Tamil Nadu is the southernmost state in India and it has a range of attractive tourist destinations. Tamil Nadu tourist destinations include, but are not limited to, picturesque valleys, stunning beaches, tranquil hill stations, wildlife parks, gorgeous temples and scenic mountains.
Vellankanni is a small hamlet on the shores of Bay of Bengal. It lies at a distance of 14 kms from Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu. The sacred Basilica of Our Lady of Health situated here is one of the most important Christian pilgrimages in India. It draws pilgrims from all over the world irrespective of caste and creed. The awe-inspiring building is adorned with Gothic style architecture and is a marvel in itself. Mysteries and miracle stories are common here and the church is held in high esteem for its wish-fulfilling power. The sidewalls are beautifully decorated with biblical incidents. What is more peculiar is that pilgrims here follow many Hindu ways of offering which includes tonsuring of heads and ear-boring suggesting mixing of two cultures.
Also known as Thirumaraikkadu, Vedaranyam had been witness to C. Rajagopalachari's Salt March and Gandhiji's Dandi March. Located at a distance of 55 kms from Nagapattinam, it also houses the Shri Vedaranyeswarar Temple.
Some 66 kms from Nagapattinam and 11 kms south of Vedaranyam is the popular seaside town of Kodikkarai. Better known as Point Calimere, it has a wildlife sanctuary for animals and a sanctuary for migrating birds. The birds are known to travel from as far as Russia, Siberia, Iran, Australia and the Himalayas. Species include the flamingos, ibises, herons, spoonbills, woodcock, hornbills, storks, willow warbler, wagtail and the wild duck.
Located at a distance of 5 kms from Karaikkal, Thirunallar is the seat of Lord Saneeswara.
The history of Thirunelveli or Nellai in Tamil Nadu is about 2000 years old. Thirunelveli lies on the western bank of the Tamraparni river. Once the capital of the Pandyas, the city is named after the Kanthimathi Nellaiyappar Shiva temple.
Mundanthurai-Kalakad Wildlife Sanctuary
A National Tiger Reserve from 1988 onwards, Mundanthurai-Kalakad wildlife sanctuary stretches over an area of 817 sq. km. Road access is from Ambasamudaram (20 km) and Kalakad (15 km). Predators other than tigers include panthers, jungle cats, civets, dholes, jackals and striped hyenas. It is a safe haven for endangered species such as Nilgiri tahr, Malabar giant squirrel, sloth bear, Indian bison, Indian elephant, mouse deer and pangolin. Poisonous reptiles, amphibians and a large variety of birds are also found in the sanctuary. Trekkers have the choice of 24 different nature walks for exciting adventures. The Tiger Reserve is open all through the year for tourists between 6 A.M. and 6 P.M. Mundanthurai and Thalayanai Forest Rest Houses provide accommodation for tourists.
District Science Centre
The Thirunelveli District Science Centre is showcasing scientific applications adding a new dimension to science teaching through a process of discovery. Inspiring creative talents, the Centre has three permanent galleries on oceans, a semi-permanent gallery on popular science and a six-acre science park where numerous exhibits help create awareness and try to satisfy the zest for knowledge. It is equipped with a planetarium, an animatarium and an observatory. The District Science Centre also organizes Mobile Science Exhibition, Film Show, Temporary Exhibitions, Science Drama and Science Fair.
Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary
A popular bird sanctuary in the far south at Thirunelveli, this place is fast developing as a haven for migratory birds. Winters here see around 35 various species of birds.
A picturesque health resort near Thirunelveli, the Western Ghats form a beauteous backdrop here. Courtallam is known for its gorgeous waterfall that divides itself into eight more forceful falls and is perfect for bathing all through the day. The water is said to have therapeutic qualities and cures rheumatic joints, chronic headaches and nerve disorders on regular use.
Swamy Nellaiappar-Kanthimathi Ambal Temple
The Swamy Nellaiappar-Kanthimathi Ambal Temple's musical pillars in Mani Mandapam produce a sweet sound when struck. The thousand pillared Somavara Mandapam, Vasantha Mandapam and the beautiful carvings in Tamra Sabha are as old as 700 AD.
Thiruchirappalli was built by the Nayaks of Madurai on the banks of the serene Cauvery river. Spread over an area of 146.90 sq kms, Thiruchirappalli was under the stronghold of the early Cholas and then the Pallavas. Lovingly called Trichy, this ancient city is famous for its architectural marvels. This bustling city of Tamil Nadu is famous for colourful glass bangles, artificial diamonds, cigars, handloom cloth, wooden and clay toys.
The Rock Fort is perched atop an abrupt massive rock formation within the town and is 83 m high. The rock dates back to 3.8 million years and is a marvel in itself. The main tourist attraction is, however, the temple inside rather than the fort itself. The Uchipillaiyar Koil temple dedicated to Lord Vinayaka offers a spectacular view of Thiruchirappalli. Amidst the ruins, a climb of 344 steps takes you to inscriptions of 3rd century BC.
Lying in a 600 acre island, 7 kms from Thiruchirappalli, is one of the most important pilgrimages of India. Wedged between the Cauveri river on one side and its tributary Kollidam on the other, the whole of the Srirangam town is enclosed within the seven walls of the massive Sriranganathaswami Temple. There are 21 gopurams, among which Rajagopuram is the largest one and is a spectacle to behold from miles away.
Thiruvanaikkaval Or Jambukeswarar Temple
Situated near Srirangam, this calm and serene Shiva temple is known especially for its excellent architectural grandeur. Under an ancient Jumbu tree, the lingam here is partially submerged in water.
Theni in southern Tamil Nadu is a favoured tourist spot and is known for its serene environment. Enchanting dams, mesmerising waterfalls and innumerable pilgrim centres amid the verdant green landscape make Theni very different from the hustle and bustle of busy tourist spots.
The 111 ft high Vaigai Dam can store up to 71 feet of water. There is a popular picnic spot 14 kms from Theni with sylvan surroundings.
Mavoothu Vellappar Temple
This sacred temple is situated on the lush Varushanad hill ranges 20 kms from Andipatti. The complex also includes shrines of Vinayaka and Saptakannikas. Adi Amavasya (Blue Moon) and Thai Amavasya are celebrated with great pomp. There is also an annual festival in the month of Chithirai.
The main shrine in Devadanapatti is Kamatchi Amman Temple but the sanctum sanctorum here is never opened. A beautiful ambience is created during the evening pujas.
Thanjavur, formerly the Tanjore city of eastern Tamil Nadu, lies in the Kaveri (Cauvery) River delta stretching over an area of 29.24 sq kms. It served as the seat of power for the Chola empire from the 10th to the 14th century AD and became important during the Vijayanagar, Maratha and British eras in Indian history. Known as the hub of culture and learning, it is famous for its unique art in bronze, handicrafts and south-Indian musical instruments.
Sri Brihaddeswara temple
Built by the great Chola King, Raja Raja I in the 10th century AD, Sri Brihaddeswara temple is a marvellous example of the Chola architectural grandeur. The awesome 14 storied granite temple rises to a height of 216 feet, the plinth of the central shrine being 45.72 sq m and the shrine proper measuring 30.48 sq.m. The Vimanam of Sri Brihaddeswara temple rises perpendicularly from the square base to a height of 60.96 m and the gold-plated copper Kalasa at the top weighs 339.5 kg. Nandi, the Big Bull, weighing around 20 tonnes, is sculpted from a single stone and sits exactly opposite to the sanctum sanctorum. Inside this colossal structure of Sri Brihaddeswara temple, a 7 m high Shivalinga presides. The temple is adorned with beautiful paintings and superb sculpture on the inner walls and ceilings.
The beautiful Thanjavur Palace was built partly by the Nayaks around 1550 AD and partly by the Marathas. Spread over an area of 530 acres, it is surrounded by a 15 feet high wall. Inside the complex, the 190 feet Arsenal Tower stands majestically in eight storeys and attracts a large number of tourists. Built to a little north of Arsenal Tower in Serginayakas style, the Bell Tower houses the famous Maratha Durbar Hall abounding in exquisite paintings. The Saraswathy Mahal Library offers priceless collection of ancient books and manuscripts while the Art Gallery is enriched by granite, bronze and stone sculptures of the Chola Period. The Sangeet Mahal is a wonder and especially known for being a testimony to the engineering skills of the period which is reflected in its acoustically perfect musical hall. Schwartz Church stands in the Palace Garden.
Thousands attend the annual car festival of the Pookara Street Our Lady of Sorrows Church which is celebrated every year with pomp and gaiety in the third week of September. The Sacred Heart Cathedral Church, St. Peter's Church, Fort Church and the Lutheran Church all stand as testimony to the religious harmony existing in Thanjavur.
The princely state of Pudukkottai is presently a part of the state of Tamil Nadu. The origin of the state dates back to the 17th century. The city is rich in archaeological reminiscences in various parts of Pudukkottai. The city also has an abundance of temples, tanks and canals constructed by the various dynasties that ruled Pudukkottai.
Pudukkottai lies at a distance of 390 km from the capital city of Tamil Nadu, Chennai. The region is well connected by railroads and bus routes to other cities in the state. The cultural and religious heritage of the city is visible from the monumental structures and the holy temples that abound the Pudukkottai region.
Sri Bragadhambal Temple
This is one of the oldest temples in South India. The temple is dedicated to the deity Gokarnesvara. The architecture of the temple is magnificent. The presence of the temple over a long period of time has led to the development of certain special features in the temple.
Meenakshi Sundaresvara Temple
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi and lies close to the Bragadhambal Temple. Near the temple is the Periya-Kulam tank. In the southern end of the Periya-Kulam tank lies the shrine which contains figures of the sixteen forms of Lord Ganesha.
Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is the fourth largest city in India. Chennai was the first major British settlement in India. It is a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity. While its evolving exterior presents an increasingly cosmopolitan outlook, the city interior remains traditional and religious. The British influence on Chennai can still be noticed because of the presence of the buildings of Indo-Saracenic style, wide tree-lined avenues and old cathedrals.
Some of the other touristy places in Tamil Nadu are Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Kancheepuram, Pondicherry, Tirupati, Vellore and Mamallapuram.
All these beaches offer the ideal setting and opportunities for a variety of adventure sports and recreational activities such as paragliding, sunbathing, swimming, surfing, and parasailing.
The state is famous for the following hill stations:
The hill stations will leave you spellbound. The picturesque Ooty is frequently described as the Queen of all Hill Stations. Kodaikanal is 120 km from Madurai; it charms visitors with its forested landscapes and picturesque lakes.