Tamil Nadu - The Gateway To The South
What can you expect from a state that was ruled for centuries by some of the most powerful kings and dynasties, right from Emperor Ashoka, to the Kadamba, the Chalukyas, the Cholas and the Hoysalas, Tipu Sultan and the British Raj.
The entry point so to speak is Chennai (formerly Madras). In a time span of 350 years, Chennai has become the seat of education, technology blending beautifully with traditional arts and crafts. Important places to visit are Fort St. George, Marina Beach, and the Vivekananda House & Museum.
Known the world over for its imposing temples built by various dynasties, Tamil Nadu offers a variety, the Mahabali in Mahabalipuram where temples were carved from single stones, the famous Meenakshi temple in Madurai, the legendary single corridor, the longest corridor in the world at Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameshwaram, the Thanjavur temples, and the fabled Thanjavur paintings; a Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram, the only place where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary lingam. This is where Bharata Natyam dance originated.
Tamil Nadu is also the seat of arts and culture. Kanchipuram, one of the seven holy cities, is well known for its silk saris where the tradition of specialized weaving has been handed down for over four centuries! The chungadi cotton saris are a speciality of Madurai with colourful tie and dye motifs. Handicrafts, brassware, bronze items and the famous wooden toys of Madurai are some notable artefacts.
In Pondichery, now Puducherry, is situated Sri Aurobindo Ashram in the international city of Auroville.
One of the most popular tourist destinations, KanyaKumari or Cape Comorin is situated at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Here you can see sunrise and sunset from the same place.
For nature lovers, there is Trikootaachalam known for its waterfalls amidst picturesque surroundings and a source of inspiration for many a literary work. And how can one forget two scenic and serene hill stations- Kodaikanal and Ooty. Kodaikanal, situated on the hilly ranges of Palani, is a treat for trekkers with wooded slopes, gigantic trees, mighty rocks, bowers, creeks and slopes. Ooty, called the Queen of hill stations is the most popular hill station in the South. Located in the Western Ghats at a height of 2240m, apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like confiers, eucalyptus, pine and wattle dot the hillside . The other hill station, Coonoor is 31kms from Ooty.