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Tamil Nadu (Tamil: தமிழ்நாடு "Country of the Tamils", ) is one of the 28 states of Indiamarker. Its capital and largest city is Chennaimarker (formerly known as Madras). Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by Puducherrymarker (Pondicherry), Keralamarker, Karnatakamarker and Andhra Pradeshmarker. It is bound by the Eastern Ghats in the north, the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hillsmarker, and Palakkadmarker on the west, by the Bay of Bengalmarker in the east, the Gulf of Mannarmarker, the Palk Straitmarker in the south east, and by the Indian Oceanmarker in the south.

Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area (about the size of Greecemarker) 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.

History

Prehistory

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, from Tirunelvelimarker, 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.

The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script used at that site is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi. Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.

About 60% of the epigraphical inscriptions found by the ASI in India have been from Tamil Nadu and most of which are in Tamil language

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. 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.

Chera Rule

From early pre-historic times, Tamil Nadu was the home of the four Hindu Tamil kingdoms of the Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallavas. The oldest extant literature, dated between 300 BC and 600 AD mentions the exploits of the kings and the princes, and of the poets who extolled them. Cherans, who spoke the Tamil language, ruled from the capital of Karurmarker in the west and traded extensively with West Asian kingdoms.An unknown dynasty called Kalabhras invaded and displaced the three Tamil kingdoms between the fourth and the seventh centuries CE. This is referred to as the Dark Age in Tamil history. They were eventually expelled by the Pallavas and the Pandyas.

Pallava Rule

The seventh century Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallavas under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I. The Pallavas were not a recognised political power before the second century. It has been widely accepted by scholars that they were originally executive officers under the Satavahana Empire. After the fall of the Satavahanas, they began to get control over parts of Andhramarker and the Tamil country. Later they had marital ties with the Vishnukundina who ruled over the Deccanmarker. It was around 550 AD under King Simhavishnu that the Pallavas 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 Kanchipurammarker as their capital. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during the Pallava rule. Narasimhavarman II built the Shore Templemarker which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many sources describe Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen school of Buddhism in Chinamarker, as a prince of the Pallava dynasty.

Pandya Rule



The Pallavas were replaced by the Pandyas in the 8th century C.E.. Their capital Maduraimarker 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 Pandya kingdom as the richest empire in existence. Temples such as the Meenakshi Amman Templemarker at Maduraimarker and Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelvelimarker are the best examples of Pandyan temple architecture. 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



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 Bengalmarker. At its peak, the empire spanned almost . Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular South India and parts of the Sri Lankamarker. Rajendra Chola's navies went even further, occupying coasts from Burma (now Myanmarmarker) to Vietnammarker, the Andaman and Nicobar Islandsmarker, Lakshadweepmarker, Sumatramarker, Javamarker, 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 Cholapurammarker.

The Cholas excelled in building magnificent temples. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavurmarker is a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola kingdom. Brihadshwara temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site under "Great Living Chola Temples." Another example is the Chidambaram Templemarker in the heart of the temple town of Chidambarammarker.Raja raja chola and rajendra chola period is said to be the golden period of Tamil Nadu.

Pandya Rule (Restored)

With the decline of the Cholas towards the end of the 11th century, the Pandyas rose to prominence once again, under Maravarman Sundara Pandya.

Delhi Sultanate

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

Vijayanagar Empire

These Muslim invasions triggered the establishment of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire in the Deccan. It eventually conquered the entire Tamil country (c. 1370 CE). This empire lasted for almost two centuries till the defeat of Vijayanagaramarker 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.".

Rule of Nayaks

As the Vijayanagara Empire went into decline after mid-16th century, the Nayak 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 Templemarker.

Rule of Nizams and Nawabs

Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicatmarker. In 1639, the British, under the British East India Company, established a settlement further south, 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 Pondicherrymarker. 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, Pulithevan and Dheeran Chinnamalai.

British Empire

In early 19th century, East India Company consolidated most of southern India into the Madras Presidency coterminous with the dominions of Nizam of Hyderabad. Pudukkottaimarker remained as a princely state under British suzerainty.

Independence

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.

Geography

Topographic map of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu covers an area of , and is the eleventh largest state in India. The bordering states are Keralamarker to the west, Karnatakamarker to the northwest and Andhra Pradeshmarker to the north. To the east is the Bay of Bengalmarker and the union territory of Puducherrymarker. The southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula is located in Tamil Nadu. At this point is the town of Kanyakumarimarker which is the meeting point of the Arabian Seamarker, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Oceanmarker.

The western, southern and the north-western parts are hilly and rich in vegetation. Tamil Nadu is the only state in India which has both the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats and they both meet at the Nilgiri hills. The Western Ghats dominate the entire western border with Kerala, effectively blocking much of the rain bearing clouds of the South West Monsoon from entering the state. The Eastern parts are fertile coastal plains and the northern parts are a mix of hills and plains. The central and the south central regions are arid plains and receive less rainfall than the other regions.

Tamil Nadu has a coastline of about which is the country’s third longest coastline. Tamil Nadu's coastline bore the brunt of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunamimarker when it hit India, which caused 7,793 direct deaths in the state. Tamil Nadu falls mostly in a region of low seismic hazard with the exception of the western border areas that lie in a low to moderate hazard zone; as per the 2002 Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) map, Tamil Nadu falls in Zones II & III. Historically, parts of this region have experienced seismic activity in the M5.0 range.

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 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.

Plains Hills
Max.
Min.


Governance and administration

The Governor is the Constitutional head of the state while the Chief Minister is the head of the government and the head of the council of ministers. The Chief Justice of the Madras High Courtmarker is the head of the judiciary. The present Governor, Chief Minister and the Chief Justice are Surjit Singh Barnala, M. Karunanidhi and Hemant Laxman Gokhale respectively. The major administrative units of the state constitutes 39 Lok Sabha constituencies, 234 Assembly constituencies, 32 districts, 10 city corporations, 152 municipalities, 611 town panchayats and 12,618 village panchayats. Chennaimarker (formerly known as Madras) is the state capital. It is the fourth largest city in India and is also one of the five A1 Metropolitan cities of India.

Tamil Nadu had a bicameral legislature until 1986, when it was replaced with a unicameral legislature, like most other states in India. The term length of the government is 5 years, as is elsewhere in India. The present government run by the DMK led alliance came to power in 2006 and comprises a council of 29 ministers, chaired by the Chief Minister. Tamil Nadu legislative assembly is chaired by the speaker Mr. R Avudaiappan and is housed at the historical Fort St. Georgemarker in Chennai. The state had come under the President's rule on four occasions - first from 1976 to 1977, next for a short period in 1980, then from 1988 to 1989 and the latest in 1991.

Tamil Nadu has 10 City Corporations: Chennaimarker, Coimbatoremarker, Maduraimarker, Tiruchirapallimarker, Salemmarker, Erodemarker, Tirunelvelimarker, Tirupurmarker, Velloremarker and Thoothukudimarker. There is a plan to upgrade Tambarammarker and Ambatturmarker as City Corporations. The Corporation of Chennaimarker, established in 1688, is the oldest Municipal Corporation not only in India but also in any commonwealth nations outside United Kingdom.

Tamil Nadu has been a pioneering state of E-Governance initiatives in India. A large part of the government records like land ownership records are digitised and all major offices of the state government like Urban Local Bodies — all the Corporations and Municipal Office activities — revenue collection, land registration offices, and transport offices have been computerised. Tamil Nadu is one of the states where law and order has been maintained largely successfully. The Tamil Nadu Police Force is over 140 years old. It is the fifth largest state police force in India and has the largest strength of women police personnelin the country. As of 2003, the state had a total police population ratio of 1:668, higher than the national average of 1:717. The current Director General of Police of Tamil Nadu is K. P. Jain.

Districts

Districts of Tamil Nadu
The 32 districts of Tamil Nadu are as listed below with the numbers corresponding to those in the image at right.
  1. Ariyalur District
  2. Chennai District
  3. Coimbatore Districtmarker
  4. Cuddalore District
  5. Dharmapuri District
  6. Dindigul District
  7. Erode District
  8. Kanchipuram District
  9. Kanyakumari District
  10. Karur Districtmarker
  11. Krishnagiri District
  12. Madurai Districtmarker
  13. Nagapattinam District
  14. Namakkal District
  15. Nilgiris Districtmarker
  16. Perambalur District
  1. Pudukkottai District
  2. Ramanathapuram District
  3. Salem District
  4. Sivagangai Districtmarker
  5. Thanjavur District
  6. Theni District
  7. Thoothukudi District
  8. Tiruchirapalli District
  9. Tirunelveli District
  10. Tirupur districtmarker
  11. Tiruvallur District
  12. Tiruvannamalai District
  13. Tiruvarur Districtmarker
  14. Vellore Districtmarker
  15. Viluppuram District
  16. Virudhunagar District


Politics

Pre Independence

Prior to Indian independence Tamil Nadu was under British colonial rule as part of the Madras Presidency. The main party in Tamil Nadu at that time was the Congress Party. Regional parties have dominated state politics since 1916. One of the earliest regional parties was the South Indian Welfare Association, which was a forerunner to Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu, was started in 1916. The party was called after its English organ, Justice Party, by it opponents and later the same was adopted as its official name. The reason for victory of the Justice Party in elections was the non-participation of the Congress Party, demanding complete independence of India. Freedom movement saw great leaders like Subramania Bharathiar (Poet who inspired freedom movement by his poetic skills), Subramania Siva, V O Chidhamdaranar (Industrialist, who managed ships under the free India banner), Thirupur Kumaran, Rajagopalachariar (Rajaji), L. Sriramulu Naidu (first Mayor of Madras), and Sathyamurthi to name a few.

E.V.Ramaswami Naicker popularly known as EVR and also as Periyar, believed in agitational politics and he took the Justice Party away from its original path. The Justice Party which had a moribund existence under E.V.Ramaswami Naicker, died at last in 1944 which he renamed the party Dravidar Kazhagam (DK for short) in 1944. DK was a non-political party which demanded the establishment of an independent state called Dravida Nadu. However, due to the differences between its two leaders Periyar and C.N. Annadurai, the party was split. Annadurai left the party to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The DMK decided to enter politics in 1956.

Dravidian Politics

Political

Alliance
Assembly

Elections
Lok Sabha

Elections
DMK+ 163 27
AIADMK+ 69 12
Independent/Other 2 0
Source: Indian Elections / Election Commission of India.


In the 19th century, western scholars discovered that the Dravidian languages that dominate the south of India formed a different linguistic group to that of the Indo-Aryan languages that are predominant in the north of the country. They also classified Indians into distinct Aryan and Dravidian races. It was proposed that the generally darker-skinned Dravidians constituted a distinct race. This concept has affected thinking in India about racial and regional differences and had an impact on aspects of Tamil nationalism, which has appropriated the claim that Dravidians are the earliest inhabitants of India, and the Aryan population were oppressive interlopers from whom Dravidians should liberate themselves.

Re-organisation of Indian states according to linguistic and ethnic basis has moderated Tamil nationalism, especially the demand for separation from the Indian Union. The Anti-Hindi agitations in mid-1960s made the DMK more popular and a more powerful political force in the state. The DMK routed the Congress Party in the 1967 elections and took control of the state government, ending Congress' stronghold in Tamil Nadu. C.N. Annadurai became the DMK's first Chief Minister.

Muthuvel Karunanidhi took over as Chief Minister and party leader after Annadurai's death in 1969. Karunanidhi's leadership was soon challenged by M.G. Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR. In 1972, he split from DMK and formed the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) and later renamed the party as All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam. He was the Chief Minister of the state from 1977 until his death in 1987. After the death of MGR and the defeat of AIADMK in the 1989 assembly polls, J. Jayalalithaa took control of the party. She was elected as the General Secretary of the unified AIADMK. There have been several splits in both the DMK and the AIADMK, but since 1967 one of those two parties has held power in the state. The rise of Congress Party, Vijayakanth's DMDK, Vaiko's Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dr. Ramdoss's PMK in the recent years has ensured that no single party is in majority to run a government and thereby giving rise to coalition politics.

Demographics and Religion

Tamil speakers
Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in Indiamarker with a population of 62,405,679 (>62 million) as of the census of 2001, with estimates for year 2008 put at 6,63,96,000 (>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, 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.

Tamil Nadu's population grew by 11.19% between 1991 and 2001, the second lowest rate for that period (after Keralamarker) amongst populous states (states whose population exceeded 20 million in 2001). Its decadal rate of population growth has declined since 1971, one of only three populous states (along with Kerala and Orissamarker) to show this trend. The state has registered the lowest fertiliy rate along with Andhra Pradeshmarker and Goamarker in India in year 2005-06 with 1.8 children born for each woman, lower than required for population sustainability.

Three major religions of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are followed by the majority of the people. The distribution of population based on their faith, as of the 2001 census, is shown in the bar graph above. Among Hindus a sparse percentage follow Atheism, who normally target Hindus. Christianity, though a minority, has the highest population in absolute numbers when compared to other states, are getting established stronger by acquiring and purchasing lands and buildings. Tamil is the official and the principal spoken language of the state. As of the 2001 Census, Tamil is spoken by 89.43% of the population followed by Telugu at 5.65%, Kannada at 1.68%, Urdu at 1.51% and other languages at 1.67%.

The list of largest urban agglomerations of Tamil Nadu is displayed below:

Education and social development

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. 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. 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.

Tamil Nadu has 19 universities, 349 engineering colleges and 1150 arts college, 2550 schools and 5000 hospitals. Some of the reputed institutes include University of Madras, IIT Madrasmarker, Anna Universitymarker, Madras Christian College, (includes MIT Chennai - Madras Institute of Technologymarker), Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, Coimbatore Institute of Technology, NIT Tiruchi, VIT Universitymarker, Bharathidasan Institute of Management Trichy, Christian Medical College Vellore, Madras Medical College, Loyola College, Chennaimarker, Annamalai University, SASTRA University and Tamil Nadu Agricultural Universitymarker. The Indian Institute of Management is scheduled to open in Trichy by 2009-2010. 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.

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. The life expectancy at birth for males is 65.2 years and for females it is 67.6 years. 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. Poverty in the state dropped from 51.7% in 1983 to 21.1% in 2001 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%. The World Bank is currently assisting the state in reducing poverty 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.

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.

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. Despite this, the state is among the 12 states in India that have alarming level of hunger according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index.

Culture

Tamil Nadu has a long tradition of venerable culture. Tamil Nadu is known for its rich tradition of literature, music and dance which continue to flourish today. Unique cultural features like Bharatanatyam (dance), Tanjore painting, and Tamil architecture were developed and continue to be practised in Tamil Nadu.

Language and Literature

எப்பொருள் யார்யார்வாய்க் கேட்பினும் அப்பொருள்

மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்ப தறிவு
'The mark of wisdom is to discern the truth

From whatever source it is heard.'

- (Tirukkural - 423)
While Tamil is the only official language of Tamil Nadu, English is also in common usage as an official language of India. When India adopted national standards Tamil was the very first language to be recognized as a classical language of India.

Most early Tamil literary works are in verse form, with prose not becoming more common until later periods. Throughout its history, Tamil literature has sought to inform and inspire, educate and entertain. Tamil poetry has universal appeal as evidenced by many examples.

Tirukkural, which was written nearly two millennia ago portrays a universal outlook. This is evident as the author, Tiruvalluvar, does not mention his religion, land, or the audience for his work. He is often portrayed as a holy saint of Tamil Nadu today.

The first Tamil printing press was established at Tarangambadi by the Danish missionaries. During the Indian freedom struggle, many Tamil poets and writers sought to provoke national spirit, social equity and secularist thoughts among the common man, notably Subramanya Bharathy. Even today, Tamil Nadu is home to creative writers like Bharathidasan, Jayakanthan, Jayamohan, Sujatha, Indira Parthasarathy.

Religions



About 88% of the population identifies as Hindu and Tamil Nadu is the home of several non-mainstream Hindu movements. These include Advaita Vedanta, Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita, Alvars' Sri Vaishnavism, and Nayanmars Shaivism. Several important Hindu Tamil figures became important figures for Hinduism as a whole (e.g.Ramanuja.) In modern times, worldwide important figures for Hinduism were Ramana Maharishi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.Murugan, Vishnu and Shiva, are perhaps the most "popular" gods, although many other deities are also worshiped. These other forms of God include Rama, Krishna, Ganesh, Paravati, Surya, and others. There is even a temple dedicated to the form of Hanuman and Ganesh in one form - Adianta Prabhu. The government emblem of Tamil Nadu contained the popular Hindu temple of Srivilliputhur.

Christians and Muslims together form over 11% of the population. Christians are mainly concentrated in the southern districts of Kanyakumari (44% of the population, 2001), Thoothukudi (17%, 2001) and Tirunelveli (11%,2001). St. Thomas Mountmarker in Chennai, the place where St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, was believed to have been martyred, is an important pilgrimage site for Indian Christians. The Santhome Basilicamarker, supposedly built atop the tomb of St. Thomas, and the Vailankannimarker Basilica of Our Lady of Good Healthmarker — revered churches by India's Roman Catholics — are good examples of majestic church architectures in Tamil Nadu. The Church of South India and the Pentecostal Mission Church are headquartered in Chennai

Muslims are mainly concentrated in areas such as Kayalpatnammarker, Kilakaraimarker, Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Maduraimarker, Nagore, and Melapalayam, with the state capital Chennai also home to a number of Muslims. Among Muslims, 97.5% are Tamil speaking Sunni and the rest are Urdu speakers. All Tamil Muslims are Sunnis, who adhere to either Hanafi or Shafi schools of thought. Erwadimarker in Ramanathapuram district and Nagore in Nagapattinam district are important pilgrimage site for Muslims, while the Thousand Lights Mosquemarker in Chennai is one of the largest mosques in the country. Karpudaiyar masjid in Kayalpatnam is the oldest mosque in Tamil Nadu.

Festivals

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 — youths used to gather at river banks to view and select their future life partners, but that practice has declined.

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 2000A.D. 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.

Additional major Hindu festivals including Deepavali ( Death of Narakasura), Ayudha Poojai, Saraswathi Poojai (Dasara), Krishna Jayanthi and Vinayaka Chathurthi are celebrated widely. Ayya Vaikunda Avataram, is celebrated predominantly in the southern districts. In addition, Christmas, Eid ul-Fitr, Easter and Bakrid are celebrated by Christians and Muslims in the state.

Music

The Kings of ancient Thamizhagam created sangams for Iyal Isai Nadagam (Literature, Music and Drama). Music played a major role in sangams. Music in Tamil Nadu had different forms. In villages where farming was the primary occupation, ladies who work in the fields used to sing kulavai songs. Odhuvars, Sthanikars or Kattalaiyars offer short musical programmes in the temples by singing the devotional Thevaram songs. In sharp contrast with the restrained and intellectual nature of carnatic music, Tamil folk music tends to be much more exuberant. Popular forms of Tamil folk music include the , a form of music performed with a bow, and the , ballads that convey folklore and folk history. Some of the leading Tamil folk artists in the early 21st century are Pushpuvanam Kuppuswamy, Dr Navaneethakrishnan, Chinnaponnu, Paravai muniammal etc.

Carnatic music is the classical music form of Southern India. The basic form is a monophonic song with improvised variations. There are 72 basic scales on the octave, and a rich variety of melodic motion. Both melodic and rhythmic structures are varied and compelling. This is one of the world's oldest & richest musical traditions. Carnatic music abounds in structured compositions in the different ragas. These are songs composed by great artists and handed down through generations of disciples. Three saint composers of the nineteenth century, Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri, have composed thousands of songs that remain favourites among musicians and audiences. The composers belonging to the Tamil Trinity of Muthu Thandavar (?1560 - ?1640 CE), Arunachala Kavi (1712-1779) and Marimutthu Pillai (1717-1787) composed hundreds of devotional songs in Tamil and helped in the evolution of Carnatic music. Today, Tamil Nadu has hundreds of notable carnatic singers who spread this music all over the world. M. S. Subbulakshmi, a renowned carnatic singer, had the honour of singing a song in the UN Security Council.

In terms of modern cine-music, Ilaiyaraaja was the most prominent composer of film music in Tamil cinema during the late 1970s and 1980s. His work highlighted Tamil folk lyricism and introduced broader Western musical sensibilities to the South Indian musical mainstream. Tamil Nadu is also the home of the double Oscar Winner A.R. Rahman who has composed film music in Tamil, Hindi films, English and Chinese filmsmarker, was once referred to by Time magazine as "The Mozart of Madrasmarker".

Arts and dance

Tamils have a large number of folk dances. These are performed for every possible occasion, to celebrate the arrival of seasons, birth of a child, weddings and festivals. Tamil dance is closely intertwined with the Tamil theatrical tradition. The most celebrated of these is karakattam. In its religious form, the dance is performed in front of an image of the goddess Mariamman. The dancer bears on his or her head a brass pot filled with uncooked rice, decorated with flowers and surrounded by a bamboo frame, and tumbles and leaps to the rhythm of a song without spilling a grain. Karakattam is usually performed to a special type of song known as or thevar , a folk song in the mode of a lover speaking to his beloved, to the accompaniment of a nadaswaram and melam. Other Tamil folk dances include , where the dancers tie a string of peacock feathers around their waist; ōyilāttam, danced in a circle while waving small pieces of cloth of various colours; poykkāl , where the dancers use dummy horses; , where the dancers imitate the graceful leaping of deer; par̲aiyāṭṭam, a dance to the sound of rhythmical drumbeats, and , a dance involving playing with burning wooden torches.

Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form originating from Tamil Nadu. Bharatanatyam is thought to have been created by Bharata Muni, a Hindu sage, who wrote the Natya Shastra, the most important ancient treatise on classical Indian dance. In ancient times it was performed in Hindu temples by Devadasis. In this form, it as also been called sadir or chinna melam. Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharata Natyam dance postures. Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance-form known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. It continues to be a popular and widely performed dance style at present times and is practised by male and female dancers all over India. Terukkuttu or Kattaikkuttu is a traditional form of Tamil street theatre folk dance/drama.

Film industry

Tamil Nadu is also home to the Tamil film industry called Kollywood, the second largest film industry in India after Hindi . It is based in Chennai in Kodambakkam, the section of Chennai that houses cinema-related facilities.

Cuisine

Traditional Chennai cuisines
Tamil Cuisine has it own Tamil regional varieties known as Chetinadu Samayal, Kongunadu Samayal, Madurai Samayal, Tirunelveli Samayal, etc. Tamil cuisine is basically South Indian cuisine, where Rice and rice-derived dishes form the major portion of a diet. Traditionally, food is served on a banana leaf instead of a plate and eaten with the right hand. Rice is the staple food of Tamils and is typically eaten mixed with Sambhar (with or without Ghee), vegetarian or non - vegetarian Kulambu, Rasam, Curd and Buttermilk. This is accompanied with various vegetarian and / or non - vegetarian dishes like Kootu, Aviyal, Poriyal, Appalam, Varuval, Peratal, Kothsu, varieties of Pickles and Chicken / Mutton / Fish fry. Breakfast and snack items include Dosai, Adai, Idly, Vadai, Pongal, Appam(Aappam), Paniyaram, Puttu(Pittu), Uppumavu(Uppuma), Santhakai(Noodles), Idiyappam and Uthappam. These items are eaten along with Sambar, varieties of Chatni and Podi . Traditionally prepared Filter Coffee is unique in taste and popular all over the state. The Chettinad region is famous for its spicy non-vegetarian cuisine, while Amburmarker, Dindigalmarker and Sankarankoilmarker are known for their Biriyani. Sweet items that are native to Tamil Nadu and prepared at homes are Athirasam, Chakkari Pongal (prepared during Pongal) and Kuli Paniyaram. Tirunelveli is known for its unique wheat Halwa and Palani is renowned for its Panchamirtham. In the recent past, fast food culture is witnessing a steady growth in Tamil Nadu.

Economy

Macro-economic trend

Per Capita Income of Tamil Nadu and India
Tamil Nadu's gross state domestic product for 2007 is estimated at 275,000 crores (70 billion USD) in current prices. The state experienced a GDP growth rate of 12.1% for this period. Possessing the third largest economy (2007-2008) among states in India, Tamil Nadu is also the most industrialised state in India. The per capita income for the period 2007 - 2008 for the state was Rs.43,000 ranking second among the South Indian states. It ranks third in foreign direct investment approvals (cumulative 1991-2002) of Rs.225,826 million ($5,000 million), next only to Maharashtra (Rs.366,024 million ($8,100 million)) and Delhi (Rs.303,038 million ($6,700 million)) and the State's FDI investment constitutes 9.12% of the total FDI in the country. Tamil Nadu was the winner of fDimagazine's Asian Region of the Future award 2005/06 in terms of FDIs, surpassing Australia's New South Walesmarker. Chennai was ranked the top metropolitan city to invest in Asia Pacific and Tamil Nadu was ranked 9th region to invest in 2008. Unlike many other states, the economic resources are quite spread out, rather than concentrated in a small industrialised area. The overall unemployment is relatively low with 2.8% rural and 4.8% urban from CSI.The graph at right shows how the Per capita income of Tamil Nadu has grown steadily keeping above the national average.

Gross State Domestic Product in Rs. Crores and Current Prices
Year GSDP Change Share of India
1994 - 95
68,666
19.32%
7.49%
1996 - 97
89,237
29.96%
7.18%
1998 - 99
118,209
32.47%
7.40%
2000 - 01
141,100
19.36%
7.33%
2002 - 03
155,099
09.92%
6.85%
2004 - 05
188,921
21.81%
6.61%


According to the 2001 Census, Tamil Nadu has the highest level of urbanisation (43.86%) in India, accounting for 6% of India’s total population and 9.6% of the urban population. and is the most urbanized state in India. 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 110 industrial parks and estates offering developed plots with supporting infrastructure. Also, the state government is promoting other industrial parks like Rubber Park, Apparel Parks, Floriculture Park, TICEL Park for Biotechnology, Siruseri IT Park, and Agro Export Zones, Small Industrial Estate Parks (Polupalli and Krishnagirimarker) among others.

Annual Plan outlays have increased by a record 75% from Rs.52,000 million ($1,100 million) in 2001-2 to Rs.91,000 million ($2,000 million) in 2005-6. Based on URP - Consumption for the period 2004 - 2005, percentage of the state's population Below Poverty Line was 27.5%.

Agriculture and Irrigation



Tamil Nadu has historically been an agricultural state and is a leading producer of agricultural products in India. At present, Tamil Nadu is India's fifth biggest producer of Rice, next to West Bengalmarker, Andhra Pradeshmarker, Punjabmarker and Uttar Pradeshmarker. The Cauvery delta region of the composite Thanjavur district is known as the Rice Bowl of South India. Tamil Nadu accounts for nearly 6% of the area under fruits and 4% of the area under vegetables in the country. In terms of production, the state’s share is nearly 10% in fruits and 6% in vegetables. Mango and Banana are the leading fruit crops in Tamil Nadu accounting for over 84% of the area under fruit and over 87% of the total fruit production. Krishnagiri District is considered the Mango capital of India. Off-season production of mango and round-the-year production of grapes is unique to Tamil Nadu. 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 99.47 Lakhs during 2003-04. The main flowers grown in Tamil Nadu are Jasmine, Mullai, Chrysanthemum, Marigold and Rose.

The state is the largest producer of bananas, flowers, tapioca, the second largest producer of mango, natural rubber, coconut, groundnut and the third largest producer of coffee, sapota, Tea and Sugarcane. Tamil Nadu is also a leading producer of spices, kambu, corn, rye and oil seeds. The main spices grown are chillies, coriander, tamarind, turmeric and curry leaves. Tamil Nadu's sugarcane yield per hectare is the highest in India. A host of sugar companies have their operations here including EID Parry I Ltd., Thiru Arooran Sugars Ltd., Sakthi Sugars Ltd., Bannari Amman Sugars Ltd. and Rajshree sugars Ltd. The state has 17,000 hectares of land under oil palm cultivation, the second highest in India. Currently, Tamil Nadu is the only state to have a formal bio-diesel policy using jatropha plant crops and to distribute wasteland to the poor farmers for planting.
Tamil Nadu is the home to Dr M.S. Swaminathan, known as the "father of the Green Revolution" in India. Tamil Nadu Agricultural Universitymarker 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. The net sown area is 36% of the total geographic area (National average of 46%). The gross cropped area is with a cropping intensity of 119. Irrigation covers 46% of the cropped area and the remaining 54% is rain-fed. Tamil Nadu's agriculture is heavily dependent on river water and monsoon rains.

The perennial rivers are Palar, Cheyyar Rivermarker, Ponnaiyarmarker, Kaveri, Meyar, Bhavani, Amaravati, Vaigaimarker, Chittar Rivermarker & Tamaraparani. Non-perennial rivers include the Vellar, Noyyal, Suruli, Gundar, Vaipar, Valparai and Varshali. Canals, tanks and wells form the sources of Irrigation for farmers in the state. As of 2005-2006, the state had 2395 canals with a length of , 40,319 tanks, 670 ordinary government wells, 1,620,705 ordinary private wells and 290,611 tube wells.

Irrigated Agriculture Modernization and Water-bodies Restoration and Management (IAMWARM) project is a World Bank aided project being implemented in Tamil Nadu at a cost of INR 2500 crores. Duration of the project April 1 2007 to March 31 2013. The main aim of the project is to restore the existing 40319 tanks to save water to their full capacity as it was created by ancient forefathers of Tamil Nadu some 2000 years before.

Livestock, poultry and fisheries

Among states in India, Tamil Nadu is one of the leaders in livestock, poultry and fisheries production. The table below gives the data on the total number of livestock and poultry in 2003 (All figures in thousands).

Cattle ('000s) Buffalos ('000s) Sheep ('000s) Goats ('000s) Pigs ('000s) Horses & ponies ('000s) Donkeys ('000s) Total livestock ('000s) Total poultry ('000s)
9141 1658 5593 8177 321 25 26 15800 86591


As per this data, 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. The town of Namakkalmarker is also known as the poultry hub currently it produces about 3 crore eggs a day. In 2003 - 2004, Tamil Nadu had produced 37,836 lakhs of eggs, which was the second highest figure among all the states in India, and represented 9.37% of the total egg production in the country. In 2003-2004, Tamil Nadu had produced 4,752,000 tonnes of milk, with a per capita availability of 198 grams/day, much lesser than the all-India figure of 231 grams/day. During 2002-2003, the state had produced 609,000 kg of wool. The total fodder produced in the state during 2002-2003 was 31,929,000 tonnes, out of which 21,429,000 tonnes was dry fodder and 10,500,000 tonnes was green fodder. The total number of vertinary institutions in the state in 2006 was 1854. With the third longest coastline in India, Tamil Nadu is also among the leaders in fisheries and in the production and exports of related products. For the year 2005-2006, total inland fish catchment was 155,944 tonnes and marine fish catchment stood at 389,714 tonnes. For the same period, the total fish and fishery products exported by the state was 72,418 tonnes which was valued at Rs. 19.96 billion. This figure represented 27.54% of the total value of fish and fishery products exported by India for that period.

Industry

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, 'Detroitmarker of Asia') and Coimbatore (nicknamed 'Manchester of South India'). In recent years Chennai has benefited significantly from domestic and foreign investments due to a combination of infrastructure (deep-water ports, highways, and energy generation), technology, investment climate, and the availability of skilled, low-cost labor. This has attracted major global vehicle manufacturing giants and IT / ITES companies to set up shop in around Chennai. A large number of textile mills and engineering industries are present around the city of Coimbatoremarker. It is home to numerous textile, automotive spare sparts and motor pump manufacturing units. Cities of Tirupurmarker and Erodemarker are the country's largest exporters of knit wears. 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'. Trichymarker is the centre of energy industries which produces boilers and accessories for thermal and wind power plant and process industries, gaining advantage from the presence of BHEL. The southern town of Sivakasimarker is well renowned for its contribution toward fireworks, matches and offset printing solutions industries. Tiruchengodemarker is known for its truck body building industries while Karurmarker is known for its bus body building industries.

Tamil Nadu has seen major investments in the automobile industry over many decades. Everything from cars, railway coaches, battle-tanks, tractors, motorcycles, automobile spare parts and accessories, tyres and heavy vehicles are manufactured in the state. Almost all the automobile related industries are located in and around Chennai and Coimbatore. Major automobile companies present in the state are Ford, Renault-Nissan, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Michelin, Komatsu, BMW,Audi and Mitsubishi as well as domestic heavyweights like MRF, Ashok Leyland, Royal Enfield, Mahindra & Mahindra, TAFE Tractors, TVS, Pricol, LMW, ELGI, Roots industries, Shanti gears and ICF, Chennai.

Tamil Nadu has also been in the forefront of textile manufacturing and exports in India. There are a lot of Textile mills located in Coimbatore. In 2004, the export turnover from the Tirupur was more than Rs. 50,000 million ($1,000 million). Some 7,000 garment units in the town provides employment opportunity to 7,50,000 people. 56% of India's total knitwear exports come from Tirupur. Karurmarker generates around (35,500 million) $750 million a year in foreign exchange and employs about 3,50,000 people. Over 60% of India's total exports come from Karur. Erodemarker is also a major textile hub of India especially for woven garments and saris. Maduraimarker, Aruppukottaimarker, Arani and Kanchipurammarker are famous for their handloom and silk weaving industries.

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 also a leading producer of Cement in India. It is the home of leading cement brands in the country such as Chettinad Cements (in Karurmarker), Dalmia Cements (in Ariyalurmarker), Ramco cements (Madras Cement Ltd), India cements (in Sankari, Ariyalur), Grasim etc. The state is the leading producer of printing, fireworks, and safety matches, with town of Sivakasimarker, fondly called as Kutty Japan or "little Japanmarker" by Jawaharlal Nehru, contributing to 80% of India's production of safety matches, 90% of India's total fireworks production and over 60% of India's total offset printing solutions.

Large EPC companies have also set up their Engineering centres in Tamil Nadu. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, a global electrical equipment manufacturing public sector company, has manufacturing plants at Tiruchirapallimarker and Ranipetmarker. India's leading steel producer, SAIL has a steel plant in Salemmarker. Sterlite Industries has their copper smelter plant in Tuticorinmarker and aluminium plant in Metturmarker. The state government owns the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd. (TNPL), the world's biggest bagasse based Paper mills in Karurmarker, as well as the world's sixth largest manufacturer of watches together with TATA at Hosurmarker, under the brand name of "Titan". The Austrianmarker company Austrian Energy and Environment also have a design office in the state besides local giant ECC {Larsen & Toubro}. Sanmina-SCI is the latest company to invest in Tamil Nadu to create a state of the art manufacturing facility. The construction industry also saw new entrants like BGR Energy systems ltd, Consolidated construction consortium.

The Government of Tamil Nadu has made small industrial development a priority. It is developing industrial estates in Krishnagirimarker and Polupalli.

Tamil Nadu is a leading contributor in the IT and BPO sectors. Tamil Nadu is the third largest software exporter by value in India, second only to Karnataka and Maharashtra. Software exports from Tamil Nadu more than doubled from Rs. 76 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2003-04 to Rs. 141.15 billion {$3.53 billion} in 2005-06 and zoomed to Rs. 207 billion {$5 billion} by 2006-07 according to NASSCOM. Chennai is a hub for e-publishing with 47 e-publishing units registered with the STPI in Chennai. Companies such as Symantec, Fidelity National Information Services, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Computer Sciences Corporation, Virtusa, HCL, Wipro, TCS,Viswam info tech Trichy, Temenos, Satyam, Infosys, Polaris Software Lab, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Acme Technology Pvt Ltd, Covansys, Capgemini, Ford Information Technology, Xansa,Changepond, Verizon, iSoft,insoft, iNautix, MphasiS(Electronic Data Systems), Bally , Capgemini, Tech Mahindra and many others have offices in Chennai. Chennai is also the preferred destination for companies outsourcing their high-end knowledge intensive operations. Testimony to this is the presence of major market research companies such as Frost & Sullivan and equity research companies such as Irevna in Chennai.

Infrastructure

Electricity

250
As of 2005, Tamil Nadu is one of the few Indian states with surplus power electricity, enabling the electrical authority to sell it to neighbouring states of Andra Pradesh & Karnataka. The Kalpakkammarker Nuclear Power Plant, Ennore Thermal Plant, Neyvelimarker Lignite Power Plant, many hydroelectric plants including Mettur and the Narimanam Natural Gas Plants are major sources of Tamil Nadu's electricity. It is presently is adding the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plantmarker to its energy grid, which on completion would be the largest atomic power plant in the country, in terms of capacity. Tamil Nadu sources a significant proportion of its power needs from renewable sources with wind power installed capacity at over 3600 MW or over 40% of the maximum peak demand. Tamil Nadu ranks first nationwide in diesel-based thermal electricity generation with a national market share of over 34%. 55% of all wind-generated electricity in India is created by windmills in Tamil Nadu. Renowned Danish wind power company NEG Micon has established its manufacturing unit in Chennai.

Transportation

Tamil Nadu has a well established transportation system that connects all parts of the state. This is partly responsible for the investment growth in the state. Tamil Nadu is served by an extensive road network, providing links between urban centers, agricultural market-places and rural areas. There are 24 national highways in the state, covering a total distance of . The state is also a terminus for the Golden Quadrilateral project that is scheduled to be completed in 2008. The state has a total road length of , of which are maintained by Highways Department. This is nearly 2.5 times higher than the density of all-India road network. It is currently working on upgrading its road network, though the pace of work is considered slow.

Tamil Nadu has a well developed rail network as part of Southern Railwaymarker. Headquartered at Chennaimarker, the Southern Railway network extends over a large area of India's Southern Peninsula, covering the states of Tamil Nadu, Keralamarker, Pondicherrymarker, a small portion of Karnatakamarker and a small portion of Andhra Pradeshmarker. Tamil Nadu has a total railway track length of and there are 532 railway stations in the state. The system connects it with most major cities in Indiamarker. Main rail junctions in the state include Chennai, Erodemarker, Coimbatoremarker, Tirunelvelimarker Madurai, Tiruchirapalli (Trichymarker) and Salemmarker. Chennai has a well-established suburban railway network and is in the process of developing a metro.

Tamil Nadu has a major international airport, Chennai International Airportmarker, that is connected with 19 countries with more than 169 direct flights every week. This is currently the third largest airport in India after Mumbaimarker and Delhimarker and has a passenger growth of 18%. Other international airports present in the state are Coimbatore International Airportmarker and Tiruchirapalli International Airportmarker. Madurai Airportmarker, Salem Airportmarker and Tuticorin Airportmarker are domestic airports which connect their respective cities to other parts of the country. Apart from these, there are Air Force bases at Thanjavurmarker and Sulurmarker, and a Naval air station at Arakkonammarker. Increased industrial activity has given rise to an increase in passenger traffic as well as freight movement which has been growing at over 18 per cent per year.

Tamil Nadu has three major ports at Chennaimarker, Ennoremarker and Tuticorin, as well as one intermediate port, Nagapattinammarker, and seven minor ports, Rameswarammarker, Kanyakumarimarker, Cuddaloremarker, Colachelmarker, Karaikalmarker, Pamban and Valinokkan which are currently capable of handling over 73 million metric tonnes of cargo annually (24 per cent share of India). All the minor ports are managed by the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board. Chennai Port is an artificial harbour situated on the Coromandel Coast in South-East India and it is the second principal port in the country for handling containers. Ennore Port was recently converted from an intermediate port to a major port and handles all the coal and ore traffic in Tamil Nadu. The volume of cargo in the ports grew by 13 per cent during 2005.

Environment

Tamil Nadu includes a wide range of Biomes, extending east from the South Western Ghats montane rain forests in the Western Ghats through the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests and Deccan thorn scrub forests to tropical dry broadleaf forests and then to the beaches, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves, and coral reefs of the Bay of Bengalmarker.

Protected areas

The state has a wide range of flora and fauna with many unique species and habitats. To protect this wide diversity of wildlife there are many Protected areas of Tamil Nadu, including 2 Biosphere Reserves, 5 National Parks and several Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Fauna

There are about 2000 species of wildlife that are native to Tamil Nadu. Protected areas provide safe habitat for large mammals including Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Wild dog, Sloth bears, Gaurs, Lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri Langurs, Nilgiri Tahrs, Grizzled Giant Squirrels and Sambar deer, resident and migratory birds such as Cormorants, Darters, Herons, Egrets, Open-billed Stork, Spoonbills and White Ibises, Little Grebes, Indian Moorhen, Black-winged Stilts, a few migratory Ducks and occasionally Grey Pelican, marine species such as the Dugongs, Turtles, Dolphins and Balanoglossus and a wide variety of fish and insects.

Flora

Tamil Nadu is the home to 3000 plant species including Eucalyptus, Palmyramarker, Rubber, Cinchona, Clumping Bamboos (Bambusa Arundinacea), Common teak, Anogeissus latifolia, Indian Laurel , Grewia, and blooming trees like Indian labumusum, Ardisia, and Solanaceae. Rare and unique plant life includes Combretum ovalifolium, Ebony (Dispyros nilagrica), Habenaria rariflora (Orchid), Alsophila, Impatiens elegans, Ranunculus reniformis, and Royal fern. Tamil Nadu ranks first in Angiosperm diversity amongst all the states in the country with 5640 species (32%) of the total 17,672 species, which includes 230 red-listed species and 1559 species of medicinal plants.

Environmentalism

There are at least 85 widely diversified environmental organizations involved with environmental conservation and environmental education in Tamil Nadumarker state, Indiamarker. These organizations are notable for the diversity of their members and their intended impact groups, ranging from urban to rural, local to national, elementary students to government policy makers and rich to poor. The combined intent of these organizations' efforts is increased awareness of and participation in environmentalism by a broad spectrum of the state's population.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests through its Department of Environment and the Tamil Nadu Forest Department is the primary Government organization planning and implementing environmental policy in the state. The Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology coordinates government scientific agencies and creates environmental awareness programs in the state,There are several prominent leaders with highly visible public roles in these efforts. There is a large number and high diversity of environmental NGOs working in the state. These NGOs vary in size, location and target groups but are commonly characterized by funding from private sources, programs of environmental activism and a high degree of autonomy and volunteerism.

Many schools, colleges and universities in the state have academic courses in environmental subjects and non-academic clubs and student activities involved with environmentalism. These school based courses and activities have a wide range of technical specialization. Public and private media sources in the state play a prominent role in increasing public awareness of environmental issues. The Hindu Newspaper and several wildlife photographers and conservation writers are especially influential. There are several independant environmental consultants in the state, experienced in a wide range of environmental technical subjects.

Sports

Kari Motorspeedway near Coimbatore.
Tamil Nadu has made fair strides in the field of sports. The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) is the government body that is vested with the responsibility of developing sports and related infrastructure in the state. The SDAT owns and operates a number of world class stadiums and organizes various sporting events. It also accommodates various sporting events, both at domestic and international level, organized by other sports associations at its venues. The YMCA College of Physical Education at Nandanam in Chennai was established in 1920 and was the first college for physical education in Asia.

Cricket is the most popular sport and Kabaddi is the state game of Tamil Nadu. M.marker A.marker Chidambaram Stadiummarker in Chennai is an international cricketing arena with a capacity of 50,000 and houses the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Popular cricketers from Tamil Nadu who have represented the national team include S. Venkataraghavan, Kris Srikkanth, Robin Singh, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Murali Kartik, Subramaniam Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik. Cricket contests between local clubs and teams is also popular across the state. The MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai is a much sought after fast bowling academy by pace bowlers all over the world. The traditional sport of Kabaddi, called Sadu Gudu in Tamil, is another popular sport played extensively in the rural areas. Silambam is another popular traditional sport played in the rural areas.

The ATP Chennai Open tournament held in Chennai every January is the biggest Tennis event in South Asia. Tennis players from Tamil Nadu who had made it to the big stage include Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Mahesh Bhupathi and Prakash Amritraj. Tamil Nadu has a long standing motorsports culture. The sport was pioneered by Sundaram Karivardhan in its early days. Notable sportspersons from Tamil Nadu in the field are Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian to participate in F1 racing, and Karun Chandok. Motor racing events are held at the Irungattukottai track (near Sriperumbudur), Sholavaram track and Kari Motorspeedway near Coimbatore.
The Tamil Nadu Hockey Association is the governing body of Hockey in the state. Vasudevan Baskaran was the caption of Indian team that won gold medal in 1980 Olympics at Moscow. The Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai hosts international hockey events and is regarded by the International Hockey Federation as one of the best in the world for its state-of-the-art infrastructure. Chennai hosted the SAF Games in 1995. Anju Bobby George, bronze medalist from Sydney Olympics, represents Tamil Nadu in the national arena. Santhi Soundararajan, silver medalist (later stripped) from Doha Asian Games, also hails from the state. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadiummarker in Chennai is a multipurpose stadium hosting Football and Track & Field events. The Indian Triathlon Federation and the Volleyball Federation of India are headquartered in Chennai. Chennai hosted India’s first ever International Beach Volleyball Championship in 2008.

Chess and Carrom are popular indoor sports. World Chess champion and Indian Grand Master Viswanathan Anand and Arjuna Awardee and two-time world carrom champion Maria Irudayam hail from Tamil Nadu. Snooker was invented by General Sir Frederick Roberts at the Ooty Club in Udhagamandalammarker. The Velachery Aquatics Sports Complex in Chennai hosts different kinds of water sports. The SDAT - TNSRA Squash Academy in Chennai, one of the very few modern squash facilities in South Asia, hosts international squash events. Tamil Nadu has six 18-hole Golf courses, the most popular of which are the Kodaikanal Golf Club, established in 1895, and Gymkhana Club, Chennaimarker. The Madras Boat Clubmarker, set up in 1867, hosts regular rowing races on the Adyar Rivermarker. The 232 year old Guindy race course in Chennai is popular horse racing venue. Apart from these, the Multi-Purpose Indoor Games Complex in Chennai hosts international events for Volleyball, Basketball, Badminton and Table Tennis. In the recent years, adventure sports have also gained popularity, especially amongst the tourists visiting the state.

Tourism

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 Thanjavurmarker, built by the Cholas, the Airavateswara temple in Darasurammarker and the Shore Templemarker, along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipurammarker have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Rajagopuram of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangammarker — 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 Tirunelvelimarker city. Madurai is home to one of the grandest Hindu temples in the World — Madurai Meenakshi Amman Templemarker. Rameshwarammarker, Kanchipuram and Palanimarker are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Other popular temples in Tamil Nadu include those in Gangaikonda Cholapurammarker, Chidambarammarker, Thiruvannaamalaimarker, Tiruttanimarker, Swamithoppemarker, Tiruchendurmarker and Tiruvallurmarker.

Tamil Nadu is also home to many beautiful hill stations. Popular among them are Udhagamandalammarker (Ooty), Kodaikanalmarker, Yercaudmarker, Coonoormarker, Topslip, Valparaimarker, Yelagiri and Manjolai. The Nilgiri hills, Palani hillsmarker, Shevaroy hills, Kolli Hills and Cardamom hills are all abodes of thick forests and wildlife. Mukurthi National Parkmarker & Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reservemarker 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 Parkmarker, The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Parkmarker, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Arignar Anna Zoological Parkmarker. The mangrove forests at Pichavaram are also eco-tourism spots of importance.

Kanyakumarimarker, the southern most tip of peninsular India, is famous for its distinct and beautiful sunrise, Vivekananda Rock Memorialmarker and Thiruvalluvar's statue built off the coastline. Marina Beachmarker 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 Courtallammarker, 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.

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