Tamil Nadu, the enchanting land is bounded by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the north and Kerala to the west. Its coastal region is lapped by the waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean from the east and the southern side. To its east lies the point Calimore and Mudumalai wildlife Sanctuary while to the north is Pulicat Lake and the south is covered by the Cape Comorin or Kanyakumari, the land end of India. The Coromondal beach of Tamil Nadu offers plenty of beaches that has the charm of mesmerizing every visitors to the land of the Tamils. The beautiful land is also bounded by scenic hill resorts and exciting wildlife reserves and sanctuaries. Home to the Dravidian art and culture, Tamil Nadu has a rich tradition of literature flourished from about 2000 years earlier. The magnificent temples that dot the country side bears witness to the architectural greatness of the Tamils. Termed, Land of the Temples, as the place has over 30, 000 temples all over the state, the place notices innumerable visitors as pilgrims to offer their prayers in the temples. The classical dance forms of Bharatnatyam that originated from this place has gained prominence throughout the country. Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu is the gateway to the southern states and occupies an important place in terms of commercialization and industrialization. A major trade center, the city has long beaches with wide stretches of Golden sand encircled with the palm trees that dances with the slighest movement of the winds. The prominent cities of Tamil Nadu are:-
Formerly called Madras, it is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
This metropolis is often called the cultural capital of India for its deep-rooted traditions and long heritage. Spread over 200 square kilometers with the Bay of Bengal on the east, the city is the gateway to the rest of South India.
Modern Chennai grew out of a small village when in 1639 a fishing hamlet called "Madraspatnam" was selected by early English merchants of the East India Company as a site for the settlement. The city is popular for its numerous tourist destinations including beaches, temples, forts, palaces along with many colourful festivals that attract tourists from all parts of the country. The city presents a culture that is totally different from North India and represents a lifestyle that is a perfect blend of traditional and modern India.
Chettinadu is a region which includes Karaikudi and 74 other villages in Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu state. Karaikudi is known as the capital of Chettinadu. Chettinadu is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars, a prosperous banking and business community, many of whose members migrated to South and Southeast Asia in the 19th centuary. Chettinadu is famous for culinary delicacies, Chettinadu mansions which are rich in cultural heritage, art and architecture, antique shopping and also famous for temples originally built by early Tamil dynasties like the Cholas. Sightseeing include visit to Chettinadu palace, Tirumayam fort, Chettinadu Museum, visit to near by temples like Kunakudi, Nemam, and Pillayarpetti, visit to the weekly Chettinadu Shandy, the local market and Shopping trip to Karaikudi where Antiques, Chettinadu Sarees and silver wear.
Coonoor, 1858 mts (6,096 feet) above sea level, is the second largest hill station in the Nilgris, with a population of 45,000. It lies on the eastern side of the Dodabetta Range at the head of the Hulikal Ravine. It has a climate which is slightly warmer and less wet than that of Ooty, and has its share of period churches and boarding schools, its own branch of Spencer's and a golf course.
The town, much of it having grown in an unkempt fashion, is divided into two parts. Sim's Park is in upper Coonoor and was named after the Honorary JD Sim, a member of the Governor-General's Council in the1870s. Many plants that cannot thrive in Ooty's climate do so here. The park is also the location of the prestigious Coonoor Fruit and Vegetable Show which follows the flower Show at Ooty.
Picnic spots around the station include Lady Canning's Seat, about three kilometers away, named after Countess Charlotte Canning. Lamb's Rock, five and a half kilometers away, looks down a precipice onto the railway line below and the surrounding forest. In the distance you can see the town of Mettupalayam, from where the steep climb to the Nilgiris begins. Further along the road to Limb's Rock is the path to Dolphin's Nose, a rock is worth it for the view of the Katherine Falls and the Coonoor Stream. Another picnic spot is Law's Falls, named after the man who constructed the Coonoor Ghat road where the Coonoor and Kateri rivers meet.
Legend is said to provide eternal happiness to those who visit the city. It is said that "Ka" (Brahma) "anchi" (worshipped) Hindu God Vishnu at this place, which is why the city was given the name Kanchipuram (puram meaning "city)." Also known as the 'City of 1000 Temples', it is located approximately 70 Kms from Chennai.
Being one of the ancient cities in South India, the history of Kanchipuram can be traced back to the reign of the Pallavas. It acquired its glory under the Pallava dynasty, from the 4th to 9th centuries and was the capital city of the Pallavas. Most of the temples in this town were constructed during this period. Subsequently, the city was ruled by the Cholas, the Vijayanagara dynasty and the British. The temples and monuments seen in the city are an example of the architectural mastery of Dravidian dynasties in the South.
Kanchipuram is considered one of the seven holiest cities to the Hindus and is also very famous for its hand woven silk sarees.
Kodaikanal better known as Kodai, is a stunningly situated; easy-going hill station on the southern crest of the Palani Knolls. Kodai is the only hill station in India set up by Americans. The kurinji shrub unique to the Western Ghats is found in Kodaikanal. This shrub has light, purple-blue-colored blossoms and flowers every 12 years. Kodaikanal provides an escape from the heat and gives the opportunity to hike in the quiet sholas (forests), it is a much smaller and relaxed place. One can enjoy the visit to various parks and also the waterfalls.
The name "Kumbakonam", roughly translated in English as the "POT"s angle", is believed to be an allusion to the mythical pot, the Sanskrit kumbha of the Hindu god Brahma, which according to Hindu legend, contained the seed of all living beings on earth. The kumbha is believed to have been displaced by a deluge and ultimately came to rest at the spot where the town of Kumbakonam now stands.
It is one of the oldest towns in Tamilnadu and is famous for its Mahamaham festival celebrated once in 12 years in the Mahamaham tank. It is called the 'Temple Town' of South India and is picturesquely located amidst the two rivers, Cauvery & Arasalar. The temples are massive depicting the architectural beauty of the ancient Indian structures.
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) one can witness the Sun and the Moon are face to face at the same horizon.
PLACES TO VISIT
Kanyakumari or Kumariamman Temple : The legend behind this temple is as romantic as the place itself. Dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanyakumari (Parvati) who stands guard over the country. The temple is built at the top where the goddess is believed to have waited for her consort Shiva to come and claim her hand in marriage.
Gandhi Memorial: It has been constructed at the spot where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were kept for public view in an urn before a portion was immersed into the three seas.
Vivekanand Memorial : This memorial is on a rocky island about 200 meters from the shoreline. The memorial has been built on the Vivekananda rock where the great philosopher guide Swami Vivekananda went into meditation that transformed him into meditation that transformed him into one of the most charismatic spiritual leaders of this century. There is a ferry service every half an hour.
Guganathaswamy Temple : This l00 year old temple is said to have been built by Raja Raja Cholan.
Kodaikanal is the second of south India's major hill resorts and is variously known as the 'Princess of hill stations' and the 'Switzerland of the East'. It is also the sole hill station in India to have been founded during the British Raj by Americans. The Palni Hills in which it stands from part of the southernmost part of the Western Ghats and rise to over 2,000 mts, with a steep escarpments to the north and southwest. Kodaikanal itself lies in a shallow basin, and from its southern rim are dramatic views of the mountains descending to the plains. Until recently, Kodaikanal, which has a population only one quarter the size of Ooty's, was a haven of quiet surrounded by eucalyptus, conifers and shola forest, with neatly terraced hillsides providing all the fresh fruit and vegetables the inhabitants could eat. As at other resorts, the last few years have seen a tourist boom, bringing throngs of Indian tourists in the peak season between April and June. That means an excess of buses at the most popular points and crowded bazaars. Even so, Kodaikanal retains its character and on Sunday mornings the valley resounds with peals of church bells, a sound you will not perhaps hear in any other hill station in India. The climate is milder than that of Ootacamund and the best months for avoiding tourists and walking the hills are January to March. From June to November the station is subject to the two monsoons which hit it one after other.
Legend says that once Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of King Kulasekhara Pandya. The King was amazed to see drops of nectar or madhu falling down on the Earth from Lord Shiva's matted hair. The "madhu" was so sweet that the place where it fell came to be known as Madhurapuri, which in course of time became "Madurai."
Madurai is also called the Athens of the East. It is a place of great historical and cultural importance. It is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu and lies on the banks of the River Vaigai.
Madurai is famous for its temples, monuments and ancient cultural wonders. The city is widely known as the Temple City, and is often also referred to as The City of Four Junctions (Koodal Maanagar), The Cultural Capital of Tamil Nadu (Kalaachaara Thalainagar), The City of Jasmine (Malligai Maanagar), The City That Never Sleeps (Thoonga Nagaram), and The City of Festivals.
The hilly terrain of the western ghats, clothed in dense mixed and moist deciduous forests, make Mudumalai (the ancient hills) a most attractive wildlife reserve. The Mysore-Ooty highway runs through the park, following the course of the Moyar River, which separates Mudumalai and Bandipur. With the elevations varying from 1,150 feet to 4,100 feet, the terrain at Mudumalai comprises hills, valleys, ravines, flats, watercourses and swamps. 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 that awe strategically located near water holes and salt licks. Nearest airport: Coimbatore, Rail: Ootacamund.
Also known as Mamallapuram, it is a 7th century coastal town located about 60 km from Chennai. Mahabalipuram's name originated from Mamallapuram, where 'mamall' means excellent wrestler and was a name offered to King Narasimha Varman I.
Mahabalipuram is a UNESCO world heritage site, which has various historical monuments dating back to period between 7th to 9th centuries. It is home to various rocks cut monuments that stand as an example of the Dravidian architecture. Mahabalipuram is a perfect treat for tourists with its long stretches of sea coast and some of the amazing carved granite structures with Dravidian architecture.
The original name of the place was Udhagamandalam, The name Udhagamandalam is derived from the TODA word "othakal-mund" which means "house in mountains".The original inhabitants of this area were a tribe called Todas. Though Ooty was occupied way before, it came into awareness only after British advent in the year 1800.
Nestling in the "Blue Mountains" at an approximate height of 9,080 feet (2,268 m) above sea level, it provides the sought after natural beauty, solitude, salubrious weather and spectacular views to the visitors. Being a hill station with timeless landscape mostly enveloped in mist it is tagged as a place of enduring beauty.
The name Thanjavur is derived from "Tanjan", a legendary demon in Hindu mythology.
Tanjore as the British called it, is extremely fertile, prosperous and scenic; it was the natural choice for capital city of one of the greatest empires of the south. Now a small city in the state of Tamil Nadu, it rose to glory during the Chola period from the 10th century to the 14th, when it came to be the centre of art and education. The Cholas built extensively during this period and 74 of their temples are still standing. As the centre of cultural development, Thanjavur attracted master craftsmen, and it still continues to produce attractive handcrafted ware. Thanjavur is still famous for its bejewelled, gold leaf Tanjore paintings, fine silk carpets, bell metal work, musical instruments, pith work and bronze sculptures.
The name Tiruchirappalli might have been derived from Tiru-chinna-palli meaning "holy little town".
It has a long history dating back to the centuries before the Christian era when it was a Chola citadel. During the first millennium AD, it changed hands between the Pallavas and Pandyas many times before being taken by the Cholas in the 10th century AD. When the Chola Empire finally declined, Tiruchi passed into the hands of the Vijayanagar kings of Hampi and remained with them until their defeat, in 1565 AD by the forces of the Deccan Sultans.
The city has a number of historical monuments, the Rockfort and Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam being the most prominent ones. Tiruchirapalli is also famous for
the number of Christian churches -- it is said to have the highest number of chapels in India.
Yeracud, at an altitude of 1,500 meters, stand in the Servaroyan Hills above the city of Salem in Tamil Nadu. The first proper hotel in the station only opened in 1971. Until then Yeracud had not been a tourist resort but a town famous for its schools and surrounding coffee estates. Yeracud is still comparatively more peaceful and cheaper than the major southern resorts of Ooty and Kodaikanal, but every year the influx from the plains is growing larger. For the time being, its population of 35,000 gives it the atmosphere of a large village. The climate is also particularly pleasant; residents say with pride that they never need to use a fan. The most popular seasons are February – June and September-November, while late November and December tend to be cold and misty. Around April there are the pleasant showers which bring the coffee bushes into blossom.