Tamil Nadu is diverse in its riches.
It has been reflected through its Saints, philosophers, music,
handicrafts and its festivals with all their colourful rituals and
traditions, all of which amalgamate together to give a true
reflection of Tamil Nadu Culture, Festivals, Cuisine, Adventure
and Wild Life.
The pride of many Tamils is the language
Tamil itself. Scholars recognize Tamil to be one of India's two
languages of antiquity. One of the distinguishing features of
Tamil is that it has three different forms of the sound "l". In
fact, the correct pronunciation of "Tamil" sounds like "Tamizh"
for which there is no phonetic equivalent in most other languages.
Today, there are sizable Tamil speaking populations in Sri Lanka,
Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and other countries.
Much of the ancient culture of Tamil Nadu is
still alive. We have Carnatic music, an Indian classical
tradition. Bharatha Natyam is its twin dance form, always
accompanied by this music. The rich tradition of folk music
continues to inspire the more popular film music. Popular culture
in Tamil Nadu is an altogether different pot of sambar. The
creative force of the people has led to one of the largest film
industries in the world, producing movies and film songs for
several decades. Three major religions co-exist in modern Tamil
Nadu. The grandeur of the Hindu temple architecture in Tamil Nadu
should be seen to be believed. Food in Tamil Nadu does go beyond
the famous idli, sambar, and dosai. You can find more information
on numerous topics pertaining to Tamil Nadu here.
The ancietn history of Tamil Nadu dates back about 6000 years
and the origin of its people is topic debate related to the Aryan
invasion theory. Those who believe in this theory support the view
that the Tamils belong to the Dravidian race and were part of the
early Indus Valley settlers. Later with the advent of the Aryan
invasion, the Dravidians were forced to remain back into the deep
south, where they ultimately settled. The present day states of
Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh constitute the
Tamil Nadu was ruled by the early Cholas
between 1st and 4th centuries CE. Karikalan was the first and the
most famous king, who built the Kallanai (kall - stone, anai -
bund), a dam across the Cauvery River, which is considered to be
an engineering wonder of that time. The Cholas ruled the present
Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli districts and were excellent in
military expertise. At the peak of their glory, the Chola kings
expanded their influence as far as Cylon (SriLanka) in the south
and hundreds of kilometers across the northern region. Cholas
comprises the major part of ancient history of Tamil Nadu. Almost
all the Chola Kings build magnificent temples. Brahadeswarer's
Temple or more popularly called as the Big temple in Tanjore (Thanjavur)is
a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola
During the later half of 4th century,
Pallavas the great temple builders emerged into prominence and
dominated the south for another 400 years. A large portion of
Tamil Nadu was ruled by then with Kanchipuram as their base. In
the 6th century they defeated the Cholas and ruled as far as Sri
Lanka. Among the greatest Pallava rulers were Mahendravarman-l and
his son Narasimhavarman. Dravidian architecture reached its
epitome during Pallava rule. The last Pallava King was Aparajitha.
He was defeated by Aditya Chola towards the end of the 9th
Under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra
Chola, the Cholas again rose as a notable power in 9th century in
South India. The Chola empire extended to the central Indian
states like, Orissa and parts of West Bengal. Rajaraja Chola
conquered the eastern Chalukya kingdom by defeating the Cheras,
and also occupied parts of Ceylon by defeating the Pandyas.
Rajendra Chola went beyond, occupying the islands of andaman and
Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya and the islands of
Pegu with his fleet of ships. He defeated Mahipala, the king of
Bihar and Bengal, and to mark his victory he built a new capital
called Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The Cholas started loosing their
power around the 13th century. As Cholas declined, the Pandyas
once again emerged as a power, in the early 14th century. But this
was short lived and soon they were subdued by Muslim Khilji
invaders from the north in 1316. The city of Madurai was plundered
and completely destroyed. The invasion destroyed the Chola and
Pandya dynasties and led to the establishment of Bahmani Kingdom
in the northern Deccan. Due to the 14th century invasion, the
Hindus retaliated in reaction and rallied to build a strong new
kingdom, called the Vijayanagara empire. This empire included all
the strongholds of Cholas and other local Hindu rulers to check
the Muslims. Governors called Nayaks were employed to run
different territories of the empire. Vijayanagar Empire was the
most prosperous dynasty in the south, with Hampi as the Capital.
But by 1564 the empire came to an end at the hands of Deccan
sultans in the battle of Talikota. The empire, dismantled into
many parts and was given to the Nayaks to rule. Tamil Country
under the Telugu Nayaks was peaceful and prosperous. The Nayaks of
Madurai and Thanjavur were most prominent of them all, who
reconstructed some of the oldest temples in the country.
The Dutch accomplished a settlement in
Pulicat around 1609. The British, under the British East India
Company, established a settlement further south, in present day
Chennai, in the year 1639. The British took advantage of the petty
quarrels among the provincial rulers (divide and rule) to expand
their area of power. The British fought with the various European
powers, notably the French at Vandavasi (Wandiwash) in 1760, and
the Dutch at Tharangambadi (Tranquebar), driving the Dutch away
entirely, and reducing the French dominions in India to
Pondicherry. The British also fought four wars with the Kingdom of
Mysore under Hyder Ali and later his son Tipu Sultan, which led to
their eventual domination of India's south. They consolidated
southern India into the Madras Presidency.
The nationalist movement in Tamil Nadu was a
movement of historical depth. Its starting point is the late
eighteenth century. Early manifestations of anti-colonial feeling
in Tamil Nadu were the rebellions led by the Poligars of
Tirunelveli and Shivagana, and the sepoy revolt at Vellore in
1806. Some important Chieftains or Poligars of Tamil Nadu, who
fought the British East India Company as it was expanding, were
Veerapandya Kattabomman, Maruthus and Pulithevan.
Tamil Nadu After Independence
After India gained independence in 1947, Madras Presidency
became Madras State, comprising of present day Tamil Nadu, coastal
andhra Pradesh, northern Kerala, and the southwest coast of
Karnataka. The state was later divided on the basis of linguistic
lines. In 1953 the northern districts formed Andhra Pradesh. Under
the States Reorganization Act, 1956, Madras State lost its western
coastal districts. The Bellary and South Kanara districts were
given to Mysore state, and Kerala was formed from the Malabar
district, the former princely states of Travancore and Cochin.
Finally, in 1968, when the Central Government imposed Hindi as the
national language, the state of Madras was renamed Tamil Nadu, to
reduce the resistance against this decision of the government.
Today, Tamil Nadu is one of the most prominent states of India,
famous for its tourist attractions and drawing innumerable
visitor's to the state.