year, which add color and mirth wherever you go. With a long coastline stretching for more than 900 kms, Tamil Nadu offers many ideal locations for sun and surf. The golden sandy beaches dotted with coconut and palm groves abound to brace your health and enhance your happiness.
In addition to these, Tamil Nadu is also a land of sanctuaries and parks for birds and animals, dry and evergreen forests, mystic mountains, picturesque hill stations, natural sceneries and shimmering waterfalls. In fact, the moment you enter this land, you enter a tourist paradise and forget everything else. A trip to Tamil Nadu ensures good vacation and gifts you with some everlasting memories.
History of Tamil Nadu
With a history that dates back to pre-historic times, the state of Tamil Nadu is considerably older than northern India. Over the years the pre-historic tools and weapons and burial sites have been discovered from several parts of Tamil Nadu, which point to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in India. For a better understanding Tamil Nadu’s history can be broadly divided into two ages - Sangam Age and Post Sangam Age.
Sangam Age: The ‘Sangam Age’ is the earliest known period of organized life and history of the Tamils. Though there are some disputes about the exact dates, but roughly it goes back to the period of pre-Aryan and non-Aryan. During this period the first, second and third Sangams flourished and Tamil poets of that era produced several literary works. The Tamil poets throw considerable light on the everyday life and also reveal their culture, polity and social set-up. In the Sangam age Tamil Nadu was ruled by three kingdoms namely the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. The Sangam Age is considered the Golden Age of Tamils. Post Sangam Age: The bright Sangam Age is followed by a dark period when the country came under the control of an alien race called the ‘Kalabras.’ During the Kalabras rule, there was a great chaos and confusion. Eventually they were expelled by the Pandyas and the Pallavas. Around 580 AD, the Pallavas emerged into prominence and ruled over the country for over two centuries till 800 AD. Kanchipuram was the headquarters of the Pallavas and they were patrons of art, architecture and literature.
After the Pallavas, the later Cholas ruled the region from the 9th century to the 13th century. The Cholas were great conquerers and temple builders - art, architecture, literature and spiritualism flourished during their reign. With the decline of the Cholas around the 13th century, the later Pandyas rose to prominence in the early 14 th century.
After a brief period, the Muslim Khiljis sacked the Pandyas and a Sultanate was formed. The invasion of Muslim caused the establishment of Hindu Vijayanagar empire, which prevented the spread of the Muslim rule to south of river Thungabadra. The Vijayanagar Hindu Kings and their governors renovated most of the temples razed by the earlier Muslim invaders.
With the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire in the mid - 16th century, Tamil Nadu went under the rule of the Nayaks. The Nayaks of Madurai and the Nayaks of Thanjavur were most prominent among all Nayaks. After the Nayaks, Tamil Nadu was under the Muslim rule of the Nawab of Arcot. Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat and in1639, the British East Company established the first presidency in Madras, present day Chennai. The British regime ended with the India’s independence in 1947 and in 1968, the Madras State was renamed as Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu - Tourist Destinations
Tamil Nadu, the land of varied beauty and several wonderful tourist destinations, attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. Referred as a tourist paradise, Tamil Nadu is famous for its rich cultural heritage, magnificent temples and imposing colonial structures, picturesque beaches and mystic hill stations and an amazing variety of wildlife.
Places in Tamil Nadu such a wide variety of attractions, Tamil Nadu is a perfect destination for a enjoying a memorable holiday. There are more than hundreds of tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu, which you can visit on your trip. Most popular tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu are Chennai, Madurai, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Thanjavur, Trichy and Rameshwaram.
Temples of Tamil Nadu
"Don’t live in a place where there is no any temple" is the prime motto of the Tamil people. Therefore, in Tamil Nadu, you cannot find a hamlet, a village, a town or a city without a temple. Around 30,000 temples with their lofty towers dominate the skyline of the state. Each place and temple in Tamil Nadu has its own presiding deities. Important temples of Tamil Nadu are Meenakshi Temple, Kanchipuram Temples, Chidambaram Temples, Mahabalipuram Temples, Rameshwaram Temples, Jain Temple, Parthasarathy Temple and Varadaraja Temple.
Tamil Nadu - Adventure
Blessed with a unique topography including hills, rivers, lakes and other water bodies and a rich variety of a flora and fauna, Tamil Nadu offers excellent opportunities to enjoy a number of adventure sports. The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats meet in the Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu, where the hill stations of Ooty, Kodaikanal, Kothagiri and Yercaud make an ideal base for the adventure sport of trekking. Apart from trekking in Tamil Nadu, you can also enjoy other adventure sports like hang-gliding, wind surfing, angling, and boating etc in the state.
Forts & Monuments of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu, the land of great architecture, is home to several marvelous forts and monuments, which attracts large number of tourists from all over the world. Built several years ago, these architectural marvels still retain their distinct charm. Some of the popular forts and monuments are St. George’s Fort, Aranthangi Fort, Vellore Fort, Sivaganga Palace, Padmanabhapuram Palace, Thanjavur Palace, Tanjor Maratha Marvels, Rock Fort Temple, Arjuna’s Penance, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, Kamraj Memorial House, Vivekanand Illam and Valluvar Kottam.
Arts & Culture of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu boasts of one of the world’s oldest art and culture. Over the past two millennia, Tamil Nadu is known for its contributions in the field of literature, music, dance and architecture which continue to flourish even today. Popular dance form Bharatnatayam and music forms, like Carnatic music, have evolved in Tamil Nadu. A number of great composers such as Tyagaraja and M.S. Subbulakhsmi lived in the state. Besides, Tanjore paintings and Tamil architecture are cultural icons of Tamil Nadu, the glimpses of which you can see in huge temples with their towering gopurams and intricate rock carvings. Rich jewel colored silks, beautiful bronzes cast in the style of the ancient Chola craftsmen, brass temple lamps, intricately carved wood are the part of the artistic wealth of the state.
Tamil Nadu - Cuisine
Tamil Nadu pleases its visitors by serving a sumptuous cuisine with a distinctive taste. The state offers a range of lip-smacking, tasty, delectable food both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Rice, grams, lentils, greens, vegetables and spices feature in most food of Tamil Nadu. Popular vegetarian dishes are idly or steamed rice dumplings, dosa, vada, pongal and uppama, which are eaten with coconut chutney, sambar and mulaga podi. Non-vegetarian dishes include curries or dishes cooked with mutton, chicken or fish. Chettinad cuisine is a specialty of Tamil Nadu and it is popular among the people who like hot and spicy dishes.
Festivals of Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, several festivals are celebrated throughout the year. In fact, not a single month in the state ever passes without a festival. Most of the festivals in Tamil Nadu are associated with religion and temples. People of all religions celebrate all the festival with great gaiety and enthusiasm. Besides, the Tourism Department of Tamil Nadu also arranges various festivals periodically so that the tourists may enjoy them and understand the cultural and spiritual values embedded in the festivals. Some of the popular Tamil Nadu festivals are Pongal, Jalli Kattu-Bullfight, Tourist & Trade Fair-Chennai, Dance Festival-Mamallapuram, Tea and Tourism Festival -Ooty, Silk Festival, Sivarathri, Chitthirai festival, Tamil New Year’s Day, Ram Navami, Summer Festival, Adi Perukku, Krishna Jayanthi, Vinayak Chathurthi, Navarathri, Deepawali, Vaikunta Ekadasi, Natyanjali Festival, Karthigai Deepam and Music & Dance Festival.
Tamil Nadu - Lakes and Rivers
Tamil Nadu has a number of lakes and rivers, which are important sources of water in the state. The rivers in Tamil Nadu are not perennial, usually you will find a sandy dry river bed in summers. Cauvery is the longest and the most important river of Tamil Nadu, which originates at Coorg in the neighboring state of Karnataka. Cauvery’s water is used for the cultivation purpose in the deltaic region of Thanjavur and Nagapattinam districts. Other important rivers of the state are Paler, Pennar, Vaigai and Tamiraparani. Apart from these, there are several water resources in Tamil Nadu which are identified for adventure sports like angling.
Hill Stations of Tamil Nadu
The state of Tamil Nadu is home to some of the popular hill stations of India. The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats meet in the Nilgiri ranges of Tamil Nadu. The Eastern Ghats is broken and appears to be a residual mountain, while the Western Ghats stretches along almost as an unbroken chain, except for a 25 kms gap at Palakkadu. In these regions, the popular hill stations of Tamil Nadu are situated. With their magical and refreshing atmosphere, Ooty (Udhagamandalam) on the Nilgiris and Kodaikanal in the Palani Hills form two favorite tourist spots in Tamil Nadu. Apart from Ooty and Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu has other beautiful hill stations such as Coonoor, Kotagiri, Yercaud and Velliangiri Hills.
Beaches of Tamil Nadu
Situated on the southern peninsular India, Tamil Nadu has a long coastal line running around 912 kms. Tamil Nadu’s coast is named as the Coromandel coast in the northern half and the Pearl Fisheries coast in the southern part. The Coromandel coast, abutting the Bay of Bengal is home to some of the finest beaches of India including the world’s second longest beach, Marina Beach. Other popular beaches include the Mahabalipuram Beach, Rameshwaram Beach, Kanyakumari Beach and Covelong Beach.
Wildlife of Tamil Nadu
The varied topography of Tamil Nadu makes it ideal for a variety of flora and fauna. Of its total 1,30,058 sq. Kms land area, around 18% is covered with forest area, which spread over the plains and on hilly areas. Dry lands and Eastern Ghats are covered with dry-deciduous forests, thorn forests, scrubs and mangroves, while the Western Ghat ranges and other cooler regions are dotted with moist deciduous, wet evergreen forests and grasslands. Tamil Nadu has 17 Wildlife sanctuaries and 5 National Parks, where you can see Tigers, Elephants, Bisons and a variety of monkeys and deer roaming freely. Famous wildlife sanctuaries and parks are Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary, Kalakadu Wildlife Sanctuary, Mundanthurai Tiger Sanctuary, Kunthakulam Bird Sanctuary, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Anna Zoological Park, Snake Park and Crocodile Bank.
As Tamil Nadu India falls under the Torrid Zone, so the climate is tropical with a little difference between the summer and winter temperatures. April to June are the hottest months during which the temperature may soar above the 40ºC. Summer is uncomfortable in the plains, but is quite comfortable in the coastal regions as well as hilly areas. The rainy season is marked by the onset of the northeast monsoon between September and mid-December. A mild winter falls between the months of December and February.
Best Time to Visit
November to February
How to Reach
By Air: Chennai, the state capital has an International Airport, which is the most convenient entry point for Tamil Nadu. A number of private as well as government flights connect Chennai with major cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Mumbai. International flights are available from countries like Sri Lanka, Dubai, Germany, Malaysia, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore to Chennai. Apart from Chennai, Tamil Nadu also has airports in the cities like Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore and Madurai.
By Railways: Chennai is the main railway station of Tamil Nadu. Several express and super fast trains connect Chennai with New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Guwahati and many other important cities and towns of India. Other major railway stations in the state are Madurai, Salem, Tiruchirapalli and Coimbatore.
Roadways: Tamil Nadu has a road network of over 1.70 lakh kms. A number of National Highways and state highways criss-cross the state and connect Chennai with major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and several other important cities in the state. Private and government buses ply within the state and also to the neighboring states like Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
Shopping at Tamil Nadu
If you are planning a holidays in Tamil Nadu, then don’t forget to include shopping in your itinerary. The state boasts of a rich cultural heritage of arts and crafts and is known all over the world for its silk fabric, embroidered silk sarees, hand-woven garments and handicrafts items. You can shop silk sarees in cities like Chennai, Thanjavur, Coimbatore and Kanchipuram. Next, Madurai is perfect for buying ready-made garments of silk and cotton and stone sculptures. At Mahabalipuram, you can buy exquisite granite carved sculptures of Hindu Gods, fine wood carvings and beautiful jewelry. While shopping in Tamil Nadu also buy musical instruments, which are used in Indian classical music.