Tamil Nadu Details

Origin of the name:

Tamil Nadu (Tamil: தமிழ் நாடு, pronounced [t̪ɐmɨɻ n̪ɽɯ]( listen)) is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai (formerly known as Madras). Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the States of Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is bound by the Eastern Ghats in the north, the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Palakkad on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait in the south east, and by the Indian Ocean in the south.

Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area (about the size of Greece) and the seventh most populous state.[2] It is the fifth largest contributor to India's GDP[3] and the most urbanised state in India.[4] The state has the highest number (10.56%) of business enterprises in India,[5] compared to the population share of about 6%. It is one of the foremost states in the country in terms of overall development

The region has been the home of the Tamil civilization since at least 1500 BC, as attested by numerous archeological sites in and around Adichanallur. Its classical language Tamil has been in use in inscriptions and literature for 2500 years. It is widely believed that St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ was martyred in Mylapore, Chennai. Tamil Nadu is home to many natural resources, grand Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture, hill stations, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage sites and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in India with a population of 62,405,679 (>62 million) as of the census of 2001, with estimates for year 2008 put at 66,396,000 (>66 million), (approximately 5.79% of India's population). It is the eleventh most densely populated state in India with a population density of 511 persons per square kilometre as of 2008,[49] having increased from 429 in 1991, significantly higher than the Indian average of 324 persons per square kilometre. 44% of the state's population live in urban areas, the highest among large states in India.

Climate: Tamil Nadu is heavily dependent on monsoon rains, and thereby is prone to droughts when the monsoons fail. The climate of the state ranges from dry sub-humid to semi-arid. The state has three distinct periods of rainfall: (1) Advancing monsoon period, South West monsoon (from June to September), with strong southwest winds; (2) North East monsoon (from October to December), with dominant northeast winds; and (3) Dry season (from January to May). The normal annual rainfall of the state is about 945 mm (37.2 in)[32] of which 48% is through the North East monsoon, and 32% through the South West monsoon. Since the state is entirely dependent on rains for recharging its water resources, monsoon failures lead to acute water scarcity and severe drought.[33]

Tamil Nadu is classified into seven agro-climatic zones: north-east, north-west, west, southern, high rainfall, high altitude hilly, and Cauvery Delta (the most fertile agricultural zone). The table below shows the maximum and minimum temperatures that the state experiences in the plains and hills.

Plains Hills

Max. 43 C (109 F) 32.3 C (90.1 F)

Min. 13.1 C (55.6 F) 3.0 C (37.4 F)

Economy: Main articles: Economy of Tamil Nadu, List of conglomerates in Tamil Nadu, and List of rivers in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu's gross state domestic product for 2007 is estimated at 275,000 crores (70 billion USD) in current prices.[82][83] The state experienced a GDP growth rate of 12.1% for this period.[58] It was the third largest economy (20072008) among all states in India,[84] and also the most industrialised state in India.[85] It ranks third in foreign direct investment (FDI) approvals (cumulative 1991-2002) of Rs.225,826 million ($5,000 million), next only to Maharashtra and Delhi constituting 9.12% of the total FDI in the country.[86] The per capita income in 2007 - 2008 for the state was Rs.43,000 ranking second among the South Indian states [87] and steadily been above the national average.[88]

According to the 2001 Census, Tamil Nadu has the highest level of urbanisation (43.86%) in India, accounting for 6% of Indias total population and 9.6% of the urban population.[89] and is the most urbanized state in India.[4] Services contributes to 45% of the economic activity in the state, followed by manufacturing at 34% and agriculture at 21%. Government is the major investor in the state with 51% of total investments, followed by private Indian investors at 29.9% and foreign private investors at 14.9%. Tamil Nadu has a network of about 113 industrial parks and estates offering developed plots with supporting infrastructure.[90]

According to the publications of the Tamil Nadu government the Gross State Domestic Product at Current Prices (Base year 1999-2000) for the year 2008-2009 is Rs. 339,212 crores. The percapita income at current price is Rs. 51, 097.[91]


Tamil Nadu has historically been an agricultural state and is a leading producer of agricultural products in India. In 2008, Tamil Nadu was India's fifth biggest producer of Rice.[92] The total cultivated area in the State was 56.10 million hectares in 2007-08. [93] The Cauvery delta region of the composite Thanjavur district is known as the Rice Bowl of South India. In terms of production, Tamil Nadu accounts for 10% in fruits and 6% in vegetables, in India.[94] Annual food grains production in the year 2007-08 was 100.35 lakh mt.[93] Mango and Banana are the leading fruit crops in Tamil Nadu accounting for over 87% of the total fruit production. The main vegetables grown are tapioca, tomato, onion, brinjal and drumstick. Tamil Nadu is also a leading state in the production of flowers with the total production of horticultural crops standing at Rs. 99.47 Lakhs during 2003-04. The main flowers grown in Tamil Nadu are Jasmine, Mullai, Chrysanthemum, Marigold and Rose.

Paddy fields at Kanyakumari district

The state is the largest producer of bananas, flowers, tapioca, the second largest producer of mango, natural rubbercoconut,] groundnut and the third largest producer of coffee, sapota, Teaand SugarcaneTamil Nadu's sugarcane yield per hectare is the highest in India. The state has 17,000 hectares of land under oil palm cultivation, the second highest in IndiaTamil Nadu is the home to Dr M.S. Swaminathan, known as the "father of the Green Revolution" in IndiaTamil Nadu Agricultural University with its seven colleges and thirty two research stations spread over the entire state contributes to evolving new crop varieties and technologies and disseminating through various extension agencies. Among states in India, Tamil Nadu is one of the leaders in livestock, poultry and fisheries production. Tamil Nadu had the second largest number of poultry amongst all the states and accounted for 17.7% of the total poultry population in India.[104] In 20032004, Tamil Nadu had produced 37,836 lakhs of eggs, which was the second highest in India representing 9.37% of the total egg production in the country.[105] With the third longest coastline in India, Tamil Nadu represented 27.54% of the total value of fish and fishery products exported by India


Tamil Nadu is the one of the most literate states in India.[57] Tamil Nadu has performed reasonably well in terms of literacy growth during the decade 1991-2001. The state's literacy rate increased from 62.66% in 1991 to 73.47% in 2001,[50] which is above the national average. A survey conducted by the Industry body Assocham ranks Tamil Nadu top among Indian states with about 100% Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in primary and upper primary education.[58] One of the basic limitations for improvement in education in the state is the rate of absence of teachers in public schools, which at 21.4% is significant.[59]

Tamil Nadu has 37 universities,[60] 454 engineering colleges.[61] and 1150 arts college, 2550 schools and 5000 hospitals.[citation needed] Some of the most reputed educational institutes present in Tamil Nadu are University of Madras, IIT Madras, TANUVAS(Tamil Nadu veterinary and Animal sciences university), PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore, Anna University Chennai (includes MIT Chennai Madras Institute of Technology (First college in India to start Electronics & Aeronautics program)), Chennai, VIT University Vellore, NIT Tiruchi, Christian Medical College & Hospital Vellore, Bharathidasan Institute of Management Trichy, Madras Medical College, Loyola College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and Annamalai University. The Indian Institute of Management is scheduled to open in Trichy by 2009-2010.[62] Tamil Nadu produces the highest number of engineering graduates in India (around 1,30,000) every year which attracts many software companies to set up their shop in south India. The Guindy College of Engineering(now a constituent college of Anna University) was started in May 1794 as a School of Survey and established as a college in 1859 under the Madras University, and is one of the oldest technical institutes in the world. It is the oldest technical institute in India. This institution of standing has the unique distinction of having introduced B.E. Degree Courses in Mechanical Engineering in 1894, Electrical Engineering in 1930, Telecommunication and Highway Engineering in 1945 Printing Technology in 1983 and Geoinformatics in 1992. It was the first institution in South India to establish a Computer Centre - as early as 1963. The first scientific Geographical survey of India to draw the modern map of India was anchored from St.Thomas Mount near Guindy in 1794 by the School of Survey,Madras. This small hillock was the anchor for numerous official Indian maps until satellite mapping was established. St.Thomas Mount is also believed to be the place where apostle St.Thomas lived his last days and was killed by a Trishul. His remains were buried in Chinnamalai(Little Mount) near Saidapet. To this day, a church built by the Portuguese is on top of St.Thomas Mount.

College of Engineering, Anna University, the oldest engineering school of south India

India has a human development index calculated as 0.619, while the corresponding figure for Tamil Nadu is 0.736, placing it among the top states in the country.[63][64] The life expectancy at birth for males is 65.2 years and for females it is 67.6 years.[65] However, it has a number of challenges, significantly, the poverty is high, especially in the rural areas. As of 2004-2005, the poverty line was set at Rs. 351.86/month for rural areas and Rs. 547.42/month for urban areas.[66] Poverty in the state dropped from 51.7% in 1983 to 21.1% in 2001[67] For the period 2004-2005, the Trend in Incidence of Poverty in the state was 22.5% compared with the national figure of 27.5%.[68] The World Bank is currently assisting the state in reducing poverty[69] High drop-out and low completion of secondary schools continue to hinder the quality of training in the population. Other problems include class, gender, inter-district and urban-rural disparities. Based on URP Consumption for the period 2004 2005, percentage of the state's population Below Poverty Line was 27.5%.[66]

The Dravidian movement, which championed the causes of educating the people and eradicating superstitions, began in Tamil Nadu. In addition, it aims to uplift the socially repressed Dravidian people and drew considerable support from the middle classes for their efforts in this matter. The movement was committed to social justice which led to the expansion of reservations for the deprived communities. Tamil Nadu now has a 69% reservation in educational institutions, the highest among all Indian states.[70]


The Mid-day Meal Scheme program in Tamil Nadu, initiated by Kamaraj, was expanded considerably during the rule of the AIADMK in 1983. It feeds over a fifth of the state's population.[citation needed] Despite this, the state is among the 12 states in India that have alarming level of hunger according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index


Textile, Automobile and Heavy Industries

A large number of textile mills and engineering industries are present around the city of Coimbatore. It is home to numerous textile, automotive spare sparts and motor pump manufacturing units. Cities of Tirupur and Erode are the country's largest exporters of knit wears.[107] They are well known for textile manufacturing industries and exports to such extent that the districts of Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode are referred to as 'Textile Valley of India'.[108]

Hyundai's manufacturing plant at Irungattukottai near Sriperumbudur.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited at Trichy


Tamil Nadu is one of the highly industrialised states in India. Over 11.2% of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Tamil Nadu. Many heavy engineering and manufacturing companies are located in and around the suburbs of Chennai (nicknamed, 'Detroit of Asia') and Coimbatore (nicknamed 'Manchester of South India'). Tamil Nadu has seen major investments in the automobile industry over many decades manufacturing cars, railway coaches, battle-tanks, tractors, motorcycles, automobile spare parts and accessories, tyres and heavy vehicles. Major global automobile companies including BMW, Ford, Renault-Nissan, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Mitsubishi Motors and Michelin as well as local automobile majors like Ashok Leyland, Hindustan Motors, TVS Motors, Royal Enfield, MRF, Apollo Tyres and TAFE Tractors have manufacturing operations in Tamil Nadu. The region around Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode is referred to as the "Textile Valley of India" with the export turnover from the Tirupur in 2004 at Rs. 50,000 million ($1,000 million). 56% of India's total knitwear exports come from Tirupur. Karur generates around (35,500 million) $750 million a year in foreign exchange. Arani and Kanchipuram are famous for their handloom and silk weaving industries.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, one of India's largest electrical equipment manufacturing company, has manufacturing plants at Tiruchirapalli and Ranipet. India's leading steel producer, SAIL has a steel plant in Salem.[109] Sterlite Industries has their copper smelter plant in Tuticorin and aluminium plant in Mettur. The state government owns the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd. (TNPL),[110] the world's biggest bagasse based Paper mills in Karur, as well as the world's sixth largest manufacturer of watches together with TATA at Hosur, under the brand name of "Titan".

Electronics and Software Industry

Infosys' campus at Mahindra World City near Chennai

Electronics manufacturing is a growing industry in Tamil Nadu, with many major global telecommunications giants like Companies like Nokia, Flextronics, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, Foxconn, Samsung, Cisco, Moser Baer and Dell having chosen Chennai as their South Asian manufacturing hub. Products manufactured include circuit boards and cellular phone handsets

Tamil Nadu is the second largest software exporter by value in India, second only to Karnataka. Software exports from Tamil Nadu grew from Rs. 76 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2003-04 to Rs.207 billion {$5 billion} by 2006-07 according to NASSCOM[113] and to Rs. 366 billion in 2008-09 which shows 29% growth in software exports according to STPI.[114] Major national and global IT Companies such as Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Accenture, Ramco Systems, Computer Sciences Corporation, Cognizant Technology solutions, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Tech Mahindra, Polaris, Aricent, MphasiS, Symantec and many others have offices in Chennai.

Food and Beverage Industry


Expansion of Foods and Beverage based corporations within Tamil Nadu has been noteworthy. Principal amongst the established entities now in Tamil Nadu are Chez Leeloo, Pizza Hut, Sub way and Kentucky Fried Chicken. New entrants seem to be appearing all around the state creating mass employment opportunities.

Geography : 1305′N 8016′E / 13.09N 80.27E


Tourism in Tamil Nadu

Hogenakal Waterfall on Kaveri river, Dharmapuri district

Tamil Nadu's tourism industry is the second largest in India, with an annual growth rate of 16%.[148] Tourism in Tamil Nadu is promoted by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), a Government of Tamil Nadu undertaking. The tagline adopted for promoting tourism in Tamil Nadu is Enchanting Tamil Nadu. Approximately 1,753,000 foreign and 50,647,000 domestic tourists visited the state in 2007.[149]

Tamil Nadu is a land of varied beauty. It boasts some of the grandest Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture. These temples are of a distinct style renowned for their towering Gopurams. The Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur, built by the Cholas, the Airavateswara temple in Darasuram and the Shore Temple, along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram also called as Mamallaburam have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[150][151]

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

. The largest Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu is Nellaiappar Temple situated in the heart of Tirunelveli city. Madurai is home to one of the grandest Hindu temples in the World Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. Rameshwaram, Kanchipuram and Palani are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Other popular temples in Tamil Nadu include those in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, melakadambur Chidambaram, Thiruvannaamalai, Tiruttani, Swamithoppe, Tiruchendur and Tiruvallur.

Botanical Gardens, Ooty

Tamil Nadu is also home to many beautiful hill stations. Popular among them are 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. Mukurthi National Park & Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are the two tiger reserves in the state. 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, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Arignar Anna Zoological Park. The mangrove forests at Pichavaram are also eco-tourism spots of importance.

Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of peninsular India, is famous for its distinct and beautiful sunrise, Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar's statue built off the coastline. Marina Beach in Chennai is one of the longest beaches in the world.[152] The stretch of beaches from Chennai to Mahabalipuram are home to many resorts, theme parks and eateries. The prominent waterfalls in the state are Courtallam, Hogenakal, Papanasam, Manimuthar, Thirparappu, Pykara and Silver Cascade. The Chettinad region of the state is renowned for its Palatial houses and cuisine. With all quality medical care in Chennai, Vellore, Coimbatore and Madurai, Tamil Nadu has the largest numbers in Medical tourism in India.



A sculpture at Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, built by Tamil Chola Kings. The group of monuments are UNESCO World Heritage sites

Tamil Nadu's history dates back to pre-historic times. Archaeological evidence points to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in India. In Adichanallur, 24 km (15 mi) from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, skeletons and bones, plus husks and grains of rice, charred rice and Neolithic celts, giving evidence confirming them to be of the Neolithic period, 3800 years ago.[10] The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script used at that site is "very rudimentary" Tamil BrahmiAdichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies] About 60% of the total epigraphical inscriptions found by ASI in ndia are from Tamil Nadu and most of which are in Tamil language[13]

Recently there have been more discoveries of the evidence of prehistoric creatures inhabiting the landscape of what is now modern Tamil Nadu in the shape of eggs of dinosaurs and other animals of their kind. Geologists in Tamil Nadu have stumbled upon a Jurassic treasure trove buried in the sands of a river bed. Sheer luck led them to hundreds of fossilized dinosaur eggs, perhaps 65 million years old, underneath a stream in a tiny village in Ariyalur district.[14] Researchers from the Salem-based Periyar University found clusters of eggs of what they believe to be the most aggressive Carnosaur and the docile, leaf-eating Sauropod at Sendurai village. While Carnosaurs were large predatory dinasaurs, Sauropods were long-necked, herbivores which grew to enormous heights and sizes

Medieval Period(6001300)

Main article: History of Tamil Nadu

The medieval period of the history of the Tamil country saw the rise and fall of many kingdoms, some of whom went on to the extent of empires, exerting influences both in India and overseas. The Cholas who were very active during the Sangam age were entirely absent during the first few centuries.[16] The period started with the rivalry between the Pandyas and the Pallavas, which in turn caused the revival of the Cholas. The Cholas went on to becoming a great power. Their decline saw the brief resurgence of the Pandyas. This period was also that of the re-invigorated Hinduism during which temple building and religious literature were at their best.[ The Cheras ruled in southern India from before the Sangam era (300 BC AD 250) over the Coimbatore, Karur, Salem Districts in present day Tamil Nadu and present day Kerala from the capital of Vanchi Muthur in the west, (thought to be modern Karur). They traded extensively from nearby Muziris, in spices, ivory, timber, pearls and gems, with the ancient kingdoms of Egypt, Rome, Greece, Phoenicia, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia.[18] The Kalabhras, invaded and displaced the three Tamil kingdoms and ruled between the third and the seventh centuries AD of the Sangam period. This is referred to as the Dark Age in Tamil history. They were expelled by the Pallavas and the Pandyas in sixth century.


There is considerable evidence to show that under the Kalabhras' rule Jainism flourished in the land of the Tamils. The great didactic work Naaladiyar (நாலடியார்) was composed during their reign. It consists of moral sayings in the quatrain (வெண்பா)meter, 400 in number in 40 chapters, each by one Jain ascetic, according to tradition. Following in the tradition of Jainism, Naaladiyar emphasizes virtues such as control of the senses, asceticism, renunciation, and other desirable social qualities. Because the Kalabhras gave protection to Jains and perhaps Buddhists, too, some have concluded that they were anti-Hindu, although this latter view is not undisputed.

Shore Temple built by the Pallavas at Mamallapuram (c. eighth century C.E.) UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the seventh century AD, Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallavas under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I.[19] The Pallavas were originally executive officers under the Satavahana Empire [20] After the fall of the Satavahanas, around 550 AD under King Simhavishnu they emerged into prominence. They subjugated the Cholas and reigned as far south as the Kaveri River. Pallavas ruled a large portion of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during the Pallava rule.[21] Narasimhavarman II built the Shore Temple which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Pallavas were replaced by the Pandyas in the 8th century C.E.. Their capital Madurai was in the deep south away from the coast. They had extensive trade links with the Southeast Asian maritime empires of Srivijaya and their successors, as well as contacts, even formal diplomatic contacts, reaching as far as the Roman Empire. During the 13th century C.E. Marco Polo mentioned the Pandyas as the richest empire in existence.[22] Temples such as the Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai and Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli are the best examples of Pandyan temple architecture.[23][24] The Pandyas excelled in both trade and literature. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the South Indian coast, between Sri Lanka and India, which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world.

Chola Empire

Chola Empire under Rajendra Chola c. 1030 C.E.

Main article: Chola dynasty

By the 9th century, during the times of the second Chola monarch Aditya I, his son Parantaka I, Parantaka Chola II itself the Chola empire had expanded into what is now interior Andhra Pradesh and coastal Karnataka, while under the great Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose as a notable power in south Asia. The Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal. At its peak, the empire spanned almost 3,600,000 km (1,389,968 sq mi). Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular South India and parts of the Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navies went even further, occupying coasts from Burma (now Myanmar) to Vietnam,[25] the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of the Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

The Cholas excelled in building magnificent temples. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur is a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola kingdom. Brihadshwara temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site under "Great Living Chola Temples."[26] Another example is Annamalaiyar Temple located at the city of Tiruvannamalai and the Chidambaram Temple in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram.

Raja Raja Chola and Rajendra Chola period is said to be the golden period of Tamil Nadu, and under them the Chola empire rose to be the toughest and most powerful empire in all of South-India. With the decline of the Cholas towards the end of the 11th century, the Pandyas rose to prominence once again, under Maravarman Sundara Pandya.

Thirumalai Nayak Mahal at Madurai.

This revival was short-lived as the Pandya capital of Madurai itself was sacked by Alauddin Khilji troops under General Malik Kafur in 1316. The Muslim invasion led to the establishment of the Madurai Sultanate.[27]

Vijayanagar and Nayak period (13001650)

Main article: Vijayanagara Empire

These Muslim invasions triggered the establishment of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire in the Deccan. It eventually conquered the entire Tamil country (c. 1370 AD). This empire lasted for almost two centuries till the defeat of Vijayanagara in the Battle of Talikota in 1565. Subsequent to this defeat, many incompetent kings succeeded to the throne of Vijayanagara with the result that its grip loosened over its feudatories among whom the Nayakas of Madurai and Tanjore were among the first to declare their independence, despite initially maintaining loose links with the Vijayanagara kingdom.".[28] As the Vijayanagara Empire went into decline after mid-16th century, the Nayak [disambiguation needed] governors, who were appointed by the Vijayanagar kingdom to administer various territories of the empire, declared their independence. The Nayaks of Madurai and Nayaks of Thanjavur were most prominent of them all in the 17th century. They reconstructed some of the oldest temples in the country such as the Meenakshi Temple.

Tamil Nadu under European rule (17501947)

Main article: Madras Presidency

Fort Dansborg at Tharangambadi built by the Danish

Various regions of Tamil Nadu, except Pudukottai, had been under the control of the Dutch, French, British and the Danish from the 16th century. However, the British controlled the major part of the region, with other European colonies restricted only to a few pockets. Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat, while the Danish had their establishment in Tranquebar (Tharangambadi). In 1639, the British, under the British East India Company, established a settlement further south of Pulicat, in present day Chennai.

The British exploited rivalries between the provincial rulers to expand their sphere of influence throughout the Nizam's dominions. The British fought and reduced the French dominions in India to Puducherry. Nizams bestowed tax revenue collection rights on the East India Company by the end of 18th century. Some notable chieftains or Poligars who fought the British East India Company as it was expanding were Maveeran Sundaralinga Kudumbanar, Veerapandya Kattabomman, Puli Thevar and Dheeran Chinnamalai. In early 19th century, East India Company consolidated most of southern India into the Madras Presidency coterminous with the dominions of Nizam of Hyderabad. Pudukkottai remained as a princely state under British sovereignty.

Tamil Nadu in Independent India

When India became independent in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State, comprising present day Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh up to Ganjam district in Orissa, northern Karnataka, and parts of Kerala. The state was subsequently split up along linguistic lines. In 1968, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, meaning Country of Tamil.


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. During this final day, Kaanum Pongal the word "kaanum", means 'to view' in Tamil.

The first month in the Tamil calendar is Chitterai and the first day of this month in mid-April is celebrated as Tamil New Year. Thiruvalluvar Calendar is 31 years ahead of Gregorian Calendar, that is 2000 AD in Gregorian calendar is represented as 2031 in Thiruvalluvar Calendar. Aadi Perukku is celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month Aadi, which celebrates the rising of the water level in the river Cauvery. Apart from these 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.