Travel to Tamil Nadu, the heart of Hindu culture

  • Tamil Nadu, India
    Andrey Khrobostov / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination India

Famous for its numerous temples, Tamil Nadu is undoubtedly the most authentic hindu state. Located opposite Sri Lanka, this region has fine sand beaches and amazing architectural and artistic resources. What will quench the taste of tourists in search of cultural and relaxing vacations. Plain shores in high plateaus and multiple landscapes unveil themselves to travellers.

Tamil Nadu: the key figures

Surface area : 130100.0 km2

Population : 60000000 inhabitants

  • Tamil Nadu has multiple temples, churches and great, sacred and popular cultural and artistic resources.
  • Throughout the year, several local feasts entertain the whole State of Tamil Nadu.
  • Take a stay by a seaside resort and add to mountain hiking in the western Ghats.
  • Access to the temple of the Hindu saint of saints is forbidden to non-hindus, except that from Kailashanatha in Kanchipuram.
  • The cuisine is mostly vegetarian and often very spicy.

Tamil Nadu: what to visit?

Landscapes

  • The Ghats , India
    The Ghats
  • The farmlands , India
    The farmlands
  • The farmlands , India

Coasts

  • Beaches , The beaches , India
    Beaches
  • Beaches , The beaches , India

Arts and culture

  • The Museum of Chennai, The museums of Chennai, Arts and culture, Tamil Nadu
    The museums of Chennai
  • The Mahatma Ghandi museum at Madurai. , The Mahatma Gandhi Museum of Madurai. , India
    The Mahatma Ghandi museum at Madurai.
  • The museums of Pondicherry
  • Thanjavur palace , Thanjavur Palace , India
    Thanjavur palace
  • Thanjavur library , India
    Thanjavur library
  • Movies , Cinema , India
    Movies
  • Movies , Cinema , India

Monuments

  • The temples of Mamallapuram , Mamallapuram's temples , India
    The temples of Mamallapuram
  • The temple of Gangaikondacholapuram , India
    The temple of Gangaikondacholapuram
  • Padmanabhapuram palace, Monuments, Tamil Nadu
    Padmanabhapuram palace
  • Padmanabhapuram palace, Monuments, Tamil Nadu

Parks and reserves

  • , Pulicat bird refuge, Parks and reserves, Tamil Nadu
    Pulicat bird refuge
  • Mamallapuram crocodile farms , India
    Mamallapuram crocodile farms
  • The Mudumalai national park , India
    The Mudumalai national park
  • The Tepakkadu elephant camp , India
    The Tepakkadu elephant camp
  • Mudumalai National Park , India
    Mudumalai National Park
  • Mudumalai National Park , India

Climatic health stations

  • Kodaikanal
  • Udhagamandalam
  • Kodaikanal , India
    Kodaikanal
  • , Udhagamandalam, Climatic health stations, Tamil Nadu
    Udhagamandalam
  • , Udhagamandalam, Climatic health stations, Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu: what to buy?

Indian handicraft is very rich. At Tamil Nadu, you will find silk saris and hand-woven cotton fabrics, especially at Kanchipuram. You can buy stone and bronze statues from Mamallapuram, musical instruments, copper objects, oil lamps, an acitivity typical of Southern India, sandal wood sculptures, leather goods and jewellery decorated with diamonds and semi-precious stones from Kanchipuram. Do not forget the array of fresh spices. At Chennai, Anna Salai avenue houses the business centres of the city.
Visit the State Emporiums, government shops throughout the country offering fixed prices. In all other places, you can bargain. In large cities, shops open between 10 AM and 7 PM or 8 PM from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays and public holidays, they are closed.
It is strictly forbidden to export fur, snake skin, antiquities and to import into Europe any ivory object.

Tamil Nadu: what to eat?

The huge diversity of dishes depend on the State, origin of the populations and their respective castes. The only shared aspect is rice and tea. Curry powder forms the base of several dishes. The cuisine of Southern India has more spices and pepper than in the North. Add yoghurt (tayre) to sweeten your dishes. At Tamil Nadu, you will find several vegetarian dishes. Enjoy the numerous fishes and crustacea. Try the traditional thalis, collection of vegetarian dishes made of rice, a variety of vegetable curries, spices, puris or chapatis (wheat pancake used as bread). Taste the chutneys (macerated vegetables or fruits); idlis (rice balls often served with spiced yoghurt sauce: dahin idli), dosas (peameal pancakes) or a masa dosa (stuffed spiced vegetables), good for snacks. Do not forget the dishes made of coconuts, mangoes and all fruits bursting with sunshine. For dessert, treat yourself to the kheer, milk rice and equally try the kulfi, a type of smooth pistachio cream. Sip a payasam, a sweet drink made of coconut milk, mango pulp, cashew nuts and spices. Don't forget to try the countless cheap dishes offered by street vendors. Avoid empty stands and restaurants.

Tamil Nadu: what are the cultural particularities?

The Hinduist India is a violent culture shock. Most human relationships are governed by the hierarchical system of castes, in which each individual has a specific role. The cow is a sacred animal.
In the Hindu and Jain temples, as well as in mosques, you should remove your shoes before entering. The same applies to Sikh temples where you must cover your head. Take off your leather objects before entering a Jain temple. Before entering a mosque, make sure visitors or women are accepted during prayers. Cover your arms and legs, and avoid dressing sloppily. Avoid touching the sculpture or statue of a divinity. In Hindu temples, the entrance to the holy of holies (central sanctuary) is forbidden to non-Hindus, except in Kailashanatha temple at Kanchipuram.
In everyday life, avoid touching anyone with your feet. Find out about the symbolism of flowers to avoid making a gaffe when offering them. A gift received is kept in a corner to be opened later on. During meals, remove your shoes if your host do not have theirs on. When eating with your hands, only use the right hand, as the left is used to wash your privates. Arranged marriages between two families still exist.

Tamil Nadu: travel tips

Bask on the sunny beaches of the coast and go for an excursion on the heights of the western Ghats with their cool climate. Make the most of the quiet and temperate health resorts of Kodaikanal and Udhagamandalam.
Enter the tropical forests of the western Ghats for a photo-safari.
Stop over at Pondicherry to discover the splendour of the former French trading post with its magnificient and well-kept buildings.
Take time out to wander in the temple-cities of Madurai and Chidambaram, as well as in holy cities like Kanchipuram.

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