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Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu
State of India
Official logo of Tamil Nadu
Seal of Tamil Nadu
Motto: Truth alone Triumphs
Anthem: Invocation to Tamil Mother
Location of Tamil Nadu (marked in red) in India
Location of Tamil Nadu (marked in red) in India
Country  India
Region South India
Established 26 January 1950
Capital and largest city Chennai
Districts 32
 • Governor Konijeti Rosaiah
 • Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam
 • Legislature Unicameral (234 seats)
 • High Court Madras High Court, Madurai Bench
 • Total 130,058 km2 (50,216 sq mi)
Area rank 11th
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 72,147,030[2]
 • Rank 6th
Demonym Tamilan / Thamizhan
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-TN
HDI Increase 0.736 (medium)[3]
HDI rank 3rd (2011)[4]
Literacy 80.33 % (2011 census)[5]
Official languages Tamil, English
^† Established in 1773; Madras State was formed in 1950 and renamed as Tamil Nadu on 14 January 1969[6] ^# Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem, while Invocation to Mother Tamil is the state song/anthem.

Tamil Nadu ( ;    ; literally The Land of Tamils or Tamil Country) is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital is Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the largest city. Tamil Nadu[7] 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 bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south. It also shares maritime border with the country of Sri Lanka.

Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area and the sixth most populous state in India. The state was ranked sixth among states in India according to the Human Development Index in 2011.[4][8] It was the second largest state economy in India in 2012.[9] The state has the highest number (10.56 per cent) of business enterprises and stands second in total employment (9.97 per cent) in India,[10] compared to the population share of about 6 per cent. In the 2013 Raghuram Rajan panel report, Tamil Nadu was ranked as the third most developed state in India based on a "Multidimensional Development Index".[11] The region has been the home of the Tamil people since at least 1500 BC.[12] Its official language is Tamil, which holds a status of being a classical language. Tamil has been in use in inscriptions and literature for over 2500 years.

Tamil Nadu is home to many natural resources, classical arts, classical music, classical literature, Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture, hill stations, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage sites, and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[13][14]


  • History 1
    • Prehistory 1.1
    • Indus valley script between 2000 and 1500 BC 1.2
    • Early history (Sangam Period 300 BC – AD 300) 1.3
    • Medieval Period (600–1300) 1.4
      • Chola Empire 1.4.1
    • Vijayanagar and Nayak period (1336–1646) 1.5
    • Rule of Poligars (1692–1801) 1.6
    • European rule (1801–1947) 1.7
    • India (1947–present) 1.8
  • Geography 2
  • Flora and fauna 3
  • National and State Parks 4
  • Climate 5
  • Governance and administration 6
  • Administrative subdivisions 7
  • Politics 8
    • Pre-Independence 8.1
    • Post-Independent India 8.2
  • Demographics 9
    • Religion 9.1
    • Language 9.2
  • Education 10
  • Culture 11
    • Literature 11.1
    • Festivals and traditions 11.2
    • Music 11.3
    • Arts and dance 11.4
    • Film industry 11.5
    • Cuisine 11.6
  • Economy 12
    • Agriculture 12.1
    • Leather industry 12.2
    • Textiles and Engineering 12.3
    • Automobiles 12.4
    • Heavy industries 12.5
    • Electronics and software 12.6
    • Others 12.7
  • Infrastructure 13
    • Transport 13.1
      • Road 13.1.1
      • Rail 13.1.2
      • Airports 13.1.3
      • Seaport 13.1.4
    • Energy 13.2
  • Sports 14
  • Tourism 15
  • See also 16
  • Notes 17
  • References 18
  • External links 19



Archaeological evidence points archeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, skeletons, bones, husks, grains of rice, charred rice and celts of the Neolithic period, 3,800 years ago.[8] The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script used at that site is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi.[8] Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.[8] About 60 per cent of the total epigraphical inscriptions found by the ASI in India are from Tamil Nadu, and most of these are in the Tamil language.[8] Virumandi Andithevar, of the Piramalai Kallar community from the Tamil Nadu region of southern India, was identified by the Genographic Project as one of the direct descendants of the first modern human settlers in India. His Y-DNA belongs to Haplogroup C and he carries the M130 marker which defines the first migrants to South East Asia and Australia from the African coast 60,000 years ago; more than half of Australian Aborigines also carry the M130 gene.[15] Mythical traditions dictate that Lord Shiva himself taught sage Agastya this language.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] Sage Agastya is considered to be the father of Tamil literature and compiled the first Tamil grammar called Agathiyam, but the scripts of Agathiyam no longer exist.[24] It is believed that he lived in the 7th or 6th century BC and specialised in language, alchemy, medicine and spirituality (yogam and gnanam). There are 96 books in the name of Agathiyar.[25]

Indus valley script between 2000 and 1500 BC

Neolithic people of the Tamil country spoke a Dravidian language.The discovery of a Neolithic stone celt, a hand-held axe, with the Indus script on it at Sembian-Kandiyur in Tamil Nadu is, according to Iravatham Mahadevan, "Stone axe with Indus Valley script found near Mayiladuthurai,Tamil Nadu was a major discovery because for the first time a text in the Indus script has been found in the State on a datable artefact, which is a polished neolithic celt. He estimated the date of the artefact with the script to be around 1500 BC.[26]

Early history (Sangam Period 300 BC – AD 300)

Roman pottery excavated in Arikamedu (1st century AD, Guimet Museum)

The early history of the people and rulers of Tamil Nadu is a topic in Tamil literary sources known as Sangam literature. Numismatic, archaeological and literary sources corroborate that the Sangam period lasted for about six centuries, from 300 BC to AD 300. Three dynasties, namely the Chera, Chola and Pandya, ruled the area of present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Chera ruled the whole of present day Kerala and parts of western Tamil Nadu comprising Coimbatore, Karur, Salem and Erode districts from the capital of Vanchi Muthur (thought to be modern day Karur). The Chola dynasty ruled the northern and central parts of Tamil Nadu from their capital, Uraiyur; and the Pandya dynasty ruled southern Tamil Nadu, from capitals at Korkai and Madurai. All three dynasties had extensive trade relationships with Rome, Greece, Egypt, Ceylon, Phoenicia, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia. Trade flourished in commodities such as spices, ivory, pearls, beads and gems. Chera traded extensively from Muziris on the west coast, Chola from Arikamedu and Puhar and Pandya through Korkai port. A Greco-Roman trade and travel document, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (c. AD 60 – 100) gives a description of the Tamil country and its ports. Besides these three dynasties, the Sangam era Tamilakam was also divided into various provinces named 'nadu', meaning 'country'. Sangam literature refers these provinces as "Koduntamil mandalam" which were not exactly political or socio – cultural units but linguistic agglomerations like Kongu Nadu, Puzhinadu, Thondai Nadu, Nanjilnadu, Ay Nadu and Venadu. Between the 3rd and 7th centuries AD, the three Tamil kingdoms were overwhelmed by the Kalabhras which is sometimes referred to as the "Dark Age" in Tamil history and little is known about it. The Kalabhras were expelled by the Pallavas, Badami Chalukyas and Pandyas in the 6th century.

Medieval Period (600–1300)

Kallanai or Grand Anicut, is an ancient dam built on the Kaveri River in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India. It was built by the Chola king Karikala Chola around the 2nd century AD[27][28] and is considered one of the oldest water-diversion or water-regulator structures in the world, which is still in use. It still stands as a symbol of Dravidian Engineering.[29][30]
Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple North Tower

During the Kalabhras' rule Buddhism 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 Buddhist ascetic, according to tradition. Following the tradition of Tamil Buddhism, Naaladiyar emphasises virtues such as control of the senses, Dhamma (Lord Buddha's teaching), renunciation, and other desirable social qualities. Pali was the court language of the Kalabhras who were also called Kalapara or Kalaparaya according to the Koramangalam inscription.

Shore Temple built by the Pallavas at Mamallapuram during the 8th century, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the 4th to 8th centuries AD, Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallava dynasty under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I.[31] The Pallavas ruled parts of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during Pallava rule. Narasimhavarman II built the Shore Temple which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Much later, the Pallavas were replaced by the Chola dynasty as the dominant kingdom in the 9th century AD and they in turn were replaced by the Pandyan Dynasty in the 13th century AD. The Pandyan capital Madurai was in the deep south away from the coast. They had extensive trade links with the south east 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, Marco Polo mentioned the Pandyas as the richest empire in existence. Temples such as the Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai and Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli are the best examples of Pandyan temple architecture.[32] The Pandyas excelled in both trade and literature. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the south coast of India, between Sri Lanka and India, which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world.

Chola Empire

The Chola Empire at its greatest extent, during the reign of Rajendra Chola I in 1030

During the 9th century, the Chola dynasty was once again revived by Vijayalaya Chola, who established Thanjavur as Chola's new capital by conquering central Tamil Nadu from the local clans of Mutharayar and the Pandya king Varagunavarman II. Aditya I and his son Parantaka I expanded the kingdom to the northern parts of Tamil Nadu by defeating the last Pallava king, Aparajitavarman. Parantaka Chola II expanded the Chola empire into what is now interior Andhra Pradesh and coastal Karnataka, while under the great Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose to a notable power in south east Asia. Now the Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal and Sri Lanka. At its peak, the empire spanned almost 3,600,000 km2 (1,400,000 sq mi). Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular south India and parts of Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navy went even further, occupying coasts from Burma (now Myanmar) to Vietnam, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya, Philippines[33] in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

The Cholas were prolific temple builders right from the times of the first medieval king Vijayalaya Chola. These are the earliest specimen of Dravidian temples under the Cholas. His son Aditya I built several temples around the Kanchi and Kumbakonam regions. The Cholas went on to becoming a great power and built some of the most imposing religious structures in their lifetime and they also renovated temples and buildings of the Pallavas, acknowledging their common socio-religious and cultural heritage. The celebrated Nataraja temple at Chidambaram and the Sri Ranganathaswami Temple at Srirangam held special significance for the Cholas which have been mentioned in their inscriptions as their tutelary deities. Rajaraja Chola I and his son Rajendra Chola built temples such as the Brihadeshvara Temple of Thanjavur and Brihadeshvara Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the Airavatesvara Temple of Darasuram and the Sarabeswara (Shiva) Temple, also called the Kampahareswarar Temple at Thirubhuvanam, the last two temples being located near Kumbakonam. The first three of the above four temples are titled Great Living Chola Temples among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Architectural and fine art marvels of Chola. From left to right: Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram; Natarajan, Shiva as celestial dancer; Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur; and Parvathi, the consort of Shiva.

The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes all over the world. Among the existing specimens in museums around the world and in the temples of southern India the fine figures of Siva in various forms, Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, and the Siva saints are the examples of Chola bronze. Though conforming generally to the iconographic conventions established by long tradition, the sculptors worked with great freedom in the 11th and the 12th centuries to achieve a classic grace and grandeur. The best example of this can be seen in the form of Nataraja the Divine Dancer .

Vijayanagar and Nayak period (1336–1646)

The Muslim invasions of southern India triggered the establishment of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire with Vijayanagara in modern Karnataka as its capital. The Vijayanagara empire eventually conquered the entire Tamil country by c. 1370 AD and ruled for almost two centuries until its defeat in the Battle of Talikota in 1565 by a confederacy of Deccan sultanates. Subsequently, as the Vijayanagara Empire went into decline after the mid-16th century, many local rulers, called Nayaks, succeeded in gaining the trappings of independence. This eventually resulted in the further weakening of the empire; many Nayaks declared themselves independent, among whom the Nayaks of Madurai and Tanjore were the first to declare their independence, despite initially maintaining loose links with the Vijayanagara kingdom.[32] The Nayaks of Madurai and Nayaks of Thanjavur were the most prominent of Nayaks in the 17th century. They reconstructed some of the well-known temples in Tamil Nadu such as the Meenakshi Temple.

Rule of Poligars (1692–1801)

In the early 18th century, the fall of Nayaka period brought up many small Nayakars of southern Tamil Nadu, who ruled small parcels of land called Palayams. Some of these Palaiyakkarar ('polygar' as called by British) were ruling under Nawabs of Carnatic. Nawabs granted taxation rights to the British which led to conflicts between British and the Palaiyakkarar, which resulted in series of wars to establish independent states by the aspiring Palaiyakkarar. Puli Thevar was one of the earliest opponents of the British rule in South India. He was involved in a vendetta with the Nawab of Arcot who was supported by the British. Thevar's prominent exploits were his confrontations with Marudhanayagam, who later rebelled against the British in the late 1750s and early 1760s. The author of the Thirunelveli District Gazetteer, H.R. Pate, observes as follows: Nelkatumseval is chiefly memorable as having been in the 18th-century stronghold of the redoubtable Puli Thevar, who figured for many years as the leader of the Marava Confederacy against the troops of the Nawab and the Company. Azhagu Muthu Kone (1728–1757) was an Indian revolutionary and independence activist. He is regarded for having raised one of the revolts against the British East India Company in India. Kone was born and brought up in Kattalankulam, a village in erstwhile Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Puli Thevar (1715–1767), Vennikkaladi Kudumbar, Thalapathi in Puli Thevar Force chieftain who fought the British East India Company in the 1750s and 1760s. Rani Velu Nachiyar, First Woman Freedom fighter of India and Queen of Sivagangai. She was drawn to war after her husband Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar (1750–1772), King of Sivaganga was murdered at Kalayar Kovil temple by British generals Joseph Smith and Benjour. Before her death, Queen Velu Nachi granted powers to Maruthu brothers to rule Sivaganga. Kattabomman (1760–1799), Palaiyakkara chief of Panchalakurichi who fought the British in the First Polygar War. He was captured by the British at the end of the war and hanged near Kayattar in 1799. Veeran Sundaralingam (1700–1800) was the General of Kattapomman Nayakan's palayam, who died in the process of blowing up a British ammunition dump 1799 which killed more than 150 British soldiers to save Kattapomman Palace. Oomaithurai, younger brother of Kattabomman, took asylum under the Maruthu brothers Periya Marudhu and Chinna Marudhu and raised army. They formed a coalition with Dheeran Chinnamalai and Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja which fought the British in Second Polygar Wars. Dheeran Chinnamalai (1756–1805), Polygar chieftain of Kongu and feudatory of Tipu Sultan who fought the British in the Second Polygar War.

European rule (1801–1947)

Fort Dansborg at Tharangambadi built by the Danes.

Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat, while the Danes had their establishment in Tharangambadi also known as Tranquebar. In 1639, the British, under the 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.

The Vellore Mutiny on 10 July 1806 was the first instance of a large-scale and violent mutiny by Indian sepoys against the British East India Company, predating the Indian Rebellion of 1857 by half a century. The revolt, which took place in the South Indian city of Vellore, was brief, lasting only one full day, but brutal as mutineers broke into the Vellore fort and killed or wounded 200 British troops, before they were subdued by reinforcements from nearby Arcot.

India (1947–present)

Srivilliputhur Andal Temple tower is adapted for the official Seal of Tamil Nadu

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".[34]


Tamil Nadu covers an area of 130,058 km2 (50,216 sq mi), and is the eleventh largest state in India. The bordering states are Kerala to the west, Karnataka to the north west 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 south boundary of India is Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu.

Topographic map of Tamil Nadu

The western, southern and the north western parts are hilly and rich in vegetation. The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats 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 910 km (570 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. 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.[35]

Flora and fauna

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 ibises, little grebes, Indian moorhen, black-winged stilts, a few migratory ducks and occasionally grey pelicans, marine species such as the dugongs, turtles, dolphins, Balanoglossus and a wide variety of fish and insects.

The endangered lion-tailed macaque is found in a few forests in southern India.

Indian Angiosperm diversity comprises 17,672 species with Tamil Nadu leading all states in the country, with 5640 species accounting for 1/3 of the total flora of India. 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, lichen, fungi, algae and bacteria are among the wild plant diversity of Tamil Nadu.

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.[36]

National and State Parks

Tamil Nadu has 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 as well as biospheres which protect larger areas of natural habitat often include one or more National Parks. The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve established in 1986 is a marine ecosystem with seaweed and sea grass communities, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangrove forests. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve located in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills comprises part of adjoining states of Kerala and Karnataka. The Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve is in the south west of the state bordering Kerala in the Western Ghats. Tamil Nadu is home to five declared National parks located in Anamalai, Mudumalai, Mukurithi, Gulf of Mannar and Guindy located in the center of Chennai city. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Mukurthi National Park and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are the tiger reserves in the state. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve has the largest elephant population in India. Besides these bio reserves, there are many state and central run wild life sanctuaries for tiger, elephant and birds.


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 mostly 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 north east winds;
  • dry season from January to May.

The annual rainfall of the state is about 945 mm (37.2 in) of which 48 per cent is through the north east monsoon, and 32 per cent 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.[37]

Tamil Nadu is divided into seven agro-climatic zones: north east, north west, west, southern, high rainfall, high altitude hilly, and Kaveri Delta (the most fertile agricultural zone). The table below shows the maximum and minimum temperatures that the state experiences in the plains and hills.

Governance and administration

State symbols of Tamil Nadu
Invocation to Goddess Tamil
Nilgiri Tahr
Emerald Dove
Gloriosa Lily
Palm Tree

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, O. Panneerselvam and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul[38] respectively. Administratively the state is divided into 32 districts. It has 12 city corporations, 125 , 529 town panchayats and 12,524 village panchayats.[39][40] 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 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 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.[41] 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.[41] Tamil Nadu has 12 municipal corporations: Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli, Salem, Tirunelveli, Tirupur, Erode, Thoothukudi, Vellore, Thanjavur and Dindigul..

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.[42] 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 to specifically handled violence against women in Tamil Nadu.[43] In 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 (law and order) of Tamil Nadu is K. Ramanujan.[8]

Administrative subdivisions

Districts of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is subdivided into 32 districts, which are listed below. The numbers in the first column correspond to those on the map. A district is administered by a District Collector who is mostly an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) member, appointed by State Government. Districts are further divided into 226 Taluks administrated by Tahsildars comprising 1127 Revenue Blocks. A District has also one or more Revenue Divisions (in total 76) constituted by many Revenue Blocks. 16,564 Revenue villages (Village Panchayat) are the primary grassroots level administrative units which in turn might include many villages and administered by a Village Administrative Officer (VAO), many of which form a Revenue Block. Cities and towns are administered by Municipal corporations and Municipalities respectively.



Prior to Indian independence Tamil Nadu was under British colonial rule as part of the 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 INC, demanding complete independence of India.

The Justice Party which was under E.V.Ramaswamy was renamed 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. In the 19th century, western scholars discovered that the Dravidian languages dominating southern India formed a different linguistic group than the Indo-Aryan languages predominant in northern 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.

Fort St. George hosts the Chief Secretariat of the government of Tamil Nadu.

Post-Independent India

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 INC in the 1967 elections and took control of the state government, ending INC's 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.


Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in India. 44 per cent of the state's population live in urban areas, the highest among large states in India.[8] The state has registered the lowest fertility rate in India in year 2005–06 with 1.7 children born for each woman, lower than required for population sustainability.[47][48]

At the 2001 India census, Tamil Nadu had a population of 62,405,679.[49] The sex ratio of the state is 987 with 31,400,909 males and 31,004,770 females. There are a total of 14,665,983 households.[49] The total children under the age of 6 is 7,235,160. A total of 11,857,504 people constituting 21.49 per cent of the total population belonged to Scheduled Castes (SC) and 651,321 people constituting 1.18 per cent of the population belonged to Scheduled tribes (ST).[49]

The state has 40,524,545 literates, making the literacy rate 73.45 per cent. There are a total of 27,878,282 workers, comprising 4,738,819 cultivators, 6,062,786 agricultural labourers, 1,261,059 in house hold industries, 11,695,119 other workers, 4,120,499 marginal workers, 377,220 marginal cultivators, 2,574,844 marginal agricultural labourers, 238,702 marginal workers in household industries and 929,733 other marginal workers.[49]

Among the cities in 2011, the state capital, Chennai, was the most populous city in the state, followed by Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy and Salem respectively.[8] 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.[8][50] The life expectancy at birth for males is 65.2 years and for females it is 67.6 years.[8] However, it has a high level of poverty especially in the rural areas. In 2004–2005, the poverty line was set at INR 351.86/month for rural areas and INR 547.42/month for urban areas. Poverty in the state dropped from 51.7 per cent in 1983 to 21.1 per cent in 2001[8] For the period 2004–2005, the Trend in Incidence of Poverty in the state was 22.5 per cent compared with the national figure of 27.5 per cent. 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. Based on URP – Consumption for the period 2004–2005, percentage of the state's population Below Poverty Line was 27.5 per cent. 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.[8] Corruption is a major problem in the state with Transparency International ranking it the second most corrupt among the states of India.[8]


Religions in Tamil Nadu[51]
Religion Percent
Erwadi dargah at Erwadi in Ramanathapuram district an Islamic pilgrimage centre.

About 86 per cent of the population in Tamil Nadu are Hindus and the state is home to the core schools of medieval and modern Hinduism as well as several non-mainstream Hindu movements. These include Nayanmars Saivism, Saiva Siddhanta, Alvar Vaishnavism, Sri Vaishnavism and Ayya-Vazhi. Several important Hindu Tamil figures became important figures for Hinduism as a whole. In modern times, well known figures for Hinduism in the state include Ramana Maharishi and the Kanchi Sankaracharya. All Hindu deities in various forms and a large number of village deities are worshiped by Hindus in Tamil Nadu. Murugan is considered to be the Tamil God. Tamil Nadu dominates the list of largest Hindu Temples in the world which include the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple, Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, Ekambareswarar Temple at Kanchipuram, Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleswar Temple among others. The emblem of Government of Tamil Nadu depicts the Gopuram (gateway tower) of the Andal Temple at Srivilliputhur.

Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleshwarar Temple

Christians and Muslims together form close to 12 per cent of the population. Christians are mainly concentrated in the southern districts of Kanyakumari (54 per cent of the population in 2001), Thoothukudi (17 per cent in 2001) and Tirunelveli (11 per cent in 2001). St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, the place where St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus, was believed to have been martyred, is an important pilgrimage site for Indian Christians. The Santhome Basilica, built atop the site widely believed by Christians to have been 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.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni is a Christian pilgrimage centre.

Muslims constitute close to 6% of the total population of Tamil Nadu and they are mainly concentrated in following Districts.Ramanathapuram, Tanjavur, Nagappattinam, Vellore, Tuticorin, Madurai and Tirunelveli. Among Muslims, 97.5 per cent 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 among the earlier mosques in Tamil Nadu. Samanars or Tamil Jains have a legacy dating back to 250 BC. They made significant contributions to Tamil literature. According to the 2001 census there were 83,359 Jains in Tamil Nadu. Jains make up 0.13 per cent of the population. Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes comprise 19 per cent and 1 per cent of the population respectively. Though an overwhelming percentage of SC/ST population identify themselves as Hindu, the SC/STs are enumerated separately in the census and not as a subgroup of Hinduism.[52] An anti-conversion law came into force in 2002. However, the law was repealed in June 2004 after the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party led coalition in the 2004 elections.[53]


Mahatma Gandhi's written wishes in Tamil for the memorial of Subramanya Bharathy in Ettayapuram

Tamil is the 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 recognised as a classical language of India.[8] Minority languages include Telugu (5.65 per cent), Malayalam (0.89 per cent), Kannada (2.68 per cent), Urdu (1.51 per cent), Gujarati / Saurashtri (0.32 per cent), Hindi (0.30 per cent) and Marathi (0.10 per cent).[47] At the 2001 census, Tamil is spoken as the first language by 89.43 per cent of the population followed by Telugu by 5.65 per cent, Kannada by 2.68 per cent, Urdu by 1.51 per cent and Malayalam by 0.89 per cent.[47]


Tamil Nadu is one of the most literate states in India.[8] Tamil Nadu has performed reasonably well in terms of literacy growth during the decade 2001–2011. A survey conducted by the Industry body Assocham ranks Tamil Nadu top among Indian states with about 100 per cent Gross Enrolment 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 per cent is significant.[54] 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.[8] Tamil Nadu has 37 universities, 455 engineering colleges, 449 Polytechnic Colleges[55] and 566 arts and science colleges, 34335 elementary schools, 5167 high schools, 5054 higher secondary schools and 5000 hospitals. Some of the notable educational institutes present in Tamil Nadu are Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Indian Institute of Management Tiruchirappalli, National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai, College of Engineering, Guindy, Madras Institute of Technology, PSG College of Technology, Madras Medical College and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. For the complete list of educational institutions see List of institutions of higher education in Tamil Nadu.

District level literacy (2011 data)

Tamil Nadu now has 69 per cent reservation in educational institutions for socially backward section of the society, the highest among all Indian states.[8] The Midday Meal Scheme program in Tamil Nadu, initiated by Kamaraj, was expanded considerably during the rule of the AIADMK by MGR in 1983, although the state is among the 12 states in India that have an alarming level of hunger, according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index.[8][8]


Paintings at the Sittanavasal Cave,7th century, Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu, India

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. Tamil Nadu is a land most known for its monumental ancient Hindu temples and classical form of dance Bharata Natyam.[56] Unique cultural features like Bharatanatyam[57] (dance), Tanjore painting,[58] and Tamil architecture were developed and continue to be practised in Tamil Nadu. [59]


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.

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 and deals with everyday life in the Tamil Context.The only religious poems among the shorter poems occur in paripaatal. The rest of the corpus of Sangam literature deals with human relationship and emotions.[60]

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.

Festivals and traditions

Overflowing during cooking of Pongal indicates overflowing of joy and prosperity.
Kolam – a Traditional art form of the Tamil people

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.[61] 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. Alanganallur is famous for its Jallikattu[62][63] contest usually held on 3rd day of Pongal. During this final day, Kaanum Pongal – the word "kaanum", means 'to view' in Tamil. In 2011 the Madras High Court Bench ordered the cockfight at Santhapadi and Modakoor Melbegam villages permitted during the Pongal festival while disposing of a petition filed attempting to ban the cockfight.[8] The first month in the Tamil calendar is Chittirai and the first day of this month in mid-April is celebrated as Tamil New Year. The Thiruvalluvar calendar is 31 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar, i.e. Gregorian 2000 is Thiruvalluvar 2031. Aadi Perukku is celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month Aadi, which celebrates the rising of the water level in the river Kaveri. Apart from the 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. Eid ul-Fitr, Bakrid, Milad un Nabi, Muharram are celebrated by Muslims whereas Christmas, Good Friday, Easter are celebrated by Christians in the state. Mahamagam a bathing festival at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu is clebrated once in 12 years. People from all the corners of the country come to Kumbakonam for the festival. This festival is also called as Kumbamela of South.[64][65]


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,the urumee mellam or Naiyandi mellam which incorporates the use of the urumee 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,Theni Kunjarammal etc.

Nadhaswaram and Thavil players

Carnatic music is the classical music form of southern India. This is one of the world's oldest & richest musical traditions. 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. The composers belonging to the Tamil Trinity, namely Muthu Thandavar (?1560 – ?1640), 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. 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[8][8][8] 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

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.

Rukmini Devi Arundale is considered the most important revivalist in the Indian classical dance form of Bharata Natyam from its original 'sadhir' style

The most celebrated of these dances is the 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 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, often colloquially referred to as 'Kollywood'. It is known for being the second largest film industry in terms of revenue and worldwide distribution, in India after Bollywood.[66] It is based at Kodambakkam in Chennai city.


Veg Meals in Tamil Nadu traditionally served in banana leaf
Dosa with chutney and sambar traditionally served in banana leaf

Tamil cuisine is typical of south Indian cuisine, in that 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.

Idly and Vadai served with Sambar.

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 and Dindigul are known for their Biriyani. Sweet items that are native to Tamil Nadu are Athirasam, Chakkarai Pongal (prepared during Pongal) and Kuli Paniyaram. The city of Thirunelveli is renowned for its unique sweetmeat, Thirunelveli Halwa, while Palani(pazhani) is known for its Panchamirtham.


Tamil Nadu is the second largest contributor to India's GDP. Tamil Nadu's gross state domestic product for the year 2011–2012 was 4.28 trillion (short scale) or $145,868 Million. The state has shown a growth of 9.4 per cent in the year 2011–2012.[8] Tamil Nadu is the second most industrialised state in India.[67] 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 per cent of the total FDI in the country.[8] The per capita income in 2007–2008 for the state was INR 72,993 ranking third among states with a population over 10 million and has steadily been above the national average.[8]
Gross State Domestic Product in INR Crores at Constant Prices[68]
Year GSDP Growth Rate Share in India
2000–01 142,065 5.87% 7.62%
2001–02 139,842 −1.56% 7.09%
2002–03 142,295 1.75% 6.95%
2003–04 150,815 5.99% 6.79%
2004–05 219,003 11.45% 7.37%
2005–06 249,567 13.96% 7.67%
2006–07 287,530 15.21% 8.07%
2007–08 305,157 6.13% 7.83%
2008–09 320,085 4.89% 7.70%
2009–10 350,258 9.43% 7.77%
2010–11 391,372 11.74% 8.01%
2011–12 428,109 9.39% 8.20%

According to the 2011 Census, Tamil Nadu is the most urbanised state in India (49 per cent), accounting for 9.6 per cent of the urban population while only comprising 6 per cent of India's total population and .[69] and is the most urbanised state in India.[8] Services contributes to 45 per cent of the economic activity in the state, followed by manufacturing at 34 per cent and agriculture at 21 per cent. Government is the major investor in the state with 51 per cent of total investments, followed by private Indian investors at 29.9 per cent and foreign private investors at 14.9 per cent. Tamil Nadu has a network of about 113 industrial parks and estates offering developed plots with supporting infrastructure.

According to the publications of the Tamil Nadu government the Gross State Domestic Product at Constant Prices (Base year 2004–2005) for the year 2011–2012 is INR 428,109 crores, an increase of 9.39 per cent over the previous year. The per capita income at current price is INR 72,993.


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. The total cultivated area in the State was 5.60 million hectares in 2009–10.[70] The Cauvery delta region is known as the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu.[71] In terms of production, Tamil Nadu accounts for 10 per cent in fruits and 6 per cent in vegetables, in India.[72] Annual food grains production in the year 2007–08 was 10035,000 mt.[70] Mango and banana are the leading fruit crops in Tamil Nadu accounting for over 87 per cent of the total fruit production. The main vegetables grown are tapioca, tomato, onion, brinjal (eggplant), and drumstick. Tamil Nadu is also a leading state in the production of flowers with the total production of horticultural crops standing at INR 9947,000 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,[72] tapioca,[72] the second largest producer of mango,[72] natural rubber,[73] coconut, groundnut and the third largest producer of coffee, sapota,[72] Tea[74] and Sugarcane. Tamil Nadu's sugarcane yield per hectare is the highest in India. The state has 17,000 hectares of land under oil palm cultivation, the second highest in India.[75]

Paddy fields at Nagercoil.

Tamil Nadu is the home to Dr M.S. Swaminathan, known as the "father of the Green Revolution" in India.[76] 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 per cent of the total poultry population in India.[77] In 2003–2004, Tamil Nadu had produced 3783.6 million of eggs, which was the second highest in India representing 9.37 per cent of the total egg production in the country.[78] With the third longest coastline in India, Tamil Nadu represented 27.54 per cent of the total value of fish and fishery products exported by India in 2006.

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, Dindigul and Erode its nearby towns such as Ranipet, Ambur, Perundurai and Vaniyambadi. The Vellore district is the top exporter of finished leather goods in the country. That leather accounts for more than 37 per cent 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 per cent. Leather industry occupies a pride of place in the industrial map of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu enjoys a leading position with 40 per cent share in India 's export. It currently employs about 2.5 million persons Leather exports by the end of the year 2000–2001 were INR90 billion. Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), a CSIR research laboratory is located in Chennai, the state capital. Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI) is located at Irungattukottai near SIPCOT Footwear Park, 40 minutes drive from Chennai.

Chennai is the biggest hub of the world leather industry. Tamil Nadu accounts for 30 per cent of leather exports and about 70 per cent of leather production in the country. The large scale presence of the Tanning industry has resulted in Tamil Nadu becoming a dominant production centre in the country for leather and leather based products. In Tamil Nadu 0.5 Million people are employed in the industries dealing with leather and leather based products.

Textiles and Engineering

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. City of Tirupur is the country's largest exporter of knitwear.[79] They are well known for textile manufacturing industries and exports to such extent that the districts of Coimbatore, Tirupur, Karur, Erode, Namakkal and Salem. Coimbatore is known as the "Manchester of South India"[80][81] for its cotton production. The region around Coimbatore, Tirupur, Karur and Erode is referred to as the "Textile Valley of India" with the export from the Tirupur INR 50,000 million ($1,000 million) and Karur generates around INR 35,500 million ($750 million) a year in foreign exchange. 56 per cent of India's total knitwear exports come from Tirupur and Karur make above 60 per cent of India's home textiles. Gobichettipalayam, Pollachi,Udumalpet, Theni and Vedasandur are known for its cotton spinning mills.Sankarankovil and Rajapalayam is famous for its cotton market. Gobichettipalayam is a prominent producer of white silk with the country's first automated silk reeling unit present here. Kanchipuram and Arani are world famous for their pure zari silk sarees and handloom silk weaving industries. Aruppukottai, Salem, and Sathyamangalam are also famous for art-silk sarees.Sankarankovil, Andipatti, Tiruchengodu, Paramakudi, Kurinjipadi, Chennimalai are major handloom centres.Sankarankovil, Negamam, Cinnalapatti, Woraiyur, Pochampalli are famous for its soft cotton saree weavings. Madurai is well known for its Chungidi cotton saree. Bhavani is famous for cotton carpets.


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, Robert Bosch, Renault-Nissan, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Mitsubishi Motors, and Michelin as well as Indian automobile majors like Mahindra & Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Hindustan Motors, TVS Motors, Irizar-TVS, Royal Enfield, MRF, Apollo Tyres, TAFE Tractors, DaimlerChrysler AG Company also invested (INR) 4 billion for establishing new plant in Tamil Nadu[82] Karur is a hub for Bus body building industries. Namakkal is the major source of lorry body building. Recently India Yamaha, Yamaha Motor Corporation's Indian subsidiary, has decided to set up a new factory in Tamil Nadu.[83]

Heavy industries

Tamil Nadu is one of the highly industrialised states in India. Over 11% 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. Salem is the largest industrialised city in the state as it is a production area for Mangoes, Iron&Steel, Cotton, Silk and Power(Mettur Dam). Bharat Heavy Electricals, one of India's largest electrical equipment manufacturing companies, has manufacturing plants at Tiruchirapalli and Ranipet. India's leading steel producer, the state-owned Steel Authority of India, has a steel plant in Salem. Sterlite Industries has a copper smelter at Tuticorin and an aluminium plant in Mettur. The Chennai Petroleum Corporation is a state-owned oil and gas corporation headquartered in Chennai, and owns refineries at Manali and Panangudi. The state government owns the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers,[84] and the world's biggest bagasse based paper mills in Karur. Jointly with the Tata Group, the state owns the world's sixth largest manufacturer of watches, under the brand name of "Titan", at Hosur. A number of large cement manufacturers, including the Chettinad Group, Ramco Cements, Tancem, the Dalmia Group, UltraTech Cements and ACC are present across the state. Ariyalur is known as "the land of the cement industry" in the state.

Electronics and software

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.[8]

Infosys campus at Mahindra World City, near Chennai.

Tamil Nadu is the second largest software exporter by value in India. 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[8] and to INR 366 billion in 2008–09 which shows 29 per cent growth in software exports according to STPI. Major national and global IT Companies such as Syntel, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Tata Consultancy Services, Verizon, Hewlett-Packard,, eBay, Paypal, IBM, Accenture, Ramco Systems, Computer Sciences Corporation, Cognizant Technology solutions, Tech Mahindra, Polaris, Aricent, MphasiS, MindTree, Hexaware Technologies and many others have offices in Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore is the second largest software producer in the state, next to Chennai.[85]


Namakkal is also one of the main source of Egg production in India. Karur is also the major manufacturer of Nylon nets (HDPE) Filaments over 65 per cent of India. Sivakasi} is a major centre of fireworks and safety match production and offset printing in India with over 60 per cent of firework production contributed from Sivakasi. Kanyakumari is famous for rubber production.




A view of the NH 47 Expressway between Coimbatore and Salem in Tamil Nadu
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 centres, agricultural market-places and rural areas. There are 28 national highways in the state, covering a total distance of 5,036 km (3,129 mi).[86] The state is also a terminus for the Golden Quadrilateral project. The state has a total road length of 167,000 km (104,000 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.[87] The major road junctions are Chennai, Tiruchirapalli Madurai, Salem, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Karur, Krishnagiri, Dindigul, Kanniyakumari. Road transport is provided by state owned Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and State Express Transport Corporation. Almost every part of state is well connected by buses 24 hours a day. In 2013, the state recorded 15,563 fatalities in the 14,504 road accidents, the highest for any state in India.[88]


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. Express trains connect the state capital Chennai with Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkatta. Chennai Central is gateway for train towards north whereas Chennai Egmore serves as gateway for south. Tamil Nadu has a total railway track length of 5,952 km (3,698 mi) and there are 532 railway stations in the state. The network connects the state with most major cities in India. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site connecting Ooty on the hills and Mettupalayam in the foot hills which is in turn connected to Coimbatore city. The centenary old Pamban Bridge over sea connecting Rameswaram in Pamban island to mainland is an engineering marvel. It is one of the oldest cantilever bridges still in operation, the double-leaf bascule bridge section can be raised to let boats and small ships pass through Palk Strait in Indian Ocean. Chennai has a well-established suburban railway network and is constructing a Chennai Metro. Major railway junctions( 4 & above lines ) in the state are Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem, Erode, Dindigul, Karur, Nagercoil, Tiruchirapalli and Tirunelveli. Chennai Central, Chennai Egmore, Coimbatore Junction, Tiruchirappalli Junction, Madurai Junction, Salem Junction are upgraded to A1 grade level. Loco sheds are located at Erode, Arakkonam, Royapuram in Chennai and Tondaiyarpet in Chennai, Ponmalai (GOC) in Tiruchirappalli as Diesel Loco Shed. The loco shed at Erode is a huge composite Electric and Diesel Loco shed. MRTS which covers from Chennai Beach to Velachery


The first flight in the country was from Mumbai to Chennai. Tamil Nadu has international airports Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichi and Madurai and a domestic terminal called "Kamaraj Terminal" and other two domestic airports at Tuticorin and Salem. Chennai's Anna International Airport is a major 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 per cent. Other international and customs airports present in the state are Coimbatore International Airport, Tiruchirapalli International Airport and Madurai Airport. Salem Airport and Tuticorin Airport are domestic airports with daily flights. 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. Besides civilian airports, Tamil Nadu also hosts four air bases for Indian Air Force at Thanjavur, Tambram, Sulur and Madurai; and two naval air stations INS Rajali and INS Parundu for Indian Navay.


Tamil Nadu has three major seaports located at Chennai, Ennore and Tuticorin, as well as seven other minor ports including Cuddalore and Nagapattinam.[70] Chennai Port is an artificial harbour situated on the Coromandel Coast and 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.[89]


Wind farm in Muppandal and Aralvaimozhi region.

Tamil Nadu has the third largest established power generation capacity in the country. The Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant, Ennore Thermal Plant, Neyveli Lignite Power Plant, many hydroelectric plants including Mettur Dam, hundreds of windmills and the Narimanam Natural Gas Plants are major sources of Tamil Nadu's electricity. Tamil Nadu generates a significant proportion of its power needs from renewable sources with wind power installed capacity at over 7154 MW,[90] accounting for 38 per cent of total installed wind power in India .[91] 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 with 2000MW installed capacity.[92] The total installed capacity of electricity in the State by January 2014 was 20,716 MW.[93] Tamil Nadu ranks first nationwide in diesel-based thermal electricity generation with a national market share of over 34 per cent.[94] From a power surplus state in 2005–06, Tamil Nadu has become a state facing severe power shortage over the recent years due to lack of new power generation projects and delay in the commercial power generation at Kudankulam Atomic Power Project. The Thoothukudi Thermal Power Station has five 210 megawatt generators. The first generator was commissioned in July 1979. The thermal power plants under construction include the coal-based 1000 MW NLC TNEB Power Plant. From the current 17MW installed Solar power, Tamil Nadu government's new policy aims to increase the installed capacity to 3000MW by 2016.[95]


Kabbadi, a team contact sport originated in Tamil Nadu and is recognised as the state game.[96] The traditional sport of Tamil Nadu include Silambam,[97] a Tamil martial arts played with a long bamboo staff, Cockfight, Jallikattu,[98] a bull taming sport famous on festival occasions, ox-wagon racing known as Rekkala,[99][97] Kite flying also known as Pattam viduthal,[98] Goli, the game with marbles,[98] Aadu Puli, the "goat and tiger" game[98] and Kabaddi also known as Sadugudu.[98] Most of these traditional sports are associated with festivals of land like Thai Pongal and mostly played in rural areas.[98] In urban areas of Tamil Nadu, modern sports like bat and ball games are played.[98]

The most popular game in Tamil Nadu like rest of India is Cricket. The M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai is an international cricketing arena with a capacity of 50,000 and houses the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association.[100] Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan,[101] Krishnamachari Srikkanth,[102] Laxman Sivaramakrishnan,[103] Laxmipathy Balaji,[104] Murali Vijay,[105] Ravichandran Ashwin[106] and Dinesh Karthik are someprominent cricketers from Tamil Nadu. The MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, headed by Australian bowler Glenn Mcgrath is a popular fast bowling academy for pace bowlers all over the world. Cricket contests between local clubs, franchises and teams are popular in the state. Chennai Super Kings represents Chennai among the eight Indian cities featuring in the Indian Premier League, a popular Twenty-20 cricket competition. Chennai super kings captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the most successful Franchise with two IPL titles and two champions league T20 title. Chennai super kings is the only team to make entry into the finals of the prestigious Indian premier league for five times.

Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore

Tamil Nadu has a long standing motor sports culture. The sport was pioneered by Sundaram Karivardhan (1954–95) in its early days. Motor racing between the 1960s and 1980s was conducted at Sholavaram, a track used as a World War II air strip. Modern motor racing events are held at the Irungattukottai Race Track owned and operated by Madras Motor Sports Club near Sriperumbudur and Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore. The only two people to represent India in Formula 1 are both from Tamil Nadu, namely Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian to participate in F1 racing, and Karun Chandhok.

Tennis is also a popular sport in Tamil Nadu with notable international players including Ramesh Krishnan,[107] Ramanathan Krishnan,[107] Vijay Amritraj[108] and Mahesh Bhupathi. Nirupama Vaidyanathan, the first Indian women to play in a grandslam tournament also hails from the state. The ATP Chennai Open tournament is held in Chennai every January. The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) owns Nungambakkam tennis stadium which hosts Chennai Open and Davis Cup play-off tournaments.

Five time World Chess champion Viswanathan Anand hails from Tamil Nadu. The state boasts a total of eight Grand Masters and numerous International Masters. Other notable chess players from the state include Manuel Aaron, the first Indian International Master,G.Akash, the youngest Indian to win a national tournament, Krishnan Sasikiran, Grandmaster, S. Vijayalakshmi, Six time Women's national champion of India and the First Women Grandmaster from India, Aarthie Ramaswamy, Women Grandmaster and former under-18 girls' World Chess champion. Maria Irudayam, the former World Carrom Champion and Ilavazhagi, the defending Women's World Carrom Champion are from Tamil Nadu.

Viswanathan Anand, world chess champion 2007–2013

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.[8]

The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT), a government body, is vested with the responsibility of developing sports and related infrastructure in the state.[109] The SDAT owns and operates world class stadiums and organises sporting events.[110] It also accommodates sporting events, both at domestic and international level, organised 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. 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. Chennai hosted India's first ever International Beach Volleyball Championship in 2008. The SDAT – TNSRA Squash Academy in Chennai is one of the very few academies in south Asia hosting international squash events.

Snooker was invented by General Sir Frederick Roberts at the Ooty Club in Ooty, a hill station in the state.

Tamil Nadu has six 18-hole golf courses, 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. The Guindy race course in Chennai, set up in 1777, is the oldest horse racing venue in India. Adventure sports have gained popularity, especially amongst the tourists visiting the state.


Marina Beach as seen from Light house.

The tourism industry of Tamil Nadu is the second largest in India, with an annual growth rate of 16 per cent. Tourism in Tamil Nadu is promoted by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), a Government of Tamil Nadu undertaking. According to Ministry of Tourism statistics, 2,804,687 foreign and 111,637,104 domestic tourists visited the state in 2010.[111] The state boasts some of the grand Hindu temples built in Dravidian architecture. The Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram built by the Cholas, the Airavateswara temple in Darasuram and the Shore Temple, along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram (also called Mamallapuram) have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[112][113]

Madurai is home to the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam. Tiruchirappalli is the largest functioning temple in the Tamil Nadu, Tiruchirappalli where the famous Rockfort Temple is located, Rameshwaram whose temple walk-ways corridor (Praagarams) are the longest 1.2 km (0.75 mi) 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 Chidambaram, Thiruvannaamalai, Tiruvarur, Kumbakonam, Sankarankovil, Srivilliputhur, Tiruttani, Namakkal, Vellore, Karur, Bhavani, Coimbatore, Kanniyakumari.

Tamil Nadu is also home to hill stations like 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. 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, Anaimalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Arignar Anna Zoological Park.[114] The mangrove forests at Pichavaram are also eco-tourism spots of importance.The prominent waterfalls in the state are Courtallam, Hogenakkal, 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.

Kanyakumari, the southernmost 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. The stretch of beaches from Chennai to Mahabalipuram are home to many resorts, theme parks and eateries.

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External links

  • Tamil Nadu travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Tamil Nadu at DMOZ
  • Tamil Nadu | A compendium of Tamil culture, heritage and tradition
  • TN Government Guideline value
  • Tamil Nadu Government Website
  • Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu
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