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+00888ASIS88800 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple bus tour May 2004 00 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple fruit sellers May 2004 00 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple fruit sellers May 2004 01 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple fruit sellers May 2004 02 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple main entrance May 2004 00 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple monkeys May 2004 00
Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 00 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 01 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 02 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 03 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 04 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 05 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 06
Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple pillars May 2004 08 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 00 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 01 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 02 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 03 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 04 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 05
Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 06 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple ruins May 2004 07 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple The Garudar and Hanumar 2 Entrance 00 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple The Garudar and Hanumar 2 Entrance 01 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple The Garudar and Hanumar 2 Entrance 02 Madurai Alagar Kovil Temple The Garudar and Hanumar 2 Entrance 03

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Alagar Koyil temple

Azhagar Kovil (Alagar temple), is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu situated 21 km from the city of Madurai, which lies in the Tamil Nadu state of India.

History
The Lord Narasimhar Swamy at the Main Entrance

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu visits Madurai taking the human form of Alagar to give away his sister Meenakshi in marriage to Sundareswarar. But He then storms out of the city at the perceived insult by the city, which did not throw a formal welcome in his honor.

Ever since, Meenakshi Kalyanam (Meenakshi's Marriage) is re-enacted every year as part of the Chithirai festival in the famous Madurai Meenakshi temple. The Kallalagar (Alagar comes in a disguise of a bandit through the forest) procession also takes place to re-enact Alagar crossing Vaigai river to attend his sister's marriage. The Mahabharata says that this temple was visited by both Yudhisthira and Arjuna. From this we can infer that the temple was built before the birth of Lord Krishna and typical proof is that you can see only 7 avatars of god in this temple.
The Garudar and Hanumar at the Second Entrance

Azhagar Kovil (Temple of Alagar) is situated on a hill, and hence, the place is also known as Alagar Hill. The statues of Lord Kallalagar can be found in seated, standing and reclining postures in this temple. Azhagar is popularly known as Soundara Rajan, meaning 'very beautiful king'. This temple is also famous for its shrine of Karuppa Swamy, the guardian deity.The Temple of Pazhamudircholai is also situated in a hillock nearby.

It was also said that Alagar come to Madurai to give blessing to Mandooka Maharishi who is in the Vaigai river as a Frog. A king of Madurai wanted to bring a good bonding among the Saivas & Vishnavas. So he linked Alagar visit to Madurai & Meenakshi Thriukalyanam as one event and made it as a month long festival.This festival is called Chitira Festival

The main event of this Festival is Kallalagar Crossing river function. Lakhs of people gather in vaigai river to see this festival every year. While Kallalagar enters the river he comes to know that his sister marriage has been ended already, so he returns to Karuparayar Mandapam and then he takes ten avatharam then returns to Alagar Kovil.

Architecture
The inside Mandapam at Azhagar Kovil

The architecture of the Azhagar temple corresponds to any of those of south Indian temples, with large gopurams and pillared mandapams.The gopuram of the Karuppa swamy shrine depicts the passionate side of human relationship in the form of beautiful statues. Apart from these, it also depicts the evolution of cultural aspects of the local society including a depiction of an Englishman in British police uniforms. There is another half built gopuram on the southern side of the temple which has been used as an artistic backdrop in a few Tamil movie songs.

Herbal forest
The Fort Wall and the Hill on the way to Azhagar Kovil

The Azhagar Hills has a tropical forest cover which extend from Azhagar Kovil in the south to Natham in the north. The Tamil nadu state forest department has been maintaining a herbal garden on the hills.The entrance to the garden is restricted to siddha research scholars. The garden is irrigated by a natural spring locally known as the devi theertham.

Madurai மதுரை

Madurai (Tamil: மதுரை), is the oldest inhabited city in the Indian peninsula. It is referred to with names like Koodal Maanagar, Thoongaa Nagar (Sleepless City), Malligai Maanagar (City of Jasmine) and Athens of the East. It is a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and is a municipal corporation situated on the banks of the River Vaigai in Madurai district. The corporation has received several National awards in the year 2008 for implementing development works. The city is also referred to as the Temple city. With a population of 1, 108, 755 according to the 2004 estimation, it is the administrative capital of Madurai district.

Madurai was the capital city of ancient Southern civilization. Madurai's cultural heritage goes back 2, 500 years, and the city has been an important commercial center and has conducted trade as far as Rome and Greece since as early as 550 B.C.E.

History
Madurai is one of the oldest continually inhabited city in the Indian peninsula, with a history dating all the way back to the Sangam period of the pre-Christian era. It was the seat of power of the Pandyan empire. The Sangam period poet Nakkeerar is associated with some of the Tiruvilayaadal episodes of Sundareswarar - that are enacted as a part of temple festival traditions even today. As early as the 3rd century BC, Megasthanes visited Madurai. Later many people from Rome and Greece visited Madurai and established trade with the Pandya kings.

In legend, the original town of Madurai, traditionally called ThenMadurai or Madurai of South was destroyed by a tsunami in ancient Kumari Kandam. The new city was home to the last Tamil Sangam in the early part of last Century. The great national poet Subramanya Bharathi worked as a Tamil language pandit / teacher in Sethupathy High School during the early 20th century. There is a village town in the neighbouring district of Dindigul called Vada Madurai, and another in the neighbouring district of Sivagangai called Manamadurai.
Climate chart for Madurai

Madurai flourished till 10th century AD when it was captured by Cholas, the arch rivals of the Pandyas. The glory of Madurai returned in a diminished form in the earlier part of this millennium as it later came under the rule of the Vijayanagar kingdom and Madurai was ruled by the Nayak Emperors, the foremost of whom was Tirumalai Nayakar.

Geography and Climate
Madurai city has an area of 52 km², within an urban area now extending over as much as 130 km², and it is located at [show location on an interactive map] 9°56′N 78°07′E / 9.93°N 78.12°E / 9.93; 78.12. It has an average elevation of 101 meters above mean sea level. The climate is dry and hot, with rains during October-December. Temperatures during summer reach a maximum of 40 and a minimum of 26.3 degrees celsius. Winter temperatures range between 29.6 and 18 degrees Celsius. The average annual rainfall is about 85 cm.

Demographics
As of the 2001 India census, the city of Madurai had a population of 928, 869 within the municipal corporation limit and the urban area 1, 194, 665. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Madurai has an average literacy rate of 79%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 84%, and female literacy is 74%. In Madurai, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. There are 968 females per 1, 000 males.

Architecture
The entire city of Madurai is built around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. Concentric rectangular streets surround the temple, symbolizing the structure of the cosmos. Entire city looks in the shape of Lotus.

Civic administration
Madurai is administered by the Madurai Municipal Corporation. This was the second corporation formed in 1971 next to chennai .The mayor is responsible for the day-to-day running of the municipal school board, the city bus service, the municipal hospital, and the city library. The city serves as the headquarters of Madurai district and as the seat of the Madurai bench of Madras High Court. The High Court Bench started functioning with effect from 24-07-2004 with the jurisdiction of the Districts of Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Madurai, Dindigul, Ramanathapuram, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Pudukkottai, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli and Karur. The city has pass port office and districts Madurai, Theni, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari & Dindugul come under its jurisdiction . Also the city has employment office where educated people from madurai district register their educational qualifications for employment opportunities from Tamilnadu government. This offfice also serves as a place for registration of post graduates and professional degree holders from all southern and some of the western districts in Tamil nadu.

Language
Tamil is spoken predominantly in and around Madurai. The dialect of "Madurai Tamil" differs from others such as "Kongu Tamil", "Nellai Tamil", "Ramnad Tamil" and "Chennai Tamil". Along with Tamil, other languages spoken are Hindi, English, Urdu, Telugu, Saurashtra, Malayalam and Kannada. However the words of these languages have Tamil words mixed in with them.

Transport
Madurai is well-connected by air, rail and road.

Rail
The railway station is one of the busiest in the state and has computerized reservation counters. Madurai division repeatedly has received the award for being the best-maintained station in the Southern Railway. The railway station code for Madurai junction is MDU. It is connected to major Indian cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Thoothukudi, Tiruchendur, Bangalore (by Mysore exp & mumbai CST exp), Trivandrum, Mumbai (by Mumbai CST exp), Pune (by lokmanya tt exp), Ahmedabad, Hyderabad (by RMM OKHA EXPRES), Delhi (by Thirukkural and Tamil Nadu Sampark Kranti Express), and Kolkata(by cape howrah exp).

Road
Madurai has several major bus stands: Madurai Integrated Bus Terminus (MIBT) at Maattuthavani (North), Palanganatham (South), Arapalayam (West), Periyar (Central) and Anna Bus stand (East). From MIBT, many buses to locations all over the south India operate round the clock. From Arapalayam bus stand, buses to places of western Tamil Nadu like Theni, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Salem operate and Periyar bus stand is where only city buses and private buses to major cities operate. Anna bus stand and Palanganatham are not in operation currently.

Apart fom city buses, three-wheeled, black and yellow auto-rickshaws, referred to as autos, are available for travel with in the city. MIBT has pre-paid auto counter where commuters can pay fixed auto-fare depends on destination and hire.

Madurai is connected by the following major National Highways:

NH 7: (North-south Corridor Expressway) Bangalore – Salem – Dindigul – Madurai – Tirunelveli – Kanyakumari

NH 45B: Trichy – Madurai – Thoothukudi

NH 49: Madurai – Rameswaram

NH 49 Extn : Madurai – Theni – Bodi – Cochin

Bridges have been constructed across the Vaigai river to connect Madurai at various points. Flyovers have been constructed within the city to overcome traffic congestion. The Golden Quadrilateral and the four lane highway to Chennai make Madurai well-connected by road.

Air
Madurai Airport is approximately 9 kilometers from the Madurai railway station, and it offers direct flights to major Indian cities like Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore. It also offers flights to Hyderabad, Pune, Goa and Ahmedabad through Chennai. Airlines that serve the Madurai Airport are Jet Airways, Air Deccan, Paramount Airways, star aviation and Indian Airlines. International flights from Madurai to Colombo, Singapore and Gulf countries are proposed in the future. The nearest international airport is in Tiruchirapalli International Airport, which is 130 km from Madurai.
Airline-From Madurai: Service to
Indian airlines: Chennai, Mumbai
Paramount Airways: Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Goa, Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram, Pune, Hyderabad
Jet Airways: Chennai
Air Deccan (Kingfisher): Chennai, Bangalore

Education
Madurai has a literacy rate and human development index above the state average. Madurai Kamaraj University is situated in Madurai. It pioneered the concept of Distance Education throughout India. The University was accorded the status of "University with Potential for Excellence" . The city has a Medical College, Madurai Medical College (established in the year 1954), an Agricultural College and Research Institute, a Law College, and many Engineering and Arts & Science Colleges. Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai (established in the year 1957) is one of the premier institutions in Tamil Nadu. Madurai has many reputed Schools, Polytechnics and Industrial training institutes (ITIs) as well. The American College in Madurai is one of the oldest colleges in India. It was founded in 1881 by American Christian missionaries.Thiagarajar college of Arts and Science(founded in 1949) is also an another older institution.Thiagarajar School of Management (well-known as TSM in South India, founded in 1962) is a premier institute for Management Studies.Other notable colleges include K.L.N. Engineering College, Raja Engineering college, Sethu Engineering College, SACS M.A.V.M.M Engineering College, Velammal College of Engineering and Technology and P.T.R College of Engineering and Technology. S.V.N College Nagamali is one of the reputed institutions in Madurai since 1965. There are significant number of Hotel Management & Catering institutes in the city.

Thiagarajar College of Engineering and KLN College of Engineering are in the forefront in developing research facilities and have forged coordination with multinational corporations like National Instruments, Intel, IBM and leading industry organisations within the country like HCL.In recent years, the city is a witness to campus interviews by leading industry organisations and successful placement programmes organised by the University.Industry estimates put that about 15 to 20 per cent of manpower working in IT industries in metros are from Madurai and surrounding districts. Other reputed educational institutions are Ma Foi and VETA.

Healthcare
In addition to Government Rajaji Hospital, many private hospitals such as Aravind Eye Hospital, Apollo Specialty Hospital, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Center, Vadamalayan Hospital and Quality Care Hospital, make the city a destination for health care combined with heritage tourism at an affordable cost.

Madurai is a home to Aravind Eye Care System founded in 1976 by Dr.Govindappa Venkataswamy.Today it is one of the finest eye hospitals in the world [27]. Today, in addition to the hospital in Madurai, there are four other Aravind Eye Hospitals in Theni, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, and Puducherry with a combined total of nearly 3, 590 beds. Aravind Eye Hospitals has gained national and international reputation for its service orientation, modern ophthalmic techniques and its community-based outreach activities which deliver quality eye care to the rural masses [28]. 2, 313, 398 outpatient visits were handled and 270, 444 surgeries were performed at the Aravind Eye Hospitals in 2006. Two-third of the outpatient visits and three-fourth of the surgeries were serviced to the poor, free of cost. In addition to this, The Aravind Eye Research Institute is run by the Aravind Medical Research Foundation (AMRF). Its research collaborators are: The University of Iowa, USA, HLS Central Public Health Laboratory, London, Proctor Eye Foundation, USA, National Eye institute, USA, Doheny Institute, ISA, International Centre for Eye Health, London and Madurai Kamaraj University, India. Aravind Eye Care System has extended its activities by expanding the research facilities and has started Ph.D programme in ophthalmology, genetics and immunology for medical graduates in affiliation with the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University; Ph.D in affiliation with Madurai Kamaraj University in Biomedical science for non-medical graduates, and Ph.D in Biotechnology and Humanities and social sciences in affiliation with Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai.

Apollo Specialty Hospitals, Madurai was founded in 1997. The hospital has an overall success rate of 98% and sees an average of 15, 000 patients a year. A 24-hour panel of super-specialists are present at the hospital.The hospital has first Intensive Care Unit for Nephrology and first Renal Artery Angioplasty in South India. It is the No. 1 Centre in India and 5th in the world to perform Laparoscopic Renal Transplantation (Donor Nephrectomy) [29]. The Apollo group Hospitals spread across various Indian cities and today Apollo Hospitals is not just one of the country's premier health care providers and had also played a pioneering role in helping India become as center-of-excellence in global health care.

Economy
Madurai district houses reputed organizations in the private sector which are engaged in the production of variety of goods such as tyres, industrial rubber products, machinery, textiles, conveyor belts, chemicals etc. Madurai is a home to TVS group. In manufacturing and automobile sector, Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited(TAFE)(one among the top 5 tractor manufacturers in the world), Fenner (India) Ltd(Industrial and Automotive V-Belts, Oilseals and Power Transmission Accessories), Hi-Tech Arai Ltd (oil seals and automobile components), George oakes ltd, TVS Cherry Pvt Ltd( Switch manufacturing, joint venture between TVS Group, India and Cherry Corporation, USA), Sundaram Fasteners Ltd(manufacturer of high tensile fasteners), Firestone TVS Private Ltd(manufacturer of air spring), MADRAS SUSPENSIONS LIMITED, TVS Sewing Needles Limted, TV Sundram Iyengar & Sons Limited(distributer of Heavy Duty Commercial Vehicles, Jeeps and Cars) and Susee group(sales, service, parts, finance of automobiles across Tamil Nadu) are notable companies.All automobile majors, including General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Honda, are regular buyers of automobile components produced in the city.

Some of the existing textile/chemical industries are Thiagarajar Mills (P), Limited(one of the largest manufacturer and exporter of 100% Indian Cotton Yarn), Sundaram Textiles Limited, Madura Coats Pvt. Ltd, First Garment Manufacturing Company (India)Pvt Ltd, Vaigai Group(chemicals, edible oils, textiles, construction) and SLM International.

There are also few Granite industries like PRP Exports (one of India's largest granite processors and exporters) Madurai Arkay RockDuniterocks private limited(Granite gangsaw slabs)and Arkay Glenrock. TVS Srichakra(tyre manufacturing), Sundaram Industries Limited(Rubber Division, Coach division) and LANXESS India Private Limited are some of the rubber based industries. TVS Interconnect Systems Ltd is a manufacturer of low end components like electronic connectors, RF (Radio frequency) connectors, cable assemblies, Fiber optic products & other accessories for telecommunication, consumer electronics & automobile industries.

Because of city's proximity to rubber producing centers, it has had rubber as a traditional industry. Besides gloves, condoms, sports goods, mats and other utility products, Madurai contributes to the production of automobile components made of rubber in a big way.Rubber goods worth about Rs.1, 000 crore are produced here annually. The rubber industry, industrialists feel, has a rich potential to transform Madurai economy. The anticipated growth in this industry, triggered by a boom in automobile sector, will have a cascading effect on other wings of the local economy.Despite being an industry with potential to cause pollution, the manufacturers are taking “special care” to adopt environment-friendly processes. The city is planned to have a rubber cluster soon. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries’ Association (MADITSSIA) and Rubber Park (Madurai) Limited.

Retail industry is also booming in the city. This is evident from existing super markets like Reliance super, Spencer's daily, and on-going malls construction like millanem, big bazaar. Growth in the tourism industry in terms of number of tourists and luxury hotels is significant in recent years.Some of the on-going industrial projects are BHEL ancillary units and Caparo Engineering India Pvt Ltd.

Over the recent years the IT industry has made a big mark in the economy of Madurai. Software Technology Parks of India, an agency of the Government of India, has authorized several companies in Madurai to receive benefits under its national information technology development program. City houses MNC's like Honeywell Technologies India (P) Ltd, AJ Square Consultancy Services (P) Ltd .Other notable IT/BPO companies in the city are Cogzidel Technologies, Alfa Web Solutions, A&T Network Systems (P) Ltd, Aztecs Technologies Private Limited, ITflex solutions, Winways Systems Private Limited, SAMTRACK BPO, Chella Software Private Limited, Sundaram BPO, Sai BPO, Solartis and LEO Labs .

Due to work culture, low attrition rates and also the availability of educational institutions, the city attracts IT majors like HCL, Satyam, Oracle and Sutherland Global Services. Tamil Nadu government has proposed two IT-Special Economic Zone(SEZ)s in Madurai and they have been fully occupied by various IT companies.The work on provision of infrastructure is progress in Information Technology parks.

The state government is planning to develop industrial estate in Madurai which is to come up on 2, 000 acres and would focus on the manufacturing industry, especially on automobile component manufacturers.

Media and Entertainment

 * Athisayam water theme park :
The water park situated on the outskirts of Madurai (20 km from the city) attracts people of all age groups and from different places in and around Madurai. Several high-tech entertainment games offer interesting experiences to visitors. The park is scientifically designed and perfect during the summer heat.

 * Eco park:
The park situated near city corporation building where the lighting and fountain arrangements are impressive and the illuminated optic fiber trees add luster to the beauty.The most attractive thing in the Park is the water show with music.

 * Hava valley:
It is located on the Natham road in the outskirts of Madurai. This place is filled with natural beauty with the hills in the backdrop. It houses a restaurant and also a go-kart track.

 * Rajaji children park
There are large number of cinema halls/multiplexes in the city which is the main entertainment for all classes of people. Apart from Tamil movies, some of Hindi and English movies also run in the city.The shopping complex called "Aparna Towers" which forms a landmark in the By Pass Road which hosts several show rooms and restaurants. City has shopping places like Spencers daily, Mega mart, Naidu Hall(Naihaa), British bakery, Cafe Coffee day, Reliance super etc. Of late, the city is undergoing a mass construction of shopping malls like Millennium mall [43], Vishal mall and big bazaar.

City hosts several radio stations like Radio mirchi, Hello FM, Suryan FM and it has two major English dailies, The Hindu and The New Indian Express. Tamil language dailies include Dina Malar, Dina Thanthi, Dina Mani and Dinakaran with two other dailies Tamil Murasu Malai Murasu and Malai Malar published in the evening.

Hospitality
In the recent years, the city has seen growth in the hospitality industry. A luxury five star hotel "Heritance Madurai"  is one of the top luxury hotels in India. Some of the other top rated hotels are Hotel GRT Regency, The Gateway Hotel (Taj Garden Retreat), Hotel Germanus, Royal Court, North gate, Madurai Residency, Hotel Sangam, Hotel Madura Park Inn and Hotel Fortune Pandiyan. Indian (South Indian, Tandoori, Punjabi), Chinese and Continental food are available in hotels / restaurants  of the city. Madurai is known for its idlies which is available with variety of chutneys in almost all the restaurants. Murugan idly shop at west masi street and railway station is famous for its Idly all over tamilnadu.

Tourism and Landmarks
Madurai is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites of India. The city attracts a large number of pilgrims and tourists from within the country and abroad. About 4, 100, 000 tourists visited Madurai in 2007, out of which foreigners numbered 224, 000.

Meenakshi-Sundareswar Temple
Meenakshi Amman temple
Madurai's Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple, which stands today as one of the India's greatest cultural and architectural landmarks, was originally built by the early Pandya King Kulasekara. It si also one of the greatest Shiva Temples of Tamilnadu. The labyrinthine Meenakshi Temple, celebrating the love of the Meenakshi goddess and her groom Sundareswarar(the Handsome God) is of world renown. The ancient city of Madurai was supposedly laid out in a lotus-like formation, with the temple at the center and the streets and main thoroughfares layered one after the other concentrically, outward from the center. One legend says that on the day the city was to be named, Lord Shiva blessed the land and its people while divine nectar showered on the city from his matted locks. The city hence came to be known as Madhurapuri meaning The City of Divine Nectar. The legend is likely a late tale attempting to Sanskritise the otherwise-Dravidian derivative of Madurai. This the place where Lord Natarajar performed the dance raising his right leg . (Kal maariya Aadiya natarajar). Lord shiva was very happy with the temple construction and performed a different dance. This is the temple which survived after Kannagi burnt the complete city. All of the towers are currently draped in scaffolding and opaque coverings obscuring the sculptures at least until the end of 2009.

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal
Thirumalai Naicker Mahal
This palace complex was constructed in the Indo-Saracen style by Thirumalai Nayakar in 1636. It is a national monument and is now under the care of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department.

The original palace complex was four times bigger than the present structure. It was divided into two parts, Swarga-vilasa and Ranga-vilasa. In each of these there are royal residences, theater, shrines, apartments, armory, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond and garden. The ceilings are decorated with large paintings showing Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes.

The portico known as Swarga Vilasam is an arcaded octagon wholly constructed of bricks and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder. The stucco work on its domes and arches is remarkable. The gigantic pillars and structures represent architectural mastery. The courtyard and the dancing hall are central attractions for visitors. There are 248 pillars, each 58 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter.

Furniture and utensils used by the kings is on exhibit inside the palace. The palace is equipped to perform light and sound shows depicting the story of Silappathikaram, in both Tamil and English languages.

The palace has been featured in many Indian films, such as Bombay, Iruvar, Guru and Jodi.

Kazimar Big Mosque (Periya Pallivasal) and Maqbara
Madurai Hazrat's Maqbara located within the Mosque
This famous mosque (masjid) is located at the heart of Madurai city, within 500 metres of the Periyar (Central) bus stand and within 1 kilometre South East of the Madurai railway junction. Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin, who came from Oman during 13th century, received this land from the then Panidiya king, Koo(n) Pandiyan, and constructed the mosque which is the first Muslims' place of worship in Madurai. Maqbara the dargah of famous Madurai Hazrats (Hazrat Meer Ahamad Ibrahim, Hazrat Meer Amjad Ibrahim and Hazrat Syed Abdus Salaam Ibrahim Rahmatullahi Alaihim) is also located inside the mosque campus. All of Kazi Syed Thajuddheen's descendants (Huqdars - shareholders of this mosque called as Syeds) have lived in the same locality (Kazimar street) for more than 700 years, and have managed the mosque since then. Syed Tajuddin was appointed as Kazi of the sultans, and still his descendants who live at Kazimar street, Madurai, are appointed as Kazis to the Government of Tamil Nadu. All Syeds belong to the Sunni sect of Islam, its Hanafi school. Most of the descendants of Kazi Syed Tajuddin are shadhilis (shazuli) and follow the Sufi order Fassiyatush Shadhiliya. A famous ITI is being run by the Huqdhars (Kazi Tajuddin Society), for more than 25 years in the heart of the city in the name and style KAZI TAJUDDIN I.T.I. which serves for the cause of technical education to the down trodden and economically backward Muslims of the locality and the neighboring districts.

Gandhi Museum
The museum displays information about Mahatma Gandhi, and most importantly it showcases the original blood-stained garment of Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. The other piece of the garment is kept at the Gandhi Museum in Delhi. This museum, is one of the 5 museums in India (others in Mumbai, Barrackpore, Sabarmati and Patna) known as Gandhi Sanghralayas. Also lot of pictures taken during the Life time of Gandhi with various leaders all around the world and also during various incidents of freedom struggle is kept. Martin Luther King Jr. visited the museum during his tour of India in 1959 and is said to have got his inspiration to launch a series of peaceful agitations against racial discrimination.No entry fee for meseum visitors.

Thiruparankundram

The Thiruparankundram is about 8 km or 5 miles from the Madurai city center.Thiruparakundram temple has become a symbol of the religious harmony as of the people of Madurai. The traditional legend is that Lord Murugan married Deivanai at Thiruparankundram Murugan Temple, which also is the first among the Six Holy Abodes of Murugan (Arupadai Veedu, literally "Six Battle Camps").

This evocative cave temple is much older and has a more sacred atmosphere than the Meenakshi temple, particularly on Fridays, when women place candles or sit around the temple floor and create kolams or rangoli patterns on the ground using coloured poweders, ash and flowers as an offering to goddess Durga.

Islamic Durgah (shrine) is located at the top of the hill, where the grave of an Islamic saint Hazrat Sultan Sikandhar Badushah shaheed Radiyallah Ta'al anhu, who came from Jeddah along with Hazrat Sulthan Syed Ibrahim Shaheed Badushah of Madinah (now in Erwadi, Ramanathapuram district) during the mid 9th century, is found. Irrespective of religion, people from all parts of Tamil Nadu and from Kerala visit this durgah. People who visit the Ervadi Durgah in Ramanathapuram district are supposed to visit this durgah. Many poems were written in praise of Hazrat Sultan Sikandhar Badhusha, by Syed Abdussalam Ibrahim Saalim Hazrat, the third in the list of Madurai Hazrats and his Matrnal grandson Syed Abdus Salaam Ibrahim Saahib Hazrat. It is seen that people who come here with a wish see it answered in a very short time, and so He is also called Mustajab ad Du'aa Sikandhar Badhushah. Mustajab Ad Du'aa in Arabic means A saint whose Supplications are immediately answered by Allah.

Goripalayam Dargah
Gorippalayam Durgah on Urus.
The name Gorippalayam comes from the persian word Gor which means Grave. This area is called as Goripalayam because the Graves of the two famous saints of Islam and rulers of Madurai Hazrat Sulthan Alauddin Badusha (Radiyallah) and Hazrat Sulthan Shamsuddin Badhusha (Radiyallah) are located here. A beautiful green coloured tomb can be seen from the A.V.Bridge madurai, which is the Gorippalayam Dargah located in the northern banks of vaigai River. It is amzing to see that, the domb which is 70 feet in diameter and 20 feet in height is made of a single block of stone which was taken from the Azhaga Hills. People from all over Tamil Nadu come here to seek blessings and go back fruitfully. The two rulers were brothers who ruled the northern part of madurai after coming from oman during 13th century to spread Islam. Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin Radiyallah of Kazimar street was Govt. Kazi (Islamic Legal advisor and jury) to them. An ancient Tamil inscription, regarding to the inam given for the maintanance of this dargah can be found planted on the outer campus of the Maqbara.The anniversary urus festival of this dargah is held on 15th of the Islamic month of Rabi al-awwal.

Kudal Azhagar Koil
A beautiful vishnu temple which has Navagraham also(Usually Navagraham is found only in shivan temple). There is a hayagrivar temple close to this temple where hayagrivar (Horse/"haya"griva avataram) is the main deity. Most of the students do their regular prayer here as hayagrivar is the one who brought the epic fallen into water back to the earth. This is one of the temple found in center of city. This is located 100 mtrs north to the Kazimar Big Mosque (Periya pallivasal) and to the south of Sunnambukara street.

St. Mary’s Cathedral Church
St. Mary’s Cathedral in Madurai is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madurai. It is one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in India and is situated 2 km South East of Madurai Railway station and only 200 meters from the Thirumalai Nayak Mahal.

Tourist attractions around Madurai
Madurai acts as a tourism hub of south Tamil Nadu because of its strategic location. There are various tourist visiting places around madurai.

 * Azhagar Temple
Azhagar kovil
Azhagar Kovil, located about 25 km from the city, is a vishnu shrine. The location is surrounded by hills. The principal idol of the shrine is that of Lord Kallazhagar. The Tamil new year festival called Chittirai Thiruvizha has been celebrated for centuries in this temple. In the entrance of the Azhagar kovil one can view the Badhri Narayanan temple, built similar to Badrinath near Mount Kailash in northern India: the principal idol in this shrine represents Vishnu in a meditative posture, flanked by Nara-Narayan.

The Lord Kallalagar is said to visit the temple on the eve of the Chittirai festival, one of the famous festivals in Tamil Nadu. He starts the journey from the Alagar Koil, crossing the Badri Narayanan Shrine. During this time, he visits Vandiyur, near the Vaigai River, on the eastern outskirts of Madurai. It is believed that he realizes he is too late for his sister's wedding, so refuses to cross the river, and returns disappointed to Alagar Koil. On the top of the hills, is a shrine of Lord Muruga, popularly known as Pazhamudircholai. This is the last of Murugan's arupadai veedu and he is seen along with his consorts, Deivanai and Valli

 * Kodaikanal
Around 120 km away from Madurai is Kodaikanal, one of the most beautiful hill stations in India. It is also known as princess of Hills. Kodai is located 2, 130 m above the sea level in the Western Ghats.

 * Vaigai Dam
About 70 km from Madurai on the way to Thekkady is Vaigai Dam. The dam offers a breathtaking sight on weekends when it is illuminated.

 * Suruli Falls
Situated amidst rich flora and fauna, Suruli Falls serve as a perfect picnic spot. They lie on the way to Thekkady, at a distance of 123 km from Madurai.

 * Thekkady / Kumily
Thekkady is one of the world's most fascinating natural wildlife reserves - the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Spread across 777 km², of which 360 km² is thick evergreen forest, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. It lies 155 km from Madurai and is home to many animals and birds.

 * Courtallam (near Tirunelveli)
It lies 160 km from Madurai and is famous for its waterfalls. Popularly known as the 'Spa of the South', it is blessed with immense natural beauty.

 * Rameswaram
A holy town located on the Pamban island in the Gulf of Mannar, Rameswaram is connected to the mainland by the Indira Gandhi (Pamban) Bridge, which is regarded as one of India’s engineering wonders. Apart from the temples, the beaches of Rameswaram are also worth a visit. The town lies 160 km from Madurai and it is connected by rail and bus.

 * Palani Hills
Located at a distance of 122 km from Madurai, Palani Hills are of great religious importance for Hindus. The major attraction of the hills is a temple, dedicated to Lord Subramanya.

Personalities from Madurai

 * Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi, popular carnatic singer
* Padma Shri T. M. Soundararajan, popular film singer
* Mani Rathnam, Indian Film director, Film producer, Screenplay writer
* kalaimamani Ilaiyaraaja, Indian music composer, singer, and lyricist.
* M Thiagarajan, CEO, Paramount Airways .
* Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar, Educationalist
* Vadivelu, Popular Tamil Cinema comedian
* Vivek, Popular Tamil Cinema comedian
* Vijayakanth, Tamil actor, Politician
* P. T. Rajan, Justice Party Politician, Ex Chief Minister of Madras Presidency
* P. T. R. Palanivel Rajan Politician.
* KaviPerarasu Vairamuthu, lyricist.
* Augustus De Morgan, mathematician.
* Indra Soundar Rajan, Tamil Author.
* Bharathiraja, Film Director.
* Solomon Papaiah, Tamil professor, Debate specialist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madurai

Tamil Nadu தமிழ்நாடு

Tamil Nadu (Tamil: தமிழ்நாடு ‘Country of the Tamils’ is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai (formerly Madras). Tamil Nadu lies in the southern most part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by Puducherry (Pondicherry), Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is bound by the Eastern Ghats in the north, the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Palakkad on the west, Bay of Bengal in the east, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Strait in the south east and Indian Ocean in the south.

For over 2500 years, the region has been the home of the last surviving classical civilization of the world, the Tamil civilization. It is the homeland of Indian Tamils and their 2500 year old classical language Tamil. The Tamil culture is as old and comparable to those of other classical civilizations of the world like the Mesopotamian civilization. Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area (about the size of Greece) and the seventh most populous state. It is the fifth largest contributor to India's GDP and the most urbanised state in India. The state has the highest number (10.56%) of business enterprises in India, compared to the population share of about 6%. It is one of the foremost states in the country in terms of overall development. It is home to many natural resources, grand Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture, hill stations, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage sites and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

History
The Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur is one of the largest monolithic temple complexes in the world - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Prehistory

Tamil Nadu's history dates back to pre-historic times and archaeological evidence points to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in India. In Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, skeletons and bones, plus husks and grains of rice, charred rice and Neolithic celts, giving evidence confirming them to be of the Neolithic period, 3800 years ago. The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi. Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.

About 60% of the epigraphical inscriptions found by the Archaeological Survey of India in India were from Tamil Nadu and most of which are in Tamil language

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

Pallava Rule
Around 580 CE, the Pallavas, great temple builders, emerged into prominence and dominated the south for another 150 years. They ruled a vast portion of Tamil Nadu with Kanchipuram as their capital. They subjugated the Cholas and reigned as far south as the Kaveri River. Among the greatest Pallava rulers were Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during the Pallava rule.

Pandya Rule
Pallavas were replaced by the Pandyas in the 8th century. Their capital Madurai was in the deep south away from the coast. Tirunelveli was their another important city which is the South India's second largest producer of Rice after Thanajavur. Nellaiappar temple, Tirunelveli and Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai are some of the best examples of Pandyan Temple architecture. Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli is the first largest Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu.

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

By the 9th century, under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose as a notable power in south Asia. The Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal. At its peak, the empire spanned almost 250 million acres (1, 000, 000 km2). Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular South India and parts of the Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navies went even further, occupying coastal Burma (now Myanmar), the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of the Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

The Cholas excelled in building magnificent temples. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur is a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola kingdom. Brihadshwara temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site under "Great Living Chola Temples." Another example is the Chidambaram Temple in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram.

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

Delhi Sultanate
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal at Madurai.

This restoration was short-lived as the Pandya capital of Madurai itself was sacked by Alauddin Khilji troops from the north in 1316. The invasion led to the establishment of the Madurai Sultanate.

Vijayanagar Empire
These northern invasions triggered the establishment of Vijayanagara Empire in the Deccan. It eventually conquered the entire Tamil country (c. 1370 CE). This empire lasted almost three centuries.

Rule of Nayaks
As the Vijayanagara Empire went into decline after mid-16th century, the Nayak governors, who were appointed by the Vijayanagar kingdom to administer various territories of the empire, declared their independence. The Nayaks of Madurai and Nayaks of Thanjavur were most prominent of them all in the 17th century. They reconstructed some of the oldest temples in the country such as the Meenakshi Temple.

Rule of Nizams and Nawabs
Fort Dansborg, built by the Danish, in Tranquebar (now Tharangambadi).

Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat. In 1639, the British, under the British East India Company, established a settlement further south, in present day Chennai.

The British exploited rivalries between the provincial rulers to expand their sphere of influence throughout the Nizam's dominions. The British fought and reduced the French dominions in India to Pondicherry. Nizams bestowed tax revenue collection rights on the East India Company by the end of 18th century. Some notable chieftains or Poligars who fought the British East India Company as it was expanding were Maveeran Sundaralinga Kudumbanar, Veerapandya Kattabomman, Pulithevan and Dheeran Chinnamalai.

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

Independence
When India became independent in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State, comprising present day Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh up to Ganjam district in Orissa, northern Karnataka, and parts of Kerala. The state was subsequently split up along linguistic lines. In 1968, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, meaning Land of Tamil.

Geography and climate
A semi-arid wasteland near Tirunelveli. Monsoon clouds dump torrents of rain on lush forests that are only a few kilometers away in windward-facing Kerala, but are prevented from reaching Tirunelveli by the Agasthyamalai Range of the Western Ghats (background).
Topographic map of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu covers an area of 130, 058 square kilometres (50, 216 sq mi), and is the eleventh largest state in India. The bordering states are Kerala to the west, Karnataka to the northwest and Andhra Pradesh to the north. To the east is the Bay of Bengal. The southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula is located in Tamil Nadu. At this point is the town of Kanyakumari which is the meeting point of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean. The Western, Southern and the North Western parts are hilly and rich in vegetation. Tamil Nadu is the only state in India which has both the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats and they both meet at the Nilgiri hills. The Western ghats dominate the entire Western border with Kerala, effectively blocking much of the rain bearing clouds of 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 1, 000 kilometres (600 mi) which forms about 18% of the country’s coastline (third longest). Tamil Nadu's coastline bore the brunt of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami when it hit India, which left behind 7, 793 dead 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.

Tamil Nadu is heavily dependent on monsoon rains, and thereby is prone to droughts when the monsoons fail. The climate of the state ranges from dry sub-humid to semi-arid. The state has three distinct periods of rainfall: (1) Advancing monsoon period, South West monsoon (from June to September), with strong southwest winds; (2) North East monsoon (from October to December), with dominant northeast winds; and (3) Dry season (from January to May). The normal annual rainfall of the state is about 945 mm (37.2 in) of which 48% is through the North East monsoon, and 32% through the South West monsoon. Since the state is entirely dependent on rains for recharging its water resources, monsoon failures lead to acute water scarcity and severe drought. Tamil Nadu is classified into seven agro-climatic zones: north-east, north-west, west, southern, high rainfall, high altitude hilly, and Cauvery Delta (the most fertile agricultural zone). The table below shows the maximum and minimum temperatures that the state experiences in the plains and hills.
Plains: Hills
Max.: 43.0 °C (109.4 °F): 32.3 °C (90.1 °F)
Min.: 13.1 °C (55.6 °F): 3.0 °C (37.4 °F)

Tamil Nadu has a wide variety of minerals with the most lignite (almost 90% of India's reserves), magnesite (45%) and garnet (over 40%) reserves in India, among others. Tamil Nadu contributes 15% of the total salt production in the country. Forests cover over 17% of the state's geographical area with several protected areas of Tamil Nadu including wild life and bird sanctuaries.

Governance and administration
The Governor is the Constitutional head of the state while the Chief Minister is the head of the government and the head of the council of ministers. The Chief Justice of the Madras High Court is the head of the judiciary. The present Governor, Chief Minister and the Chief Justice (acting) are Surjit Singh Barnala, M. Karunanidhi and S. J. Mukhopadhaya respectively. The major administrative units of the state constitutes 39 Lok Sabha constituencies, 234 Assembly constituencies, 32 districts, 10 municipal corporations, 145 municipalities, 561 town panchayats and 12, 618 village panchayats. Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the state capital. It is the fourth largest city in India and is also one of the five A1 Metropolitan cities of India.

Tamil Nadu had a bicameral legislature until 1986, when it was replaced with a unicameral legislature, like most other states in India. The term length of the government is 5 years, as is elsewhere in India. The present government run by the DMK led alliance came to power in 2006 and comprises a council of 29 ministers, chaired by the Chief Minister. Tamil Nadu legislative assembly is chaired by the speaker Mr. R Avudaiappan and is housed at the historical Fort St. George in Chennai. The state had come under the President's rule on four occasions - first from 1976 to 1977, next for a short period in 1980, then from 1988 to 1989 and the latest in 1991. Tamil Nadu has 10 Municipal Corporations: Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Tirunelveli, Salem, Tirupur, Erode, Vellore and Thoothukudi. The Corporation of Chennai, established in 1688, is the oldest Municipal Institution in India.

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

 

Districts
Districts of Tamil Nadu

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

 1. Chennai District
2. Coimbatore District
3. Cuddalore District
4. Dharmapuri District
5. Dindigul District
6. Erode District
7. Kanchipuram District
8. Kanyakumari District
9. Karur District
10. Krishnagiri District
11. Madurai District
12. Nagapattinam District
13. Namakkal District
14. Perambalur District
15. Pudukkottai District
16. Ramanathapuram District
17. Salem District
18. Sivagangai District
19. Thanjavur District
20. The Nilgiris District
21. Theni District
22. Thoothukudi District
23. Tiruchirapalli District
24. Tirunelveli District
25. Tiruvallur District
26. Tiruvannamalai District
27. Tiruvarur District
28. Vellore District
29. Viluppuram District
30. Virudhunagar District
31. Ariyalur district
32. Tirupur district

Ariyalur district, which was created in 2001 from the Perambalur district, was restored as the 31st district of Tamil Nadu on the 23rd November, 2007. The TN government has also announced that Tirupur will be the new headquarters of the Tirupur district which will be formed by splitting the Coimbatore and Erode district.

Politics

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

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

Dravidian Politics
Political
Alliance: Assembly
Elections: Lok Sabha
Elections
DMK+: 163 (69.6%): 39 (100%)
AIADMK+: 69 (29.4%): 0 (0%)
Independent/Other: 2 (0.8%): 0 (0%)
Source: Indian Elections / Election Commission of India.

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

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

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

Demographics and human rights
Population Growth
Census: Pop.:     %±
1951: 30, 119, 000:       

1961: 33, 687, 000:        11.8%
1971: 41, 199, 000:        22.3%
1981: 48, 408, 000:        17.5%
1991: 55, 859, 000:        15.4%
2001: 62, 406, 000:        11.7%
Source:Census of India
Tamil Nadu Religions
Religion: Percent:
Hinduism: 88.11%
Christianity: 6.06%
Islam: 5.56%
Others: 0.27%

Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in India with a population of 66, 396, 000, as of July 1, 2008 (approximately 5.79% of India's population). It is the eleventh most densely populated state in India. In 2008, its population density was 511 persons per square kilometre, having increased from 429 in 1991, significantly higher than the Indian average of 324 persons per square kilometre. 44% of the state's population live in urban areas, the highest in India.

Tamil Nadu's population grew by 11.19% between 1991 and 2001, the second lowest rate for that period (after Kerala) amongst populous states (states whose population exceeded 20 million in 2001). Its decadal rate of population growth has declined in every decade since 1971, one of only three populous states (along with Kerala and Orissa) to show this trend. The state has registered the lowest fertiliy rate along with Andhra Pradesh and Goa in India in year 2005-06 with 1.8 children born for each woman, lower than required for population sustainability. According to National Family Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3), Tamil Nadu registered a fertility rate of 1.8, the lowest in India in year 2005-2006.

As recorded in the 2001 All India census, 89.43% of the population speak Tamil as their mother tongue. Other languages spoken in the state are Telugu (5.65 %), Kannada (1.68 %), Urdu (1.51 %) and Malayalam (0.89 %). A significant population can speak more than one language, usually English. Also the vast majority of the people follow Hindu religion. The distribution of population based on religion is described in the bar graph shown above.

Education and social development
Tamil Nadu has performed reasonably well in terms of literacy growth during the decade 1991-2001. The state's literacy rate increased from 62.66% in 1991 to 73.47% in 2001. which is above the national average. A survey conducted by the Industry body Assocham ranks Tamil Nadu top among Indian states with about 100% Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in primary and upper primary education.

Tamil Nadu has 19 universities, 250 engineering colleges and 1150 arts college, 2550 schools and 5000 hospitals. Some of the reputed institutes include University of Madras, IIT Madras, Anna University, NIT Tiruchi, Madras Medical College and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. Tamil Nadu produces the highest number of engineering graduates in India (around 30, 000) every year which attracts many software companies to set up their shop in south India.

India has a human development index calculated as 0.619, while the corresponding figure for Tamil Nadu is 0.736, placing it among the top states in the country. The life expectancy at birth for males is 65.2 years and for females it is 67.6 years. However, it has a number of challenges, significantly, the poverty is high, especially in the rural areas. As of 2004-2005, the poverty line was set at Rs. 351.86/month for rural areas and Rs. 547.42/month for urban areas. Poverty in the state dropped from 51.7% in 1983 to 21.1% in 2001For the period 2004-2005, the Trend in Incidence of Poverty in the state was 22.5% compared with the national figure of 27.5%.The World Bank is currently assisting the state in reducing poverty High drop-out and low completion of secondary schools continue to hinder the quality of training in the population. Other problems include class, gender, inter-district and urban-rural disparities.

The Dravidian movement, which championed the causes of educating the people and eradicating superstitions, began in Tamil Nadu. In addition, it aimes to uplift the socially repressed Dravidian people and drew considerable support from the middle classes for their efforts in this matter. The movement was committed to social justice which led to the expansion of reservations for the deprived communities. Tamil Nadu now has a 69% reservation in educational institutions, the highest among all Indian states.

The Mid-day Meal Scheme program in Tamil Nadu, initiated by Kamaraj, was expanded considerably during the rule of the AIADMK in 1983. It feeds over a fifth of the state's population. Despite this, the state is among the 12 states in India that have alarming level of hunger according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index.

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

Language and Literature
Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadu and is one of the four classical languages of India, the other being Sanskrit.Tamil is also one of the official languages of India. Most of the older works are in verse form, and prose gained popularity later. All through history, Tamil literature has sought to inform and inspire, educate and entertain. Tamil poetry has universal appeal as evinced by many examples.

எப்பொருள் யார்யார்வாய்க் கேட்பினும் அப்பொருள்

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

From whatever source it is heard.'
- (Tirukkural - 423)

Tirukkural which was written nearly two millennia ago portrays a universal outlook. This is evident as the author, Thiruvalluvar, does not mention his religion, land, or the audience for his work. He is portrayed as a holy saint of Tamil Nadu today. There is an evidential history that the kings of olden days rolled out Tamil Sangam (Tamil organisation) to develop literature works in Tamil. The Sangam headquartered in Madurai generated a large amount of notable literary works. The first Tamil printing press was established at Tarangambadi by the Danish missionaries.

During the Indian freedom struggle, many Tamil poets and writers provoked national spirit, social equity and secularist thoughts among the common man, notably Subramanya Bharathy. Even today, Tamil Nadu is home to creative writers like Bharathidasan, Jayakanthan, Jayamohan, Sujatha, Indira Parthasarathy.

Religions
With Hindus forming over 88% of the population, Hindu temples are ubiquitous in Tamil Nadu earning it the sobriquet 'The Land of Temples'. Shown here is the Meenakshi Amman Temple complex in Madurai, which is one of the grandest temples in the country.

Tamil Nadu was the home of several Hindu movements not in the usual mainstream. These include Shankara's Advaita, Ramanuja's Vishistadvaita, Alwar Sri Vaishnavism, Nayanar Shaivism, Several important Hindu Tamil figures became important figures for Hinduism as a whole (e.g.Ramanuja.) In modern times, worldwide important figures for Hinduism were Ramana Maharishi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Other saints known more locally to Hindus within India are Raghavendra Swami the Dvaita Vaishnava, Paramahamsa Sri Nithyananda or the Nithyananda Foundation, Sivananda the expert of yoga and Vedanta.

Popular forms of God include Vishnu, Shiva and Murugan, although many other forms are also worshiped These other forms of God include, Rama, Krishna, Ganesh, Paravati, Surya, and others. There is even a temple dedicated to the form of Hanuman and Ganesh in one form - Adianta Prabhu. The government emblem of Tamil Nadu contained the popular Hindu temple of Srivilliputhur.

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

Muslims are mainly concentrated in areas such as Kayalpatnam, Keelakarai, Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Madurai, Nagore and Melapalayam, with the state capital Chennai also home to a good number of Muslims. Among Muslims, 97.5% are Tamil speaking Sunni and the rest are Urdu speaking Shia. Most of the Tamil Muslims, adhere to either Hanafi or Shafi schools of thought. Erwadi in Ramanathapuram district and Nagore in Nagapattinam district are important pilgrimage site for Muslims, while the Thousand Lights Mosque in Chennai is one of the largest mosques in the country. Karpudaiyar masjid in Kayalpatnam is the oldest mosque in Tamil Nadu.

Festivals

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

The first month in the Tamil calendar is Chitterai and the first day of this month in mid-April is celebrated as Tamil New Year. Thiruvalluvar Calendar is 31 years ahead of Gregorian Calendar, that is 2000A.D. in Gregorian calendar is represented as 2031 in Thiruvalluvar Calendar. Aadi Perukku is celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month Aadi, which celebrates the rising of the water level in the river Cauvery. Apart from these major festivals, in every village and town of Tamil Nadu, the inhabitants celebrate festivals for the local gods once a year and the time varies from place to place. Most of these festivals are related to the goddess Maariyamman, the mother goddess of rain.

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

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

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

In terms of modern music (light, film, pop, etc.), the music of Tamil Nadu is praised very highly. Ilaiyaraaja was the most prominent composer of film music in Tamil cinema during the late 1970s and 1980s. His work highlighted Tamil folk lyricism and introduced broader Western musical sensibilities to the South Indian musical mainstream. Tamil Nadu is also the home of Oscar Winner A.R. Rahman who is recognised worldwide and has composed film music in Tamil, Hindi films, English and Chinese films .

Arts and dance
Tamils have a large number of folk dances. These are performed for every possible occasion, to celebrate the arrival of seasons, birth of a child, weddings and festivals. Tamil dance is closely intertwined with the Tamil theatrical tradition. The most celebrated of these is karakattam. In its religious form, the dance is performed in front of an image of the goddess Mariamman. The dancer bears on his or her head a brass pot filled with uncooked rice, decorated with flowers and surrounded by a bamboo frame, and tumbles and leaps to the rhythm of a song without spilling a grain. Karakattam is usually performed to a special type of song known as temmanguppāṭṭu or thevar pāṭṭu, a folk song in the mode of a lover speaking to his beloved, to the accompaniment of a nadaswaram and melam. Other Tamil folk dances include mayilāṭṭam, where the dancers tie a string of peacock feathers around their waist; ōyilāttam, danced in a circle while waving small pieces of cloth of various colours; poykkāl kuthiraiyaaṭṭam, where the dancers use dummy horses; mān̲āṭṭam, where the dancers imitate the graceful leaping of deer; par̲aiyāṭṭam, 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. Bharatanatyam is thought to have been created by Bharata Muni, a Hindu sage, who wrote the Natya Shastra, the most important ancient treatise on classical Indian dance. In ancient times it was performed in Hindu temples by Devadasis. In this form, it as also been called sadir or chinna melam. Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharata Natyam dance postures. Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance-form known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. It continues to be a popular and widely performed dance style at present times and is practised by male and female dancers all over India. Therukoothhu (street dance) is a folk tradition of dance-drama.

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

Cuisine
Traditionally Tamil dishes are served on a banana leaf instead of a plate and eaten with the right hand. Rice is the staple food of Tamils and accompanied with various sauces along with meat and/ or vegetarian dishes.

Traditional Tamil cuisine includes Dosai, Idly, Vadai, Pongal and Uthappam. These dishes are served along with Sambar, Rasam, Kootu, Aviyal, Chatni and Poriyal. Traditionally prepared Filter Coffee is quite famous, which is unique in taste.

The Chettinad region is famous for its spicy non-vegetarian cuisine, while Tirunelveli is famous for its unique wheat halwa. The fast food culture is witnessing a steady growth in Tamil Nadu in recent years.

Economy

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

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

According to the 2001 Census, Tamil Nadu has the highest level of urbanisation (43.86%) in India, accounting for 6% of India’s total population and 9.6% of the urban population. and is the most urbanized state in India. Services contributes to 45% of the economic activity in the state, followed by manufacturing at 34% and agriculture at 21%. Government is the major investor in the state with 51% of total investments, followed by private Indian investors at 29.9% and foreign private investors at 14.9%. Tamil Nadu has a network of about 110 industrial parks and estates offering developed plots with supporting infrastructure. Also, the state government is promoting other industrial parks like Rubber Park, Apparel Parks, Floriculture Park, TICEL Park for Biotechnology, Siruseri IT Park, and Agro Export Zones among others.

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

Agriculture and Irrigation
Tamil Nadu has historically been one of the agricultural states;its advances in other fields launched the state into competition with other states. Even so, Tamil Nadu is a leading producer of agricultural products in India. At present, Tamil Nadu is India's fourth biggest producer of Rice, next to West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The Cauvery delta region of the composite Thanjavur district is known as the Rice Bowl of South India. Next to Thanjavur, is the Tirunelveli which is the second largest producer of Rice due to the undrainable river Thamirabarani. Tamil Nadu accounts for nearly 6% of the area under fruits and 4% of the area under vegetables in the country. In terms of production, the State’s share is nearly 10% in fruits and 6% in vegetables. Tamil Nadu is also a leading state in the production of flowers. The total production of horticultural crops is 99.47 Lakhs during 2003-04. The main flowers grown in Tamil Nadu are Jasmine, Mullai, Chrysanthemum, Marigold and Rose. Mango and Banana are the leading fruit crops in Tamil Nadu accounting for over 84% of the area under fruit and over 87% of the total fruit production. Off-season production of mango and round-the-year production of grapes is unique to Tamil Nadu. The main vegetables grown are tapioca, tomato, onion, brinjal and drumstick.
Vegetable plantation in Nilgiris district.

The state is the largest producer of bananas, flowers, tapioca, the second largest producer of mango, coffee, natural rubber, coconut, groundnut and the third largest producer of sapota, Tea and Sugarcane. Tamil Nadu is also a leading producer of spices, kambu, corn, rye and oil seeds. The main spices grown are chillies, coriander, tamarind, turmeric and curry leaves. Tamil Nadu's sugarcane yield per hectare is the highest in India. A host of sugar companies have their operations here including EID Parry I Ltd., Thiru Arooran Sugars Ltd., Sakthi Sugars Ltd., Bannari Amman Sugars Ltd. and Rajshree sugars Ltd. The state has 17, 000 hectares of land under oil palm cultivation, the second highest in India. Currently, Tamil Nadu is the only state to have a formal bio-diesel policy using jatropha plant crops and to distribute wasteland to the poor farmers for planting.

Tamil Nadu is the home to Dr M.S. Swaminathan, known as the "father of the Green Revolution" in India. Tamil Nadu Agricultural 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. The net sown area is 36% of the total geographic area (National average of 46%). The gross cropped area is 53, 200 km² with a cropping intensity of 119. Irrigation covers 46% of the cropped area and the remaining 54% is rain-fed. Tamil Nadu's agriculture is heavily dependent on river water and monsoon rains.

Mathur Aqueduct is one of the largest in Asia and irrigates portions of Kanyakumari district.

The perennial rivers are Palar, Cheyyar River, Ponnaiyar, Kaveri, Meyar, Bhavani, Amaravati, Vaigai, Chittar River & Tamaraparani. Non-perennial rivers include the Vellar, Noyal, Suruli, Gundar, Vaipar, Valparai and Varshali. Canals, tanks and wells form the sources of Irrigation for farmers in the state. As of 2005-2006, the state had 2395 canals with a length of 9, 747 km, 40, 319 tanks, 670 ordinary government wells, 1, 620, 705 ordinary private wells and 290, 611 tube wells.

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

Livestock, poultry and fisheries
Among states in India, Tamil Nadu is one of the leaders in livestock, poultry and fisheries production. The table below gives the data on the total number of livestock and poultry in 2003 (All figures in thousands).
Cattle: Buffalos: Sheep: Goats: Pigs: Horses & ponies: Donkeys: Total livestock: Total poultry
9141: 1658: 5593: 8177: 321: 25: 26: 15800: 86591

As per this data, Tamil Nadu had the second largest number of poultry amongst all the states and accounted for 17.7% of the total poultry population in India. The town of Namakkal is also known as the poultry hub. In 2003 - 2004, Tamil Nadu had produced 37, 836 lakhs of eggs, which was the second highest figure among all the states in India, and represented 9.37% of the total egg production in the country. In 2003-2004, Tamil Nadu had produced 4, 752, 000 tonnes of milk, with a per capita availability of 198 grams/day, much lesser than the all-India figure of 231 grams/day. During 2002-2003, the state had produced 609, 000 kg of wool. The total fodder produced in the state during 2002-2003 was 31, 929, 000 tonnes, out of which 21, 429, 000 tonnes was dry fodder and 10, 500, 000 tonnes was green fodder. The total number of vertinary institutions in the state in 2006 was 1854. With the third longest coastline in India, Tamil Nadu is also among the leaders in fisheries and in the production and exports of related products. For the year 2005-2006, total inland fish catchment was 155, 944 tonnes and marine fish catchment stood at 389, 714 tonnes. For the same period, the total fish and fishery products exported by the state was 72, 418 tonnes which was valued at Rs. 19.96 billion. This figure represented 27.54% of the total value of fish and fishery products exported by India for that period.

Industry
Tamil Nadu is a highly industrialised state. Many heavy engineering and manufacturing-based companies are centred in and around the suburbs of Chennai (nicknamed, "The Detroit of Asia"). Chennai has been able to get a large number of investments due to a combination of infrastructure (ports, road, power), investment climate, low cost and good availability of man power. Chennai boasts the presence of global vehicle manufacturing giants like Ford, Renault-Nissan, Caterpillar, Hyundai, Michelin, Komatsu, BMW, and Mitsubishi as well as domestic heavyweights like MRF, TI Cycles, Ashok Leyland, Royal Enfield, Mahindra & Mahindra(JV with Renault-Nissan to produce Logan brand of cars), TAFE Tractors, and TVS.It also has a railway coach factory, ICF(Integral Coach Factory).Recently in an equal joint venture agreement, Renault and Nissan have decided to invest Rs. 4, 500 crore ($1, 140 million) to set up an integrated greenfield automotive facility at Oragadam near Chennai. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed with the Government of Tamil Nadu in February 2008. The project will come up on 678 acres (2.74 km2) and will provide vehicle production platforms for the two car-makers. It will also have powertrain facility. The plant will have an installed capacity of four lakh vehicles annually. The facility is expected to go on stream in 2010.Recently an MoU has been signed between Daimler-Hero Motors for establishing a truck manufacturing plant in Oragadam with an investment of Rs 4, 400 crores ($1, 100 million). This project would give a fillip to the manufacturing sector in Tamil Nadu, especially in the area of automobiles and auto components and help consolidate Chennai's position as the leading location for automobile production and related industries in India. This is due to the aggressive marketing by the officials of the state. Everything from automobiles, railway coaches, battle-tanks, tractors, motorcycles and heavy vehicles are manufactured in the state. Sterlite Industries have their copper smelter (in Tuticorin) and Aluminium (in Mettur) factories here. A large number of textile mills and engineering industries are present around the city of Coimbatore. Coimbatore is also headquarters for Pricol, LMW, ELGI, Roots industries, Shanti gears and Suguna poultry. Also Coimbatore is known for its motor pump industries like Texmo, Deccan pumps and CRI pumps. Coimbatore is called the 'Manchester of South India'.

Karur is well known for its beautiful world class bus body building industries where most of the buses used in south India are manufactured, and truck bodies are built in Namakkal near by karur.

Over 11.2% of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Tamil Nadu. The Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant, Ennore Thermal Plant, Neyveli Lignite Power Plant, many hydroelectric plants including Mettur and the Narimanam Natural Gas Plants are major sources of Tamil Nadu's electricity. It is presently adding the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant to its energy grid. Tamil Nadu sources a significant proportion of its power needs from renewable sources with wind power installed capacity at over 3600 MW or over 40% of the maximum peak demand. As of 2005, Tamil Nadu is one of the few Indian states with surplus power electricity, enabling the electrical authority to sell it to neighbouring states of Andra Pradesh & Karnataka. Tamil Nadu ranks first nationwide in diesel-based thermal electricity generation with national market share of over 34%.

The textile industry plays a significant role in the Indian economy by providing direct employment to an estimated 35 million people, and thereby contributing 4% of GDP and 35% of Gross Export Earnings. The textile sector contributes to 14% of the manufacturing sector. There are a lot of Textile mills located in Coimbatore. The city of Tirupur, in Tamil Nadu is the country's largest exporter of knit wears. knitwear and sometimes karur to tiruppur area referred to as Textile valley of India. In 2004, the export turnover from the town was more than Rs. 50, 000 million ($1, 000 million). Some 7, 000 garment units in the town provides employment opportunity to 7, 50, 000 people. 56% of India's total knitwear exports come from Tirupur. The Export Import Policy of 2002-2007 acknowledges Tirupur for its contribution to the export efforts.

The home textile capital of India - city of Karur generates around (35, 500 million) $750 million a year in foreign exchange and give the opportunity to 3, 50, 000 peoples for work.Over 60% of total India's exports come from karur. The Karur exports of Home-Textile products such as bed linens, kitchen linens, toilet linens, table linens and wall hangings.

Erode is also the major inland textile hub of India especially for woven garments & sarees. Madurai and Kanchipuram are famous for their handloom and silk saris.
Wind turbines at Muppandal in Nagercoil Kanyakumari District. In the background are hills of the Western Ghats.

Electronics manufacturing is a growing industry in Tamil Nadu. Companies like Nokia, Flextronics, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, Foxconn, Samsung, Cisco, Moser Baer and Dell have chosen Chennai as their South Asian manufacturing hub. Products manufactured include circuit boards and cellular phone handsets. Ericsson also has a Research and Development facility in Chennai. Big EPC companies have set up their Engineering centres which include Saipem I Project Services ltd, Technip, Foster Wheeler, Mott Mecdonald, Petrofac and Technimont. The Austrian company Austrian Energy and Environment also have a design office here besides local giant ECC Larsen & Toubro. Sanmina-SCI is the latest company to invest in Tamil Nadu to create a state of the art manufacturing facility. Nokia Siemens Networks has decided to build a manufacturing plant for wireless network equipment in Tamil Nadu. Moser Baer has decided on setting up a facility to manufacture silicon-based photovoltaic thin film modules and allied products with an investment of $500 million.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, a global electrical equipment manufacturing public sector company, has manufacturing plants at Tiruchirapalli and Ranipet. The construction industry also saw new entrants like BGR Energy systems ltd, Consolidated construction consortium.

The state government owns the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers (TNPL), the world's biggest bagasse based Paper mills in Karur . as well as the world's sixth largest manufacturer of watches together with TATA at hosur, under the brand name of "Titan". 55% of all wind-generated electricity in India is created by windmills in Tamil Nadu. Renowned Danish wind power company NEG Micon has established its manufacturing unit in Chennai.

Tamil Nadu is a leading producer of Cement in India. It is the home of leading cement brands in the country such as Chettinad Cements (in Karur), Dalmia Cements (in Ariyalur), Ramco cements (Madras Cement Ltd), India cements (in Sankari, Ariyalur), Grasim etc. Big companies like MICO and Cognizant solutions have set up their design offices here. L&T is setting up big manufacturing units with an investment of 500 crores. Even temple city Madurai has attracted Honeywell to set up their centre here.

The town of Sivakasi is a leader in the areas of printing, fireworks, and safety matches. It was fondly called as Kutty Japan or "little Japan" by Jawaharlal Nehru. It contributes to 80% of India's production of safety matches as well as 90% of India's total fireworks production. Sivakasi provides over 60% of India's total offset printing solutions and ranks as one of the highest taxpaying towns in India. Sivakasi also is a 100% employed town, putting it in the company of very few towns in India.

Tamil Nadu has a significant amount of mineral reserves such as lignite (87%), vermiculite (66%), garnet (42%), zircon (38%), graphite (33%), ilmenite (28%), rutile (27%), monazite (25%), and magnesite (17%). The numbers in the brackets indicate the percentage contribution to the national share. India's leading steel producer, SAIL has a steel plant in Salem.

Tidel Park in Chennai is one of the largest software parks in India.

Tamil Nadu is a leading contributor in the IT and BPO sectors. Tamil Nadu is the third largest software exporter by value in India, second only to Karnataka and Maharashtra. India's largest IT park is in Chennai. Software exports from Tamil Nadu more than doubled from Rs. 76 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2003-04 to Rs. 141.15 billion {$3.53 billion} in 2005-06 and zoomed to Rs. 207 billion {$5 billion} by 2006-07 according to NASSCOM. Chennai is a hub for e-publishing with 47 e-publishing units registered with the STPI in Chennai. Companies such as Symantec, Fidelity National Information Services, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Computer Sciences Corporation, Virtusa, HCL, Wipro, TCS, Temenos, Satyam, Infosys, Polaris Software Lab, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Acme Technology Pvt Ltd, Covansys, Capgemini, Ford Information Technology, Xansa, Changepond, Verizon, iSoft, insoft, iNautix, MphasiS(Electronic Data Systems), Bally and many others have offices in Chennai. Infosys Technologies has set up India's largest software development centre to house 25, 000 software professionals at an estimated investment of Rs. 12, 500 million ($270 million) in Chennai. Chennai is also the preferred destination for companies outsourcing their high-end knowledge intensive operations. Testimony to this is the presence of major market research companies such as Frost & Sullivan and equity research companies such as Irevna in Chennai. This is the next high growth area that Chennai is witnessing.

Transportation
The Pamban rail and road bridges, across the Palk Strait connects the Pamban Island with the Indian mainland. The rail bridge (right), opened in 1914, is considered to be one of the marvels of modern engineering.

Tamil Nadu has a well established transportation system that connects all parts of the state. This is partly responsible for the investment growth in the state. Tamil Nadu is served by an extensive road network, providing links between urban centers, agricultural market-places and rural areas. There are 24 national highways in the state, covering a total distance of 2, 002 km. The state is also a terminus for the Golden Quadrilateral project that is scheduled to be completed in 2008. The state has a total road length of 167, 000 km, of which 60, 628 km are maintained by Highways Department. This is nearly 2.5 times higher than the density of all-India road network. It is currently working on upgrading its road network, though the pace of work is considered slow.

Tamil Nadu has a well developed rail network as part of Southern 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, Pondicherry, a small portion of Karnataka and a small portion of Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu has a total railway track length of 5, 952 km and there are 532 railway stations in the state. The system connects it with most major cities in India. Main rail junctions in the state include Chennai, Erode, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli Madurai, Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) and Salem. Chennai has a well-established suburban railway network and is in the process of developing a metro.

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

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

Fauna and Flora
Lion-tailed macaque, an endangered species.

The state has a wide range of flora and fauna. There is a wide diversity of wildlife. There are many Protected areas of Tamil Nadu, including 2 Biosphere Reserves, 5 National Parks and several Wildlife Sanctuaries, where many unique species and their habitats are protected Tamil Nadu includes a wide range of Biomes, extending east from the South Western Ghats montane rain forests in the Western Ghats through the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests and Deccan thorn scrub forests to tropical dry broadleaf forests and then to the beaches, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves, and coral reefs of the Bay of Bengal.

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, Leopard, Wild dog, Sloth bears, Gaurs, Lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri Langurs, Nilgiri Tahrs, Grizzled Giant Squirrels and Sambar deer, resident and migratory birds such as Cormorants, Darters, Herons, Egrets, Open-billed 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 and Balanoglossus and a wide variety of fish and insects.

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

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

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

The ATP Chennai Open tournament held in Chennai every January is the biggest Tennis event in South Asia. Tennis players from Tamil Nadu who had made it to the big stage include Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh krishnan, Vijay Amritraj, Mahesh Bhupathi and Prakash Amritraj. Tamil Nadu has a long standing motorsports culture. The sport was pioneered by Sundaram Karivardhan in its early days. Notable sportspersons from Tamil Nadu in the field are Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian to participate in F1 racing, and Karun Chandok. Motor racing events are held at the Irungattukottai track (near Sriperumbudur), Sholavaram track and Kari Motorspeedway near Coimbatore.
Kari Motorspeedway near Coimbatore.

The Tamil Nadu Hockey Association is the governing body of Hockey in the state. The Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai hosts international hockey events and is regarded by the International Hockey Federation as one of the best in the world for its state-of-the-art infrastructure. Chennai hosted the SAF Games in 1995. Anju Bobby George, bronze medalist from Sydney Olympics, represents Tamil Nadu in the national arena. Shanthi Soundararajan, silver medalist (later stripped) from Doha Asian Games, also hails from the state. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai is a multipurpose stadium hosting Football and Track & Field events. The Indian Triathlon Federation and the Volleyball Federation of India are headquartered in Chennai. Chennai hosted India’s first ever International Beach Volleyball Championship in 2008.

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

Tourism
Tamil Nadu's tourism industry is the second largest in India, with an annual growth rate of 16%. Tourism in Tamil Nadu is promoted by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), a Government of Tamil Nadu undertaking. The tagline adopted for promoting tourism in Tamil Nadu is Enchanting Tamil Nadu. Approximately 1, 753, 000 foreign and 50, 647, 000 domestic tourists visited the state in 2007.

Tamil Nadu is a land of varied beauty. It boasts some of the grandest Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture in the World. The temples are of a distinct style which are famous for their towering Gopurams. The Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur, built by the Cholas, the Airavateswara temple in Darasuram and the Shore Temple, along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Rajagopuram of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam — the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world — is the tallest temple gopuram in the world Madurai is home to one of the grandest Hindu temples in the World — Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. Rameshwaram, Kanchipuram and Palani are important pilgrimage sites for Hindus. The largest Shiva Temple in TamilNadu is Nellaiappar Temple situateed in the heart of Tirunelveli city. Other popular temples in Tamil Nadu include those in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Chidambaram, Thiruvannaamalai, Aragalur, Tiruttani, Swamithoppe, Tiruchendur and Tiruvallur.

Tamil Nadu is also home to many beautiful hill stations. Popular among them are Udhagamandalam (Ooty), Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Coonoor, Top Slip and Yelagiri. The Nilgiri hills, Palani hills, Shevaroy hills and Cardamom hills are all abodes of thick forests and wildlife. Mukurthi National Park & Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are the two tiger reserves in the state. Tamil Nadu has many National Parks, Biosphere Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Elephant and Bird Sanctuaries, Reserved Forests, Zoos and Crocodile farms. Prominent among them are Mudumalai National Park, The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Arignar Anna Zoological Park. The mangrove forests in Pichavaram are also eco-tourism spots of importance.

Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of peninsular India, is famous for its distinct and 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. The Waterfalls in the state include Courtallam, Hogenakal, Papanasam and Manimuthar. The Chettinad region of the state is renowned for its Palatial houses and cuisine. In recent years, Tamil Nadu is also witnessing a growth in Medical tourism, as are many other states in India.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamil_Nadu

This webpage was updated 17th October 2010

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