India Travel

Top 5 Things To See and Do in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is the southernmost state of India. Tamil Nadu is bordered by the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, resulting in beautiful beaches. More than ten rivers flow within this state making it one of the most fertile lands in the country. Concerning scenic beauty, Tamil Nadu is on par with states like Karnataka. With the Nilgiri and Anamalai Hills towering over the state, it looks nothing less than impressive. It also shares a maritime border with Sri Lanka.

Regarding historical structure, Tamil Nadu is blessed. The state is mentioned in epics like Ramayana. There are 33,000 temples here, built in the impressive Dravidian architectural style. Also, Archaeological Survey of India has found that settlements in Tamil Nadu were one of the oldest in the Indian Peninsula. Tamil Nadu was rich in art and cultural forms since time immemorial. Evidence of their culture is found in their text belonging to that era: Sangam Literature.

With all that being said, there is definitely a lot to see in Tamil Nadu. But if you’re in a hurry, I’m going to list down five places in this state that you should visit.

1. Mahabalipuram

The last shore temple
The last shore temple. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Talk about Indian history and this place has to make an appearance. Mahabalipuram translating to the land of Mahabali is situated on a strip of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake. It is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sights. According to legend, this town was named after King Mahabali who was known throughout the country for his generous and kind nature.

Today, Mahabalipuram stands as a testimony to the absolutely excellent architectural skills of India even during the 7th and 8th centuries. Because of its ideal location, this town was the most famous seaport for trading since the 1st century and continued to be so even during the reign of the Pallava dynasty.

Today, it consists of a large number of massive temples built in the shape of chariots, cave sanctuaries and most popularly, shore temples. More than a thousand Shiv sculptures can be found in this historic temple town. From the coast of this town, ancient Chinese coins dating back to the 4th century were found. This shows the level of global trade that took place here.

Mahabalipuram’s power is mentioned even in Sangam literature. Many poets write that ships laden with wealth and gems used to arrive regularly at its shore. During the time of the famous sailor Marco Polo, this town was also identified as the town of Seven Pagodas. This is because it had seven large shore temples at that period out of which the only one is remaining now. The many temples found here have stood the test of time proudly, and it goes on to show the kind of power India possessed in the world at that period.

It is one place in Tamil Nadu that you cannot miss.

2. Meenakshi Temple

The tallest shrine of Meenakshi Temple
The tallest shrine of Meenakshi Temple. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Before going on to describe the temple, let me tell you that it has been nominated as one among the 30 options for the new seven wonders of the world. That in itself speaks volumes about the kind of temple it is.

Situated in Madurai, Meenakshi Temple is visited by people across the globe. In a land where most of the grandest temples are dedicated to gods, this one temple is dedicated to Parvati, a powerful goddess and Shiv’s consort. It is one of the largest and oldest temples in India and maybe in the world as well.

According to Hindu mythology, this temple was found by Indra, the leader of gods. A naturally formed Shiv lingam in the temple could also be a reason for the importance given to it. Anyhow, the temple was looted by the Mughals during their reign, and it was restored in the 16th century to its present glory. It is estimated that during the annual festival of Meenakshi Temple, approximately 1 million people visit it.

The temple complex is massive having four entrances. There are several gopurams, shrines and towers in the complex, each having intricate carvings of divine beings and animals. The Meenakshi shrine is the most important among all the others. Inside this shrine, there is an idol of Meenakshi which is cut out of a single emerald. The grandeur and architecture of this temple make this one of its kind in the world and its a must-visit indeed.

3. Kanyakumari

Kanyakumari Sunrise
Kanyakumari Sunrise. Photo by Evonne.

Thousands of visitors come here every day to watch the infamous Kanyakumari sunrise and sunset which is a breathtakingly beautiful sight, and I have witnessed it myself. It is the southernmost end of our country. All the three seas that surround India meet here.

Several small stalls are spanning the beach where shells of all sizes and shapes, shell bracelets, necklaces, etc. are sold. Also, when you come here, don’t forget to visit the Vivekananda Memorial Rock.

4. Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal Lake
Kodaikanal Lake. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

After all the temples and seas, it’s now time for some enchanting hill stations. The peace and tranquillity that you get by the silence and fresh air of the mountains are unparalleled. It heals the soul, and you feel rejuvenated.

If you’re a hill station kind of person, Tamil Nadu will not disappoint you. Kodaikanal is popularly acclaimed as the “Queen of Hill Stations” and rightfully so.

At an altitude of 2000 m above sea level, the hill town surrounds the beautiful Kodaikanal Lake. Evergreen forests adorn the high hills adding to the charm of the place. Meadows and grasslands surround the hillside and valleys with flowing streams are a common sight.

According to colonial history, Kodaikanal town was established as a place to escape from the mosquitoes and the tropical diseases of the state. But today, it is the most popular tourist destination in India. Its beauty is indescribable, and the title given to it is very apt.

Love Hill Stations? Check out The 5 Best Hill Stations To Visit in India.

5. Chennai

Famous Marina Beach
Famous Marina Beach. Photo by Ashwin Kumar

I cannot finish this list without including the capital of the state: Chennai. It was formerly called Madras. It was one of the administrative centres of the British East India Company as they established a trading post in the small fishing village of Chennai. Much before the colonial period, Chennai was also an important city during the Pallava dynasty.

Today, it is the capital of the state and the cultural capital of the country. Chennai is also rising as a prominent city for education. It is a metropolitan city and one of the most populous metropolis as well. Famous attractions include Marina Beach, Parthasarathy Temple and Kapaleeswaraar Temple. Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram are also close to Chennai.

Check out some other amazing beaches in Top 5 Exotic Beaches of India.

By Merlin Chacko

Currently studying English Literature at Delhi University. Obsessed with Harry Potter and NOT Shakespeare. I believe that nothing nourishes the soul like books and travelling. Constantly amazed by the Indian culture and its history. Personally feel that the old forts and ruined palaces in India are almost magical.

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