Heritage and culture of Tami Nadu

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Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is a state in southern India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri Mountains, the Meghamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka.

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Heritage of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is not only the ‘Land of Tamils’ but also a land of heritage and historic sites. Uncountable historical monuments in Tamil Nadu make the state a paradise for history buffs. Magnificent temples that are architectural masterpieces bless the place with a divine aura. Rulers of different dynasties have shown their craftsmanship in the form of historic wonders that were constructed over the years. These sites of the bygone era are amazing evidences to the rich Dravidian culture and art. Rulers of the Chola, Nayak, Pallava, Vijayanagara, Pandya dynasties, who were great patrons of architecture and art have bestowed each monument with a distinctive style. So, let’s take a tour to heritage and historical sites in Tamil Nadu without any further delay.

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Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur

Nestled in Thanjavur is the Brihadeeswarar Temple, one of the largest temple in South India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple lures many pilgrims to seek the blessings of the almighty. A part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the shrine boasts of an imposing tower, frescos, inscriptions and sculptures. A giant statue of the Nandi welcomes visitors at the entrance of the ‘Big Temple’. The most popular temple of Tamil Nadu is known by alternative names like Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajesvaram.

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Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram

The Airavatesvara Temple along with the Brihadisvara Temple of Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram forms the Great Living Chola Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in Darasuram, the sacred place is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is worshipped here in the form of Airavat, Lord Indra’s elephant. Featuring the Dravidian architectural style, the sacred place is worth exploring and is one of the popular temples of Tamil Nadu. Various mythical creatures known as Yalis are carved on the pillars of the temple.

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Kapaleeshwar Temple, Chennai

Kapaleeshawar Temple is holy abode of Lord Shiva and is one of the most revered temples of Tamil Nadu. The impressive gopuram is a striking evidence of the Dravidian style of architecture. Although the temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva, it is interesting to note that his wife Parvati is worshipped at the temple in the form called as Karpagambal. The word Karpagambal means Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree. The area in which the temple is built derived its name from the form in which Goddess Parvati used to worship Lord Shiva. The Goddess used to pray Lord in the form of peacock (Mayil in Tamil) and hence the name Mylapore.

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Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram

Ramanathaswamy Temple is one of the holiest shrines of India. The temple houses one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. As per the beliefs, the holy lingam was setup by Goddess Sita, so that her husband Lord Ram can worship the God. Rameshwaram is also famed as one of the destinations of the popular Char Dham Yatra. Thus, pilgrims from all over the world visit this popular temple of Tamil Nadu with great devotion. Other than this, the shrine is also famed for having the world’s longest set of corridors.

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Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari

The spectacular architecture of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial makes it a popular monument in Tamil Nadu. Perched on a small island of Kanyakumari, the memorial offers serenity and peace to the visitors. It takes an exciting ferry ride to reach the Island which houses two adjacent rocks comprising of the ‘Vivekananda Mandapam’ and the ‘Shripada Mandapam’. The memorial stands as an undying source of inspiration highlighting the noble deeds of Swami Vivekananda. It is also an epitome of unity as the whole nation wished, contributed and worked for it.

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Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

Overlooking the shore of the Bay of Bengal is the splendid Shore Temple. The structural temple is made up of blocks of granite and is a standing tribute to the royal heritage of India. Unlike the historical monuments in Tamil Nadu, the holy place consists of five-storied rock-cut structural temple. Counted as a part of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, the Shore Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine is famed for portraying an exclusive blend of natural splendor and history

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Sri Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Known with various names like Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple or Meenakshi Amman, the Meenakshi Temple is nestled in the temple city of Madurai. Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva is the presiding deity here. One of the most iconic and historic temples of Tamil Nadu, the shrine houses four main entrances and towers facing in four different directions. A 1000 pillared hall grabs the attention instantaneously. Beside this, other attractions are the musical pillars and the holy golden lotus tank

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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Tiruchirappalli

Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tiruchirappalli is revered as the first, foremost and most important of the 108 Divyadesams (main temples of Lord Vishnu). The sanctum sanctorum is known by various names like Periyakoil, Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Bhogamandabam and Bhoologa Vaikundam. Representing the Dravidian style of architecture, it is one of the most eminent Vaishnava temples in South India rich in history and legend. The shrine consists of 21 outstanding towers and 7 enclosures. Not only the architecture but also the location of the temple is noteworthy as it lies on an island amidst the Kollidam and Cauvery rivers.

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Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Mahabalipuram

A collection of nearly 400 ancient religious monuments is termed as Group of Monuments at the Mahabalipuram. This cluster of the historical monuments in Tamil Nadu also appears in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. The monuments were carved out of rocks along the Coromandel Coast. Praiseworthy features add to the architectural grandeur of the monuments, which are mainly mandapas, rathas, the temple of Rivage and massive open-air reliefs. The monuments artistically feature prehistoric architecture

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Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, Kottagudi

Nothing is better than the feeling of sipping freshly brewed cup of tea on a misty mountain boasting of the highest organic tea plantations in the world. Nestled in Kottagudi, Kolukkumalai Tea Estate is a historical place in Tamil Nadu where tea is still made by hand. Since its establishment, nothing has changed much. None of the computerized system or modern machines have been introduced here. Many of the ancient machines still flaunt the time stamps dating back to 1940s and labels of the English manufacturers

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Rama Setu, between Pamban and Mannar Island

A bridge has been the center of attraction for yesteryears. Call it Rama’s Bridge or Adam’s Bridge, Rama Setu is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island and Mannar Island. Many legends are associated with the bridge which makes it the hot topic to talk about. It was reported that the bridge could be traversed on foot up to the 15 th century. But now, the navigation is hindered because of the shallowness that varies at different points. The causeway is not only revered by the Hindus but also holds a special place in the hearts Muslims and Christians as well.

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Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram

The Nataraja Temple or Thillai Nataraja Temple or the Chidambaram Temple revers God Shiva as the lord of dance also called as the Natraja. The architectural grandeur of the temple exemplify the link between spirituality and arts, the divine and creative activity. The holy place is recognized as one of the oldest surviving active temple complexes in South India. 108 karnas from the Natya Shastra are carved on the walls of the temple. Moreover, these postures have laid a foundation of a classical Indian dance form known as Bharatnatyam. It also represents one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalams of the almighty.

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Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram

With Lord Shiva as the presiding deity, Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the popular temples of Tamil Nadu. Located in Kanchipuram, the temples is also one of the five panchabootham temples in India. Innumerable pilgrims thong the sanctum sanctorum every year. Two legends associated with the temple show the sheer devotion of Goddess Parvati towards the Lord Shiva. The huge shrine with high rising Gopurams overpowers the skyline of Kanchipuram. The glory of the temple has been sung by all the four Saivite Saints

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Chitragupta Temple, Kanchipuram

The Chitragupta Temple in Kanchipuram is one of the rarest temple of Chitragupta, the minister and chief accountant of Lord Yama. It is a common belief that whosoever worships Chirtragupta at the temple, he or she gets blessed with wealth and prosperity. It also reduces the bad effects caused due to the Kethu, one of the nine planets which affect the fortune of a person. Shri Chitragupta along with Shri Karnagi Ambal dwells in the sanctum sanctorum of the complex. Chitra Pournami in the month of April lures various tourists to this historic temple in Tamil Nadu

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Culture of Tamil Nadu

Tamil culture is the culture of the Tamil people. Tamil culture is rooted in the arts and ways of life of Tamils in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and across the globe. Tamil culture is expressed in language, literature, music, dance, theatre, folk arts, martial arts, painting, sculpture, architecture, sports, media, comedy, cuisine, costumes, celebrations, philosophy, religions, traditions, rituals, organizations, science, and technology.

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A great amount of relevance is given to a person’s religion when it comes to personal identity. Although four-fifths of the population of the state are Hindus, rest of them are divided in Islam, Christianity, and Jainism. Their rituals include deity worship and animisms like tree worship, animal worship and stars and planets worship. Many Hindus are followers of different religious institutions called ‘Matha’ which are the centres of Monastic studies

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Traditional dress

Men can be seen wearing a Lungi with a shirt and Angavastra. Lungi is a rectangular cotton cloth tied across the waist, and Angavastra is a cloth draped around the shoulders. It can be worn over or without a shirt. Some people may also wear dhoti which is a long form of Lungi, the bottom of which is mostly stuck at the waist. Men also wear Vibhuti on their forehead Tamil Nadu women mainly wear Saree which is a five to six yards rectangular cloth made of cotton, silk or any other fabric. The prints, design and style depend on the fabric and community rituals. Kanchipuram Saree is often worn at the time of festivals. Young girls wear half-saree which includes a blouse, long skirt and a dupatta from the waist to the shoulders. Nowadays, salwar kameez and even western wear are preferred.

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Tamil Cuisine

Tamil Food is popular in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian contexts. Otherwise, rice, lentils, grains and vegetables from the main ingredients in Tamil Cuisine. Rice is a staple food here. Sambhar and Coconut Chutney are served with almost everything and guess what, it makes a fine blend with most of them. For non-vegetarians, fish, turtle, mutton and venison are preferred. Some Tamilians follow the tradition of eating on Banana Leaf even today.

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Tamilian Music &Dance

Tamil Music has evolved over the years. The most important form of music was the Carnatic music which considered only for the elite who could understand the intricacy of music. For others, Telugu songs and a mix of traditional numbers from a source of entertainment. Bharatnatyam is the official dance form of Tamil Nadu, recognized all over India and the world. It’s a complicated dance form with subtle moves of body parts and expressions. Some other folk dances like Parai, Villuputtu Karakaatam, and Kuthu are also performed by local people including tribal people.

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Art & Architecture

Kolam (also known as Rangoli) is drawn at the doors of every house in Tamil Nadu. It is drawn before the sunrise and is said to welcome Goddess Laxmi. This has become hugely popular among North Indians too. Tamilians have perfected the art of spinning, weaving and chiseling over the years and their brilliance is reflected in different art subjects like bronzes, sculptor works, carvings, etc. Magnificent temples represent Tamil architecture with lofty ‘gopurams’ and statues of goddesses engraved all over the edifice. Many well-known temples such as Meenakshi Amman Temple and Breehadeeshwara Temple are located here which displays a grand vista of ancient Hindu mythological diversity and Tamil heritage. With a golden history of some great rulers and dynasties having ruled the state, it’s not surprising to find such splendor in architecture, literature, and traditions. People of Tamil Nadu have a great legacy to live up to. The culture and traditions have been safeguarded by them over the years and are manifested till today in full vibrancy.