Tamil Nadu: Blessed with beauty and culture
The eleventh largest Indian state by area, Tamil Nadu has been shaped by centuries of dynasties who are regarded as some of the finest rulers. Tamilians are as passionate about their politics as their film stars and many of the latter have embraced the profession of the former.
For leisure travelers, Tamil Nadu tourism is designed to thrill, engage and pamper. Its ancient temples with rock-cut architecture whisper stories in stone. Its fertile coastline breathes life into the places it fringes. Its vibrant art and culture scene are celebrated with fervor and have graced global shores with wide acclaim. One thing is for sure, anyone who visits this graceful state will want to return for more.
|Tamil Nadu: A Quick View of the state|
|Population||8.0886 crores (as of 2018)|
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
|Time Zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
|Area||1,30,058 square km|
Highlights of Tamil Nadu: things to see and do
Tamil Nadu’s diverse geographical beauty offers travelers a plethora of choices from verdant forests inhabited by abundant wildlife, to large mountain ranges that house vantage hill resorts, to scenic beaches. The state also offers a large repository of historical, cultural and artistic attractions thanks to the legacies of each of its ruling dynasties.
Temples: The "Land of Temples" has over 30,000 temples which pay homage to various deities like Ganesha, Murugan, Shiva, of which a few are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Some of the most popular places to visit are:
Each of these temples dates back centuries, as far as 200 AD, and are works of art by themselves. What is interesting to note is the history or story that led to the establishment of the place of worship.
Wildlife: With five national parks and 17 sanctuaries, you can imagine the bio-diversity of this state. For those of you who love being in the wild, makes sure these sanctuaries top your list of places to go in Tamil Nadu:
Tamil Nadu is also included in the International Network of Biosphere Reserves, which facilitates international recognition and additional funding.
Hills: For a country that experiences such heat, the hills provide cool respite for those looking for a breath of fresh air. Here are some popular as well as lesser known places to visit in Tamil Nadu:
Art & Culture: Tamil Nadu is known for its rich cultural heritage which includes music, dance, film, literature and architecture. Be sure to attend a dance recital of one of its popular dance forms which originated there - Bharatanatyam. The state has also given birth to legendary musicians like Ilayaraja and his disciple, A R Rahman, who needs no introduction.
The state is also famous for its woodwork décor pieces, curios and Tanjore art paintings.
Festivals: While Pongal is the most popular festival in Tamil Nadu, other festivities you must experience are the Thiruvaiyaru Festival and the Natyanjali Dance Festival. Tamilians celebrate their dance with as much passion and respect as their religious rituals and this famous festival in Tamil Nadu is best celebrated in the Nataraja temple, Chidambaram.
Interesting facts about Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu shares its border with the union territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry) and the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Its location at the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent makes it a viable destination to reach Kanyakumari, where one can witness the unique confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean.
Tamil Nadu boasts the country's third longest coastline at about 940 km. Apart from playing host to scenic beaches like Marina Beach, Mahabalipuram and Poompuhar, it was also a part of the ancient silk route and played an important role in spice trade with the Roman and Greek empires.
Marina Beach has been voted the longest natural urban beach in the country [13 km] and the world's second longest.
Timings: when you should visit
Like any tropical country, the best time to visit Tamil Nadu is during the winter months from November to March. Summers are sweltering with temperatures climbing up to 40 deg C. During these times, the high humidity makes it even more unbearable, especially in the coastal areas.
Tamil Nadu has two periods of rainfall – from June to September and October to December. While the monsoons reduce temperatures to more comfortable levels, water logging tends to occur in certain areas which could restrict mobility.
How to get to Tamil Nadu
By flight: The major cities – Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchirapalli – are well connected with most parts of the country through frequent flights. Chennai receives flights from major destinations around the world.
By rail: Tamil Nadu has a good railway network with most parts of India and within the state too. Other important rail junctions include Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Salem, and Coimbatore.
By road: You can drive down from the neighbouring Southern states. There are also private and government bus operators who ply inter and intra state.
History: a legacy of dynasties
Tamil Nadu’s history dates to 6000 years and can be broadly divided into Ancient, Medieval and Modern. The years have witnessed the prolific and progressive influences of various dynasties such as the Cholas, Pallavas and Pandyas, including a brief ruling by Mughal invaders in the 14th century. The Mughals were overturned by the Vijayanagara Empire which merged Tamil Nadu with them.
Then came the British in the 18th century. Under the British colonial rule, most of south India was integrated into a region called Madras Presidency. When India gained its independence in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State, comprising present-day Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh up to Ganjam district in Odisha, South Canara district Karnataka, and parts of Kerala. It was split up according to linguistics in 1969 and renamed Tamil Nadu, with Madras as its capital city. Madras was renamed to Chennai in 1996.
There is a viewpoint, however, that subscribes to the Aryan Invasion theory. It believes that Tamilians belonged to the Dravidian race and were part of the early Indus Valley civilization. The advent of the Aryans pushed them further down south which became their destination.
Tamil and English
Located in the southeastern region of the Indian peninsular, Tamil Nadu ranks 11th in the list of the largest Indian states and was formed as a state in the year 1950. The magnificent state is bordered by Kerala in the west, Andhra and Telengana in the north, Karnataka in the northwest. Pondicherry, which is a union territory, lies amidst the state of Tamil Nadu. With the Bay of Bengal to its east, Tamil Nadu is home to India’s 3rd longest coastline.
Tamil Nadu also houses Kanyakumari, where you can see both sunrise and sunset and the place where the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet. Apart from the very long coastline, Tamil Nadu also has a lengthy stretch of mountains called the Western Ghats, where you can find several indigenous species of flora and fauna. The Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats arising from Karnataka at the point, which is known as the Nilgiri Hills. Doddabetta, in the Nilgiris is at an altitude of 2,637 meters and is Tamil Nadu’s highest point.
Some of the popular cities in Tamil Nadu include Chennai, which is the capital of the state, Coimbatore – an industrial and textile hub – Madurai, a city that is awake perpetually, Ooty, the queen of the mountains, Tuticorin, also known as the pearl city of India, Tiruchirapalli or the temple city and more. Each city is unique and beautiful in its own ways and offers distinct vibes to tourists, making them instantly connect with the cities’ aura.
Tamil Nadu is significant for being considered as one of the most long-standing habitation in India. Ruins and artifacts that go earlier than 3,800 years have been unearthed in the regions of Thirunelveli. Tamil Nadu’s rich history and heritage was immensely influenced during the Sagam period, which lasted for over six centuries from 300 BCE to 300 CE. It was during this time that literature, arts, music and culture flourished and gave rise to one of the most revered literary sources in India called the Sangam Literature.
The Chera, Cholas and Pandyas were the three dynasties who have played a crucial role in the evolution of Tamil Nadu to what its legacy stands for today. With extensive trading between countries like Ceylon, Egypt, Arabia, Persia and more, it was a time that witnessed the erection of gigantic monolithic temples dedicated to gods like Shiva and Vishnu, with inscriptions of sacred texts throughout the temple walls. The temples are still considered architectural marvels, making researches wonder the innovation, breakthroughs and calculated placement of stones and boulders to naturally ventilate and illuminate the entire premise.
Tamil Nadu in the 18th century also fell under the vision of the British and immediately became a seat of governance. Thanks to the rich architecture, vast coastlines and prime location, Chennai became one of the seat of powers during the British rule. Several reforms and administrative actions were deployed under the Madras Legislative Council under the governorship of George Harris and others. After India’s independence, the presidency of Madras became the state of Madras and consisted of the Tamil Nadu of today and regions from the coastlines of Andhra, parts of Kerala, Karnataka and even Odisha. Due to diverse linguistics, the sate split up into several fragments, leaving the remaining major portion to be named as Tamil Nadu.
With a population of over 7.9 crores, Tamil Nadu is one of the most populated states in India and 7th to be precise. Chennai alone has a population of over 1 crore. Statistically speaking, the population of Tamil Nadu has increased by over 15% in the last decade and has an approximate population density of 608 per square kilometer. According to the census report of 2011, Tamil Nadu has an average literacy rate of 80.33% and has a gender ration of 995 (female):1000 (male) respectively.
Being a secular state, Tamil Nadu embraces all religions with equality. You can find people from diverse religions living harmoniously with each other. Hinduism is the major religion in Tamil Nadu followed by Christianity, Islam and Jainism. According to the 2011 census report, approximately 87.6% of the people living in Tamil Nadu follow Hinduism. While 6.1% of the people follow Christianity, 5.9% and 0.1% of the people residing in Tamil Nadu follow Islam and Jainism respectively.
While you can see concentrated populations of Hindus in cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai and more, you can find a majority of Christians living down south in cities like Kanyakumari, Nagercoil, Tuticorin, Thirunelveli, Velankanni and more. Muslims are found majorly in cities like Ramanathapuram, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Madurai, Thirunelveli, Vellore and other cities.
Tamil is the predominant language spoken in Tamil Nadu and is considered one of the oldest languages in the world. Thanks to the commendable literacy rate, people also speak English for communication in most parts of the state. After the advent of IT in Tamil Nadu, especially in Chennai, the influx of floating population has increased significantly, with people now become more familiar and comfortable speaking languages like Hindi, Kannada and Telugu.
Indian Rupee is the currency used for everyday transactions in Tamil Nadu. Like in every other Indian state, the currency is of two types – coins and notes. The denominations available for coins include Rs. 1, 2, 5 and 10. For currency notes, the denominations include Rs. 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2000.
Cost and Money
Tamil Nadu is comparatively less expensive in terms of livelihood and lifestyle. Despite being a tourist hub, the prices are moderate and are accommodative to the needs of people from diverse backgrounds. A traveler on a shoestring budget can cherish his times here and so can the one intending to spend lavishly during his holiday. Approximately, you can find accommodation at prices ranging from a minimum of Rs. 499 approx. at backpackers hostels to as much as Rs. 25,000 approx. per night. Besides, the places are very tourist friendly and have signboards and instructions written in English, Tamil and Hindi. There are plenty of ATMs all through the state and most restaurants, resorts and hotels accept cards except for flea markets.