Tamil Nadu is a state in the south-eastern part of the Indian Peninsula.One of the four Dravidian states of India, it has had more than 2,000 years of continuous cultural history.Tamil Nadu has some of the most remarkable temple architecture in the country, and a living tradition of music, dance and fine arts.Tamil Nadu is well renowned for its temple towns and heritage sites, hill stations, waterfalls, national parks, local cuisine and the fabulous wildlife and scenic beauty.The state boasts the second largest tourism industry in India with an annual growth rate of 16%.
Economy and Tourism
Logo of the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation Tamil Nadu with a GDP of $98 million is the fourth largest economy of the country and Tourism is one of the main sources of its revenue.Tourism in the state is promoted by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation headquartered in the capital city of Chennai.Tamil Nadu is a year round tourist destination and the industry is the largest in the country only second to the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh.Approximately 28,04,687 foreign and 11,16,37,104 domestic tourists visited the state in 2010. Along with Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu draws the maximum number of tourists in India.
Major Cities of Tamil Nadu
Chennai formerly known as Madras, is the capital city of the state, and India's fourth largest metropolis.The city is known for its beaches, Anglo-Indian architecture, cultural festivals and is India's largest shopping destination.Chennai is seen as the gateway to Southern India and is well connected to all parts of India by road,rail and air.
The city is currently India's 4th largest and one of the world's fifty most largest ones.This city houses Asia's largest hospitals which has recently spurred a new wave of medical tourism.
The second largest city in the state and fourth largest city in south India, often referred to as the Manchester of South India due to its growing commercial importance, Coimbatore situated in Western end of Tamil Nadu and is well connected by road, rail and air with major towns and cities in India.
Situated along the banks of the Kaveri river and once an important historic centre, Trichy today is a fast-growing urban centre in the state and houses a no. of popular cultural sites nearby.It has a major railway junction and an international airport.With the best infrastructural facilities in the region, Tiruchirappalli is a good base to see east and central Tamil Nadu.
One of India's greatest temple towns and the oldest city in Tamil Nadu, Madurai continues to be a cultural hot spot in the state and is a major tourist destination for overseas visitors.The city is 450 km from Chennai and has a major railway junction and an airport 12 km from the city.
Tirunelveli is an ancient city and is home to many temples and shrines, including the largest Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu, the Nellaiappar Temple. Tirunelveli had been under the prominence of the Pandya kings, serving as their secondary capital while Madurai remained its primary capital. It is located on the western side of the perennial Thamirabarani river, whereas its twin municipal city Palayamkottai, is located on the eastern side. It has a major railway junstion and is situated 700 kilometres southwest of the state capital Chennai.
Tuticorin is a commercial city on the sea shore which serves the inland cities of Southern India and is one of the sea gateways of Tamil Nadu.There are stretches of sunny and sandy beaches that are restful and calm. There are several towns that have historical and religious significance that are around Thoothukudi.It has a railway terminus and a domestic airport with regular flights to Chennai.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram, an 11th-century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram, a 7th Century Pallavan monument The state houses a no. of heritage sites mainly composed of the ancient temples and deities of the Pallava and Chola empire scattered along various parts of Northern and Central-Eastern parts of Tamil Nadu.The following are the list of the Heritage sites in the state.
The Chola Temples
The Great Living Chola Temples constructed by the king Raja Raja Chola I and his son Rajendra are sites of glorious heritage and architectural achievements.The Cultural heritage site includes the three great temples of 11th and 12th century namely, the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram.he temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.The site was inscribed under UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004 as Cultural heritage under criteria (ii) and (iii).
Thanjavur - The home to the Chola Kingdom and the location of the Brihadisvara Temple built in the 11th Century.The temple made with 130,000 tons of granite is the tallest in South India and has been built in such a way that the shadows of the gopuram and its pillars do not fall on the ground any time during the day.
Gangaikonda Cholapuram - The capital of the Chola kingdom for 250 years.The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, located here and built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. Its 53 metres (174 ft) vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur.
Darasuram - A small town close to Kumbakonam, the town has the prestigious Airavatesvara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva along with the Brihadeeswara Temple and the temple of the Gangaikonda Cholapuram are three of the most venerated and architectural legacies of the Chola empire.
Group of Monuments in Mahabalipuram
The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram declared as a WHS in 198, in Tamil Nadu, about 58 km from Chennai, were built by the Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries. The town is said to have gained prominence under the rule of Mamalla. These monuments have been carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast.The following are the sites related.These monuments surprisingly survived the 2004 Tsunami that devastated the other coastal towns nearby.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Part of the Mountain Railways of India, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway(NMR) was stated to be an "outstanding examples of bold, ingenious engineering solutions for the problem of establishing an effective rail link through a rugged, mountainous terrain."The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was added to the list in 2005 preceding the Kalka-Shimla Railway which was granted the status in 2008.
The Route is a scenic beauty throughout passing through the various terrains and thickly forested areas of the Nilgiri Mountains.The route consists of the following stations:
- Kateri Road
Temples and Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu
Arunachaleshwara Temple]], housing the deity of the fire incarnate of Lord Shiva at Tiruvanamalai The Meenakshi Amman Temple, the heart and lifeline of the city of Madurai Six holy abodes]] The 16th Century Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at the coastal town of Velankanni
Tamil Nadu has the credit of having 34000 Hindu temples which are several centuries Old.The cities in ancient Tamil Nadu is believed to have revolved around the magnificent temples built by the Pallava,Chola and Pandya empires and therefore most of the cities in the state have a lot of religious significance and contain a no. of temples and shrines in and around their limits.Temple towns like Madurai and Kanchipuram are thronged by visitors throughout the year.
Chidambaram is the seat of the cosmic dancer Lord Nataraja (Ananda Tandava pose ; the Cosmic Dance of bliss). It is one of the Pancha Bhutasthalas.The Chidambaram Temple dedicated to Lord Natraja built in the 9th century has an unusual hut-like sanctum with a gold-plated roof and four towering gopuras.Many Chola kings were crowned here in the presence of the deity. Nearby a sculptural temple is Melakadambur, with its distinct architecture that makes it resemble a chariot.
Srirangam another example of classic temple town, houses the Ranganathaswamy Temple a major pilgrimage destination for the Vaishnava community.It is the biggest functioning Hindu temple in the world (156 Acres) and the temple tower measuring 60 m (196 ft)is the tallest Hindu temple tower in the world.
East of the Rangnathasamy temple is the 17th century temple town of Jambukeshvar Temple, in the town of Tiruvanaikka an important destination for worshipers of Lord Shiva.
Tiruchirapalli, no temple town by itself is a feeder point to several other temple towns and major shrines in Central Tamil Nadu.the 'Ucchi Pillayar' shrine located at the top of the prominent ruins of the Rock Fort is one such temple.Tiruchirapalli is also very close to the Parvati temple in Samayanallur and the temple towns of Srirangam and Tiruvanaikka.
One of the most visited destinations in the state, Kanchipuram was the capital of the ancient Pallava Kingdom and is considered one of the seven holiest cities to the Hindus of India.Over 100s of ancient temples are located in this town, though most of them are in ruins, there are a few prominent ones which attract a large no. of devotees every year.
The Kailashnathar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the oldest temple of Kanchi. It reflects the grandeur and the splendor of the early Dravidian style of temple architecture built by the Pallava king Rayasimha.This temple was constructed in the late seventh century AD and the eighth century remains of murals within the temple are an indication of the magnificence of the original temple that was supposed to exist much before than the temple today.The Ekambareswarar Temple built by the Pallavas and extended by the Cholas is another popular temple in the town sprawling over a large area of 12 hectares.
The Kamakshi Amman Temple dedicated to Goddess Parvati is the main pilgrimage center in the town and one of the three temples of worship of Goddess Parvati in Tamil Nadu.
The Varadharaja Perumal Temple, the Devarajswmi Temple and the Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple are the other major temples in the environs.
The Southernmost tip of the subcontinent, Kanniyakumari is known for the Kumari Amman Temple and the Thanumalayan Temple.Other religious sites include the Mondaicaud Bhagavathi Temple, the St.Xavier's Church, Sri Adikesavaperumal Temple and the St. Arockiya Nathar Church within the district.
Madurai being one of the world's oldest inhabited cities is the home to several temples built by the Pandyan and Nayak kings with the most famous being the Meenakshi Amman Temple which dates back to 2000 years.The city and the life of its inhabitants revolve around the temple which is one of the largest Hindu temples by size and enclosure.Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit this temple and the surroundings.
The Mariamman Theppakulam built in 1636 is a huge tank at the eastern end of the city and is almost equal in area to that of the Meenakshi Amman temple.To its side is a temple dedicated to Parvati, and every year a local festival celebrating Goddess Meenakshi's wedding is held in the month of January/February.
Madurai is also situated close to the Thirupparamkunram Murugan Temple and Pazhamudircholai, two of the Six Abodes of Lord Subramanya.
Madurai is also famous for its two mosques one being the Kazimar Big Mosque believed to be constructed by a descendant of Prophet Muhammed and claimed to be the oldest Islam monument in South India.The other is the Goripalayam Mosque which is believed to house the tombs of two of the Delhi Sultans.
Kumbakonam, 40 km from Thanjavur, has about 188 temples within its municipal limits.Apart from these a thousand more are estimated to be nearby.The Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is the biggest Saivite temples in the region and has a huge complex covering an area of 30,181 sq ft having three gopurams in the Northern,Eastern and Western entrances of the temple.
After the Adi Kumbeshwara Temple, the second most important landmark s the Ramaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Rama from the epic of Ramayana and has a no. of intricate crvings within its pillars depicting the various scenes of the epic.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple here is another example of ancient Dravidian architecture in the region.The tank of the temple contains the waters of the 9 holy rivers in Hindu mythology namely Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Saraswati, Kaveri, Godavari, Tungabhadra, Krishna and Sarayu and a no. of pilgrims visit this temple on the Mahamaham festival once in 12 years to bathe in the waters of the tank which they believe would purify them from their sins.
The Sarangapani Temple is one of the five most important Vaishanavaite pilgrimage centers in South India and had the tallest Gopuram in the region before the Temple town of Srirangam was built.To the south of the temple is the Someswar Temple another flagship of Dravidian architecture.
Situated at the tip of the Pamban Island and 50 km from the coast of Sri Lanka, is considered to be as sacred as Varanasi and is a bustling pilgrimage center.Named after Lord Rama who according to the Legend embarked his journey to Sri Lanka from this town, Rameshwaram is a place of wide religious significance.The city is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham shrines that has to be visited in one's lifetime and this island Temple is connected by the scenic Pamban Bridge over the sea for 2.3 km.
The Ramanathaswamy Temple, the most important of them all is believed to be constructed at the spot where Lord Rama had offered his prayers to ShivaThe construction of the temple as it stands today, was started in the 12th century and ended in 19th century.The most interesting feature in the temple is the 1,220m long corridor (the longest in India) with the beautiful carvings on the pillars, walls and ceiling.
The Kothandaramaswamy Temple situated on the shore of Dhanushkodi is supposed to be the place where Vibishena the borther of Raavana, had met Rama's army and joined hands.The temple miracously survived the 1964 Cyclone that destroyed most of the region and receives a good amount of visitors.
The village of Devipatinam 20 km from Ramnathapuram has a temple dedicated to Lord Jagannatha and about hundred yards in the sea are naturally existing nine blocks of stone, supposed to be the Navagrahas, the nine planets.
The Erwadi Dargah an 800 year old mosque and the tomb of Ibrahim Syed Aulia a Muslim saint, attracts devotees from all over India,Sri Lanka and Malaysia during the annual festival in December.
Another of the Six Abodes, the Thiruchendur Murugan Temple located here attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees.The temple is situated so close to the sea that waves from the Gulf of Mannar lap at the eastern perimeter wall of the temple. The temple however had no damage done by the 2004 tsunami.
The other temples in the town and its neighborhood are:
- Sri Ponvandu Aiyanar temple, at the hamlet called Nainarpattu.
- Sri Karkuvel Aiyanar temple, at the hamlet called Theri Kudiirruppu near Kayamozhi.
- A temple to Arunchunai Kattha Aiyanar Swami is located at a nearby natural spring called "Sunai".
- Nallur Thirunageshwaramudayar with the Aramvalartha Nayagi Sivan temple. An old temple, the Santhana Mariyamman temple, is also nearby. This Ambal is a fertility shrine.
- A thousand-year-old Sri Somanatha temple is situated at Authoor, 18 km from Thiruchendur.
- Kulasekaranpatinam, a village 13 km away, is known for its Dasara festival. The village has the only temple where Muthu Aara Amman / Muthu Maalai Amman (Aaram & Maalai means garland in Tamil language) is shown with his consort.
- Located about 10 km from Thiruchendur, the village of Melaputhukudi is considered a holy place because of its ancestral Aiyanar temple, which includes a thalamboo grove, which is popular as a picnic spot.
The largest pilgrimage center in Tamil Nadu and the second largest in South India after Tirupati, Palani is the most famous of the Six Abodes of Murugan.During the Thai Poosam festival, the temple attracts over 7 million devotees, many of whom do a lot of penances and acts such as shaving their heads, walking barefoot all the way from their homes etc. to show their devotion.A cable-car service ferries devotees to the top of the hill.Palani is also a base for hikes in the surrounding hills.A railway station links the town to Coimbatore and Madurai.
In Arunachaleshwara Temple of Thiruvannamalai, Siva is worshipped in the form of fire.The temple town of Thiruvannamalai is one of the most ancient heritage sites of India and is a centre of the Saiva religion. The Arunachala hill and its environs have been held in great regard by the Tamils for centuries. The temple is grand in conception and architecture and is rich in tradition, history and festivals. The main Deepam festival attracts devotees from far and wide throughout South India.A no. of spiritual centers are also located in the region:
- Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram:It was created by the Mahan Sri Seshadri Swamigal lived in the late 20th Century.. People from all over the world visit this Ashram, which is situated near the Sri Ramana Ashram.
- Sri Ramana Ashram: Mahan Sri Ramana Maharshi lived in Thiruvannamalai town. Sri Ramana Ashram is one the holy places in this town. People from throughout the globe visit this Ashram. He attained mukthi in the year 1950.
- Yogi Ram Surathkumar Ashram: Yogi Ram Surathkumar Ashram, also known as Visiri Samiyar Ashram, is one of the beautiful place in the town. It is situated near the Ramana Ashram.He attained mukthi/salvation in the year of 2000.
Nagore and Velankanni
Nagore, a town north of Nagapattinam, is the home to the tomb of Meeran Sahib Abdul Qadir Shahul Hamid Badshah also known as the Nagore Durgah a spirtual place for all faiths.The Durgah as it stands now was built by devotees whose wishes were fulfilled by praying Shahul. It is believed that 60 percent of the shrines were built by Hindus and there are other shrines built in his honour in Penang(Malaysia) and Singapore.The urs festival celebrated every year draws Hindus and Muslims from all over the world.
Velankanni is located 12 km south of Nagapattinam on the Eastern coast.The town is home to a significant Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to Our lady of Good Health.Virgin Mary is believed to have miraculous healing powers.In 1560, Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a shepherd, asking him for milk to quench the thirst of baby Jesus. When the shepherd returned to his master, after performing the good deed, his pitcher kept filling up with milk. Consequently, a small thatched chapel was built at the site. At the end of the 16th century, Virgin Mary appeared again in front of a lame boy, who regained the use of his limbs. The actual church was constructed after the incident.Thousands of pilgrims belonging to various castes and communities flock daily to this 'Lourdes of the East'.
The Adi Parasakthi Temple situated in Melmaruvathur, is a large temple dedicated to Goddess Adi Parasakthi believed to have miraculous healing and bestowing powers.People of all religions including Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists are allowed to enter the sanctum & offer prayers in the pattern they are accustomed to.
A view of Ooty, from the Dodabetta Peak its highest point The hill resort of Kodaikanal with the lake in the picture Tamil Nadu situated in the southern end of the Western and Eastern ghats is the home to several hill stations.Popular among them are Udagamandalam(Ooty), Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Coonoor, Valparai, Yelagiri, Sirumalai, Kalrayan Hillsand the Kolli Hills.The Nilgiri hills, Palani hills, Shevaroy hills and Cardamom hills are all abodes of thick forests and wildlife.
Popularly known as Ootysituated in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the most popular Hill station in South India.It provides a scenic view of Nilgiri Hills.The town is connected to the rest of India by road and the popular Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and its historic sites and natural beauty attract tourists from all over the country.The list of attractions include :
- Government Rose Garden - The largest Rose garden in India.
- Ooty Lake
- St. Stephen's Church
- Ooty Golf Course
- Tribal Museum
- Doddabetta Peak
- Wenlock Downs
- Emerald and Avalanche Lakes
Located in the forests of the Dindigul distrcis, the hill station of Kodaikanal is fast gaining reputation for its unspoilt beauty and soothing climate.It is known by the nickname "Princess of Hill stations" and is a leading tourist destination in Tamil Nadu.The most popular sights within the town are:
- The Kodaikanal Lake - Kodaikanal's most popular geographic landmark and tourist attraction. Rowboats and pedalos can be hired at the Kodaikanal Boat Club.Very popular with tourists.
- Bryant Park: Just east of the lake is the Bryant Park.Over 325 species of trees, shrubs and cacti and flowers.
- Coaker's Walk - A paved pedestrian path offering stunning views of the mountains and the plains below.
- Green Valley View - Offers spectacular views of the plains and the Vaigai River Dam at the South.
- Shembaganur Museum of Natural History - A nature muesum with over 500 species of local wildlife and 300 exotic orchid species.
- Silver Cascade - A waterfall in the region popular with first-time visitors.
- Berijam Lake - A calm serene lake surrounded by mesmerizing nature.
The Yercaud hills situated at an altitude of 1515 m in the Salem District is an enchanting and picturesque hill stations in the Eastern Ghats.Known for its rich flora and scenic views of the other hills nearby Yercaud receives a good amount of tourists every year for its slightly less-expensive fare as compared to Udagamangalam or Kodaikanal.Yeracud is also a great base for trekking and visiting neighbouring tourist spots like:
- Killiyur Falls - a 27 m high waterfall.
- Lady's seat - a high peak offering fantastic views of the plains below.
- The Servaroyan Temple - The temple is a narrow and dark cave having the God Servarayan and the Goddess Kaveri inside, which are believed as the deities of the Shevaroy Hills and Cauvery River.
- Pagoda Point: Another vantage view point; once adorned with stone built pagodas, it is now home to a large temple.
- Heaven's Ledge: A Scenic west-facing cliff situated in Gowri Estate in Yercaud.It has been converted into a campsite to encourage sustainable tourism. It is 15 km away from the main town area.
Kolli Hills is a small mountain range located in central Tamil Nadu in India. The mountains are relatively untouched by commercial tourism and still retain their natural beauty.The government holds a tourism festival in August. Kolli Hills has been the top choice for nature lovers, hiking enthusiasts, trekking clubs and meditation practitioners among hill stations in Tamil Nadu.Kolli hills is less polluted and mostly unexplored compared to the other hill stations in the state and effective steps re being implemented to improve the area as to make it more tourist-friendly.
Part of the Nilgiri Mountain Range, Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the mountain range and is an ideal base for trekking expeditions leading into the Nilgiri Mountains.Coonor is en route the Mettupalayam-Ooty highway as well as the NMR and is an ideal break-point for tourists to Ooty.The Dolhin's Nose Viewpoint and the Lamb's Rock offer stunning views of the mountainside and.The attractions in the town and nearby include -
- Sim's Park - The main attraction within the town, a small well maintained botanical garden that has several varieties of plants.An annul fruit show is held in the town in summer.
- Droog Fort - At a distance of 13 km from Coonoor, the Droog takes one into the past, with the ruins of a fort, which was once used by Tipu Sultan in the 18th century.
- Law's Falls
- Catherine Falls
Courtallam Falls]], popularly referred to as the Spa of South Asia A view from the Dolphin's Nose of the Catherine Falls near Coonor
Courtallam, the 'Spa of the south', is situated at an elevation of about 167m on the Western Ghats in Tirunelveli District. It is an excellent health resort and is visited by young and old alike, because of the herbal medicinal properties the water is believed to contain. The town is noted for its salubrious climate and natural scenery.
Hogenakkal waterfalls located close to the border of the adjacent state of Karnataka is a beautiful picnic spot with its waters supposed to be having curative powers. Hogenakkal is set in thick, green woods and is considered both a sacred bathing place and a spa-like health resort. Here the water spreads for miles around. The area is surrounded by hills and offers lovely panoramic view. People can take bath in the Kaveri river, before and beyond the falls.
Catherine Falls is a double-cascaded waterfall located in Kotagiri(near Coonor), The Nilgiris District, Tamil Nadu and It is also a major tourist spot in Kotagiri.It is on the Mettupalayam road branching off at Aravenu. The upper fall drops to the floor, and is the second highest in the Nilgiri mountains. It can clearly been seen from the top of Dolphin's Nose if seeing the entire waterfall as one total impression is what you are looking for.
Kiliyur Falls is a waterfall in the Shervaroyan hill range in the Eastern Ghats and is a popular tourist attraction in Yercaud.The waters overflowing the Yercaud Lake fall 300 ft (91 m) into the Kiliyur Valley.
The Suruli Falls is a 2 stage cascading waterfall from the Meghamalai mountain range. The beauty of this falls finds mention in the ancient Tamil epic, Silappathikaram.Near Suruli Falls are 18 caves which represent Indian rock-cut architecture of the 18th Century.The Tamil Nadu Tourism Department celebrates summer festival at Suruli falls every year.
Tirparappu Waterfalls are located in Kanyakumari district. The Kodayar River makes its descent at Thiruparappu. The water fall at this place is about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi). from Pechiparai Dam. The river bed is rocky and about 300 feet (91 m) in length. The water falls from a height of nearly 50 feet (15 m) and the water flows for about seven months in a year. The whole bed above the falls is one rocky mass which extends 250 metres (820 ft) upstream where the Thirparappu weir has been constructed for supplying water to the paddy fields. On either side of the river, on the left bank of the river in between the waterfalls and the weir, there is a temple dedicated to Siva enclosed by strong fortification.
Marina Beach one of the world's largest and longest beaches, is located on the eastern side of Chennai, adjoining the Bay of Bengal. Watching the sun set and rise from the beach is an enthralling experience. With its natural sandy beauty and spacious promenade and beautiful gardens, the beach is a major attraction for tourists visiting Chennai.The Marina, however, is large enough to accommodate all visitors as well as the hawkers and is often the venue for important state functions.
This beach is located in Besant Nagar. Formerly a popular bathing beach, today, it is the favourite rendezvous of the younger generation. Good roads, pavements, illuminated sands, makes a visit to this beach a real pleasure.
Mamallapuram, 58 km south of Chennai, has a beautiful beach spanning a distance of over 20 km. Once the site of the erstwhile Pallava Kingdom's seaport, the place today abounds with stone carvings, caves, rock-cut temples also attract tourists. A crocodile farm, snake venom extracting centre, schools of art and sculpture and a wide choice of resorts along the beach draw holiday-seekers all round the year.
Once a legendary port city with trade links to ancient Greece and Rome, today Poompuhar is a small coastal town with a superb shoreline that attracts a number of tourists for its vistas during sunrise.
Located at the southern most tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies the Kanyakumari Beach, an important pilgrim center. Kanniyakumari is famous for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on full moon days. The beach itself is a beautiful sight with multi-colored sand.
Festivals of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is a land of many festivals. January marks the beginning of the festival season in the state. Pongal is the first festival and it is celebrated with much enthusiasm. It is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. Pongal is actually the name of a rice and lentil dish cooked in Tamil Nadu, and on this festive day Pongal is cooked. It is celebrated on January 14, each year. In fact, four festivals are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four consecutive days in that week. Bhogi is celebrated on January 13, Pongal on Jan 14, Maattu Pongal on Jan 15, and Kannum Pongal and Thiruvalluvar Day on Jan 16.The main festivals of the state are:
Bhogi is celebrated to rid the society of evil. People clean up their houses of all the junk that they have accumulated in the past year. All the waste stuff is burnt. Houses are freshly painted. Farm animals are bathed and decorated with colored powders and paint.
Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai. It is considered to be an auspicious month. The Sun God is worshipped.Sweets,delicacies and Chakkara Pongal, a sweet rice pudding dish is made from clay stoves and wooden fuel.The sugarcane crop ripens at the time of Pongal and is of huge importance during the festival.
Mattu pongal, the day next to Pongal, is the day for farm animals especially the bulls. Most farmers still use them to plough and till the land for irrigation.The festival is celebrated with great respect and regard as a farmer would find it difficult to survive without the bull. Bulls, cows and other farm animals are worshipped on this day.
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