| Quick Facts
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Countryside in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu - the land of Tamils is a state in Southern India known for its temples and architecture, food, movies and classical Indian dance and Carnatic music. The languages spoken here are predominantly Tamil (also written as Thamizh) and English in the larger cities and metro capital Chennai. It is the historical home of the famous Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallava kingdoms which thrived in ancient and medieval India.
- Northern Tamil Nadu - Dharmapuri, Thiruvannamalai, Vellore and Krishnagiri Districts
- Tamil Nadu North Coast - Ariyalur, Chennai, Cuddalore, Kanchipuram, Nagapattinam, Tiruvallur, Villupuram and Tiruvarur Districts
- Western Tamil Nadu - Coimbatore, Erode, Nilgiris and Tirupur Districts
- Central Tamil Nadu - Karur, Namakkal, Perambalur, Salem and Tiruchirappalli Disticts
- Southwestern Tamil Nadu - Dindigul, Madurai, Theni and Virudhunagar District
- Tamil Nadu South Coast - Pudukkottai, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Thanjavur Districts
- Far Southern Tamil Nadu - Kanniyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli Districts
- Chennai (Madras) — the capital of Tamil Nadu. One of four India largest cities.
- Coimbatore — the textile capital of South India or the Manchester of the South
- Erode — center of an agricultural area.
- Madurai — Athens of the East, a place of great historical and cultural importance and the oldest city in Tamil Nadu.
- Salem — Important Industrial center.
- Thanjavur — fine old architecture and exquisite handicrafts
- Tiruchirappalli — famous for its temples
- Tirunelveli — A city of Tradition, surrounded by scenic beauty and Temples.
- Tuticorin — Known as a Pearl City and harbor.
Tamil language is one of the few still living classical languages, with two millennia of written tradition. Unlike northern Indian languages, it belongs to the Dravidian language family. 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. English works in almost all the cities.
If you don't speak Tamil language, most of the people speak English fluently or know some basic English, so you shouldn't have a problem getting by in the major cities.
Tamil Nadu has 4 international airports and 3 domestic airports. Chennai International Airport is a major international airport that is connected with 19 countries with more than 169 direct flights every week. This is the third largest airport in India. Other international airports present in the state are Coimbatore International Airport, Madurai International Airport and Tiruchirappalli International Airport. Salem and Tuticorin Airports are domestic airports with convenient connections to the rest of the state and the country.
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.
Everybody can get easy around the state between the cities using swift transportation available locally. However, it is advised that cabs should be pre-booked to avoid any kind of inconvenience.
Chennai is one point on the Golden Quadrilateral , the construction of limited access divided highways that link circumnavigate the heart of India.
Chennai has one of Asia's largest bus stations, CMBT. 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.
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 driver. Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus.
Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and extremely cheap. You can buy bus tickets online at red bus  or Ticketgoose  or Via.com . 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.
Watch out for the State Express Transport Corporation(SETC) Buses, which are light-green colored.
Tamil Nadu is conservative place, in the sense that in a 3-Seater seat (which is to the right side of the bus), if there are 2 ladies sitting, Men are looked down, if they try to sit next to them. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but still bear in mind with the rickety buses and road-humps, it can get uncomfortable.
Best period to travel. The winters are very mild, the summers are hot and the rest of the year is warm. The ideal time to travel is from December to March, when the weather is mild. Summer season starts in April and lasts till June. Temperatures peak is in May and lessens from July till the rains start. It is important to remember that the monsoon in Tamil Nadu starts in mid-October and lasts till early December unlike the rest of India. This is because the State lies in the rain shadow region and the monsoon winds bypass the State (though southern parts of the State gets some rains in June/July).
- Chidambaram-the seat of the cosmic dancer Nataraja
- Dharmapuri Hogenakkal falls-nice waterfalls running of Kavery river waters very like to Niagara falls.
- Kanchipuram-temples and sarees
- Kanniyakumari (Cape Comorin)-the southern-most tip of peninsular India with the Kanniyakumariamman temple, Vivekanandha Rock, Saint Thiruvalluvar Statue
- Kumbakonam-famous Upilliyapan temple
- Madurai-one of the oldest cities of Tamil Nadu, 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 by its Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Shrine.
- Mamallapuram-Pallava dynasty rock cut temples
- Palani-the Murugan Hill Temple
- Poompuhar-for its heritage of sculpture
- Rameswaram-Ramanathaswamy Temple
- Srivilliputhur-one of the temple towns in Tamil Nadu, the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Tamil Nadu Hill stations-Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud and Valparai.
- Thirumayam-7th century archaeological wonder. Oldest Vishnu temple.
- Trichy-temples, fort, malls, food
- Tuticorin-one of the well known towns in Tamil Nadu, the harbor, beach, Macroon(sweet) and people are nice.
- Western Ghats - a mountain range, that stretches parallel to the western coast with its flora and fauna.
- Navagraha Temple Tour Route. Here is the link to temple route for the travelers visiting Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu .
- Aadi Perukku, . 18th day of the Tamil Month of Aadi is celebrated to welcome the huge influx of water in the seasonal major river Kavery. The paddy fields in the Kavery delta are in a high need on this water. edit
- Christmas, Good Friday. The Christian festivals are also celebrated. edit
- Deepavali or Diwali, . It is festival of lights. In Tamil Nadu, this day marks the killing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. On his death bed, Narakasura realizes his mistake and begs Krishna for pardon. Lord Krishna noticed the changes of his heart and promised Narakasura, that people always will remember him on this day as the triumph over evil (outside and within a person as well). Celebrating the end of evil, people symbolically take oil bath, adorn new dresses, exchange sweets and expressing their joy lit the lamps and crackers. edit
- Eid. Tamil Nadu has a large Muslims population and Id and Ramzan are celebrated here. edit
- Gowri Pooja. Doing Gowri pooja (prayer) by ladies is an integral part of Sampradaaya. There are different types of Gowri pooja through the year based on Family traditions such as Mangala gowri pooja (First five years after wedding), Swarna gowri vratha, Mouna gowri vrata, Gowri triteeya, Jyeshtha Gowri and so on. edit
- 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 gather in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil-Nadu to take part in the street and temple ceremonies to pray to Lord Muruga. It is celebrated in November and December every year. edit
- Krishna jayanti or Gokulashtami, . A celebration of Lord Krishna. Women pray to Lord Krishna and offer foodstuffs to him. edit
- Panguni Utaram utsavam, . It is celebrated in Ranganathar temples. edit
- Pongal, . The harvest festival is celebrated during the Tamil month of Thai (mid-January in Gregorian Calendar). It is an important festival for the people of Tamil Nadu, especially for the farmers, irrespective from their religion. It is celebrated over four days. The festival thanks everyone - The sun god for his sunshine, Cattle for their work, Friends & fellow workers for their support, for the season's harvests. edit
- Saraswati pooja. It is the ninth day of Navaratri, is in honor of the goddess of learning. Students place their books into the front of the goddess and nobody study or play the music instruments in honor of this goddess on this day. edit
- Varalakshmi pooja, . On this day all married women keep kalasam, pray and decorate the temples. edit
- Vijayadasami. It is the 10th day of Navaratri and is considered to be the most important day for starting new things like learning to play a new instrument or to start a new school year. It is the day of victory. edit
- Vinayaka Chaturthi, . It is also 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. edit
Music and Dance festivals
- Kacheri. This December Festival is celebrated at various locations in Chennai. It is dedicated to classical Indian dance and music performances and attracts the large crowds. edit
- Mamallapuram Festival, . This dance festival is held in Mamallapuram on January or February. edit
- Natyanjali, . Festival is celebrated in many Hindu temples at the end of February and beginning of March, and includes daily classical Indian dance and music performances. edit
- Tamil New Year (Tamil Varsha Purappu), . The 1st day of the Tamil month of Chittirai. Usually, this falls on 14th or 15th April. Varsha Purappu means Year of birth. On New Year's Eve special prayers are offered in the midnight services at the churches and Mosques. Women light villaku to the goddesses at home or candles to Christ or Mother Mary. edit
- Akshaya Tritiya. On the third day after the new moon day, that follows the Tamil New Year. Locals believe that anything, what is done on this day is equivalent to doing it a thousand times over and it is believed, that buying gold on this day will ensure prosperity throughout the life. Rice with curd made from milk is offered as a service prasadham. edit
- Karadaiyaa nonbu. It is pasting time, when February and March joins. During this celebration is prepared kaaradai as offering to the gods and ladies do this pooja to protect their maangalyam (necklace) edit
Tamil food boasts of dosais, idlis, sambar and chutneys. Curry also originated by its name from the Tamil word kari with the meaning 'sauce' or 'relish for rice' which uses the leaves of the curry tree.
Tamil Nadu provides 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 crispy pancake made from a batter of rice and lentils or eggs, tomato, onion, vegetables; vada is a deep fried doughnut made from a batter of lentils; pongal is a mixture of rice and lentils cooked together, where is added 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(soup) and yogurt along with a number of spicy side dishes like as Takkali Sadam, kuzhambu, Meen puli muzham (fish) and curd rice as addition.
For the supper can be served Sundal, Medhu Vadai, Cauliflower Pakoda.
Famous desserts are Coconut Barfi, Nei Payasum, Semiya Kesari.
There are several variations of the dishes mentioned above, which are eaten with coconut chutney, which is supplemented by dry red chilly, ginger, mustard seed; sambar, which is a seasoned lentil dish; mulaga podi (Pepper powder), which is a powdered mix of several roasted lentils and red chili blended by oil.
- Coffee. 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. Coffee powder is used to make filter coffee, enjoyed by everybody. The water, that you add has to powder must be of boiling point, so that the powder would release its flavor. It is not possible to make coffee with the tepid water. The smell of the fresh coffee is heavenly and will make you wish more of it.
- Manjal Milagu Paal. It is also called as the turmeric-pepper milk, this is one the traditional drinks of Tamil Nadu. People drink it every day before going to bed. It also acts as a medicine and prevents the body from flu as well as a cough and cold.
- Coconut Water. It's very widely available in Tamil Nadu. You can find plenty of roadside shops everywhere.
- Juices are mainly available in summer season (April-June).
- Alcohol. Tamil Nadu Government sells Liqour and by-law, carrying liquor from other Indian States into Tamil Nadu is officially restricted since 2003. Tamil Nadu is a pretty conservative place and has a history of prohibition.
Tamil Nadu has a wide range of accommodation to provide to its visitors, be it the class-conscious tourist or the budget-backpacker. Seeing the success of Homestay type accommodation promoted by the Kerala Ministry of Tourism, the Tamil Nadu counterpart introduced the "Bed and Breakfast" scheme.
Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) has Hotels in Tamil Nadu that are hygienic and suits the budget to middle category travelers. It made a modest beginning with Five Tourist Bungalows and with two coaches. It has made rapid strides since then, and today has earned the proud distinction of owning the largest chain of Hotels in South India.
The cheeper rooms are a Non-Ac room with clean bed, TV and most probably a shared bathroom in most parts of Tamil Nadu. More expensive one will fetch you a Ac single room with basic amenities like TV, Bed and attached bathroom. Though you might be lucky to find a decent English speaking concierge at this range, you will find lots of people well-versed in Tanglish (a concoction of Tamil and English) which can be understood quite clearly if you listen hard and pay attention. Please take due precautions with your luggage and other essential documents and money. It is advisable to not leave any money in the room and to always carry your passport with yourself. Bring a good lock both for your luggage and the hotel door. If you are carrying laptops or digi-cams, keep them under lock and key, not giving them to person.
Medium category hotels will be your 2 to 4 Star rated Hotels. You will most probably be given a well furnished (by Indian standards), air conditioned room with good lighting, bed, TV, attached bathroom with a bathtub and warm water during most of the day and hot water. A good concierge will serve you better if you tip him at the moment you see him nor the last moment. Follow this advice when it comes to tipping.
Safety in this category of hotels is more, though it is always advisable to be a little paranoid if you are carrying very expensive items. The safety issue is not a constant and will vary according to the city you are visiting and the hotel you are staying.
Most of the hotels in this category will have an in house restaurant and a bar. If you are lucky or choose well you might even get one with pub and discotheque around which the nightlife of the city is centered. Expect a buffet breakfast to be thrown in as a compliment.
Individual cottages at beach resorts can be had with this budget.
Generally speaking Tamil Nadu is a haven for the back-packers and the medium-budget travelers. As a result, in the more tourist oriented cities, good hotels with good food and service come cheap. You will be hard pressed to find a hotel, where you can splurge these amounts.
Unlike Rajasthan, you will not find any Heritage Hotels (ancient Palaces that have been converted in to hotels) in Tamil Nadu. You will have to splurge on 5 star and 5 star deluxe hotels. They are usually run by an international chain and so does not need description as checking into them.
These hotels are mostly limited to in and around the city of Chennai and a few in Madurai & Coimbatore.
Generally, Tamil Nadu is one among the safest places in India, but like any other tourist destination there are a few problems. Beware of pickpockets and thieves in buses and trains. If you travel via train, think twice before eating or drinking anything offered by co-passengers.
Dress appropriately in public places. Avoid sleeveless shirts going to the temples. If you traveling with someone from the opposite gender, it would be advisable to avoid too much of physical intimacy. The Sri Lankan ethnic issue is a sensitive topic for people in Tamil Nadu. Travelling in Northern India, foreign tourists tend to pick up some Hindi phrases and words, but trying to show it off when in Tamil Nadu is a bad idea. It is better to speak in English which works most of the time.
There has been a great rise in the number of complaints about harassment of innocent tourists in various destinations around the country. The Ministry of Tourism has adopted a strategy of introducing Audio Guide Devices at various places of interest around the country such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, etc. to provide reliable and actual information for tourists. It is wise to hire such devices as you can avoid being ambushed. The Ministry of Tourism has also announced its partnership with AudioCompass, a company specializing in creating Audio Tours of all places of interest in the country including Chennai, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, etc in the form of Audio Devices available at the monuments and Smartphone apps that can be download from the App Store.