Surrounded by mountains and waters, Tamil Nadu is bound by the Eastern Ghats towards the north, the Nilgiri and the Anamali Hills towards the west, the Bay of Bengal in the east and the Indian Ocean in the south. It’s evident that there is no shortage of natural resources and beauty in the most urbanised state in the country.
Tamil Nadu has a plethora of hill stations which make for ideal vacation destinations. Udhagamandalam, in the Nilgiris or the Blue Mountains of the Western Ghats, is also known as Ooty. The lofty mountains, gorgeous lakes, dense forests, sprawling grasslands and of course, acres of eucalyptus trees and tea gardens makes Ooty absolutely picturesque. It is a popular summer getaway in the state and has been so since the time of the British. Kodaikanal is another destination in Tamil Nadu which serves up scenic beauty on a silver platter. It is in fact considered one of the most romantic destinations of India. Yercaud in the Shevaroy Hills of the Eastern Ghats is often known as the Jewel of the South. The Yercaud Lake, Lady’s seat which offers a panoramic view of the plains below, the Killiyur Falls and the Servaroyan Temple are great tourist attractions. Coonoor, also in the Nilgiris, is a favourite amongst trekkers with many trails that lead into wilderness. The view plains of Coimbatore, spectacular coffee and tea plantations, Law’s Falls and the fort at Doorg are surely worth a visit. Apart from these, one can also visit Topslip, Valparai, Yelagiri and Manjolai.
The Mukurthi National Park near Ooty is home to many endangered wildlife including the Bengal Tiger and the Asian Elephant. However, its main attraction is the Nilgiri Tahr or the Nilgiri Ibex which is the state animal of Tamil Nadu. The Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve near the southern part of the Western Ghats has about 1755 jungle cats, 73 of which are tigers. Tamil Nadu also has many other National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Reserved Forests.
Tamil Nadu is also steeped in history, having been a part of the stronghold of the Chola Dynasty which ruled for more than 10 centuries in the early Common Era. The Dravidian architecture scattered across the state pulls tourists from the world over. Dravidian architecture is an ancient style of architecture that consists primarily of grand pyramid shaped temples called Koils with intricately carved stone which creates a step like design consisting of numerous statues of deities, warriors, kings and dancers. The Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur built by the Cholas, the Airavateswara Temple in Darasuram and the Shore Temple along with a collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Kanyakumari, sometimes referred to as Cape Comorin, is the southernmost tip of India and is famous the world over for its beautiful sunrises. For centuries it has been a prominent place for religious and commercial activity. Just off the shore, sit two impressive statues; one of Swami Vivekananda, one of India’s most prominent freedom fighters, who meditated on a islet off the coast for three days and one of Thiruvalluvar, a revered Tamil saint-poet. There is also a Gandhi Memorial built on the spot where the Mahatmas ashes were kept for public viewing before immersion. In fact, the memorial has been built in such a way that it’s the first place to receive the sun’s rays on the Mahatma’s birthday, the 2nd of October.
As if this wasn’t enough, cities like Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Trichy have a thumping pulse, with great food, literature, art, music and dance, a thriving film industry and many regional festivals that are celebrated with much pomp and show.