Largest city :
478/km² (1,238/sq mi)
Tamil Nadu literally means The Land of Tamlis or Tamil Country is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital is Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the largest city. Tamil Nadu is a land most known for its monumental ancient Hindu temples and classical form of dance Bharat Natyam. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Benngal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south.
Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area and the seventh most populous state in India. The state is ranked 6th among states in India according to the Human Development Index as of 2011. It is the second largest state economy in India as of 2012. The state has the highest number (10.56 per cent) of business enterprises and stands second in total employment (9.97 per cent) in India, compared to the population share of about 6 per cent. In the 2013 Raghuram Rajan panel report, Tamil Nadu was ranked as the third most developed state in India based on a "Multidimensional Development Index". In 2013, the state recorded 15,563 fatalities in the 14,504 recorded accidents, the highest for any state in India.
The region has been the home of the Tamil people since at least 1500 BC. Its official language is Tamil, which holds a status of being a classical language. Tamil has been in use in inscriptions and literature for over 2500 years. Tamil Nadu is home to many natural resources, classical arts, classical music, classical literature, Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture, hill stations, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage sites, and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Established in 1773; Madras State was formed in 1956 and renamed as Tamil Nadu on January 14, 1969. Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. It lies on the eastern coast of the southern Indian Peninsula bordered by Puducherry (Pondicherry), Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu is bound by the Eastern Ghats in the north, the Nilgiri, the Annamalai Hills, and Palakkad on the west, Bay of Bengal in the east, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Strait in the south east and Indian Ocean in the south. It is the eleventh largest state in India by size and the sixth most populous state.
Tamil Nadu is the homeland of the Indian Tamils and has existed since prehistoric times. The culture and artwork of this region are considered to be some of the oldest in the world. It is home to one of the classical languages of India, Tamil. The language has been documented as being around for at least 5,000 years in written form, but was spoken long before that. Tamil Nadu also has one of the oldest culinary heritages in the world.
Tamil Nadu is the epicentre of Dravidian politics in India, dominated by the DMK and AIADMK parties. It is one of the foremost states in the country in terms of overall development. One of the most industrialised and urbanised states in India, it is home to many natural resources, rare flora and fauna, cool hill stations, grand Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage sites and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Rock Fort Temple
Tamil Nadu's history dates back Neolithic times and archaeological evidence points to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in India. In Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 169 urns with Tamil Brahmi script on them containing human skulls, skeletons and bones, plus husks and grains of rice, charred rice and Neolithic celts, giving evidence confirming them to be of the Neolithic period, 3800 years ago. Adhichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.
eolithic people of the Tamil country spoke a Dravidian language.The discovery of a Neolithic stone celt, a hand-held axe, with the Indus script on it at Sembian-Kandiyur in Tamil Nadu is, according to Iravatham Mahadevan, "Stone axe with Indus Valley script found near Mayiladuthurai,Tamil Nadu was a major discovery because for the first time a text in the Indus script has been found in the State on a datable artefact, which is a polished neolithic celt. He estimated the date of the artefact with the script to be around 1500 BC.
From early pre-historic times, Tamil Nadu was the home of the four powerful Tamil kingdoms of the Chera, Chola, Pandya(Madurai) and Pallavas. The oldest extant literature, dated between 500 BCE and 200 CE mentions the exploits of the kings and the princes, and of the poets who extolled them. The early Cholas reigned between the 1st and 4th centuries CE. An unknown dynasty called Kalabhras invaded and displaced the three Tamil kingdoms between the fourth and the seventh centuries CE. This is referred to as the Dark Age in Tamil history. They were eventually expelled by the Pandyas and the Pallavas. Around 580 CE, the Pallavas, great temple builders, emerged into prominence and dominated the south for another 150 years. They ruled a large portion of Tamil Nadu with Kanchipuram as their base. They subjugated the Cholas and reigned as far south as the Kaveri River. Among the greatest Pallava rulers were Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during the Pallava rule.
By the 9th century, under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose as a notable power in Asia. The Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal. Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular South India and parts of Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navies went even further, occupying coastal Burma (now Myanmar), the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of the Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The Cholas revelled in building magnificent temples. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur is a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola kingdom.
Brihadeshwara temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site under "Great Living Chola Temples" Great Living Chola Temples. Another example is the Chidambaram Temple in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram. The power of the Cholas declined around the 13th century. With the decline of the Cholas, the Pandyas rose to prominence once again in the early 14th century. This revival was short-lived as the Pandya capital of Madurai itself was sacked by Alauddin Khili's troops under General Malik Kafur in 1316. The Muslim invasion led to the establishment of the short-lived Madurai Sultanate. These Muslim invasions caused the establishment of Vijayanagara Empire in the Deccan. It eventually conquered the entire Tamil country by 1370 CE and ruled for almost two centuries . After the defeat of Viaynagar Empire in 1565 CE in the Battle of Talikota by a confederacy of Deccan Sultantes the decline of the Viaynagar empire begin. As the Vijayanagara Empire went into decline after mid-16th century, the Nayak governors, who were appointed by the Vijayanagar kingdom to administer various territories of the empire, declared their independence. The Nayaks of Madurai and Nayaks of Thanjavur were most prominent of them all. They reconstructed some of the oldest temples in the country.
Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat. In 1639, the British, under the British East India Company, established a settlement further south, in present day Chennai. The British used petty quarrels among the provincial rulers (divide and rule) to expand their sphere of influence. The British fought and reduced the French dominions in India to Pondicherry. They consolidated southern India into the Madras Presidency. Some notable chieftains or Poligars who fought the British East India Company as it was expanding were Veerapandya Kattabomman, Pulithevan and Dheeran Chinnamalai. Pudukkottai remained as a princely state under British suzerainty.
When India became independent in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State, comprising of present day Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh up to Ganjam district in Orissa, northern Karnataka, and parts of Kerala. The state was subsequently split up along linguistic lines. In 1968, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, meaning Land of Tamil.
Demographics and human rights
Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in India. 44 per cent of the state's population live in urban areas, the highest among large states in India. The state has registered the lowest fertility rate in India in year 2005–06 with 1.7 children born for each woman, lower than required for population sustainability. It is the eleventh most densely populated state in India. In 2001, its population density was 478 persons per square kilometre, having increased from 429 in 1991, significantly higher than the Indian average of 324 persons per square kilometre. Approximately 47% of Tamil Nadu's population live in urban areas, one of the highest percentages in India.
Botanical Garden, Ooty
Tamil Nadu's population grew by 11.19% between 1991 and 2001, the second lowest rate for that period (after Kerala) amongst populous states (states whose population exceeded 20 million in 2001). Its decadal rate of population growth has declined in every decade since 1971, one of only three populous states (along with Kerala and Orissa) to show this trend.
Tamil cuisine has one of the oldest culinary heritages in the world. Traditionally, food is served on banana leaf. Rice is the staple food of Tamils. Traditional Tamil cuisine includes Dosai, Idly, Vadai, Pongal and Uthappam. These dishes are served along with Sambar, Rasam, Kootu, Aviyal, Chatni and Poriyal. The Chettinad region is famous for its spicy non-vegetarian cuisine. The Tirunelveli region is also famous for its unique wheat halwa. The fast food culture is witnessing a steady growth in Tamil Nadu in recent years.
Tamil Nadu has a long tradition of venerable culture. Unique cultural features like Bharatanatyam (dance), Tanjore painting, and Tamil architecture were developed and continue to be practised in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadu and is one of the two classical languages of India, the other being Sanskrit. Tamil is also one of the Official languages of India. Tamil Nadu is known for its rich tradition of literature, music and dance which continue to flourish today.
The Kings of the golden days Thamizhagam created sangams for Iyal Isai Nadagam (Literature, Music and Drama). Music plays a major role in sangams. Music in Tamil Nadu had different forms. In villages where farming was the primary work, the ladies who work in the fields used to sing kulavai songs. Odhuvars, Sthanikars or Kattalaiyars offer short musical programmes in the temples by singing the devotional Thevaram songs. In sharp contrast with the restrained and intellectual nature of carnatic music, Tamil folk music tends to be much more exuberant. Popular forms of Tamil folk music include the Villuppa, a form of music performed with a bow, and the Nauppur_appau, ballads that convey folklore and folk history. Some of the leading Tamil folk artists in the early 21st century are Pushpuvanam Kuppuswamy, Dr Navaneethakrishnan, Chinnaponnu, Paravai muniammal etc.
Carnatic music is one of the world's oldest & richest musical tradition The basic form is a monophonic song with improvised variations. There are 72 basic scales on the octave, and a rich variety of melodic motion. Both melodic and rhythmic structures are varied and compelling. Carnatic music abounds in structured compositions in the different ragas. These are songs composed by great artists and handed down through generations of disciples. Three saint composers of the nineteenth century, Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri, have composed thousands of songs that remain favourites among musicians and audiences. The composers belonging to the Tamil Trinity of Muthu Thandavar (1560 - 1640 CE), Arunachala Kavi (1712-1779) and Marimutthu Pillai (1717-1787) composed hundreds of devotional songs in Tamil and helped in the evolution of Carnatic music. Today, Tamil Nadu has hundreds of notable carnatic singers who spread this music all over the world. M. S. Subbulakshmi, a renowned carnatic singer, had the honour of singing a song in the UN Security Council.
In terms of modern music (light, film, pop, etc.), the music of Tamil Nadu is praised very highly. Ilaiyaraaja was the most prominent composer of film music in Tamil cinema during the late 1970s and 1980s. His work highlighted Tamil folk lyricism and introduced broader Western musical sensibilities to the South Indian musical mainstream. Tamil Nadu is also the home of A.R. Rahman who is recognised worldwide and has composed film music in both Tamil and Hindi films.
Arts and dance
Tamils have a large number of folk dances. These are performed for every possible occasion, to celebrate the arrival of seasons, birth of a child, weddings and festivals. Tamil dance is closely intertwined with the Tamil theatrical tradition. The most celebrated of these is karakattam. In its religious form, the dance is performed in front of an image of the goddess Mariamman. The dancer bears on his or her head a brass pot filled with uncooked rice, decorated with flowers and surrounded by a bamboo frame, and tumbles and leaps to the rhythm of a song without spilling a grain. Karakattam is usually performed to a special type of song known as temmanguppau or thevar pau, a folk song in the mode of a lover speaking to his beloved, to the accompaniment of a nadaswaram and melam. Other Tamil folk dances include mayilaam, where the dancers tie a string of peacock feathers around their waist; oyilattam, danced in a circle while waving small pieces of cloth of various colours; poykkal kuthiraiyaaam, where the dancers use dummy horses; man_aam, where the dancers imitate the graceful leaping of deer; par_aiyaam, a dance to the sound of rhythmical drumbeats, and thippandaam, a dance involving playing with burning wooden torches.
Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form originating from Tamil Nadu. Bharatanatyam is thought to have been created by Bharata Muni, a Hindu sage, who wrote the Natya Shastra, the most important ancient treatise on classical Indian dance. In ancient times it was performed as dasiattam by Hindu temple Devadasis. In this form, it as also been called sadir or chinna melam. Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharata Natyam dance postures. Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance-form known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. It continues to be a popular and widely performed dance style at present times and is practised by male and female dancers all over India. Therukoothhu (street dance) is a folk tradition of dance-drama.
Tamil Nadu is also home to the Tamil film industry, the third largest film industry in India alongside Bollywood (Hindi films) and Tollywood (Telugu films). Chennai has often been referred to as Kollywood, a conflation of Hollywood and Kodambakkam, the area of Chennai that houses cinema-related facilities.
Pongal, also called as Tamizhar Thirunaal (festival of Tamils) is a four-day harvest festival and — along with Deepavali or Diwali — is the most celebrated festival of Tamil Nadu. The Tamil language saying Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum — literally meaning, the birth of the month of Thai will pave way for new opportunities — is often quoted with reference to this festival. The first day, Bhogi Pongal, is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials by setting them on fire to mark the end of the old and emergence of the new. The second day, Surya Pongal, is the main day which falls on the first day of the Tamil month Thai (January 14 or January 15 in western calendar). The third day, Maattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cattle, as they provide milk and are used to plough the lands. Jallikattu, a violent taming the wild bull contest, marks the main event of this day. During this final day, Kaanum Pongal — the word "kanum", means'to view' in Tamil — youths used to gather at river banks to view and select their future life partners, but that practice has declined.
The first month in the Tamil calendar is Chittirai and the first day of this month is celebrated as Tamil New Year, which generally falls on April 13th or 14th of the Gregorian calendar. Aadi Perukku is celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month Aadi, which celebrates the rising of the water level in the river Cauvery.
Additional major Hindu festivals including Saraswathi Poojai (Dasara) and Vinayaka Chathurthi are celebrated widely. The Ayyavazhi Festival, Ayya Vaikunda Avataram is celebrated grandly in the southern districts, especially in Swamithope pathi, the religious head quarters. In addition Christmas, Eid ul-Fitr, Easter and Bakrid are celebrated by Christians and Muslims in the state.
Apart from these major festivals, in every village and town of Tamil Nadu, the inhabitants celebrate festivals for the local gods once a year and the time varies from place to place. Most of these festivals are related to the goddess Maariyamman, the mother goddess of rain.
Fauna and Flora
There is wide diversity of wildlife. There are many Protected areas of Tamil Nadu, including 2 Biosphere Reserves, 5 National Parks and several Wildlife Sanctuaries, where many unique species and their habitats are protected Tamil Nadu includes a wide range of Biomes, extending east from the South Western Ghats montane rain forests in the Western Ghats through the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests and Deccan thorn scrub forests to tropical dry broadleaf forests and then to the beaches, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves, and coral reefs of the Bay of Bengal.
There are about 2000 species of wildlife that are native to Tamil Nadu. Protected areas provide safe habitat for large mammals including sloth bears, elephants, Lion-tailed macaques, tigers, Nilgiri Langurs, leopard, Gaurs, Nilgiri Tahrs, Grizzled Giant Squirrels and Sambar deer, resident and migratory birds such as Egrets, Cormorants, Open-billed Storks, Darters, Herons, Little Grebes, Spoonbills and White Ibises, Indian Moorhen, Black-winged Stilts, a few migratory ducks and occasionally Grey Pelicans, marine species such as the Dugongs, Turtles, Dolphins and Balano-glossus and a wide variety of fish and insects.
Tamil Nadu is the home for 3000 plant species including Eucalyptus, Common teak, Palmyra,, Cinchona, Clumping Bamboos (Bambusa Arundinacea), Anogeissus latifolia, Indian Laurel , Grewia, Rubber and blooming trees like Indian labumusum, Aredesia, and Solanancea. Rare and unique plantlife includes Combretum ovalifolium, Ebony (Dispyros nilagrica), Habebarai reriflora (Orchid), Alsophila, Impatiens elegans, Ranunculus reniformis, and Royal fern.
Tourism in Tamil Nadu is promoted by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), a Government of Tamil Nadu undertaking. TTDC was incorporated in July, 1971, with the objective of promoting tourism in Tamil Nadu by providing infrastructure facilities in transport and accommodation. To fulfil this objective, TTDC has expanded its activities into 3 main operations, namely, hotels, transport and fairs. At present, TTDC operates 54 hotels, 11 boat houses, 3 restaurants, 3 snack bars, 4 telescope houses, 2 landscaping & gardening and 1 tourist service center. TTDC offers wide range of package tours and operates a fleet of 22 coaches. The tagline adopted for promoting tourism in Tamil Nadu is Enchanting Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu is a land of varied beauty. It boasts some of the grandest Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture in the World. The temples are of a distinct style which are famous for their towering Gopurams. The Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur, built by the Cholas, and the Shore Temple, along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Rajagopuram of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam — the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world — is the tallest temple gopuram in the world.
Madurai is home to one of the grandest Hindu temples in the World — Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple. Rameshwaram, Kanchipuram and Palani are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Other popular temples in Tamil Nadu include those in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Chidambaram, Thiruvannamalai,Thirukazhukundram, Tiruttani, Swamithoppe, Tiruchendur, Tiruvallur and Suchindram.
St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, the place where St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, was believed to have been martyred], is an important pilgrimage site for Indian Christians. The Santhome Basilica, supposedly built atop the tomb of St. Thomas, and the Vailankanni Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health — revered churches by the Catholics in India — are good examples of majestic church architectures in Tamil Nadu. Nagore, in Nagapattinam district, is an important pilgrimage site for Muslims.
Tamil Nadu is also home to many beautiful hill stations. Popular among them are Udhagamandalam (Ooty), Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Coonoor, Top Slip and Yelagiri. The Nilgiri hills, Palani hills, Shevaroy hills and Cardamom hills are all abodes of thick forests and wildlife. Mukurthi National Park & Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are the two tiger reserves in the state. Tamil Nadu has many National Parks, Biosphere Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Elephant and Bird Sanctuaries, Reserved Forests, Zoos and Crocodile farms. Prominent among them are Mudumalai National Park, The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Arignar Anna Zoological Park.
Kanyakumari, the Southernmost tip of Main land India, at sunriseThe mangrove forests in Pichavaram are also eco-tourism spots of importance. The state has a wide range of flora and fauna. Tamil Nadu ranks first in Angiosperm diversity amongst all the states in the country with 5640 species (32%) of the total 17,672 species, which includes 230 red-listed species and 1559 species of medicinal plants. The fauna of Tamil Nadu includes endangered/vulnerable species like Grizzled Giant Squirrel & Nilgiri Tahr.
Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of peninsular India, is famous for its distinct and beautiful sunrise, Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar's statue built off the coastline. Marina Beach in Chennai is one of the longest beaches in the world. The stretch of beaches from Chennai to Mahabalipuram are home to many resorts, theme parks and eateries. The Waterfalls in the state include Courtallam, Hogenakal, Papanasam and Manimuthar. The Chettinad region of the state is renowned for its Palatial houses and cuisine. In recent years, Tamil Nadu is also witnessing a growth in Medical tourism, as are many other states in India.