|Area||1,30,058 sq. km|
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History and Geography
Tamil Nadu has a hoary antiquity. Though early sangam classics throw historical references, it is only from the Pallavas we pass to recorded history.
South India had remained under the hegemony of the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas for centuries. The Pallavas held supremacy from about the second quarter of the fourth century AD. They were the originators of the famous Dravidian style of temple architecture. The last Pallava ruler was Aparajita in whose reign the later Cholas under Vijayalaya and Aditya asserted themselves by about the 10th century. At the end of the 11th century, Tamil Nadu was ruled by several dynasties like the Chalukyas, Cholas and Pandyas. In the two centuries that followed, the imperial Cholas gained paramountcy over South India.
Muslims gradually strengthened their position, which led to the establishment of the Bahamani Sultanate, by the middle of the 14th century. At the same time, the Vijayanagar Kingdom quickly consolidated itself and extended its sway over the whole of South India and at the close of the century and became the supreme power in South. However, it crumbled at the battle of Talikota in 1564 to the confederate forces of the Deccan Sultans.
Even during the period of the tumultuous confusion that followed the battle of Talikota, European commercial interest had appeared as rivals in the area of South India. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English came in quick succession and established trading centres known as 'Factories'. East India Company which had established their factory at Masulipatnam, now in Andhra Pradesh, in 1611 gradually annexed territories by encouraging enmity among the native rulers. Tamil Nadu was one of the first of British settlements in India. The State is the successor to the old Madras Presidency which in 1901 covered the bulk of the southern peninsula. The composite Madras State was later reorganised and the present Tamil Nadu was formed.
Tamil Nadu is bounded on north by Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka on west by Kerala, on east by the Bay of Bengal and on South by the Indian Ocean.
Agriculture is the major occupation in Tamil Nadu. The total cultivated area in the State was 58.15 lakh hectares. The principal food crops include paddy, millets and pulses. Commercial crops include sugarcane, cotton, sunflower, coconut, cashew, chillies, gingelly and groundnut. Plantation crops are tea, coffee, cardamom and rubber. Major forest produces are timber, sandalwood, pulp wood and fuel wood. Tamil Nadu occupies a premier position in the production and extensive application of bio-fertilizers. Efforts are on to improve farming technologies so as to increase yields in the low rainfall areas of the State.
Industry and Minerals
Major industries in the State are cotton, heavy commercial vehicles, auto components, railway coaches, power pumps, leather tanning industries, cement, sugar, paper, automobiles and safety matches.
Knowledge-based industries like I.T. and Biotechnology have become the thrust area in the industrial scene in Tamil Nadu. TIDEL, a software technology park, has been established in Tharamani, Chennai. Top I.T. and Telecom companies such as Nokia, Motorola, Foxcon, Flextronic and Dell have commenced production.
Global auto majors Hyundai Motors, Ford, Hindustan Motors and Mitsubishi have commenced production plants. Ashok Leyland and TAFE have set up expansion plants in Chennai.
Main mineral wealth of the state is granite, lignite and limestone. The State is an important exporter of tanned skin and leather goods, yarn, tea, coffee, spices, engineering goods, tobacco, handicrafts and black granite. Tamil Nadu contributes to 60 per cent of the tannery industry in India.
The State has rolled out important irrigation schemes. Important irrigation schemes and modernisation of existing Periyar Vaigai System, Palar Basin System and Parambikulam-Aliyar System, besides the minor system in Vellar, Pennayar, Araniyar Amaravathi, Chithar basins totalling, an extent of six lakh acres of existing ayacut in Tamil Nadu, have been benefited by implementing the 'System Improvement and Farmers Turnover Projects' executed with assistance from World Bank. The World Bank has also approved Rs.2,547 crore for the Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration Management Project. The Project covers about 6,17lakh ha. in 63 selected sub-basins throughout the State. Nine irrigation projects, which were just started and going on a slow progress, have been speeded up with adequate fund and guidance for early completion. The major irrigation system covering one-third of irrigated extent in Tamil Nadu, namely tank irrigation system has been given due regard for development under WRCP and 620 tanks maintained by Public Works Department falling under Palar, Vaigai and Tamaraparani Basins have been taken up for rehabilitation and improvement. This project is nearing completion to the maximum satisfaction of the farmers. This State has become the pioneer State to implement the system of 'River basin management' by an individual body consisting of officials and farmers, besides various representatives of the basin.
The total installed capacity for electricity in the State is 10,214 MW. The installed capacity of State Sector is 5,690 MW and that of Private Sector is 1,180 MW. Apart from this 2825 MW is available as share from Central Sector, 305 MW is obtained from external assistance and 214 MW from Captive Power Plants. Apart from this wind mills from the private sector provide 4270 MW and 466.10 MW is received from co-generation plants and 109.55 MW from Bio-mass plants.
Roads: The length of roads network in Tamil Nadu is 61,641 km.
Railways: The total length of railways is 3,927 km and the main junctions stations are Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Salem, Erode and Arakkonam.
Aviation: Chennai, being the international airport in the southern region, is the main centre of airline routes. Besides, there are airports at Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, Coimbatore and Salem.
Ports: Major ports in the State are Chennai, Egmore and Tuticorin. There are seven other minor ports including Cuddalore and Nagapattinam.
Pongal is the harvest festival celebrated by the farmers in January to worship the sun, the earth and the cattle as thanks giving for a bounteous harvest. Pongal festival is followed by the Jallikattu-Bull fight, in some parts of southern Tamil Nadu. Alanganallur in Tamil Nadu is internationally famous for Jallikattu - Bull fight. Chithirai festival, Madurai brings a spectacular re-enactment of the marriage of the Pandiyan princess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar. Adipperukku is a festival celebrated on the 18th day of Tamil month, Adi, on the banks of rivers. It marks the commencement of new farming operations. Dance Festival, Mamallapuram, which is set before an open air stage, created 13 centuries ago the incredible monolithic rock sculptures of the Pallavas, next to the sea in this ancient city of Mamallapuram. Bharatha Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, and Odissi are some dance forms presented by the very best exponents of the art besides folk dances. At the Natyanjali Dance Festival, the temple city of Chidambaram pays special tribute to Lord Nataraja the 'Cosmic Dancer'.
Kanthuri festival: is a truly secular festival, where devotees flock to the shrine of saint Quadirwali. One of the descendants of the Saint is chosen as a Peer or spiritual leader, and is honoured with offerings. On the tenth day of the festival, the Saint's tomb is anointed with sandalwood and later the holy sandal paste is distributed to everyone.
Velankanni festival: Wondrous legends surround the church, the most famous being that of the ship wrecked Portuguese sailors, who in the 16th century, vowed to build a great shrine for the Virgin Mary, for saving their lives in a terrible storm. The Velankanni festival attracts thousands, clad in orange robes to the sacred spot where the ship landed. Equally famous are the Virgin Mary's miraculous healing powers - earning for the church the name 'Lourdes of the East'.
Navarathiri festival: Literally, this means the festival of 'nine nights' taking unique and different forms in different states of India - all to propitiate the goddess Sakthi, for power, wealth and knowledge. Music Festival: In December Chennai celebrates her priceless heritage of carnatic music and dance to present a galaxy of star artistes, old and new.
Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
Some of the places of tourist interest are: Chennai, Mamallapuram, Poompuhar, Kancheepuram, Kumbakonam, Dharasuram, Chidambaram, Tiruvannamalai, Srirangam, Madurai, Rameswaram, Tirunelveli, Kanniyakumari, Thanjavur, Velankanni, Nagoor, Chithannavasal, Kazhugumalai (monument centres), Courtallam, Hogenakkal, Papanasam, Suruli (water-falls), Ooty (Udhagamandalam), Kodaikanal, Yercaud, Elagiri Kolli Hills (hill stations), Guindy (Chennai), Mudumalai, Annamalai, Mundanthurai, Kalakad (wild life sanctuaries), Vedanthangal and Point Calimere (bird sanctuaries), Arignar Anna Zoological Park.
* As per 2011 Census (Provisional Data)
Source: India Book 2012 - A Reference Annual