Combining a fascing nating history and stunning natural beauty with a seductive contemporary culture, India’s southernmost state is waiting to explored…

Description: Cultural Capital

Combining a fascing nating history and stunning natural beauty with a seductive contemporary culture, India’s southernmost state is waiting to explored…

Steeped in history

Although the region has been the home of the Tamil people since around 500 BC and the offcial language, Tamil, has been in use for over 2000 years, it was only in 1969 that Madras State was remaned Tamil Nadu, which means ‘Tamil country’. In the intervening years, different rules lest their mark in the form of intricate temples, many of which have been desighnated Unesco World Heritage Sites. By contrast, the capital city Chennai ( formerly Madras ) is relatively young, having been extablished of India’s diversity as it embraces the old and the new, the traditional and the modern. And nothing illustrates this more clearly than the city’s architecture, which features slick skyscapers, colonial buildings and ancient Dravidian temples.

Ancient monuments

Description: Darasuram Temple

Darasuram Temple

Close to Chenai is the Unesco World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram, which is one of eight such classified sites in Tamil Nadu. Originally a port city of the South Indian ruling Pallavas dunasty, Mahabalipuram is home to an as tonishing collection of historic monuments that were sculpted from rock between the 7th and the 9th enturies. These ancient monuments include temples, shrines and sculpted reliefs, as well as granite- hewn chariots. The structures are impressive but, compared to Brihadeeswarar Tample at Thanjavur, which is the world’s first complete granite temple and India’s largest, ther are small. One of the country’s most prized architectural sites, Brihadeeswarar Temple stands inside fortified walls and features a temple tower that is among the tallest of its king in the world.

Description: Nataraha Temple Detail

Nataraha Temple Detail

Rich cultural heritage

As well as outstanding architecture, Tamil Nadu’s extensive history has bequeathed the state a legacy of inspired poetry and creative writing, days of celebratory festivals, several types of folk dancing and a huge range of music that includes Carnatic; considered one of the oldest systems of music in the world. Rightly proud of their rich cultural heritage, most Tamils would agree that no visit to their state is complete without seeing- or taking part in- a celebration of literature, devotion, dance or music. They would also suggest that guests enjoy some of the regional gastronomic delights. Vegetarians who  enjoy spicy food will not be disappointed by the array of grains, lentils, rice and vegetables that are on offer at breakfats, lunch and dinner while carnivores will love hot Chettinad cuisine, which features flavoursome variations of fish, mutton, and chiken dishes.

The great outdoors

Beyon the temples and shrines, a different kind of beauty is on offer, one that is natural but no less captivating. Tamil Nadu boasts thick forests and lush hills  that are teeming with wildlife, much of which is native to the state. A visit to a hill station is an unmissable highlight and the most popular- and, arguably, the most beautiful- is Ooty, a cool and calm town located high up in the Nilgiris district, India’s first Biosphere Reserve. Nature has been generous to this region, which is awash with green foliage and has  been beclared one of 14 ‘hotspots’ of the world thanks to its unique bio- diversity.

Description: Temple Corridor, Gangai- Kondacholapuram

Temple Corridor, Gangai- Kondacholapuram

Elsewhere, Tamil Nadu’s numerous and extensive national parks, wildlife santuaries, biosphere reserves, forests and zoos are all enchanting, which makes  choosing between them an almost impossible task. But the state’s two tiger reserves- Mukurthi National Park and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve- are the only places where majestic Bengal tigers can be seen, so they should not be left off any visitor’s intinerary. Your holiday, your way. With so much to see, do and expore in Tamil Nadu, it is worth researching your options before you travel and booking tour that will allow you to combine several cultural, historical and environmental elemants in one trip.

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