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|Info about Tamil Nadu, India|
Tamil Nadu Travel Guide
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Kanyakumari Tirunelveli Karur Tiruvallur
Nagapattinam Tiruvarur namakkal Perambalur
FACTS & FIGURES
Area : 1,30,058 sq km
Population : 55,800,000
Capital : Chennai
Languages : Tamil, English
Best Time to Visit : December to February
Literacy Rate : 62.66%
With a glorious past, a vibrant culture, a rich tapestry of history, a nature's paradise of blue beaches and clear skies, Tamilnadu is a tourist’s dream come true. One can revel on the Marina beach, go cruising in the theme parks, or let the mind rest in peace in the midst of magnificent temples. Alternatively, one can relish the mouth-watering dosas, savor the refreshing filter coffee, or enjoy the Bharat Natyam performances. Tamilnadu makes one forget the humdrum of modern life.
Located in south India, Tamilnadu is bounded in the north by Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, in the south by the Indian Ocean, in the east by the Bay of Bengal, and by Kerala in the west. The Point Calimere and the Mudumulai wildlife sanctuary mark the eastern and western limits of the state, respectively. The northernmost limit is Pulicat Lake while the southernmost tip, defining the end of the Indian landmass, is Cape Comorin or Kanyakumari. It is the 11th largest state in India, circumscribing the union territory of Pondicherry in the district of South Arcot.
The land can be divided into five major physical divisions—the Kurinji or mountainous region, the Mullai or forest region, the Palai vor arid region, the Marudham or the fertile plains and the Neidhal or coastal region. The Eastern and Western Ghats meet in Tamilnadu and run along its eastern and western boundaries. The Cauvery River, originating in the Coorg district of the neighboring state of Karnataka, is the lifeline of the state. The lush Coromandel plains are irrigated by the Cauvery and its Thanjavur–Nagapattinam delta is called the granary of Tamilnadu. Palar, Pennar, Vaigai and Tamiraparani are the other rivers of the state.
The climate of the state is widely tropical. April and May are the hottest months with temperatures rising to as high as 40°C. During the day, even the coastal regions are warm and humid during the summers; nightfall, however, brings some respite in the form of the cool sea breeze. During the winter season, extending from November to February, the mercury hardly falls below 20°C, except in the hill stations. The winter monsoons of Tamilnadu occur in the months of October to December.
Flora & Fauna
Tamilnadu is rich in flora and fauna and some of its major wildlife sanctuaries like Mudumalai and Annamalai (or Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary), are situated in the Western Ghats. These hills are ideal havens for elephants, tigers, bisons, monkeys and deer. Of the 3,000 and more plant species found in Tamilnadu, a majority is found in the mixed deciduous forests of this region. One of the most noteworthy flowers is the Kurinji of Kodaikanal, which blooms once in 12 years. Cinchona, from which the anti-malarial drug quinine is extracted, and the medicinal eucalyptus grow abundantly in the Nilgiri hills. Forests of other medicinal herbs are found in Palani hills and Courtallam. Palmyra trees grow profusely in Tirunelveli and its products are used as raw materials for several cottage industries. Rubber is the main plantation crop in Kanyakumari and sandalwood grows in the Javadhu hills of Vellore district.
Tamilnadu was ruled by three major dynasties—the Cholas in the east, the Pandyas in the central area and Cheras in the west. This was during the Sangam Age—the classical period of Tamil literature—that continued for some 300 years after the birth of Christ. The Pallava dynasty was influential particularly in the 7th and 8th centuries, the testimonies to which are the monuments at Mamallapuram. In the 13th century, with threats of Muslim invasions from the north, the southern Hindu dynasties combined and the empire of Vijaynagar, which covered all of South India, became firmly established. However, by the 17th century, due to the disintegration of the Vijaynagar Empire, various small rulers like the Nayaks ruled southern India.
By the middle of the 18th century, there were frequent conflicts between the British, French, Danes, and Dutch due to their interest in these areas. The British were finally victorious, while small pocketed areas including Pondicherry and Karaikal remained under French control. Under the British rule, most of south India was integrated into the region called the Madras Presidency. In 1956, the Madras Presidency was disbanded and Tamilnadu was established.
Tamilnadu is the home of the Tamils and their Dravidian culture. Human activity in this area may have begun as early as 3,00,000 years ago. Historians are of the opinion that the first Dravidians were a part of the Indus Valley Civilization and came to the south after the invasions in the north, around 1500 bc. The main language spoken here is Tamil, followed by English. While around 88% of the state’s population follows Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are also followed here. There is an established caste system, and the traditional differentiations here are a lot more pronounced than in many other parts of the country. The Brahmin community here is very pious and people normally have a white mark on the forehead to signify caste.
Gypsies have had a special place in Tamil history. Many tribes and castes have accepted this iterant way of life. The Tamil deity Murugan’s consort was identified variably as a Kuravar (in Tamilnadu) or as a Veddha (indigenous hunter gatherer tribal in Sri Lanka). The Badagas, Kotas, and Todas are other tribes found in the Nilgiri hills.
Arts & Crafts
The innumerable temples of Tamilnadu are themselves marvelous feats of art. The stone carvings of Mahabalipuram (also Mamallapuram), the paintings of Tanjore, the mats of Pattamadai, woodcarvings of Chettinad are famous throughout the country. Besides these, the dolls made during the Navratra celebrations and baskets made of bamboo reeds are other attractions of local crafts.
Music & Dance
Tamilnadu is synonymous with the Indian musical maestro of the 18th century, Tyagaraja. The land of Carnatic music, Tamilnadu, is the birthplace of many other music legends as well. The main instruments used are the violin, wooden flute, veena, gottuvadayam, mridangam, nagaswaram and ghatam.
Bharat Natyam is probably the best known and one of the most respected classical dances of India and is Tamilnadu’s gift to Indian culture. It originated in the temples of Mahabalipuram, and was first performed by the Devdasis, who were young women married off to the temple deity at a tender age. In the 1930s, Krishna Iyer, a freedom fighter, took the first step towards including this dance in the fold of acceptable culture and rechristened it Bharat Natyam. Today, besides being practiced extensively in India, it has many exponents in the world, especially in Europe.
Fairs & Festivals
The main festival of the state is Pongal, which is a harvest festival celebrated in the month of January. Feasting, music and dance mark this festival. Another festival, Thaipusam, celebrated in the months of January and February in Thanjavur and Palani, is marked by ritual bathing. Several temple car festivals are held throughout the state, the primary ones being at Kanchipuram, Tiruchirapalli, Rameswaram, Chidambaram, and Tiruvarur. Chithirai festival, another major festival, is celebrated in the month of April/May, especially in and around Madurai. The Mahamagam festival is celebrated once in 12 years at Kumbakonam. The Arubathimoobar festival in Chennai is marked by the procession of 63 saints of Lord Shiva. During the Meenaksi Kalyanam festival in Madurai, during April–May, the temple Goddess is wedded to her immortal husband. The Velankanni Festival, held at Velankanni in August/September, is held in honor of Virgin Mary, who is regarded to have miraculous healing powers. Besides these, Navratri, Deepavali, Christmas, New Year’s Day are also celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervor.
A truly secular festival is the Kanthuri festival, where devotees flock to the shrine of saint Quadirwali, believed to do equal good to people of all faiths. One of the descendants of the saint is chosen as a peer or spiritual leader and is honored with offerings. On the tenth day of the festival, the Saint's tomb is anointed with sandalwood, and later the holy sandal paste, renowned for its healing powers, is distributed to everyone.
In January, the Tamilnadu Tourist Development Corporation (TTDC) Trade Fair is celebrated in Chennai. The Dance Festival at Mamallapuram is held in the month of January and is famous throughout the country. Lord Nataraja, the ‘cosmic dancer’, is paid rich tributes in the temple city of Chidambaram. The summer festival at Ooty, Kodaikanal, and Yercaud attracts thousands of tourists every year and is marked by boat races and flower and fruit shows. The Tyagaraja Music Festival at Thiruvaiyaru, in January, attracts music lovers from all corners of the globe. The float festival at Tiruchi, in the month of March, is also famous.
Dhotis are what most men in the Tamilnadu wear, a simple round-stitched cloth, tied at the center. The Kanjivaram saris found in Madras are available in several varieties and are considered very snazzy wear at weddings and occasions. The women are easily distinguished by their long hair, usually tied into plaits and always adorned with fresh flowers. They are also bedecked with heavy jewelry, made mostly of gold.
Tamil cuisine, traditionally vegetarian, consists of the famous dosas, which are crispy pancakes and idlis, which are steamed rice dumplings. Vadas, sambar, rasam, coconut chutney, and upma are other common delicacies. Rice is the staple diet of the state. Chettinad cuisine is a specialty in Tamilnadu and will be a delight for those who like hot and spicy non-vegetarian food. This type of food has several variations of fish, mutton, and chicken dishes of which the Chettinad Pepper Chicken is a delicacy. The Tamil style of Mughlai food can be savored in the biriyanis and paya, which is a kind of spiced trotters broth and is eaten with either paranthas or appam. Tamilnadu, especially Chennai, is famous for its filter coffee, as most Tamils do not prefer instant coffee.
The state’s economy is largely agriculture based and 70% of the population is involved in this industry. The principal food crops are rice, maize, jowar, bajra, ragi, and pulses. The cash crops include cotton, sugarcane, oilseeds, coffee, tea rubber, and chilies. About 17% of the state’s total land area is under forest cover.
The major minerals of this state are limestone, magnetite, mica, quartz, feldspar, salt, lignite, gypsum, and bauxite. The major industries include cotton textiles, chemicals, fertilizers, paper and paper products, printing and allied industries, diesel engines, automobiles and parts, cement, sugar, iron and steel, and railway wagon and coaches. The state is an important exporter of leather and leather products, cotton piece goods, tea, coffee, spices, tobacco, etc.
There are a number of hydel power stations in Tamilnadu. The atomic power plant is located at Kalpakkam, in the Chengalpattu MGR district.
SITES TO VISIT
Tamilnadu, the cradle of south Indian temple architecture, is a living museum of styles that originated in the seventh century and matured in the huge temple complexes studded with towering gateways—gopurams—that soar above the markets of almost every town.
Chennai, the capital city, offers some beautiful beach resorts. The best place to start a temple tour is Mamallapuram, a seaside village that, quite apart from some exquisite Pallava rock-cut architecture, boasts a long stretch of beach. Inland, the pilgrimage city of Kanchipuram is filled with reminders of an illustrious past under successive dynastic rulers, while further down the coast is one of India's rare French colonial possessions, Pondicherry, where Auroville has found a new role in the "New Age.” The road south from Pondicherry puts one back on the temple trail, leading to the Chola kingdom and the extraordinary architecture of Chidambaram, Gangaikondacholapuram, Kumbakonam and Darasuram. For the best Chola bronzes and a glimpse of the magnificent paintings that flourished under Maratha rajas in the eighteenth century, travelers should head for Thanjavur. The city boasts of almost a hundred temples and was the birthplace of Bharat Natyam dance.
Tiruchirapalli, a commercial town just northwest of Thanjavur, reached its heyday under later dynasties, when the temple complex in neighboring Srirangam became one of south India's largest. Here south India's most profusely carved temple dapples with light that seeps through countless pillared halls, and reflects from shimmering oil lamps onto gods, saints and maidens peeping from every wall, column and gateway.
Rameswaram, on the long spit of land reaching towards Sri Lanka, and Kanyakumari, at India's southern tip (the auspicious meeting point of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea) are both important pilgrimage centers, with the added attraction of welcome cool breezes and vistas over the sea.
While Tamilnadu's temples are undeniably its major attraction, it would take months to see them all, and there is plenty else to distract even the most ardent architecture buff. In the west of the state, where the hill stations of Kodaikanal and Ooty are the premier attractions, sylvan hills offer mountain views and a network of trails winds through forests and tea and coffee plantations. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, a vast spread of deciduous forest dominated by teak, offers a good chance of spotting elephants and dholes, wild pack-hunting dogs, tigers and leopards. Annamalai Sanctuary, closer to Kodaikanal in the Palani hills, is better known for its lion-tailed macaques (black-maned monkeys). The wetlands of the coast provide perfect resting places for migratory birds, whose numbers soar during the winter monsoon at Vedathangal, near Madras, and Point Calimere.
HOW TO REACH
The Anna International Airport, 16 km south of Chennai, has flights to/from Sri Lanka, Dubai, Germany, Jakarta, Malaysia, England, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore. Most major Indian cities are also well connected to Chennai. The Indian Airlines Office (Ph. 8553039) and Air India Office (Ph. 8554477) at Marshall’s Road are quite helpful and informative. One can reach the city by auto-rickshaws, suburban trains and taxis.
e station at Chennai has connecting trains to/from all major cities in India. The reservation office is on the first floor of the reservation complex next to the station. The very helpful Foreign Tourist Assistance Cell deals with Indrail Pass and tourist-quota bookings. At Egmore, the booking office is at the station itself (Ph. 5353545).
The bus terminals in Chennai are on either side of Prakasham Road in George Town, near the High Court Building. The intrastate (Ph. 5341835) and interstate (Ph. 5341836) bus reservation offices are upstairs. There are buses to almost all the neighboring states. Boat services are also available in Chennai.
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aniss1410 I will come to Tamilnadu on 9nov for 2 weeks. It will be my first journey to India. Hope, will like it;).
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Edited by: aniss1410 on 27.10.2008 madhavisb on 26.08.2005 shakti27 on 27.04.2005 shakti27 on 26.04.2005
|Last postings about Tamil Nadu India from other users
To see Mahabalipuram and Big Temple Tanjore whose shadow never falls on ground at anytime of the day.and bangalore and so many
stone sculptures at Mahabalipuram,historical old temples that are very famous and still in use,long and wide sandy beaches and yes..mind boggling traffic of Chennai too!!
Mahabalipuram , ancient Temples by the sea shore, Pondicheery a French colony about 2.30 hrs drive and lot of nicer beaches
Chennai - Largest metro of South India, financial hub of South India, rooted in history. Host city to the second longest beach in the world, The Marina. Just 50 KMs away from here is the ancient shore temple city of Mahabalipuram. Chennai also has a few ancient Hindu temples.