The history of Tamil Nadu dates back to the time when the Dravidians moved south, following the advent of
Aryans in the north. Historically, South India consisted of four main Dravidian kingdoms, the Pallavas, the
Cholas, the Pandyas and the Chalukyas. On independence, the Madras province, as the south was known then, was divided on a linguistic basis into the states of Tamil Nadu,
Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
Tamil Nadu is bounded in the north by Andhra Pradesh, in the north-west by Karnataka, in the west by Kerala and in the east and south by the
Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Occupying the extreme south of the Indian peninsula, Tamil Nadu covers an area of 130,058 sq km. The state capital Madras, now renamed as Chennai, is the fourth largest city in the Indian sub-continent.
The people have deep interest in music, dance and literature. Dance forms like Bharatanatyam and various forms of music, including Carnatic Classical Music, have flourished here for centuries. Festivals are a daily feature in this region -
Dussehra (September/October), Diwali (October/ November), Krithika (November/December) and Pongal (January) are the popular ones. A unique festival of Carnatic Classical Music, the Thyagaraja festival is held annually in January at Thiruvariyar, the birth place of famous singer poet Thyagaraja. Handicrafts include the most intricately carved designs in wood, stone and metal.
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the majority of the population. The important crops include sugarcane, groundnuts, oilseeds, cotton, bananas, potatoes, tea and spices. Major forest products are timber, sandalwood, pulpwood and fuel wood, while the minor products include bamboo,
eucalyptus, rubber, tea, cashew, honey and ivory.
Tamil Nadu has a well-developed transportation network, including national and state highways, and rail network. There are airports at Chennai,
Tiruchirapalli, and major ports at Chennai and
Tuticorin. The places of tourist interest are the city of Chennai, Mamallapuram beach resort,
Kanchipuram, Madurai (famous for the
Rameshwaram, Tiruchirapalli, Thanjavur (the temple trio) and the charming hill resorts of Yercaud, Ootacamund and
Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India, is renowned for its fantastic sunrise and sunset.