Friday, January 29, 2010
Tamil Nadu 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 Puducherry (Pondicherry), 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. It is the fifth largest contributor to India's GDP and the most urbanised state in India. The state has the highest number (10.56%) of business enterprises in India, 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. 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
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.
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) 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.
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.
Tamil Nadu's tourism industry is the second largest in India, with an annual growth rate of 16%. 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.
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. The Rajagopuram of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam — the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world — is the tallest temple gopuram in the world 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, Chidambaram, Thiruvannaamalai, Tiruttani, Swamithoppe, Tiruchendur and Tiruvallur.
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. 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. In recent years, Tamil Nadu is also witnessing a growth in Medical tourism, as are many other states in India.