Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai (formerly known as Madras). Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by Puducherry (Pondicherry), Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is bound by the Eastern Ghats in the north, the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Palakkad on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait in the south east, and by the Indian Ocean in the south.
* Chennai (Madras) – the capital of Tamil Nadu. One of India’s four metropolitan cities.
* Coimbatore – on the banks of the river Noyyal, and the textile capital of South India or the Manchester of the South
* Dharmapuri – 290 km from chennai, 130 km from Bangalore [NH-7],the beautiful town located in the northern part of Tamilnadu. Town has more historic values and once it was capital of the great Adhiyaman kingdom (chola). You can see many ancient temples in and around the town. Town is famous for Mango and worldclass Granites. Hogenakkal falls is just 40 km from the town.
* Erode The Kongu region is famous for Agriculture, Textiles Milk (Erode Aavin), Edible Oils (Erode), Turmeric (Erode has the largest market in India)
* Kanchipuram – 75 km from Chennai, one of the seven holy cities in the country, and a visit is believed to bestow salvation; renowned for its silk sarees
* Kanniyakumari – The southern most tip of the Indian mainland, it is famous for its conjunction of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal into the Indian Ocean. Also well known for its beaches, the Tiruvalluvar Statue and the man made island Vivekananda Rock. Very nearby is the Padmanabhapuram palace which was the erstwhile palace of the King of Travancore (Kerala).
* Madurai – on the banks of the River Vaigai, known as Athens of the East, a place of great historical and cultural importance, and the oldest city in Tamil Nadu
* Mamallapuram – though no longer a port, Mamallapuram has retained its fame in stone, thanks to the great contribution of Pallava artisans, and is amongst the most outstanding examples of Dravidian art and architecture and a jewel in the crown of Tamil Nadu
* Thanjavur – also called the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu, is well-known throughout the world for being the home of the Brihadeeswara temple, the magnificent palace, Rajah Serfoji’s Saraswathi Mahal Library, Art Gallery and also for its exquisite handicrafts like the Art Plate, pithwork, bronze icons, Thanjavur paintings and the classical South Indian musical instruments
* Tranquebar (also called Tharangambadi)
The Nilgiri mountain range on the east coast is home to many hill-stations that are good for weekend trips.
* Kodaikanal – prettier than Ooty, and less crowded
* Ooty – famous botanical garden, popularised by movies, a tad crowded
* Palani – A popular Hill Temple for Murugan
* Yelagiri – not very well-known, but worth a trip
* Yercaud – hidden away and unsung
* Masingagudi – Part of the Nilgiri Bio-sphere reserve.
* Mudumalai National Park – abundant wildlife located in Nilgiris
* Hogenakkal – Twenty Waterfalls
* Kutralam Falls also known as Courtallam (see Wikipedia)
Tamils are fiercely proud of the Tamil language, one of the few still living classical languages, with two millennia of written tradition. Unlike many other Indian languages, it belongs to the Dravidian language family that includes the other major South Indian languages – Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. As Malayalam and Tamil are closely related, locals may be able to puzzle out spoken Malayalam with some difficulty. Tamil Nadu was the site of violent anti-Hindi riots in 1965 when the union government tried to impose Hindi as the sole official language of India, and there is still some residual hostility towards Hindi, so try to pick up some instant Tamil here.
However, if you don’t speak Tamil, most educated Tamils speak English fluently, while many others know some basic English, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting by with English in the major cities.
Anna International Airport in Chennai has connections with many South-East Asian cities, Sri Lanka, and some European cities (Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels and London). There are also flights from Tiruchirapalli to Colombo in Sri Lanka and Singapore. There are flights from Coimbatore to Sharjah, Colombo and Singapore.
Other domestic airports in Tamil Nadu include Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, Coimbatore, and Tuticorin.
Tamil Nadu is served by Southern Railway and there are many trains from Chennai to almost every major city in India. Chennai serves as a gateway city for connections from other parts of Tamil Nadu.
Chennai is one point on the Golden Quadrilateral project, the construction of limited access divided highways that link circumnavigate the heart of India.
Chennai has one of Asia’s largest bus stations, CMBT. Seven different state owned corporations fly buses to and from various destinations within South India. There are hourly buses for places like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore. You will get the option of A/C or Non-A/C coaches for cities like Bangalore, Trivandrum, Hyderabad.
Several private players also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it’s better to reserve a ticket in advance. All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state owned(CMBT), and private buses (Omni bus terminus). Both these terminuses are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/autorickshaw driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus. So feel free to ask the driver or fellow passengers the closest drop-off point to your destination.
Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and extremely cheap. You can buy bus tickets online at redbus or Ticketgoose or RathiMeena. Extreme caution is advised in using these buses as they are often out of shape, will begin moving before passengers are fully boarded, and are, like second class suburban trains, notorious for passengers having to hang off the edge or outside of the bus while in motion. But now state corporation introduces New Type Deluxe, A/C Buses for Chennai Passengers. Also introduced new 2500 buses for Chennai.
* Hill stations – Ooty, Kodaikanal
* Mamallapuram- Pallava dynasty rock cut temples
* Kanchipuram-temples and sarees
* Thiruchy – temples, fort
* Kumbakonam-famous upilliyapan temple
* Chidambaram- the seat of the cosmic dancer Nataraja
* Palani – A Murugan Hill Temple
* Madurai – one of the oldest cities of Tamilnadu, documented since 4th century BC, seat of Kadai Sangam (a sort of ancient conference on the Tamil language). Once the capital of the ancient Pandiyans, the city is famous for the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Shrine.
* Poompuhar, for its heritage of sculpture
* Swamithoppe for the Ayya Vaikunda Avataram festival.
* Kanniyakumari (Cape Comorin), the southern-most tip of peninsular India, where you can find the Kanniyakumariamman temple on the sea shore where the mookuthy (nose stud) which is in the face of goddess shines so much that it guided ships passing by.Vivekanandha Rock,Saint Thiruvalluvar Statue
* Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
* Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Thai (mid-January), is an important festival for Tamilians irrespective of their religion. It is celebrated over three days. On the first day, Bogi Pongal, discarded household items (brooms, mats, etc.) are burnt before sunrise and delicacies are offered to the Gods. On the second day, melagu pongal is cooked in earthen pots and offered to the Gods along with sarkarai pongal. The third day, Maatu Pongal (Maatu – Cow), is for paying respect to cattle. Cows are washed, their horns are painted, and they are taken to a nearby temple. Challikattu competitions are also held. On the fourth day, kaanum Pongal, family and friends are visited and new clothes are given to maids and servants.
* Ayya Vaikunda Avatharam The incarnational day of Ayya Vaikundar from the sea at Tiruchendur. This is the most important festival of Ayyavazhi and on this day the celebrations in Swamithoppe is considered to be of high religious importance. Though it is celebrated with processions all over Tamil Nadu, celebrations are in grander in the south. Two processions, one from Tiruchendur, connected with the incarnation of Vaikundar, and another from Thiruvananthapuram, noting the relese of Vaikundar join at Nagercoil and then proceed towards Swamithoppe, the geographical focus point of Ayyavazhi.
* Krishna jayanti or Gokulashtami A celebration of Lord Krishna. Women pray to Lord Krishna and offer foodstuffs to him.
* Aadi maadam is celebrated on Tuesdays and Fridays from July 16th to aug 15th in Amman Temples all over Tamil Nadu including the Mundakaniamman temple in Chennai and Karpakamaal. Foodstuffs and bangles are served as offerings to the gods. People prepare good food and sit in the banks of river cauvery and pray for their family welfare.
* Varalakshmi pooja On this day, married women keep kalasam, they pray, they dress-up and they decorate the temples.
* Navaratri is a festival in honor of the three goddesses Laxmi (prosperity), Sarasvati (learning), and Durga (strength). In Tamil Nadu, women prepare elaborate arrangements of dolls based on these goddesses and visits are made to see and compare these arrangements. As with all festivals, sweets and food feature in a large way.
* Saraswati pooja, the ninth day of Navaratri, is in honor of the goddess of learning. Students and elders place their books in front of the goddess and neither study nor play musical instruments in honor of the goddess.
* Vijayadashmi is the 10th day of Navaratri and is considered to be the day for starting new things like learning to play a new instrument or the start of a new school year.
* Deepavali (Diwali), the festival of lights, is the time for new clothes, oil baths, bursting crackers, and eating sweets.
* Karthigai is a festival in honor of Lord Muruga. It is celebrated in the month of November to December every year.
* Karthigai deepam chariot festival this is one of the oldest festivals in south-india, honoring Lord Muruga, also known as kaarthikeya. In the month of Karthigai thousands of devotees assemble in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil-Nadu, to take part in the many street and temple ceremonies and to offer prayers to Lord Muruga.
* Gowri PoojaSimilar to varlakshmi pooja is done on the eve of vinnayakar chaturthi,for all these amman festivals karugumani is mandatory to be offered to goddess,and even in maangalyam ladies can wear in addition to gold and is safe nowadays because gold is capable of getting stolen.
* ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi Known as Ganesh Chaturthi in other parts of India, this festival is in honor of the elephant god Ganesh. An idol of Vinayaka is immersed in the sea or in a temple tank on the third day of this festival.
* Purataasi Maadham famous for lord venkatachalapathy,many slokas,dance programmes,music concerts are all done in praise of lord narayana and brahmotsawam is done in thirupathi in grand scale.
* Id Tamil Nadu has a large muslim population and Id and Ramzan are celebrated here.
* Christmas, Good Friday and other Christian festivals are also celebrated.
* Panguni Utaram utsavam in Ranganathar temple
Music and Dance festivals
* Natyanjali is celebrated in many Hindu temples at the end of February and beginning of March, and includes daily classical Indian dance and music performances.
* December Festival (Kacheri) at various locations in Chennai is dedicated to classical Indian dance and music performances. It attracts large crowds and performances often sell out early.
* Mamallapuram Festival of dance is held in Mamallapuram in the months of January and February.
* New Year’s Eve Special prayers are offered in churches in the form of midnight services. Women light villaku to goddesses at home or candles to Christ or Mother Mary, and prayers are offered in Mosques.
* Tamil Puththandu (Tamil New Year) The 1st day of the Tamil month of Chitirai. Usually in mid-April. Now it is being changed to the 1st day of the Tamil month of ‘Thai’.
* Akshaya Tritiya On the third day after the new moon day that follows the tamil new year. Locals believe that anything done on this day is equivalent doing it a thousand times over and it is believed that buying gold on this day will ensure prosperity throughout life. Curd rice made with curds from fresh milk is offered as a service prasadham.
* Karadaiyaa nonbu just when maasi maadham and panguni join they celebrate preparing kaaradai as offering to god,ladies do this pooja to protect their maangalyam.
Tamil Nadu provides the visitor with a wide variety of delicious food both for the vegetarians as well as the non-vegetarians, though most food in Tamil Nadu consists of grains, lentils, rice and vegetables. Spices are added to give a distinctive taste.
Breakfast or tiffin includes idli or steamed rice dumplings, dosai is a crisp pancake made from a batter of rice and lentils, vada is a deep fried doughnut made from a batter of lentils, pongal is a mixture of rice and lentils cooked together and seasoned with ghee, cashew nuts, pepper and cumin seed), uppuma is semolina cooked, seasoned in oil with mustard, pepper, cumin seed and dry lentils.
Lunch usually consists of rice with Sambar, rasam, and yogurt along with a number of spicy side dishes. This is called meals. A decent meals costs less than a dollar. There are 2 types of meals Limited and Unlimited.
There are several variations of the dishes mentioned above which are eaten with coconut chutney, sambar which is a seasoned lentil dish and mulaga podi which is a powdered mix of several roasted lentils and red chilli blended with oil.
* Meat Madras- This is a spicy but delicious curry is named after Chennai, the metropolis in southern India perhaps because in the humid south, people rather eat hot food. Strange though it may seem, this is because hot and spicy food makes one perspire thereby cooling the body.
* Plain idlis- Plain Idlis are similar to rice cakes, but they are eaten with a coconut side dish made out of beaten coconut white mixed with a little spice. Its called Coconut (Thenga in Tamil) Chutney. Also typically served are Tomato chutney (the difference is here tomato pulp is used) and Dal sambar. The Idlis are served steaming hot. They are meant to be eaten with hand.
* Kancheepuram idlis – Hot and spicy. These differ from the normal Idlis due to the extra ingredients added usually to make it a little more spicy.
* Pal payasam (rice pudding) – This is a sweet dish made from rice and thick milk.
* Dosai or dosa – This is Indias answer to the French Crepes, though the answer could arguably have been given much before the question was asked. It is made from rice flour. Rice flour is mixed with an optimum level of water. Finding the optimum level is an art which most of the Indian women are born with. As too much or too less can make your Dosa non-appetizing. Dosas again come in a variety of forms and sizes. A dosa with potato curry stuffed inside becomes a Masala Dosa. A Dosa made from Rice flour and Fine semolina (Rawa) becomes a Rawa Dosa. Like idlis, dosas are usually eaten with coconut chutney, tomato chutney and sambar.
* Poori Masala(Poori Kizlaingu)- It’s made in fine wheat flour, quite oily food. It served as break fast or evening tiff-en with potato curry.
* Vadai- it’s prepared with different lentils and fried in oil, which can be eat with or without chutney & sambar. It can be had with breakfast or evening snacks. Different types of vadai are prepared like, medu vadai(orid Dal), masala vadai(Toor Dal), etc.
* Ven Pongal
* Lemon Rice
* Tamarind Rice
* Curd Rice
* Vetral Kuzhambu
The famous filter coffee special to Tamil Nadu is carefully made from chosen coffee beans, and roasted to preserve the original aroma of the beans.
These roasted beans are powdered and the flavour of rich ground coffee powder is used to make filter coffee, enjoyed by every one. The water that you add has to be at boiling point so for the coffee powder to release its flavor. It is not possible to make coffee with tepid water.
* Tender Coconut Water- It’s very widely available in Tamil Nadu. You can find plenty of roadside shops everywhere in all season and it cost you from Rs.10.
* Sugarcane Juice- It’s mainly available in summer season(April-June) and cost you very less.
Largest city Chennai
Governor Surjit Singh Barnala
Chief Minister M Karunanidhi
Legislature (seats) Unicameral (235)
• Density 66,396,000 (7th)
• 511 /km2 (1,323 /sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Area 130,058 km2 (50,216 sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 IN-TN
† Established in 1773; Madras State was formed in 1956 and renamed as Tamil Nadu on 14 January 1969