Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
தமிழ் நாடு
—  State  —

Tamil Nadu Emblem
Motto: Truth alone Triumphs
Anthem: Invocation to Goddess Tamil
Location of Tamil Nadu in India
Map of Tamil Nadu
Coordinates: 13°05′N 80°16′E / 13.09°N 80.27°E / 13.09; 80.27Coordinates: 13°05′N 80°16′E / 13.09°N 80.27°E / 13.09; 80.27
Country  India
Established 26 January 1950
Capital Chennai
Largest city Chennai
Districts 32 total
 – Governor Konijeti Rosaiah
 – Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa
 – Legislature Unicameral (234 seats)
 – Chief Justice M. Yusuf Eqbal
 – Total 130,058 km2 (50,215.7 sq mi)
Area rank 11th
Population (2011)[1]
 – Total 72,138,958
 – Rank 7th
 – Density 554.7/km2 (1,436.6/sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-TN
HDI decrease 0.666 (medium)
HDI rank 10th (2006)[2]
Literacy 80.3% (11th)
Official languages Tamil
Website tn.gov.in
^† Established in 1773; Madras State was formed in 1950 and renamed as Tamil Nadu on 14 January 1969[3]

Tamil Nadu (Tamilதமிழ் நாடு, Tamiḻ Nāṭu ?, pronounced [t̪ɐmɨɻ n̪aːɽɯ] ( listen)) is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bound by the Eastern Ghats in the north, the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Palakkad on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait in the south east, and by the Indian Ocean in the south.

Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area and the seventh most populous state. It is the fourth largest contributor (as of 2010)[4] to India's GDP and ranks tenth in Human Development Index as of 2006.[2] Tamil Nadu is also the most urbanised state in India.[5] The state has the highest number (10.56%) of business enterprises and stands second in total employment (9.97%) in India,[6] compared to the population share of about 6%.[7][8]

The region has been the home of the Tamil people since atleast 500 BCE.[9] Its official language Tamil has been in use in inscriptions and literature for over 2000 years.[10] Tamil Nadu is home to many natural resources, Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture, hill stations, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage sites and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[11][12]




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.[13] In Adichanallur, 24 km (15 mi) from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, skeletons and bones, plus husks and grains of rice, charred rice and Neolithic celts, giving evidence confirming them to be of the Neolithic period, 3800 years ago.[14] The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script used at that site is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi.[15] Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.[16] About 60% of the total epigraphical inscriptions found by ASI in India are from Tamil Nadu and most of which are in Tamil language.[17] Geologists have discovered hundreds of fossilized dinosaur eggs, perhaps 65 million years old, underneath a stream in a tiny village in Ariyalur district.[18] Researchers from the Salem-based Periyar University believe that the clusters of eggs belonged to the aggressive Carnosaur and the leaf-eating Sauropoda.[19]

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

Medieval Period (600–1300)

Tiruchirapalli Rockfort

The Cholas who were very active during the Sangam age were entirely absent during the first few centuries.[20] The period started with the rivalry between the Pandyas and the Pallavas, which in turn caused the revival of the Cholas. The Cholas went on to becoming a great power. Their decline saw the brief resurgence of the Pandyas. This period was also that of the re-invigorated Hinduism during which temple building and religious literature were at their best.[21] The Cheras ruled in southern India from before the Sangam era (300 BCE – 250 CE) over the Coimbatore, Karur, Salem Districts in present day Tamil Nadu and present day Kerala from the capital of Vanchi Muthur in the west, (thought to be modern Karur). They traded extensively from nearby Muziris, in spices, ivory, timber, pearls and gems, with the ancient kingdoms of Egypt, Rome, Greece, Ceylon, Phoenicia, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia.[22] The Kalabhras, invaded and displaced the three Tamil kingdoms and ruled between the third and the seventh centuries CE of the Sangam period. This is referred to as the Dark Age in Tamil history. They were expelled by the Pallavas and the Pandyas in sixth century.

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

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

During the forth to eighth centuries century CE, Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallavas under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I and his uncle Bodhidharman.[23] Pallavas ruled a large portion of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during the Pallava rule.[24] Narasimhavarman II built the Shore Temple which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Pallavas were replaced by the Cholas as the dominant kingdom in the 10th century C.E and they in turn were replaced by Pandyas in the 13th century C.E. The Pandyan capital Madurai was in the deep south away from the coast. They had extensive trade links with the Southeast Asian maritime empires of Srivijaya and their successors, as well as contacts, even formal diplomatic contacts, reaching as far as the Roman Empire. During the 13th century C.E. Marco Polo mentioned the Pandyas as the richest empire in existence.[25] Temples such as the Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai and Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli are the best examples of Pandyan temple architecture.[26][27] The Pandyas excelled in both trade and literature. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the South Indian coast, between Sri Lanka and India, which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world.

Chola Empire

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

By the 9th century, during the times of the second Chola monarch Aditya I, his son Parantaka I, Parantaka Chola II itself the Chola empire had expanded into what is now interior Andhra Pradesh and coastal Karnataka, while under the great Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose as a notable power in south Asia. The Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal. At its peak, the empire spanned almost 3,600,000 km² (1,389,968 sq mi). Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular South India and parts of the Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navies went even further, occupying coasts from Burma (now Myanmar) to Vietnam,[28] the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of the Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram.Nearby this chola capital an sculptural carvings fitted temple Melakadambur is located,the only Karakkoil in Tamilnadu

Brihadeeswara Temple built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1010 A.D.

The Cholas excelled in building magnificent temples. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur is a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola kingdom. Brihadshwara temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site under "Great Living Chola Temples."[29] Another example is Annamalaiyar Temple located at the city of Tiruvannamalai and the Chidambaram Temple in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram. Raja Raja Chola and Rajendra Chola period is said to be the golden period of Tamil Nadu, and under them the Chola empire rose to be the most powerful empire in all of South-India. With the decline of the Cholas between 1230 and 1280 CE, the Pandyas rose to prominence once again, under Maravarman Sundara Pandya and his younger brother, the celebrated Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan.

Thirumalai Nayak Mahal at Madurai.

This revival was short-lived as the Pandya capital of Madurai itself was sacked by Alauddin Khilji's troops under General Malik Kafur in 1316. The Muslim invasion led to the establishment of the short lived Madurai Sultanate.[30]

Vijayanagar and Nayak period (1336–1646)

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 Vijayanagara in the Battle of Talikota in 1565. Subsequent to this defeat, many incompetent kings succeeded to the throne of Vijayanagara with the result that its grip loosened over its feudatories among whom the Nayaks of Madurai and Tanjore were among the first to declare their independence, despite initially maintaining loose links with the Vijayanagara kingdom."[31] 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 Temple.

Rule of Nawabs and Nizams (1692–1801)

In the early 18th century, the eastern parts of Tamil Nadu came under the dominions of the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of the Carnatic. While Wallajah was supported by the English, Chanda Shahib was supported by the French by the middle of the 18th century. In the late 18th century, the western parts of Tamil Nadu, came under the dominions of Hyder Ali and later Tipu Sultan, particularly with their victory in the Second Anglo-Mysore War.

European rule (1801–1947)

Fort Dansborg at Tharangambadi built by the Danish

Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat, while the Danish had their establishment in Tranquebar (Tharangambadi). In 1639, the British, under the British East India Company, established a settlement further south of Pulicat, in present day Chennai. In the late 18th century, the British fought and reduced the French dominions in India to Puducherry. Nizams of Hyderabad and the Nawabs of the Carnatic bestowed tax revenue collection rights on the East India Company for defeating the Kingdom of Mysore. After winning the Polygar wars, the East India Company consolidated most of southern India into the Madras Presidency coterminous with the dominions of Nizam of Hyderabad. Pudukkottai remained as a princely state.

Tamil Nadu in independent India (1947 -)

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, South Canara district Karnataka, and parts of Kerala. The state was subsequently split up along linguistic lines. In 1969, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, meaning Tamil country.


Aerial view from space (Courtesy: NASA)
Topographic map of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu covers an area of 130,058 square kilometres (50,216 sq mi), and is the eleventh largest state in India. The bordering states are Kerala to the west, Karnataka to the northwest and Andhra Pradesh to the north. To the east is the Bay of Bengal and the union territory of Puducherry. The southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula is located in Tamil Nadu. At this point is the town of Kanyakumari which is the meeting point of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean.

The western, southern and the north-western parts are hilly and rich in vegetation. The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats and they both meet at the Nilgiri hills.[32] 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 910 kilometres (600 mi) which is the country’s third longest coastline. Tamil Nadu's coastline bore the brunt of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami when it hit India, which caused 7,793 direct deaths in the state.[33] 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.[34]


A semi-arid wasteland near Tirunelveli. Monsoon clouds pour torrents of rain on windward-facing Kerala, but are prevented from reaching Tirunelveli by the Agasthyamalai Range of the Western Ghats (background).

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:

  • advancing monsoon period, South West monsoon from June to September, with strong southwest winds;
  • North East monsoon from October to December, with dominant northeast winds;
  • dry season from January to May.

The normal annual rainfall of the state is about 945 mm (37.2 in)[35] 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.[36]

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.[37]

Plains Hills
Max. 43 °C (109 °F) 32.3 °C (90.1 °F)
Min. 13.1 °C (55.6 °F) 3.0 °C (37.4 °F)

Governance and administration

State Symbols of Tamil Nadu[38]
Animal Nilgiri Tahr
(Tamil: வரையாடு)
Bird Emerald Dove
(Tamil: மரகதப் புறா,பஞ்சவர்ண புறா)
Emerald dove444.jpg
Dance Bharathanattiyam
(Tamil: பரதநாட்டியம்)
Bharatanatyam male.jpg
Flower Gloriosa Lily
(Tamil: செங்காந்தள்,கார்த்திகை மலர்)
Gloriosa Superba.jpg
Song Invocation to Goddess Tamil
(Tamil: தமிழ் தாய் வாழ்த்து)
Neerarum Kadaludutha.jpg
Sport Kabaddi
(Tamil: கபடி)
Tree Palm Tree
(Tamil: பனை மரம்)
Palm Tamil Nadu.jpg

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 Court is the head of the judiciary. The present Governor, Chief Minister and the Chief Justice are Konijeti Rosaiah, J. Jayalalithaa and M. Y. Eqbal respectively.[39][40][41] Administratively the state is divided into 32 districts. It has 10 city corporations, 125 municipalities, 529 town panchayats and 12,524 village panchayats.[42][43] Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the state capital. It is the fourth largest city in India and is also one of the eight Metropolitan cities of India. The state comprises 39 Lok Sabha constituencies and 234 Legislative Assembly constituencies,

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 ADMK led alliance came to power in 2011 and consists of a council of 33 ministers, headed by the Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha. The Tamil Nadu legislative assembly is housed at the Fort St. George in Chennai. The state had come under the President's rule 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.

The local administration is divided into revenue administration and developmental administration. Revenue Divisions of Tamil Nadu provides the Revenue divisions and Taluks of Tamil Nadu. These administrative units are classified based on the district. Each of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu is divided into divisions, which are further divided to Taluks.[44] Each of these Taluks have a list of revenue villages under them. Tahsildar is the head of these Taluks. Developmental administration, in contrast, is carried out by Panchayat Unions (called blocks) in rural areas. These panchayat unions have a set of panchayat villages under them. In urban areas, the governance is done by municipal corporations, municipalities or town panchayats based on the size of the town.[44] Tamil Nadu has 10 municipal corporations: Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli, Salem, Tirunelveli, Erode, Tirupur, Vellore and Thoothukudi.

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.[45] 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 personnel in the country.[46] As of 2003, the state had a total police population ratio of 1:668, higher than the national average of 1:717.[47] The current Director General of Police (law and order) of Tamil Nadu is K. Ramanujan.[48]


Districts of Tamil Nadu

The 32 districts of Tamil Nadu are listed below with the numbers corresponding to those in the image at right.

  1. Ariyalur district
  2. Chennai district
  3. Coimbatore district
  4. Cuddalore district
  5. Dharmapuri district
  6. Dindigul district
  7. Erode district
  8. Kanchipuram district
  9. Kanyakumari district
  10. Karur district
  11. Krishnagiri district
  12. Madurai district
  13. Nagapattinam district
  14. Namakkal district
  15. The Nilgiris district
  16. Perambalur district
  1. Pudukkottai district
  2. Ramanathapuram district
  3. Salem district
  4. Sivaganga district
  5. Thanjavur district
  6. Theni district
  7. Thoothukudi district
  8. Tiruchirapalli district
  9. Tirunelveli district
  10. Thirupur district
  11. Thiruvallur district
  12. Thiruvannamalai district
  13. Thiruvarur district
  14. Vellore district
  15. Viluppuram district
  16. Virudhunagar district


Lok Sabha
AIADMK+ 203 12
DMK+ 31 27
Independent/Other 0 0
Source: Election Commission of India.[49][50]
Fort St. George, Chief Secretariat, Govt. of Tamil Nadu

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, the South Indian Welfare Association, 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. Later, South Indian Liberal Federation 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 K. Kamaraj, Subramanya Bharathi (a poet who inspired the 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.

Periyar E. V. Ramasamy popularly known as Periyar, believed in agitational politics and took the Justice Party away from its original path. The Justice Party which had a moribund existence under E.V.Ramaswamy. 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 EVR 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.

Former chief ministers M.Karunanidhi (centre), C. N. Annadurai (left) and M. G. Ramachandran (right)

In the 19th century, western scholars discovered that the Dravidian languages dominating South India formed a different linguistic group than the Indo-Aryan languages predominant in North India. 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.[51]

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 AIADMK was defeated in 1989 assembly polls because of the Split of the party into two factions headed by Janaki (Wife of MGR) and Jayalalithaa. Later on 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.


Religions in Tamil Nadu[53]
Religion Percent

Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in India with a population of 72,138,958 (5.96% of India's population; census 2011 fig.).[54] It is the seventh most densely populated state in India with a population density of 555 persons per square kilometre as of 2011, having increased from 429 in 1991, significantly higher than the Indian average of 382 persons per square kilometre.[55] 44% of the state's population live in urban areas, the highest among large states in India.[56]

Age wise population pyramid

Tamil Nadu's population grew by 15.6% between 2001 and 2011, the sixth lowest rate for that period amongst populous states (states whose population exceeded 20 million in 2011).[55] Although its decadal rate of population growth has declined since 1971, the population growth during the last decade (2001–2011) has increased.[55] The state has registered the lowest fertiliy rate along with Andhra Pradesh and Goa in India in year 2005–06 with 1.8 children born for each woman, lower than required for population sustainability.[57][58][59]

Hinduism is 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. Hinduism is the dominant religion has a higher percentage of adherents in Tamil Nadu (88%) when compared to other states. Christianity, though a minority, has the highest population in absolute numbers when compared to other states. Jains make up 0.13% of the population. Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes comprise 19% and 1% of the population respectively.[60][61] Tamil is the official and the principal spoken language of the state. As of the 2001 Census, Tamil is spoken by 89.00% of the population followed by Telugu at 5.66%, Kannada at 2.0%, Urdu at 1.51% and Malayalam at 0.59%.[62]

Education and social development

District level literacy (2011 data)
The main entrance of IIT Madras, showing its logo and its motto.
The administrative building of National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli with its clock tower.

Tamil Nadu is one of the most literate states in India.[63] Tamil Nadu has performed reasonably well in terms of literacy growth during the decade 2001–2011. The state's literacy rate increased from 73.47% in 2001 to 80.3% in 2011 which is above the national average.[64] 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.[65] 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.[66] The analysis of primary school education in the state by Pratham shows a low drop-off rate but poor quality of state education compared to other states.[67][68]

PSG College of Technology, the oldest private institution in the state
College of Engineering, Anna University, the oldest engineering school of south India

Tamil Nadu has 37 universities,[69] 455 engineering colleges,[70] 449 Polytechnic Colleges[71] and 566 arts and science colleges, 34335 elementary schools, 5167 high schools, 5054 higher secondary schools and 5000 hospitals.[72] Some of the notable educational institutes present in Tamil Nadu are University of Madras, IIT Madras,NIT Tiruchi,IIM Tiruchirappalli,College of Engineering, Guindy, PSG College of Technology,Coimbatore Institute of Technology,Madras Christian College,[73] Christian Medical College, Vellore Institute of Technology, Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Bharathidasan Institute of Management, Madras Medical College, Loyola College, Ethiraj College for Women and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Madurai Medical College. The Indian Institute of Management is scheduled to open in Trichy by 2009–2010.[74] Tamil Nadu produces the highest number of engineering graduates in India (around 1,75,000) every year.

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.[75][76] The life expectancy at birth for males is 65.2 years and for females it is 67.6 years.[77] However, it has a high level of poverty especially in the rural areas. As of 2004–2005, the poverty line was set at INR 351.86/month for rural areas and INR 547.42/month for urban areas.[78] Poverty in the state dropped from 51.7% in 1983 to 21.1% in 2001[79] 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%.[80] The World Bank is currently assisting the state in reducing poverty[81] High drop-out and low completion of secondary schools continue to hinder the quality of training in the population. Other problems include class, gender, inter-district and urban-rural disparities. Based on URP – Consumption for the period 2004–2005, percentage of the state's population Below Poverty Line was 27.5%.[78] The Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative ranks Tamil Nadu to have a Multidimensional Poverty Index of 0.141, which is in the level of Ghana among the developing countries.[82] Corruption is a major problem in the state with Transparency International ranking it the second most corrupt among the states of India.[83]

The Dravidian movement, which championed the causes of educating tamils and eradicating superstitions, began in Tamil Nadu. The movement was committed to social justice which led to the expansion of reservations for the deprived communities. Tamil Nadu now has 69% reservation in educational institutions, the highest among all Indian states.[84]

The Mid-day Meal Scheme program in Tamil Nadu, initiated by Kamaraj, was expanded considerably during the rule of the AIADMK in 1983, although the state is among the 12 states in India that have alarming level of hunger according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index.[85][86] ``


Kolam - a Traditional culture of the Tamil people

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

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.[87] The Tamil people regard their language a very important part of their cultural identity.

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.

முகத்தான் அமர்ந்துஇனிது நோக்கி அகத்தானாம்

இன்சொ லினிதே அறம் -(திருக்குறள் - 93)

'Calm face, sweet look, kind words from heart

Such is the gracious virtue's part'
(Tirukkural – 93)

Notable examples of Tamil poetry include the Tirukkural, written during the Tamil Sangams period. The poem encompasses a universal outlook, 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. Ancient Tamil literature is predominantly secular[citation needed] and deals with everyday life in the Tamil Context.

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 and Bharathidasan. Even today, Tamil Nadu is home to creative writers like Vairamuthu, Jayakanthan,and Indira Parthasarathy.

Tamil is spoken by 89.43% of the population. Minority languages include Telugu (5.65%), Kannada (1.68%), Urdu (1.51%), Malayalam (0.89%), Gujarati / Saurashtri (0.32%), Hindi (0.30%) and Marathi (0.10%).[88]


Meenakshi Amman Temple complex in Madurai, one of the grandest Hindu temples in India
Population by religion, 2001[89]
Religious group Population (million)  %
Hindu 55.0 88.1
Christian 3.79 6.1
Muslim 3.47 5.6
Total [90] 62.4 100

About 88% of the population identifies as Hindu and Tamil Nadu is the home of the core schools of medieval and modern Hinduism as well as several non-mainstream Hindu movements. These include Saiva Siddhanta, Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita, Alvars' Sri Vaishnavism, and Nayanmars Saivisim. Several important Hindu Tamil figures became important figures for Hinduism as a whole (e.g.Ramanuja.) In modern times, well known figures for Hinduism in the state include Ramana Maharishi and the Kanchi Paramacharya. Murugan, Thirumal (Vishnu), Sivan, Sakthi in various forms and a large number of village deities are also worshiped by Hindus in Tamil Nadu. The emblem of Government of Tamil Nadu depicts the Gopuram (Entrance Arch) of the temple at Srivilliputhur.

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni, a Christian pilgrimage centre
Erwadi dargah in Ramanathapuram District, a major pilgrimage center of Muslims in Tamil Nadu.

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 Mount in Chennai, the place where St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, was believed to have been martyred,[91] is an important pilgrimage site for Indian Christians. The Santhome Basilica, widely believed by Christians in India to have been built atop the tomb of St. Thomas, and the Vailankanni Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health are churches revered by Christians in India. The Church of South India and the Pentecostal Mission Church are headquartered in Chennai.

Muslims are mainly concentrated in areas such as Adirampattinam, Kayalpatnam, Kilakarai, Pernambut, Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Madurai, Nagore, and Melapalayam, with the state capital Chennai also home to a number of Muslims. Among Muslims, 97.5% are Sunni and the rest are Shias. The Sunnis adhere to either Hanafi or Shafi schools of thought. Erwadi in Ramanathapuram district and Nagore in Nagapattinam district are important pilgrimage sites for Muslims. Kazimar Big Mosque in Kazimar Street, Madurai and Karpudaiyar masjid in Kayalpatnam are one of the earlier mosques in Tamil Nadu.

Samanars or Tamil Jains have a legacy dating back 250 BC. They made significant contributions to Tamil literature. According to the 2001 census there were 83,359 Jains in Tamil Nadu. There is a popular atheist movement in the 1940s as well.


A bull tamed by a Tamil youth at Alanganallur, Madurai
Thungapuram Ayyanar car festival

Pongal, also called as Tamizhar Thirunaal (festival of Tamils) or Makara Sankranti elsewhere in India, a four-day harvest festival is one of the most widely celebrated festivals throughout Tamil Nadu. The Tamil language saying Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum — literally meaning, the birth of the month of Thai will pave way for new opportunities — is often quoted with reference to this festival. The first day, Bhogi Pongal, is celebrated by throwing away and destroying old clothes and materials by setting them on fire to mark the end of the old and emergence of the new. The second day, Surya Pongal, is the main day which falls on the first day of the tenth Tamil month Thai (14 January or 15 January in western calendar). The third day, Maattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cattle, as they provide milk and are used to plough the lands. Jallikattu, a bull taming contest, marks the main event of this day. During this final day, Kaanum Pongal — the word "kaanum", means 'to view' in Tamil.

The first month in the Tamil calendar is Chitterai and the first day of this month in mid-April is celebrated as Tamil New Year. Thiruvalluvar Calendar is 31 years ahead of Gregorian Calendar, that is 2000 CE 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.

Other major Hindu festivals including Deepavali (Death of Narakasura), Ayudha Poojai, Saraswathi Poojai (Dasara), Krishna Jayanthi and Vinayaka Chathurthi are also celebrated. Ayya Vaikunda Avataram, is celebrated predominantly in the southern districts.[92] In addition, Christmas, Eid ul-Fitr, Easter and Bakrid are celebrated by Christians and Muslims in the state


Nadhaswaram and Thavil players

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, women who worked 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 Villuppāṭṭu, a form of music performed with a bow, and the Nāṭṭuppur̲appāṭṭu, ballads that convey folklore and folk history. Some of the leading Tamil folk artists in the early 21st century are Pushpuvanam Kuppuswamy, Dr. Vijayalakshmi Navaneethakrishnan, Chinnaponnu, Paravai muniammal etc.

Carnatic music is the classical music form of Southern India. This is one of the world's oldest & richest musical traditions.[93] The Trinity of Carnatic music Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri were from Tamil Nadu. Thyagarajar Aaradhanai (worship) takes place every year in the month of Marghazhi in Thiruvaiyaru all carnatic musicians render their obesiance to Saint Thyagarajar by singing his compositions.[94] The composers belonging to the Tamil Trinity, namely 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. Chennai hosts a large cultural event, the annual Madras Music Season during December–January, which includes performances by hundreds of artists all over the city.

In terms of modern cine-music, Ilaiyaraaja was a prominent composer of film music in Tamil cinema during the late 1970s and 1980s.[citation needed] 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[95][96][97] who has composed film music in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi films, English and Chinese films, was once referred to by Time magazine as "The Mozart of Madras".

Arts and dance

A Bharatanatyam dancer

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 temmanguppāṭṭu or thevar pāṭṭu, 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 mayilāṭṭam, 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; poikkal kuthiraiyaaṭṭam, where the dancers use dummy horses; manattam, where the dancers imitate the graceful leaping of deer; paraiyāṭṭam, a dance to the sound of rhythmical drumbeats, and thīppandāṭṭam, a dance involving playing with burning wooden torches.

Bharatanatyam is a classical dance form originating from Tamil Nadu. Prior to the colonial perriod, it used to be 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 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. It is known for being the second largest film industry in terms of revenue and worldwide distribution, in India.[98][99] It is based at Kodambakkam in Chennai city.


Chettinad cuisine, typically served on a banana leaf

Tamil cuisine is basically South Indian cuisine, where rice and rice-derived dishes form the major portion of a diet (see rice and curry). There are regional sub-varieties namely Chettinadu, Kongunadu, Madurai, Tirunelveli varieties etc. 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, or fish fry. Breakfast and snack items include dosai, Adai, idly, vadai, pongal, appam (aappam), paniyaram, puttu, uppumavu (uppuma), santhakai (a sort of 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 Ambur, Dindigal and Sankarankoil are known for their Biriyani. Sweet items that are native to Tamil Nadu and prepared at homes are Athirasam, Chakkarai Pongal (prepared during Pongal) and Kuli Paniyaram. Tirunelveli is known for its unique wheat Halwa and Palani is renowned for its Panchamirtham. North Indian, Western, Chinese and fast food culture are also popular in Tamil Nadu.


Gross State Domestic Product in INR Crores and Current Prices[100]
Year GSDP Change Share of India
Green Arrow Up.svg 19.32%
Green Arrow Up.svg 7.49%
Green Arrow Up.svg 29.96%
Red Arrow Down.svg 7.18%
Green Arrow Up.svg 32.47%
Green Arrow Up.svg 7.40%
Green Arrow Up.svg 19.36%
Red Arrow Down.svg 7.33%
Green Arrow Up.svg 09.92%
Red Arrow Down.svg 6.85%
Green Arrow Up.svg 21.81%
Red Arrow Down.svg 6.61%

Tamil Nadu's gross state domestic product for 2011 is estimated at US$ 97.970 Billion in current prices.[101][102][103] The state experienced a GDP growth rate of 12.1% for 2007-08.[65] It was the third largest economy (2007–2008) among all states in India,[104] and also the most industrialised state in India.[105] It ranks third in foreign direct investment (FDI) approvals (cumulative 1991–2002) of INR 225,826 million ($5,000 million), next only to Maharashtra and Delhi constituting 9.12% of the total FDI in the country.[106] The per capita income in 2007–2008 for the state was INR 43,000 ranking second among the South Indian states[107] and steadily been above the national average.[108]

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.[109] and is the most urbanized state in India.[5] Services contributes to 45% of the economic activity in the state, followed by manufacturing at 34% and agriculture at 21%. Government is the major investor in the state with 51% of total investments, followed by private Indian investors at 29.9% and foreign private investors at 14.9%. Tamil Nadu has a network of about 113 industrial parks and estates offering developed plots with supporting infrastructure.[110]

According to the publications of the Tamil Nadu government the Gross State Domestic Product at Current Prices (Base year 1999–2000) for the year 2008–2009 is INR 339,212 crores. The percapita income at current price is INR 51, 097.[111]


Tamil Nadu has historically been an agricultural state and is a leading producer of agricultural products in India. In 2008, Tamil Nadu was India's fifth biggest producer of Rice.[112] The total cultivated area in the State was 56.10 million hectares in 2007–08.[113] The Cauvery delta region of the composite Thanjavur district is known as the Rice Bowl of South India. In terms of production, Tamil Nadu accounts for 10% in fruits and 6% in vegetables, in India.[114] Annual food grains production in the year 2007–08 was 100.35 lakh mt.[113] Mango and Banana are the leading fruit crops in Tamil Nadu accounting for over 87% of the total fruit production. The main vegetables grown are tapioca, tomato, onion, brinjal and drumstick. Tamil Nadu is also a leading state in the production of flowers with the total production of horticultural crops standing at INR 99.47 Lakhs during 2003–04. The main flowers grown in Tamil Nadu are Jasmine, Mullai, Chrysanthemum, Marigold and Rose.

Paddy fields at Nagercoil

The state is the largest producer of bananas,[115] flowers,[116] tapioca,[116] the second largest producer of mango,[116] natural rubber,[117] coconut,[118] groundnut and the third largest producer of coffee,[119] sapota,[116] Tea[120] and Sugarcane.[121] Tamil Nadu's sugarcane yield per hectare is the highest in India.[121] The state has 17,000 hectares of land under oil palm cultivation, the second highest in India.[122] Tamil Nadu is the home to Dr M.S. Swaminathan, known as the "father of the Green Revolution" in India.[123] Tamil Nadu Agricultural University with its seven colleges and thirty two research stations spread over the entire state contributes to evolving new crop varieties and technologies and disseminating through various extension agencies. Among states in India, Tamil Nadu is one of the leaders in livestock, poultry and fisheries production. Tamil Nadu had the second largest number of poultry amongst all the states and accounted for 17.7% of the total poultry population in India.[124] In 2003–2004, Tamil Nadu had produced 37,836 lakhs of eggs, which was the second highest in India representing 9.37% of the total egg production in the country.[125] With the third longest coastline in India, Tamil Nadu represented 27.54% of the total value of fish and fishery products exported by India in 2006.[126]

Textile, automobile and heavy industries

Textile mills and engineering industries are present around the city of Coimbatore. It is home to textile, automotive spare parts and motor pump manufacturing units. Cities of Tirupur and Erode are the country's largest exporters of knitwear.[127] 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'.[128]

Hyundai's manufacturing plant at Irungattukottai near Sriperumbudur

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 and Tiruchirappalli. Tamil Nadu has seen major investments in the automobile industry over many decades manufacturing cars, railway coaches, battle-tanks, tractors, motorcycles, automobile spare parts and accessories, tyres and heavy vehicles. Major global automobile companies including BMW, Ford, Renault-Nissan, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Mitsubishi Motors and Michelin as well as local automobile majors like Ashok Leyland, Hindustan Motors, TVS Motors, Irizar-TVS, Royal Enfield, MRF, Apollo Tyres, TAFE Tractors, DaimlerChrysler AG and PSA Peugeot Citroën Company also invested (INR) 4 billion for establishing new plant in Tamil Nadu[129] have manufacturing operations in Tamil Nadu. Karur is a hub for bus body building industries.

The region around Coimbatore, Tirupur, Karur and Erode is referred to as the "Textile Valley of India" with the export turnover from the Tirupur in 2004 at INR 50,000 million ($1,000 million). 56% of India's total knitwear exports come from Tirupur.Namakkal is the major source of Heavy Vehicle Transport and body building, It is also one of the main source of Egg production in India. Karur generates around (35,500 million) $750 million a year in foreign exchange. Arani and Kanchipuram are famous for their handloom and silk weaving industries. Sivakasi is a major centre of fireworks and safety match production and offset printing in India, over 60% of firework production is contributed from sivakasi

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, one of India's largest electrical equipment manufacturing company, has manufacturing plants at Tiruchirapalli and Ranipet. India's leading steel producer, SAIL has a steel plant in Salem.[130] Sterlite Industries has their copper smelter plant in Tuticorin and aluminium plant in Mettur. The state government owns the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd. (TNPL),[131] the world's biggest bagasse based Paper mills in Karur, as well as the world's sixth largest manufacturer of watches together with TATA at Hosur, under the brand name of "Titan".[132]

Electronics and software

Infosys' campus at Mahindra World City near Chennai

Electronics manufacturing is a growing industry in Tamil Nadu, with many telecommunications giants 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.[133]

Tamil Nadu is the second largest software exporter by value in India, second only to Karnataka. Software exports from Tamil Nadu grew from INR 76 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2003–04 to INR 207 billion {$5 billion} by 2006–07 according to NASSCOM[134] and to INR 366 billion in 2008–09 which shows 29% growth in software exports according to STPI.[135] Major national and global IT Companies such as Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Tata Consultancy Services, Mahindra Satyam, Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon.com, Paypal, IBM, Accenture, Ramco Systems, Computer Sciences Corporation, Cognizant Technology solutions, Tech Mahindra, Polaris, Aricent, MphasiS, MindTree, Symantec, iNautix, R Systems International Limited CSS Corp and many others have offices in Tamil Nadu.

Leather industry

The state accounts for 70 per cent of leather tanning capacity in India and 38 per cent of leather footwear and components. The exports from Tamil Nadu are valued at about US $ 762 million, which accounts for 42 per cent of Indian leather exports. Hundreds of leather and tannery industries are located around Vellore and its nearby towns such as Ranipet, Ambur and Vaniyambadi. The Vellore district is the top exporter of finished leather goods in the country. Vellore leather accounts for more than 37% of the country's Export of Leather and Leather related products such as finished leathers, shoes, garments, gloves and so on. The tanning industry in India has a total installed capacity of 225 million pieces of hide and skins of which Tamil Nadu alone contributes to an inspiring 70%. Leather industry occupies a pride of place in the industrial map of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu enjoys a leading position with 40% share in India 's export. It currently employs about 2.5 million persons Leather exports by the end of the year 2000-2001 were Rs. 9000 crores.


Pamban road (left) and rail (right) bridges, connecting the Indian mainland with the Pamban Island. The rail bridge was opened to traffic in 1914, and was considered an engineering marvel in its time

Tamil Nadu has a transportation system that connects all parts of 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 2,002 km (1,244 mi).[136] The state is also a terminus for the Golden Quadrilateral project. The state has a total road length of 167,000 km (103,769 mi), of which 60,628 km (37,672 mi) are maintained by Highways Department. This is nearly 2.5 times higher than the density of all-India road network.[137] The major road jn. are Chennai, Trichy, Madurai, Coimbatore, Salem, Karur, Krishnagiri, Dindigul, Kanniyakumari,.,etc

Tamil Nadu has a well-developed rail network as part of Southern Railway. Headquartered at Chennai, the Southern Railway network extends over a large area of India's Southern Peninsula, covering the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, a small portion of Karnataka and a small portion of Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu has a total railway track length of 5,952 km (3,698 mi) and there are 532 railway stations in the state.[138] The system connects it with most major cities in India. Main rail junctions in the state include Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Salem, Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) and Erode. 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 Airport, that is connected with 19 countries with more than 169 direct flights every week. This is the third largest airport in India after Mumbai and Delhi and has a passenger growth of 18%. Other international airports present in the state are Tiruchirapalli International Airport, Coimbatore International Airport. The Madurai Airport, Salem Airport and Tuticorin Airport are domestic airports which connect their respective cities to other parts of the country. 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.[139]

MRTS Train station in Chennai

Tamil Nadu has three major seaports at Chennai, Ennore and Tuticorin, as well as one intermediate port, at Nagapattinam (Seven other minor ports including Cuddalore and Nagapattinam).[113] 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 handles all the coal and ore traffic in Tamil Nadu. The volume of cargo in the ports grew by 13 per cent during 2005.[140][141]

As of 2005, Tamil Nadu is one of the few Indian states with surplus Electricity generation capacity, enabling the electrical authority to sell it to neighbouring states of Andra Pradesh & Karnataka. The Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant, Ennore Thermal Plant, Neyveli 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 adding the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant to its energy grid, which on completion would be the largest atomic power plant in the country, in terms of capacity.[142] The total installed capacity for electricity in the State is 8,249 MW. The installed capacity of State Sector is 5,288 MW, and that of Private Sector is 1,058 MW. Apart from this, 1,903 MW is available as share from Central Sector.[113]

Tamil Nadu sources[143] a significant proportion of its power needs from renewable sources with wind power installed capacity at over 3600 MW[144] 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%.[citation needed] 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.[145]


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 Bengal.

The state has a range of flora and fauna with many species and habitats. To protect this diversity of wildlife there are Protected areas of Tamil Nadu, including two Biosphere Reserves, five National Parks and several Wildlife Sanctuaries.[146]

There are about 2000 species of wildlife that are native to Tamil Nadu. Protected areas provide safe habitat for large mammals including elephants, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, 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 Storks, Spoonbills and White Ibis[disambiguation needed ]es, Little Grebes, Indian Moorhen, Black-winged Stilts, a few migratory Ducks and occasionally Grey Pelicans, marine species such as the Dugongs, Turtles, Dolphins and Balanoglossus and a wide variety of fish and insects.

The Angiosperm diversity of India includes 17,672 species. Tamil Nadu ranks 1st among all states in the Country, with 5640 species, 1/3 of the total flora of India[citation needed]. This includes 1559 species of medicinal plants, 533 endemic species, 260 species of wild relatives of cultivated plants and 230 red-listed species. The Gymnosperm diversity of the country is 64 species of which Tamil Nadu has four indigenous species and about 60 introduced species. The Pteridophytes diversity of India includes 1022 species of which Tamil Nadu has about 184 species. Vast numbers of bryophytes, Liquens, Fungi, Algae and Bacteria are among the wild plant diversity of Tamil Nadu.[147]

Common plant species include the state tree: Palmyra Palm, Eucalyptus, 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 (Diospyros nilagrica), Habenaria rariflora (Orchid), Alsophila, Impatiens elegans, Ranunculus reniformis, and Royal fern.[148]

There are number of environmental organizations involved with environmental conservation and environmental education in Tamil Nadu. 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 intent of these organizations is increased awareness of environmentalism by the state's population.[149]

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.[150][151] The Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology coordinates government scientific agencies and creates environmental awareness programs in the state,[152] There are several prominent leaders worth public roles in these efforts. There are environmental NGOs working in the state who are characterized by funding from private sources, programs of environmental activism and a high degree of autonomy and volunteerism.


Kabaddi, also known locally as Sadugudu, is the state game of Tamil Nadu. But the most popular game just like rest of India is Cricket. M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai is an international cricketing arena with a capacity of 50,000 and houses the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association.

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.[153] The SDAT owns and operates world class stadiums and organizes sporting events.[154] It also accommodates sporting events, both at domestic and international level, organized by other sports associations at its venues. It has national racing tracks like Irungattukottai Race Track in Sriperumpudur near Kanchipuram district, where national level Bike and Car races were conducted.[155] The YMCA College of Physical Education at Nandanam in Chennai was established in 1920 and was the first college for physical education in Asia.[156]

Cricket contests between local clubs, franchises and teams are also popular across the state. Chennai, the capital of state is also one of the ten Indian cities to be featured in the nation level Twenty-20 Cricket competition, the Indian Premier League. The team, owned by the cement manufacturers, India Cements, is called Chennai Super Kings.[157] The MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai is a much sought after fast bowling academy by pace bowlers all over the world. The state game of Kabaddi, and Silambam, are sports played in the rural areas.

The ATP Chennai Open tournament held in Chennai every January is the biggest Tennis event in South Asia.[158]

Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore

Tamil Nadu has a long standing motor sports culture. The sport was pioneered by Sundaram Karivardhan in its early days. Notable sports persons from Tamil Nadu in the field are Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian to participate in F1 racing, and Karun Chandhok. Motor racing events are held at the Irungattukottai track (near Sriperumbudur), Sholavaram track and Kari Motorspeedway near Coimbatore.

Viswanathan Anand, the world chess champion

The Tamil Nadu Hockey Association is the governing body of Hockey in the state. Vasudevan Baskaran was the captain of the 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 infrastructure.[159] Chennai hosted the SAF Games in 1995. Anju Bobby George, a world renowned athlete, represents Tamil Nadu in the national arena.[160]

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai is a multi-purpose stadium hosting Football and Track & Field events. The Indian Triathlon Federation and the Volleyball Federation of India are headquartered in Chennai.[161] Chennai hosted India’s first ever International Beach Volleyball Championship in 2008.[162]

World Chess champion and Indian Grand Master Viswanathan Anand and Arjuna Awardee and two-time world carrom champion Maria Irudayam hail from Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu boasts of total of 8 Grand Masters and numerous International Masters.[163] Snooker was invented by General Sir Frederick Roberts at the Ooty Club in Ooty, a hill station in the state.[164][165]

The SDAT – TNSRA Squash Academy in Chennai, one of the very few modern squash facilities in South Asia,[166] hosts international squash events.

Tamil Nadu has six 18-hole Golf courses,[167] the most popular of which are Kodaikanal Golf Club, established in 1895, Ooty Golf Course, established in 1896, and Gymkhana Club, Chennai. The Madras Boat Club, set up in 1867, hosts regular rowing races on the Adyar River.[168] The 232-year-old Guindy race course in Chennai is a horse racing venue. Adventure sports have gained popularity, especially amongst the tourists visiting the state.[169]


Hogenakal Waterfall on Kaveri river, Dharmapuri district

Tamil Nadu's tourism industry is the second largest in India, with an annual growth rate of 16%.[170] 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.[171] Tamil Nadu is a land of varied beauty. It boasts some of the grandest Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture. These temples are of a distinct style renowned for their towering Gopurams. The Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur, built by the Cholas, the Airavateswara temple in Darasuram and the Shore Temple, along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram also called as Mamallaburam have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[172][173] The Nellaiappar Temple situated in the heart of Tirunelveli city. Madurai is home to one of the grandest Hindu temples in the World — Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam is the largest functioning temple in the world, Tiruchirappalli where the famous Rockfort Temple temple is located, Rameshwaram whose temple walk-ways corridor (Praagarams) are the longest [1.2km] of all Indian temples in the world, Kanchipuram and Palani are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Other popular temples in Tamil Nadu include those in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Chidambaram, Thiruvannaamalai, Tiruttani, Kumbakonam, Tiruvannamalai, Karur, Bhavani, Srivilliputhur, Namakkal, Tiruchendur, Tiruvarur, Vellore, Coimbatore, Kanniyakumari etc.,.

Botanical Gardens, Ooty

Tamil Nadu is also home to beautiful hill stations. Popular among them are Udhagamandalam (Ooty), Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Coonoor, Topslip, Valparai, Yelagiri and Manjolai. The Nilgiri hills, Palani hills, Shevaroy hills, Kolli Hills and Cardamom hills are all abodes of thick forests and wildlife.

Thiruvalluvar statue in Kanyakumari, southern tip of India

Mukurthi National Park & Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are the two tiger reserves in the state. Tamil Nadu has many National Parks, Biosphere Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Elephant and Bird Sanctuaries, Reserved Forests, Zoos and Crocodile farms. Prominent among them are Mudumalai National Park, The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Arignar Anna Zoological Park. The mangrove forests at Pichavaram are also eco-tourism spots of importance.

Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of peninsular India, is famous for its beautiful sunrise, Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar's statue built off the coastline. Marina Beach in Chennai is one of the longest beaches in the world.[174] The stretch of beaches from Chennai to Mahabalipuram are home to many resorts, theme parks and eateries. The prominent waterfalls in the state are Courtallam, Hogenakal, Papanasam, Manimuthar, Thirparappu, Pykara and Silver Cascade. The Chettinad region of the state is renowned for its Palatial houses and cuisine. With medical care in Chennai, Vellore, Coimbatore and Madurai, Tamil Nadu has the largest numbers in Medical tourism in India.

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