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location_onSTATES AND CITIES

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is an Indian state situated in the south-eastern end of the country – it is one of the two southernmost states of the country (the other being Kerala, on the south west end).

History

Tamil Nadu is one of the most ancient places in India. The land in this area is said to be centuries old, existing through paleolithic, Neolithic, and iron ages!

The land was ruled in the medieval period by popular empires like the Pandyas, Pallavas, Cholas and Cheras – all of whom have influenced the culture, literature, art, poetry, music and dances in Tamil Nadu.

After this, European colonization happened in the state between 1750-1858, when the French East India company invaded and later the British empire ruled from 1858-1947. In these periods, the state was known as Madras state, but it was renamed in 1969 as Tamil Nadu and its capital city was christened “Madras”. In the year 1996, Madras was renamed as Chennai.

Cities

The state of Tamil Nadu has many cities that are grouped into a total of 38 districts, 15 municipal corporations and 146 municipalities (i.e., single administrative divisions that have the powers of self-government as granted by national and regional laws).

Some popular cities in Tamil Nadu include Chennai (the state’s capital), Mahabalipuram, Madurai, Coimbatore, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Rameshwaram and Kancheepuram.

The capital city Chennai is the sixth most populous country in India and also once of the largest cultural and economic centers in South India.

People

Tamil Nadu has a population is 7.88 Crore (78.8 million) people. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians are the three largest religious groups in the total population of the state. Most people of all religions speak Tamil language in the state.

88% of the people in the state are Hindus, followed by more than 6.1% of Christians and about 6% Muslims. Other religions followed by people in the state include Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism which come to less than 1% of the population.

Most people here are highly religious and traditional; and love going to temples, wearing flowers on their hair. Most women wear saree (adults) which is their traditional attire.

Culture

Hinduism is predominant in Tamil Nadu, and the state has over 38,000 Hindu temples! Out of these about 33000 are ancient, a large number of which are anywhere between 800 to 5000 years old!

Bharatanatyam, which India’s most popular classical dance form, and Carnatic music (South Indian classical music) originated in Tamil Nadu and are both widely practiced and performed all over the state.

Kancheepuram district is known for its pure silk garments (sarees especially). These are very popular all through the country, especially in south India and are a crucial part of wedding attire here.

Movies and motion pictures are a primary source of entertainment here – and people love catching the earliest shows of movies in theatres, and often clap, whistle, sing and dance along the shows.

Language

Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadu, and is spoken across the state, in many different dialects that are local to specific regions. Apart from Tamil, English is largely spoken especially in business and professional environments.

Food

Tamil Nadu’s cuisine has a large number of vegetarian dishes as the state’s vegetarian population is relatively higher than that of the meat eaters. Although vegetarianism is predominant, meat and sea food are also eaten largely. Rice is the staple food here along with spicy curries.

The Mulligatawny soup that’s eaten in many other countries also has its origins here – it is a Tamil word that literally translates to Pepper water (Milagu – pepper and Tanni – water). Some more popular dishes of Tamil Nadu’s cuisine include –

  • Sambar - A sour and spicy stew made out of lentils, vegetables, tamarind juice, herbs and spices).
  • Rasam - Another sour and spicier stew made out of some lentils and a lot waterier than sambar – may have tomatoes but no other vegetables).
  • Idli - A steamed rice cake prepared with fermented batter of rice and black gram.
  • Dosai – A pancake made with fermented batter of rice and black gram; also known as Dosa.

*Idli and Dosa are popular breakfast items that are loved and relished along with sambar or chutney (a spicy, savoury condiment made out of vegetables, roasted pulses, peanuts, coconut, chillies etc) throughout south India and some parts of north, east and west too).

Travel/Transportation

Trains, planes and buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Tamil Nadu. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, local metro trains, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.

Airports – Most big cities in Tamil Nadu have their own airports, connecting to cities within the state as well as other parts of the country. Some have international airports, which also connect to other countries, and these are hubs where the people from nearby cities also need to travel to catch flights to other countries, based on the connections available.

  • Chennai International Airport, Chennai
  • Coimbatore International Airport, Coimbatore
  • Madurai International Airport, Madurai
  • Tiruchirapalli International Airport, Tiruchirapalli
  • Tuticorin Airport, Thoothukudi
  • Salem Airport, Salem

Railway Stations – The state has 504 train terminals/railway stations (at least one for each city/town, and more than 1 in bigger cities) that connect to other cities within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the popular train terminals and junctions in the state are:

  • Chennai Egmore Railway station, Egmore (Chennai)
  • Coimbatore Junction, Coimbatore
  • Madurai Junction, Madurai
  • Chengalpattu Junction, Chengalpattu
  • Salem Junction, Salem
  • Erode Junction, Erode
  • Thanjavur Junction, Thanjavur
  • Tirunelveli Junction, Tirunelveli
  • Nagercoil Junction, Nagercoil

Bus Terminals – Tamil Nadu has its own line of state-run TNSTC (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at TNSTC stops/terminals that are available in every division and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.

Attractions

Tamil Nadu is famous for its temple tours as it has most of the country’s (Hindu) temples. Some popular temples in Tamil Nadu are:

  • Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
  • Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram
  • Shore temple, Mahabalipuram
  • Thyagarajaswamy Temple, Chennai
  • Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur
  • Srirangam Temple
  • Ekambareswarar temple, Kancheepuram

…to name a few.

Tamil Nadu also has some beautiful hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud and Coonoor which are cool and pleasant, and perfect for a little getaway from the pother places which are often very hot, especially during summers.

Cities like Chennai, Kancheepuram and Kanyakumari have many beaches as they lie on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal. The Marina Beach in Chennai is very popular in the south and is one of the most crowded beaches in the state. Concerts and other events are also held here very often.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Tamil Nadu has some beautiful hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud and Coonoor which are cool and pleasant, and perfect for a little getaway from the other places which are often very hot, especially during summers. Here are some great weekend getaway spots in the state –

  • Coonoor
  • Ooty
  • Kodaikanal
  • Kodaikanal
  • Kanyakumari
  • Kancheepuram
  • Kancheepuram
  • Trichy (Tiruchirapalli)

ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES

Some interesting activities and things to do in Tamil Nadu for adventure lovers are -

  • Trekking and Hiking (Nilgiri hills - Ooty, Coonoor, etc)
  • Boating
  • Horse Riding
  • Waterfall Rappelling
  • Rock climbing

HISTORICAL PLACES

Tamil Nadu also has many historical gems to see. Some popular sites of historical significance in the state are –

  • Padmanabhapuram palace, Kanyakumari
  • Rock Fort, Tiruchirapalli
  • Valluvar Kottam, Chennai
  • St. George’s fort, Chennai
  • Sivaganga palace, Sivaganga district
  • Thanjavur Palace, Thanjavur
  • Arjuna’s Penance, Mahabalipuram