Tamil Nadu is a state in southern India. Tamil Nadu is perhaps less visited than some other states in India, but it has plenty of fascinating, mystical and extraordinary places of worship and plenty of culture, spice and colour.
Sights and Activities
From the magnificent almost 'technicolour' temples of Madurai to the beach side ruins of Mamallapurum and the former French colony of Pondicherry (or Puducherry) that now has a popular yoga and ashram scene and it still celebrates the French holiday of Bastille Day. Just outside of Pondicherry you can visit the unusual and unique Sri Aurobindo Ashram founded by 'the mother' in 1926. There is plenty to explore. If you like southern Indian temple culture there are some great sites to take in. Head for Madurai (Sri Meenakshi temple complex) or Thanjavur (Tanjore) for the Brihadishwara Temple and then perhaps Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) for the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.
Events and Festivals
- Holi is quite popular in the Indian sub-continent and is traditionally celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna (early March), according to Hindu calender. Holi is a thanksgiving festival, where people offer prayer to God for good harvest and fertility of the land. Holi is a festival of freedom from social norms and caste inhibitions are shed for a day as people indulge in fun and merry-making. Colors and 'gulal' are showered on the people dressed up for the occasion and the whole community seems to merge into one big family under the guise of colors, without any distinction whatsoever. Children with face smeared with colors run around with 'pichkaris' (big syringes to splash colored water) and play amongst themselves. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Holi is also marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and drum beating. Parties are also organized where snacks and the traditional milk-based drink “Thandai” is served which is often intoxicated with “Bhang”. Of late, lots of foreigners have started taking interest in this festival and they even enjoy the colors and the intoxicating drink. It is advised to cover your hair with a cap and eyes with sunglasses to avoid the colors splashing the eyes and damaging the hair.
- Republic Day - Republic Day is a national holiday in India every January 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution in 1950 and the declaration of independence in 1930. The capital of New Delhi is the focus of the celebrations, including a flag raising ceremony, wreath laying, 21-gun salute, Presidential speech, and presentation of awards for selflessness and bravery. A massive military parade includes elephants ridden by children who have received national accolades.
- Gandhi Jayanti - Gandhi Jayanti is a national public holiday commemorating the birth of the peaceful activist, Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 1869. The celebration coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. In India, Gandhi is remembered through statues, flower and candle offerings, prayers and singing the devotional hymn Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. The Indian government issues special mint rupees and postage stamps bearing his picture.
- Diwali - Diwali is the five-day festival of lights held in India in late October or early November each year. The widely celebrated Hindu event marks Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravan. Homes and streets are decorated with lights, candles and small clay lamps, and new clothes are worn and sweets are exchanged.
The climate in Tamil Nadu differs somewhat to neighbouring Kerala. The monsoon rain in the southeast runs from October until early December which is a short, but perhaps more aggressive wet season to Kerala in the southwest.
Temperatures in Tamil Nadu range from roughly around 25 °C to 38 °C, sometimes more depending on the time of year. Temperatures and humidity remain relatively high all year round. January to April are usually the driest months and May to September tend to be the hotter months prior to the start of the monsoon. November is often the wettest month in Chennai, the capital of the state along the eastcoast.
- Chennai International Airport (MAA), located at Tirusulam is around 8 kilometres south of the city centre. The airport has both domestc and international terminals. Domestic flights are available to almost all the big cities in India. International flights are avialable to many cities around Asia and Europe, which include Frankfurt, London, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Muscat, Singapore and Colombo, amongst others.
- Coimbatore Airport (CJB) has flights to/from Sharjah, Delhi, Mumbai, Kozhikode, Chennai, Bangalore, Singapore, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.
Chennai has a port, but the only relevant connection is the long trip to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.