Tamil Nadu

Map showing Tamil Nadu, coloured red

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.

Chennai, the largest city and capital
Coimbatore, the second largest city and an industrial hub
Tamil Nadu has large temples such as Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple
Thanjavur temple is a UNESCO world heritage site
Udagamandalam or Ooty is known as the "Queen of hill stations"
Chennai International Airport is one of the major aviation hubs in South Asia
Coimbatore Junction is one of the major rail heads in India
Pongal, a major Tamil festival
Jalikkattu, a traditional Tamil bull taming sport organized during Pongal
Dosa, one of the favorite dishes in Tamil Nadu



Here are nine of the most notable cities.

Other destinations

National Parks


The Tamil people are proud of their long history, with their language being one of the oldest living languages in the world. The area has been home to many great kingdoms, most notably the Chola Empire, which is widely regarded as one of the most powerful kingdoms in Indian history. To this day, Tamil Nadu maintains a fiercely independent identity from the rest of India. Although the Tamils no longer harbour any separatist intentions these days, visitors will notice how protective they are of their language and culture, and how they are keen to promote their cultural distinction from the rest of India.


Tamils are warm and friendly people

Tamils are fiercely proud of the Tamil language, one of the few living classical languages, which is over three thousand years old. It is unrelated to the North Indian languages, and instead belongs to the Dravidian language family that includes the other major South Indian languages - Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. 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, and there is still some residual hostility towards Hindi. Even if you are in Chennai, do not try to speak to locals in Hindi, as many will find it offensive. On the other hand, English is spoken fluently by most of the well-educated upper class, while most urban locals know enough for basic communication, so English-speaking visitors should be able to get by in urban areas.

Get in

By plane

Chennai International Airport in Chennai is one of the major airports in the country. It has connections with most Asian cities, major European cities including Frankfurt, Brussels, London, Paris and United States. Coimbatore International Airport is the second major airport in the state with a major domestic network and international connections to Sharjah, Colombo and Singapore. There are also flights from Tiruchirapalli to Sri Lanka and Singapore. Other domestic airports in Tamil Nadu include Madurai, Salem and Tuticorin.

By rail

Tamil Nadu is served by Southern Railway and is well connected to all major railway stations across the country. The major junctions are located at Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and tirunelveli.

By road

Chennai is one of the vertices of the Golden Quadrilateral project, a network of highways that connect the major cities of India. All other major cities are also well connected by national and state highways. Public transport system is well developed state owned transport corporation operating buses to and from various destinations within South India. Several private players also operate air conditioned buses between most important destinations. Most intercity buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance. Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses are in the intra city routes in major cities which are cheap.

Get around


Religious festivals

Other festivals


Tamil Nadu provides the visitor with 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 crisp pancake made from a batter of rice and lentils, vada is a deep fried doughnut made from a batter of lentils, pongal is a mixture of rice and lentils cooked together and seasoned with 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, and yogurt along with a number of spicy side dishes. This is called meals. A decent meals costs often less than two dollars.

Some of the famous dishes include:



Tamil Nadu has a wide range of accommodation to provide to its visitors, be it the class-conscious tourist or the budget-backpacker. The house owners require the services of helpers to attend to the needs of the tourists. Apart from this the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) has 36 Hotels in Tamil Nadu that are hygienic and suits the budget to middle category travelers.


Decent budget categories abound from ₹300 ($7) to ₹700 ($20). The former will get you a non-AC room with clean bed, TV and a private bathroom in most parts of Tamil Nadu. The latter will fetch you a air conditioned single room with basic amenities like TV, Bed, room service and attached bathroom. If traveling as a couple expect to pay around ₹500($10) to ₹1100 ($23). 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 in person. Bring a good lock both for your luggage and the hotel door. If you are carrying laptops or cameras, keep them under lock and key when not carrying them on your person.


Medium category hotels can be had from ₹1500 ($27) to ₹4000 ($80). These 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 from 6AM10AM and 6PM10PM and a good concierge (who will serve you well provided you tip him the moment you see him rather than the last moment). Follow this advice when it comes to tipping. If you have reserved or kept in mind a certain amount for tipping, tip 20% of the amount at the beginning itself and the rest of the amount should be watered down subsequently on each tip with the final 20% as the last tip. Do not pay a flat rate tip all the time. This category of hotels is safer, 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 a Pub and a Discotheque around which the nightlife of the city is centered, though these kind of hotels are limited to the major cities which will serve you as a stop-gap in between visiting places of tourist interest. Expect a buffet breakfast to be thrown in as a compliment. Individual cottages at beach resorts can be had within this budget.


You will have to splurge on 5 star and 5 star deluxe hotels. They will cost you anywhere from ₹5000 ($110) to ₹20000 ($450). They are usually run by international chains and so needs not much description as checking into them here is akin to checking into them in San Francisco or Amsterdam.These hotels are mostly limited to in and around the city of Chennai and a few in Coimbatore.

Stay safe

Generally, Tamil Nadu is one among the safest provinces 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 anything offered by other passengers. Also, when traveling with someone from the opposite gender, it would be advisable to avoid too much of physical intimacy, as it may invite unwanted attention and comments. It is also best if you do not talk about the Sri Lankan Civil War between the mainly Sinhalese government and Tamil fighters.



Unlike Indians from most other states, most Tamils do not have family names, and instead use a patronymic system. Most Tamil names are presented in the form father's initial + given name, or given name + father's name. This means that Ramasamy, son of Govindasamy may have his name written as G. Ramasamy, or Ramasamy Govindasamy. Due to the patronymic nature of last names, they are never used in addressing an individual, and people would generally expect to be addressed by their first name. In the example mentioned, Ramasamy Govindasamy would be addressed as Mr. Ramasamy, and not Mr Govindasamy, regardless of how important he may be.

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