|State of India|
|Motto: Truth alone Triumphs|
|Anthem: Invocation to Tamil Mother#|
Tamil Nadu covers an area of 130,058 km2 (50,216 sq mi), and is the eleventh largest state in India. The bordering states are Kerala to the west, Karnataka to the north west and Andhra Pradesh to the north. To the east is the Bay of Bengal and the union territory of Puducherry. The southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula is located in Tamil Nadu. At this point is the town of Kanyakumari which is the meeting point of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. The south boundary of India is Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu.
The western, southern and the north western parts are hilly and rich in vegetation. The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats meet at the Nilgiri hills. The Western Ghats dominate the entire western border with Kerala, effectively blocking much of the rain bearing clouds of the south west monsoon from entering the state. The eastern parts are fertile coastal plains and the northern parts are a mix of hills and plains. The central and the south central regions are arid plains and receive less rainfall than the other regions.
Tamil Nadu has a coastline of about 910 km (570 mi) which is the country's third longest coastline. Tamil Nadu's coastline bore the brunt of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami when it hit India, which caused 7,793 direct deaths in the state. Tamil Nadu falls mostly in a region of low seismic hazard with the exception of the western border areas that lie in a low to moderate hazard zone; as per the 2002 Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) map, Tamil Nadu falls in Zones II & III. Historically, parts of this region have experienced seismic activity in the M5.0 range.
There are about 2000 species of wildlife that are native to Tamil Nadu. Protected areas provide safe habitat for large mammals including elephants, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, gaurs, lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri langurs, Nilgiri tahrs, grizzled giant squirrels and sambar deer, resident and migratory birds such as cormorants, darters, herons, egrets,open-billed storks, spoonbills and white ibises, little grebes, Indian moorhen, black-winged stilts, a few migratory ducks and occasionally grey pelicans, marine species such as the dugongs, turtles, dolphins, Balanoglossus and a wide variety of fish and insects.
Indian Angiosperm diversity comprises 17,672 species with Tamil Nadu leading all states in the country, with 5640 species accounting for 1/3 of the total flora of India. This includes 1559 species of medicinal plants, 533 endemic species, 260 species of wild relatives of cultivated plants and 230 red-listed species. The Gymnosperm diversity of the country is 64 species of which Tamil Nadu has four indigenous species and about 60 introduced species. The Pteridophytes diversity of India includes 1022 species of which Tamil Nadu has about 184 species. Vast numbers of bryophytes, lichen, fungi, algae and bacteria are among the wild plant diversity of Tamil Nadu.
Common plant species include the state tree: Palmyra Palm, Eucalyptus, Rubber, Cinchona, Clumping Bamboos (Bambusa Arundinacea), Common teak, Anogeissus latifolia, Indian Laurel, Grewia, and blooming trees like Indian labumusum, Ardisia, and Solanaceae. Rare and unique plant life includes Combretum ovalifolium, Ebony (Diospyros nilagrica),Habenaria rariflora (Orchid), Alsophila, Impatiens elegans, Ranunculus reniformis, and Royal fern.
Tamil Nadu has 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. The state has a range of flora and fauna with many species and habitats. To protect this diversity of wildlife there are Protected areas of Tamil Nadu as well as biospheres which protect larger areas of natural habitat often include one or more National Parks. The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve established in 1986 is a marine ecosystem with seaweed and sea grass communities, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangrove forests. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve located in the Western Ghatsand Nilgiri Hills comprises part of adjoining states of Kerala and Karnataka. The Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve is in the south west of the state bordering Kerala in the Western Ghats. Tamil Nadu is home to five declared National parks located inAnamalai, Mudumalai, Mukurithi, Gulf of Mannar and Guindy located in the centre of Chennai city. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Mukurthi National Park and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are the tiger reserves in the state.Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve has the largest elephant population in India. Besides these bio reserves, there are many state and central run wild life sanctuaries for tiger, elephant and birds.
Tamil Nadu has a long tradition of venerable culture. Tamil Nadu is known for its rich tradition of literature, music and dance which continue to flourish today. Tamil Nadu is a land most known for its monumental ancient Hindu temples and classical form of dance Bharata Natyam.Unique cultural features like Bharatanatyam (dance), Tanjore painting, and Tamil architecture were developed and continue to be practised in Tamil Nadu.
Pongal, also called as Tamizhar Thirunaal (festival of Tamils) or Makara Sankranti elsewhere in India, a four-day harvest festival is one of the most widely celebrated festivals throughout 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 tenth Tamil month Thai (14 January or 15 January 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 bull taming contest, marks the main event of this day. Alanganallur is famous for its Jallikattu contest usually held on 3rd day of Pongal. During this final day, Kaanum Pongal – the word "kaanum", means 'to view' in Tamil. In 2011 the Madras High Court Bench ordered the cockfight at Santhapadi and Modakoor Melbegam villages permitted during the Pongal festival while disposing of a petition filed attempting to ban the cockfight. The first month in the Tamil calendar is Chittirai and the first day of this month in mid-April is celebrated as Tamil New Year. The Thiruvalluvar calendar is 31 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar, i.e. Gregorian 2000 is Thiruvalluvar 2031. Aadi Perukku is celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month Aadi, which celebrates the rising of the water level in the river Kaveri. Apart from the 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. Other major Hindu festivals including Deepavali (Death of Narakasura), Ayudha Poojai, Saraswathi Poojai (Dasara), Krishna Jayanthi andVinayaka Chathurthi are also celebrated. Eid ul-Fitr, Bakrid, Milad un Nabi, Muharram are celebrated by Muslims whereas Christmas, Good Friday, Easter are celebrated by Christians in the state. Mahamagam a bathing festival at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu is clebrated once in 12 years. People from all the corners of the country come to Kumbakonam for the festival. This festival is also called as Kumbamela of South.
Tamil cuisine is typical of south Indian cuisine, in that rice and rice-derived dishes form the major portion of a diet (see rice and curry). There are regional sub-varieties namely Chettinadu, Kongunadu, Madurai, Tirunelveli varieties etc. Traditionally, food is served on a banana leaf instead of a plate and eaten with the right hand.
Rice is the staple food of Tamils and is typically eaten mixed with sambhar (with or without ghee), vegetarian or non-vegetarian kulambu, rasam, curd and buttermilk. This is accompanied with various vegetarian and/or non-vegetarian dishes likekootu, aviyal, poriyal, appalam, varuval, peratal, kothsu, varieties of pickles and chicken, mutton, or fish fry.
Breakfast and snack items include dosai, Adai, idly, vadai, pongal, appam (aappam), paniyaram, puttu, uppumavu (uppuma), santhakai (a sort of noodles), idiyappamand uthappam. These items are eaten along with sambar, varieties of chatni and podi. Traditionally prepared filter coffee is unique in taste and popular all over the state.
The Chettinad region is famous for its spicy non-vegetarian cuisine, while Ambur andDindigul are known for their Biriyani. Sweet items that are native to Tamil Nadu are Athirasam, Chakkarai Pongal (prepared during Pongal) and Kuli Paniyaram. The city of Thirunelveli is renowned for its unique sweetmeat, Thirunelveli Halwa and Madurai is the place of origin and well known for its milk dessert Jigarthanda, while Palani is known for its Panchamirtham.
The tourism industry of Tamil Nadu is the second largest in India, with an annual growth rate of 16 per cent. Tourism in Tamil Nadu is promoted by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), a Government of Tamil Nadu undertaking. According to Ministry of Tourism statistics, 2,804,649 foreign and 111,637,104 domestic tourists visited the state in 2010. The state boasts some of the grand Hindu temples built in Dravidian architecture. The Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram built by the Cholas, the Airavateswara temple in Darasuram and the Shore Temple, along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram (also called Mamallapuram) have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Madurai is home to the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam. Tiruchirappalli is the largest functioning temple in the Tamil Nadu, Tiruchirappalli where the famous Rockfort Temple is located, Rameshwaramwhose temple walk-ways corridor (Praagarams) are the longest 1.2 km (0.75 mi) of all Indian temples in the world,Kanchipuram and Palani are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Other popular temples in Tamil Nadu include those inChidambaram, Thiruvannaamalai, Tiruvarur, Kumbakonam, Sankarankovil, Srivilliputhur, Tiruttani, Namakkal, Vellore, Karur,Bhavani, Coimbatore, Kanniyakumari.
Tamil Nadu is also home to hill stations like Udhagamandalam (Ooty), Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Coonoor, Topslip, Valparai,Yelagiri and Manjolai. The Nilgiri hills, Palani hills, Shevaroy hills, Kolli Hills and Cardamom hills are all abodes of thick forests and wildlife. 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, Anaimalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Arignar Anna Zoological Park. The mangrove forests at Pichavaram are also eco-tourism spots of importance.The prominent waterfalls in the state are Courtallam, Hogenakkal, Papanasam, Manimuthar, Thirparappu, Pykara and Silver Cascade. The Chettinad region of the state is renowned for its Palatial houses and cuisine. With medical care in Chennai, Vellore, Coimbatore and Madurai, Tamil Nadu has the largest numbers in Medical tourism in India.
Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of peninsular India, is famous for its beautiful sunrise, Vivekananda Rock Memorial andThiruvalluvar'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.
Sunrise in Kanyakumari with Vivekananda Rock Memorial andThiruvalluvar statue in the foreground.
Annual Jallikattu bull taming festival nearMadurai.
The Corridor of 1000 pillars insiderRameswaram Temple.
The Dolphin's Nose atKodaikanal.
Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple.
Hogenakkal Falls on theKaveri river in Dharmapuri district.