Tamil Nadu is one of the most ancient regions of India. Civilization flourished in Tamil Nadu long before the beginning of the Christian era. The heart of the Dravidian culture and tradition, home of Classical dances Bharat Natyam, the visual legacy of the culture of the Tamil Nadu is among most satisfying spectacles in India.
Tamil Nadu is one of the most ancient regions in India history of which dates back some 6000 years. Tamil Nadu represents the nucleus of Dravidian culture in India, which antedated the Aryan culture in India by almost a thousand years. Tamil Nadu was variously ruled by the Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas prior to the Christian era. Karikalan Chola, the greatest of the earlier Chola, ascended the throne at the beginning of this era. He took several measures for the welfare and constructed a barrage across the Kaveri River. Prominent Chola cities were Thanjavur and Kumbakonam. The Pandyas excelled in trade and learning.
The Cholas were followed by the Cheras and were powerful on the west coast. Madurai was most important city under them. The reign of the great temple builders the Pallavas began sometimes during the second quarter of the 4th century AD, and dominated the south for 400 years. Dravidian architecture attained great heights during this period. Some of their major contributions include the beautiful monuments of Mamallapuram, the Kailasnather temple at Kanchipuram and, the Kapaliswarar and Parthasarthy temples at Chennai. The Pallavas continued to hold sway until the 10th century. The end of 11 th century once again saw the alternative rule of the Chalukyas, Chola and Pandyas.
In the 13th century, the Pandyas became dominant. Their kingdom was a great center of international trade. The Muslim invasion of South India came in 14 th century. With the establishment of East India Company at Madras in 1639, a new chapter was opened in the history of Tamil Nadu.In 1641 Fort St.George became the headquarters of the East India Company on coromondal coast.
When India became independent, the old Madras province comprising Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh and part of Kerala continued as the State of Madras. Agitation for a separate Andhra State compelled the government to bifurcate the State into two different State, Andhra Pradesh to include the Telugu speaking and Madras the Tamil speaking people. On 14 th January 1969 Madras State change its name to Tamil Nadu.The capital city Madras was renamed Chennai in 1996.
Area: 1,30,058 sq.km; Capital: Chennai (Madras); Population: 60 million; Language: Tamil; Best time to visit: November to February; Airports: Chennai, Tiruchirapali, Coimbatore, Madurai; Popular Places: Chennai (Madras), Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai, Pondicheery, Yercaud, Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Nagore, Velanganni, Tiruchirappalli (Trichi), Madurai, Rameswaram, Kanyakumari (Kanniyakumari), Kuttralam (Courtallam), Kodaikanal, Coimbatore, Ooty and Mudumalai.
Highlights of Popular Places
Temples: Madurai, Chidambaram and Kanchipuram.
Beaches: Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), Kovalam (Covelong).
Hill Stations: Kodaikanal and Ooty.
Wildlife Sanctuaries: Mudumalai and Anamalai.
Chennai (formerly known as Madras) owes its origins to the British Empire, which established a fort – Fort St.George – and trading post here in the 17 th century. Small clusters of earlier hamlets were incorporated to form the 1 st Municipal Corporation in India and what is today the 4 th largest city in India. Despite its rapid growth into a bustling metropolis, Chennai is however an enthusiastic and friendly city that has retained something of its distinctive nature and is indeed the Gateway to South India.
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Places of Interest
(1) Fort St.George (2) Kapiliswara temple (3) Marina Beach (4) Santhome Cathedral (5) Kalakshetra (6) Theosophical Society (7) Valluvar Kotlam (8) Sittarangam (9) Kishinda Picnic Park.
How to Reach: Chennai is an international airport with flight connections to all major parts of the world. Regular train services connect Chennai directly with all major cities of India.
Hotel Accommodations: Taj Coromondal, Connemara Hotel, The Trident, Welcome Group Chola Shereton, Ambassador Pallava, Madras International, Hotel President, Savera Hotel, Quality Inn Aruna, Breez Hotel, Hotel Kanchi, Hotel Atlantic, Hotel Grand Orient, Hotel Ranjith.
Mamallapuram renowned for its shore temple is still popularly referred to as Mahabalipuram, after the Pallva ruler Narasimhavarma I Pallavammala – who made this port town famous in the 7 th century and was largely responsible for its magnificent temples. There are 14 cave temples,9 monolithic raths or shrines in the shape of temple chariots,3 stone temples and 4 relief sculptured rock panels.
Places of Interest: (1) Shore Temple (2) Arjuna’s Penance (3) Ganesh Ratha (4) Trimurti Cave temple (5) Mandapams (6) Five Rathas (7) Museums.
How to Reach:Situated just 52 km south of Chennai, Mamallapuram is easily accessible by road from Chennai, which is also the nearest airport.
Hotel Accommodations : Golden Sun Beach Resort, Hotel Surya, Ideal Beach resort, ITDC Temple Bay Ashok Beach Resort, La Vie en Rose, TTDC Hotel Tamil Nadu, VGP Golden Beach Resort.
Kanchipuram is one of India’s most spectacular temple cities and its many gopurams can be seen from miles away. Situated just 76 km west of Chennai, it is one of the 7 sacred cities of India. Unlike other cities of India, which are usually dedicated to either Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva, Kanchipuram is dedicated to both and is also the most important city dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi (Durga).
Places of Interest: (1) Kailasnatha Temple (2) Sri Ekambaranath Temple (3) Kamakshi Amman Temple (4) Vardarajaperumal temple.
How to Reach: Situated on the Chennai – Bangalore highway, Kanchipuram is well connected by both. Bus and train services with Chennai, Pondicherry and nearby cities. The nearest airport is Chennai.
Hotel Accommodations : Baboo Soorya Hotel, Hotel Abhirami Lodge, and Hotel Jayabala International.
This small town about 90 km away from Vellore and 175 km from Chennai is situated at the base of the Arunachala Hill. There are over a hundred temples here, but the Shiva Parvathi Temple of Arunchaleswar is said to be one of the largest in India covering an area of 10 hectares.
Places of Interest:(1) Arunachaleswarar Temple (2) Sathanur Dam (3) Thirukoilur (4) Gingee Fort (5) Rajagiri.
How to Reach: It is about 175 km from Chennai and many buses ply daily. It is 66 km from Pondicherry and 68 km from Villupuram.As it is on the Katpadi – Villupuram meter gauge railway track, one can also reach it by train.
Hotel Accommodations: Park Hotel, Modern Café.
A former French colony settled in the 18 th century, Pondicherry is indeed is a beautiful Indian town with traces of French culture still intact and ashram by the sea. Together with the other former French colonies of Karaikal (Tamil Nadu), Mahe (Kerala) and Yanam (Andhra Pradesh), it was voluntarily handed over to the Indian Government in 1954 and now forms the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
Places of Interest:(1) Sri Aurobindo Ashram (2) Sri Aurobindo Handmade Paper Factory (3) Auroville (4) The Pondicherry Museum (5) Botanical Garden.
How to Reach:The nearest airport is at Chennai, about 165 kms away from Chennai.There are regular train services connecting Pondicherry to Chennai.You can travel by road to other cities to Tamil Nadu.
Hotel Accommodations: Aristo Hotel, Blue Star, Hotel Soorya, Hotel Surguru, Hotel Jayram, Kanchi Hotel, Ram International, Rende Hotel, Hotel Rolex, Vailan Kanni Hotels, Felix Hotel, Hotel Priya, Hotel Ravikrishna, Hotel Pondicherry Ashok and Hotel Mass.
This is a popular hill station, at an altitude of about 1500 meters above sea level. Situated just 35 km from the town of Salem, which is also the nearest railway station, Yercaud is pleasantly cool with many a picturesque spots. Surrounded by the coffee plantations this is an excellent place to unwind and relax.
Places of Interest: (1) Lake (2) Ladys’ seat (3) Killiyur Falls (4) Pagoda Point (5) Arthur’s Seat (6) Anna Park (7) The Grange Pagoda Point (8) Bear’s Cave (9) Shevaroyan Temple.
How to Reach: Nearest airport – Trichy; Rail: Salem (32 km); Yercud is connected by major cities of Tamil Nadu.
Chidambaram situated 60 kms south of Pondicherry, and about 245 kms away from Chennai is most famous for the Nataraja Temple, depicting the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, which is one of the oldest and loveliest temples of the Chola period.
Thanjavur was once the capital of the Chola dynasty and later of the Thanjavur Nayak and the Maratha rulers.The Cholas built most of the 93 odd temples here.One of the greates of the Chola emperors was Raja Raja (985 – 1014),who built the Brihadishwara Temple,Thanjavur’s main attraction.
Places of Interest
(1) Brihadishwara Temple (2) Thajavur Palace and Museum (3) The Raja Raja Chola Gallery(4) The Sangeeta Mahal.
How to Reach: Nearest airport: Trichy 60 km; Thanjavur is connected by rail with all major towns of Tamil Nadu; Tourists can travel by road to all major town of Tamil Nadu.
Hotel Accommodations: Hotel Parisutham, Hotel Oriental Towers, Hotel Sangam, Pandiyan Residency, Hotel Gnanam and Hotel Tamil Nadu.
This dusty, busy commercial town 37 km away fro Thanjavur is noted for its many temples with erotic sculptures. The most famous are the Brahma, Nageshwara, Kumbeshwara and Sarangapani temples.
Burial place of the revered Muslim saint Hazat Meeras Sultan Syed Shahabdul Hameed, the village of Nagore is situated 12 km south of Karaikal.It is today an important pilgrim center especially for Muslims.
South of Karaikal, about 35kms away and 95 km from Thanjavur is the township of Velanganni, famous for the Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. People from all religions flock to the Church, many donating gold and silver models of cured body parts. There are frequent buses from Tanjavur, Chennai and many towns of Tamil Nadu.
Situated 55 kms from Thanjavur at the head of the Cauvery delta is this ancient town of Tiruchirappalli often referred to as Trichy or Tiruchy for short. The town and its fort, as it stands today, was built by Nayakas of Madurai.The Carnatic Wars between the British and the French were fought around this fort. Today, the city is a blend of history and tradition, a pilgrim center as well as a thriving commercial city.
Places of Interest : (1) Rock Fort Temple (2) Jambukeshwarar temple (3) St.John’s Church.
How to Reach: The airport is situated 8 kms from the town. Trichy is an important railway junction on the Chennai to Madurai and Chennai to Rameswaram lines. Tourists can travel by road to all major town of Tamil Nadu.
Hotel Accommodations: Hotel Sangam, Jenneys Residency, Femina Hotel, Hotel Anand, Hotel Royal Siuthern, and Ashbey Hotel.
Madurai one of South India’s most ancient cities is situated on the banks of the Vaigai River.Madurai is believed to have been built by the Pandyan King Kulasekara.Madurai’s history can be divided into 4 periods, beginning over 2000 years ago, when it was the capital of the Pandyan Kings. The Meenakshi Temple in the heart of the old town is the supreme attraction here. A rightfully flamboyant example of Dravidian architecture it has gopurams covered from top to bottom with vibrant images of deities, animals and mythical figures. Its magnetism lures pilgrims and tourists here in hundreds of thousands, and it is estimated that on an average not less than 10000 visit here every day! Today Madurai is a lively bustling city and an important commercial hub of Tamil Nadu popular with travelers too.
Places of Interest : (1) Meenakshi Temple (2) Tirumalai Nayak Mahal (3) Gandhi Museum (4) Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam (5) Alagarkoil (6) Pazhamudirsholai.
How to Reach: The airport is situated 12 kms from the city center. Madurai is an important raiway junction of Southern Railway and is directly connected with Chennai and various cities of South India. Tourists can travel by road to all major town of Tamil Nadu.
Hotel Accommodations: Taj Garden Retreat, Hotel Madurai Ashok, Hotel Park Plaza, Hotel International, Fortune Pandiyan Hotel, Hotel Sulochana Palace, Hotel Supreme, Madura Park Inn, The Madurai Residency, Hotel Empee, Best Western Germanus, Royal Court.
Often referred to as the ‘ Island of Prayer’ and also considered the Varanasi of the South India this major pilgrimage center is on an island in the Gulf of Mannar.Connected to the mainland by the majestic Indira Gandhi Bridge, one India’s engineering marvels, this small fishing village’s center of attraction is the Ramanathaswamy Temple, one of the most important temples in South India.
Places of Interest : (1) Ramanathaswamy Temple (2) Kothandaramaswamy temple (3) The Gandhamathana Parvatham (4) Coral Reefs (5) Adam’s Bridge (6) Mandapam.
How to Reach: Rameswaram is connected by rail to both Madurai and Chennai.The nearest airport is at Madurai (167 kms). Tourists can travel by road to all major town of Tamil Nadu.
Hotel Accommodations: Hotel Tamil Nadu, Hotel Maharaja, Hotel Venkatesh, and Hotel Chola.
The southernmost tip of India, Kanyakumari is the point where three seas meet at the Bay of Bengal – the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. On the Chitra Pournima day (full moon day in April) on can witness the Sun and the Moon are face to face at the same horizon. A place of immense significance to Hindus, Kanyakumari is a major pilgrim center with devotees visiting it from all over India.
Places of Interest: (1) Kanyakumari or Kumariamman Temple (2) Vivekanand Memorial (3) Gandhi Memorial (4) Guganathaswamy Temple (5) Suchindram (6) Padmanabhapuram Palace.
How to Reach: Nearest airport – Thiruvananthapuram 80 km; Kanyakumari is connected by rail with Chennai, New Delhi, Tirunelveli and Thiruvananthapuram. Tourists can travel by road to all major towns of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Hotel Accommodations: Kerala House, Hotel Singaar International, Hotel Tamil Nadu, Hotel Sangam, Hotel Ganga, Hotel Maadhini and Hotel Manickan.
About 135 km out of Kanyakumari at the base of the Western Ghats is the popular family health retreat town of Kuttralam whose waterfalls are believed to be rich in mineral deposits and processing curative qualities. Bathing here under the falls is a truly revitalizing experience.
Situated on the southern crest of the Palani Hills at an altitude of 2100 m is this charming retreat of Kodaikanal, often referred to as Kodai for short. This is one of India’s most popular hill stations and is frequented by tourists throughout the year.
The hill town has the distinction of being the only one to be set up by the Americans during British colonial period and is famed for its Kodaikanal International School set up in 1901 by American Missionaries for European children, and is today one of the most prestigious private school in India.
The pride of Kodai is the ‘Kurunji’, a shrub with light purple coloured blossoms that flower only once every 12 years. The surrounding hills have plantations of Australian blue gums or Eucalyptus trees, which lend its unique fragrance to the air.
Places of Interest :(1) Kodaikanal lake (2) Astrophysical Laboratory (3) The Flora & Fauna Museum (4) Coaker’s Walk (5) Bryant Park (6) Green Valley View (7) Berijam Lake (8) Bison Wells
How to Reach:Tourists can travel by road to all major towns of Tamil Nadu.Kodai is very well connected by bus services to trichy, Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Chennai and Balgalore.This nearest rail connection is at Palani to the north on the Coimbatore – Madurai – Rameswaram line. The nearest airport is Madurai 120 km away.
Hotel Accommodations: Bison Wells, Hotel Anjay, Hotel Astoria, Hotel Garden Manor, Hotel Hill Top, Hotel Jewel, Hotel Kodai International, Hotel Tamil Nadu, Kodai Resort Hotel, Lilly Valley Resort, Hotel Jai, The Carlton Hotel, The Nest, Valley View Hotel.
Coimbatore called the ‘Manchester of South India’ is famous for its handloom products. It is also known for the manufacture of the centrifugal pump sets and is host of engineering goods. Situated at the opening of the Palghat Gap in the Western Ghats, Coimbatore has a pleasant climate right around the year.
Places of Interest: (1) Perur Temple (2) Maruthamalai Temple (3) V.O.C. Park (4) Anamalai or Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary (60 Km).
How to Reach:Coimbatore is connect by air with Chennai, Trichy, Calicut, Madurai and Mumbai.Coimbatore is a major railway junction and all trains connecting the rest of the country to Kanyakumari stop here. Tourists can travel by road to all major towns of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Hotel Accommodations: Heritage Inn, Sree Annapoorna Lodge, Hotel Surya International, Hotel City Tower, Nilgiris Nest, Resort Black Thunder, The residency, Hotel Tamil Nadu, Hotel Alankar, Hotel Seetharam.
Ooty called the Queen of hill stations is located at the Nilgiri hills at 2240 meters above sea level. Botanical Gardens were established here in 1847. This 50acre garden includes a variety of exotic ornamental plants. It is also a venue for the flower show held in May every year. There is a fossil tree trunk, which is 20 million years old. Artificial Lake was constructed in 1824 by Mr. John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore. Row and Motorboats, toy trains are available at the lake. Rose Garden covering an area of 10 acres inside Vijaya Nagar farm has about 1900 varieties of roses. Government Museum has items of tribal objects, ecological details and representative sculptural arts and crafts of Tamil Nadu. Deer Park houses sambar, chital, and hares besides water birds. The Mukurthi Peak and Mukurthi National Park contains viable population of nilgiri tahr. Fascinating feature of the Mukurthi sanctuary is its relationship with the Himalayan flora and fauna. Pykara, 21 km from Ooty, has Toda settlement well-protected fenced sholas, undisturbed grassy meadows and a rich wildlife habitat. The Pykara Dam and the reservoir attract many tourists. Dodabetta, 10 km from Ooty, lies on the junction of western and Eastern Ghats, offer beautiful vistas of the Nilgiri hill ranges. There is a telescope house run by the T.T.D.C. Avalanchi, 28 km from Ooty is a beautiful lake. There are places so dark and dense that even sunlight does not penetrate. Uppar Bhavani lies 20 km from Avalanchi, which is the area of undisturbed wildlife habitat. There are lots of trekking routes.
How to Reach: Coimbatore is the nearest airport. The miniature Blue Mount Railway is the best way to get here. Tourists can travel by road to all major towns of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
Hotel Accommodations: Hotel Charing Cross, Holiday Inn Gem Park, Hotel Dasaprakash, Hotel Durga, Hotel Khems, Hotel Nahar, Hotel Ooty International, Hotel Tamil Nadu, Nilgiri Woodlands Hotel, Savoy Hotel.
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary & national park is situated at the trifurcation of the three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and kerala. Part of the ‘Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve’, these 322 sq kms of tropical wilderness was established in 1932 and was the 1 st to be declared a national park. Easily accessible from both Ooty and Mysore, this place is a favorite among day-trippers who often unfortunately destroy the tranquility. The wild elephant, gaur, deer and primates like the bonnet macaque and langurs all inhabit the park. Riding elephants are the best means of transportation at Mudumalai and animals can also be watched from machans, which are strategically located near water holes and salt licks.
How to Reach: Frequent buses from both Ooty and Mysore ply through Theppakkadu every 20 to 30 minutes. The nearest airports are Coimbatore 135 km away and Bangalore 250 km away Trains are available from Ooty, Mysore and Bangalore.Tourists can travel by road to all major towns of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
Hotel Accommodations: Bamboo Banks, Jungle Trail Lodge, Forest Hills Guest House, Hotel Dreamland, Hotel Yamil Nadu, Jungle Hut Guest House, Jungle Retreat, The Monarch Safari Park.