Tamil Nadu is the land of the Tamils and it has a history that dates back to a several thousand years. It is a land where traditions and culture blend and continue to live in harmony. The state abounds in monuments and temples that are ancient and each has its own story of religious, artistic and cultural accomplishment and specialty waiting to be heard. Are there answers to be found on her beaches and hill stations as they welcome the traveler? We are sure you will form your own opinions and have your own perceptions as we welcome you to this enchanting and ancient Dravidian land, in the extreme south of peninsular India. Tamil Nadu has a long coastline that stretches nearly a 1000 kms. The Coromandel Coast, along the Bay of Bengal, boasts of many ideal locations for sun and surf.
Golden sands of the beach are dotted with coconut palm and casuarina groves. The sea washes ashore pebbles and shells and the gentle breeze sways the yachts and catamarans into the deeper waters of the sea and the waters form small dunes on the shore. Crabs play hide-and-seek by coming out of one burrow, and taking refuge in another. Sea gulls hover in the sky and then rest on the sails of the fishing boats. There are many more breathtaking sights that will please you and hold you spell bound in Tamil Nadu.
Welcome to Tamil Nadu and may you enjoy your stay!
The history of Tamilazham
The history of Tamilazham goes back about 5000 years and more. It is the birthplace of Dravidian culture in India . The Chera, Chola and Pandya ruled the Dravidian country from which modern Tamil Nadu formed. In the 4th Century A.D. the Pallavas of Kanchipuram, became the rulers. They dominated the land for 400 years. The rise of Muslim power in India had its impact on Tamil Nadu. The establishment of the East India Company at Madras in 1639 was a crucial chapter in the history of Madras . When India attained independence in 1947, the Madras province, comprising Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala in the west and Andhra Pradesh in the north continued as the State of Madras. But the demand for a separate Telugu speaking state compelled the Government of India to bifurcate the state into two, into the Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh and Tamil-speaking Tamil Nadu. The old capital Madras city was retained by the new Madras state. Under the states reorganization Act 1956, Madras lost the Malabar district and the Kasaragod taluk to the newly formed Kerala State. At the same time, Madras gained four taluks of Trivandrum district and one taluk of Kollam district. In 1969, January, Madras State changed its name to Tamil Nadu. The capital city was renamed as Chennai in 1996.
Tourism of Tamil Nadu
There are several places of tourist interest in the State and in Chennai, the state’s capital city. Mamallapuram, the beach resort; Kanchipuram, the land of 1000 temples; Madurai famous for the Meenakshi temple; Rameswaram, Thiruchirapalli and Thanjavur, form the temple trio The charming hill resorts are at Yercaud, Ootacamund and Kodaikanal. Kanniyakumari at the tip of the Indian peninsula is where the seas meet. The waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and of the Arabian Sea join together at this point. This small town is renowned for the spellbinding views of a fantastic sunrise and sunset .
61.5 million people per sq. km.
Area (sq. km)
Literacy Ratio 64%
No of Districts 30
Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India , is bordered on the north by the State of Andhra Pradesh , on the northwest by the Karnataka State , on the west by the Kerala State , and on the east and south by the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Occupying an area in the extreme south of the Indian peninsula, Tamil Nadu has an area of 130,058 sq km (50,215 sq mi).The State of Tamil Nadu is divided into 30 Administrative Districts, which in turn are further bifurcated into smaller divisions and subdivisions including a total of 17,272 villages. The state’s capital, Madras was renamed Chennai. It is the fourth largest city in the Indian sub-continent. It extends over an area of 174 sq.km. Its Legislative House is unicameral and has 235 seats. The state sends 57 members to the India’s National Parliament, 18 to the Rajya Sabha or the Upper House and 39 to the Lok Sabha or the Lower House.
The Land of Heritage & Devotion It is a place that enchants and enhances the soul. Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars called the Nagarathars, are a prosperous banking and business community. It is a tourist's paradise with a difference, and one which certainly cannot be missed by the discerning tourist. A stray thundershower adds to the charm of the place, churning up the red soil, and filling up the temple tanks. The palatial mansions, makes Chettinad a place of rare charm, and a must visit destination. Chettinad Houses Chettinad, rich in cultural heritage, art and architecture, is well known for its houses, that are embellished with marble and Burma teak. The houses have wide inner courtyards and spacious rooms. The grandly and wonderfully embellished houses were created reflect the prosperity of the Nagarathar community. The basic design comprises of a "thinnai" which is an enclosed courtyard and this is surrounded by family rooms. The walls are smooth and are made of special plaster. The plaster involves the application of the finely ground mixture of powdered shell, lime, jaggery and spices, including gallnut (myrobalan), to walls. This technique keeps the interior of the house cool during the hot and humid Indian summers and lasts a lifetime. The architectural structure of a typical Chettiar home is a study in how a human dwelling can be constructed in harmony with nature. High ceilings, airy and well ventilated, the house has one courtyard near the entrance leads to the imposing main door, usually made of wood with extraordinarily intricate carvings of mythological figures.The thinnai is a long narrow raised platform that serves as a meeting place and also as a kind of accomodation for travellers and visitors. The inner courtyard has special significance. It is lined with classically beautiful pillars made out of granite or teakwood. The courtyard serves as the venue for the many ceremonies that the community performs from births to weddings to death.
Tamil Nadu is known especially for its blue beaches and sunny skies. Some of south India's nicest beaches dot Chennai's long seafront. The Marina beach is a 12-km long stretch of fine sandy shore and is known as the Pride of Chennai, the Kovalam beach is quiet and far away from the distractions of the city and the Elliot's beach is the preferred destination for those with a clean atmosphere in mind. A short 20-minute drive from Chennai City, VGP Golden Beach Resort offers a serene and relaxing atmosphere in today's stress-driven world. 58-km south of Chennai is the Mahabalipuram beach, famous for its unique 7th century Shore Temple.
Marina Beach is located on the eastern side of Chennai, adjoining the Bay of Bengal. Watching the sun set and rise from the beach is an enthralling experience. Though bathing and swimming can be dangerous, as the undercurrent is very strong, even then people come for swimming here. In the evenings, the beach is virtually a fair ground with various kinds of entertainment and food stalls lining the beach
With its natural sandy beauty and spacious promenade and beautiful gardens, the beach is a major attraction for tourists visiting Chennai. It has acquired a South Indian aura with vendors hawking wares ranging from shell and glass baubles to kites and fruit juices. The Marina, however, is large enough to accommodate all visitors as well as the hawkers and is often the venue for important state functions.
Elliot BeachThis beach is located in Besant Nagar. Formerly a popular bathing beach, today, it is the favourite rendezvous of the younger generation. Good roads, pavements, illuminated sands, makes a visit to this beach a real pleasure.
Kovalam Beach Kovalam or Covelong as it was known earlier is a small fishing village located 40 kms from Chennai on the way to Mahabalipuram. Now it is a luxury beach resort. This beach has a fort built by the Nawab of Carnatic, Saadat Ali.
Mamallapuram 58 kms, south of Chennai, has a beautiful beach spanning a distance of over 20 km. An erstwhile port of the Pallava dynasty the place abounds with stone carvings, caves, rock cut temples also attract tourists. A crocodile farm, snake. venom extracting centre, schools of art and sculpture and a wide choice of resorts along the beach draw holiday-seekers all round the year.
While travelling from Chennai to Mahabalipuram visit Dakshinachitra - a heritage centre. Here traditional crafts persons and folk artists work and perform in the reconstructed period settings of 19th century homes, streets and workspaces of the Southern States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Kanyakumari Beach At the southern most tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies Kanyakumari, an important pilgrim center. Kanyakumari is famous for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on full moon days. The beach itself is a beautiful sight with multi-colored sand. There is a lighthouse from where one can get a panoramic view. The Government museum offers a good collection of sculptural art crafts of Tamil Nadu.
Muttukkadu Beach Yet another beach resort created in memory of erstwhile "Kaveripoompattinam", a legendary Port city, washed away by the sea. The present complex was designed on the basis of the information available in the Tamil epic 'Silapathikaram'.
The historical happenings depicted in Silapathikaram and the land marks mentioned therein are brought back to life here in stone. The Department of Tourism offers conch and shell type accommodation here.
Tamil Nadu is a land of many festivals. January marks the beginning of the festival season in the state. Pongal is the first festival and it is celebrated with much enthusiasm. It is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. “Pongal” is actually the name of a rice and lentil dish cooked in Tamil Nadu, and on this festive day Pongal is cooked. It is celebrated on January 14, each year. In fact, four festivals are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four consecutive days in that week. Bhogi is celebrated on January 13, Pongal on Jan 14, Maattu Pongal on Jan 15, and Kannum Pongal and Thiruvalluvar Day on Jan 16.
BHOGI to rid the society of evil. People clean up their houses of all the junk that they have accumulated in the past year. All the waste stuff is burnt. Houses are freshly painted. Farm animals are bathed and decorated with colored powders and paint. Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai. It is considered to be an auspicious month. The Sun God is worshipped. In rural areas, people gather in front of their houses and cook pongal in new pots. Stoves are made with clay and wood is used as fuel. When the pongal is almost made, everybody shouts in ecstasy pongal o pongal. When milk is boiled, if it overflows, it is believed to be a sign of a prosperous agricultural during the coming season.People visit their friends and relatives. Pongal food and sweets are exchanged among neighbours and relatives. The sugarcane crop ripens at the time of Pongal. Sugarcane is harvested and it is available in markets and children can be seen crunching sugarcane.
MATTU PONGAL The next day January 15, is the day for farm animals especially the bulls. Most farmers still use them to plough and till the land for irrigation. The farmer would find it difficult to survive without the bull. Bulls, cows and other farm animals are worshipped on this day. Bull fights or Manju Virattu also takes place on this day. These fights are also called Jalli Kettu.
Every house nurtures at least one bull to be a fierce fighter. The horns are periodically sharpened. Traditionally it is believed that a family loses its status if it has no bulls to participate in this fight. Farmers gather to display their fierce bulls. Each bull has a cloth tied around its neck containing money. The owner of the bull challenges the crowd that gathers to bring the bull under control and victoriously retrieve the cloth with the money from its neck. The bulls get restless and angry with the noise from the drums, whistles, shouts and even crackers that are burst. These bull fights can be fatal at times. The bulls are overpowered sometimes but it is understandably a difficult task. If the bull is overpowered, the owner of the bull has to invite the conqueror to his house and serve him a lavish meal.
The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Nilgiri Hills, at a point where the Western Ghats meet the Eastern Ghats. This sanctuary has a mix of flat land, undulating parkland, open grassland, swamp, valleys and nullahs. The Mayyar River forms a series of spectacular cascades on its 65 kms route on the Udhagamandalam-Mysore highway. This sanctuary can be reached from Mysore too. The 321 sq kms area of the sanctuary encompasses a National Park measuring 103 sq kms. The vegetation here is varied. The hilly terrain of the Western Ghats, clothed in dense mixed and moist deciduous forests, make Mudumalai a most attractive wildlife reserve. The Mysore-Ooty highway runs through the Park, following the course of the Mayyar River, which separates Mudumalai from the Bandipur sanctuary. The fauna includes Elephant, Gaur, Bonnet, Macaque, Common langur, Tigers and Leopards, Chital, Panther, Sloth Bear, Python, Barking deer, Four-Horned Antelope, Otter, Crocodile, Giant flying squirrel, Sambhar, Hyena, Wild Dog, Wild Boar, Mouse Deer, Spotted Deer, Jackal, Hare, Porcupine and Mongoose. The birds listed in this sanctuary are the peacock, India’s national bird, grey jungle fowl, Malabar whistling thrush, large racquet-tailed dronge, magpie-robin, spotted babbler, small green barbet, green pigeons, little brown dove, Malabar grey hornbill, bulbuls and mynahs. Among the birds of prey, eagles, hawks, buzzards, harriers, falcons and king vulture are predominant. there are some migratory water birds too.
Discovery of Kodaikanal
Here is a story Lieutenant Ward, an Englishman, who climbed up from the Kunnavan village of Vellagavi to Kodaikanal in 1821 to survey the area on the hilly ranges of Palani. In 1834, the Madurai collector climbed the hill from Devadanapatti and built a small bungalow at the head of Adukkam pass near Shenbaganur. In 1836, Dr.Wite visited Kodaikanal and recorded his observations, and these were very useful to botanists later. In 1845, American Missionaries built the first two bungalows “Sunnyside” and “Shelton”. Later, six American families came up the hill and stayed for the first time in Kodaikanal. Following this, the British also built houses here. The hill station Kodaikanal was created to serve the needs of the British and Europeans in India. The 20th century saw elite Indians enteri Kodaikanal to enjoy its charm and beauty and to harness its natural wealth for development. Stages of development In 1875, the Indian railways extended its line from Chennai to Tirunelveli and a station was created at Ammaianayakkanur and this was later renamed Kodai Road, to provide a gateway to Kodaikanal. Tourists started their journey at Ammaianayakkanur Railway station upto Krishnamma Nayak Thope. This trek was undertaken to Kodaikanal, 18 kms distance away using horses and palanquins, with coolies for assistance.
Today, the charm of Kodaikanal lies in its wooded slopes and gigantic trees. The mighty rocks, bowers, creeks and slopes captivate the visitors. The meadows, the long stretches of forests, beautiful spots and the flocks of sheep grazing on green pastures are a source of joy, delight and thrill to onlookers. The climb to the various jutting rocks at Kodai is rewarding. The arduous climb to the Pillar rocks, to a height of 400 ft, is a must for every visitor to this hill resort.
Believers in astrology and the influence of planets over individual destiny will find Tamil Nadu is a great destination. Indian astrology believes that the planetary positions of the nine planets in a geocentric orbit determine the way a person will live, progress and exemplify one’s life to others before death. Nava means nine and graha means planet. There are nine temples located in Tamil Nadu representing each planet in the Navagraha. All nine of them are located within a sixty-kilometre radius around Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district. Tamil Nadu is the only state where the temples dedicated to the nine celestial bodies are located in such close proximity.
Bharatanatyam was a dance technique evolved in the South of India in Tamil Nadu and practised in the Shiva temples. It is a highly specialised science with uses a traditional background and rigid codes and conventions. Bharatanatyam skillfully embodies the three primary aspects of dance. They are bhava or mood, raga or music and melody and tala or timing. The technique of Bharatanatyam consists of the hand, foot, face and body movements, which are performed to the accompaniment of 64 principles of coordination.
For many centuries only certain families in the district of Thanjavur performed Bharatanatyam. The inheritors of the craft were known as Nattuvans. The chief exponents of this dance were the devadasis or temple dancers. They would perform the dance daily at the time of worship or on festive occasions. It came to be patronized by the rajahs and princes. In course of time the devadasis began to dance in the courts and palaces and the sanctity of the dance was lost.
Bharatanatyam stands in the forefront of all the classical dance art forms that are now prevalent in India. Owing to its religious origins and its highly developed technique, it is the form of dance most akin to the code compiled by the sage Bharata Muni in his famous Natya Shastra. The modern form of Bharatanatyam presentation is the arrangements of four Nattuvans of Pandanallur who were brothers. They were Ponniah, Chinniah, Vadivelu and Sivanandam, who lived in the eighteenth century. The Vidwan, Meenaskshi Sundaram Pillai of Pandanallur, the greatest teacher of Bharatanatyam is a direct descendant of these brothers. It was Rukmini Devi Arundale, the celebrated dancer and scholar who took this dance form out of the temple and gave it new respectability. She started the dance school Kalakshetra in Adyar. The school was later shifted to Thiruvanmiyur, from where it now functions. Here the old, gurukulam system in education is still followed and many classes are conducted in sylvan surroundings.In the Nataraja temple or the temple of dancing Shiva at Chidambaram, the 108 poses of the classical form of Bharatanatyam are sculpted on the pillars around the shrines and on the gateways.