We all know how cultured and beautiful the southern part of our country is. And if there had to be one state that would describe the majesty of South India that it has to be Tamil Nadu. Adorned with diversity, this state is ideally the homeland of classical civilization that has preserved and nurtured their two millennia old culture, traditions and art in such a way that it has been set as an example for other states. Tamil Nadu breaks all the clichés and has emerged as a state that has bounty and diversity. Rolling mountains, azure seas, sandy beaches, swaying fields, high cascading waterfalls, chic hotels, uber cool lounges, lofty shopping malls, there is infact nothing that this state lacks and therefore it is a must visit in India. Here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Tamil Nadu that will definitely open eye to a different and classic India.
Photo: Sudarsan Gopalan
Chennai is a clear winner when it comes to best places to visit in Tamil Nadu. I mean it is not for nothing that this city is the capital of a state as vibrant as Tamil Nadu. Adorned with temples, churches and beaches, Chennai is like a heritage city that dwells in the modern day. Offering all the comforts of a metro city including the charm of night life and young and vivid crowd, Chennai is indeed the one of the best destinations to visit in Tamil Nadu. Ideal for shopping, gastronomic tours, pilgrimage and casual hangout, the capital city is as diverse as it can get. Enjoy its long coasts, beautiful sunsets, after dark parties, spiced-right food and serene ambiance and I am sure, you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.
Shore Temple, Mahaballipuram, Photo: Sankar
Famous for its intricately carved temples and rock-cut caves, Mahabalipuram is another jewel in the crown of Tamil Nadu. The city offers beautiful sand beaches and promises an exotic shopping experience to the tourists. Right from the architecture to the serenity, the soothing atmosphere and the impressive setting, this city renders a travelling experience unlike others. One may like to explore The Crocodile Bank, where some exquisite species of crocodiles and alligators can be sighted. The Five Rathas offer a tranquil atmosphere and is highly knowledgeable place to be. Covelong (Kovalam) and Sadras are the fishing villages which have been converted into exotic beach resorts and an absolute must visit in Mahabalipuram.
Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram, Photo: Nithi Anand
Popular for Kanchipuram sarees and also referred as the ‘Golden city of Thousand Temples’, Kanchipuram is an important pilgrimage destination in India. The city attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world who are interested in Hinduism or simply want to enjoy the marvel of South Indian architectural grandeur. Famed also for being the seat of culture and philosophy, Kanchi is one place where you can visit to find peace of mind and inner strength. The must see places in kanchipuram are Kanchi Kamakshi Temple, Kailasanathar Temple and Ekambareswarar Temple. The Kanchi Mutt holds kutcheris, or South Indian classical music concerts in the evenings, which shouldn’t be given a miss.
Situated on an island, Rameswaram is one of the holiest places in India. Separated by Pamban channel from Sri Lanka, Rameswaram is said to be the place where Lord Rama created a bridge across the sea to Sri Lanka. The place is renowned for its magnificent prakaras with massive sculptured pillars on either side; the Ramanathaswamy Temple on the other side houses the longest corridor in the world. Agniteertham is yet another place of sightseeing in rameswaram as its a place where pilgrims perform poojas in honour of their ancestors. The Five-faced Hanuman Temple also catches tourists’ eyes as this place holds the floating stone which is said to be used to build the bridge between India and Sri Lanka.
Brihadeeswarar Temple, Photo: Maverick
Also called Tanjore or the City of Temples, Thanjavur is adorned with cultural values. The place is known for Tanjore paintings, antiques, handicrafts, textiles and saris. And that’s not all; Thanjavur’s Carnatic music and musical instruments certainly enjoy the attention of travellers as well. The dynamic cultures of the past and present everyday breathe life into and life of the people and tourists alike here. There are many religious places in and around the district. Brihadeshwara Temple, Siva Ganga Garden, Art Gallery, Palace & Saraswathi Mahal Library and Sangeetha Mahal are the major tourist attractions in Thanjavur.
Yelagiri is a popular trekking destination and is situated at an elevation of 4,626 ft. This beautiful hill station is located in Vellore district and is surrounded by green valleys and dotted with orchards and rose gardens. Comprising of 14 hamlets situated amidst four hills, the place is a beautiful destination to spend time with a loved one may be. One can expect panoramic, breathtaking views of the hills and its surroundings. Since it is an ideal destination for trekking in Tamil Nadu, one can aim an adventurous trip here. Trek to Swami Malai Hill through dense forests and to the hills of Javadi and Palamathi provide good options for trekking here.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial , Kanyakumari, Photo: Premnath Thirumalaisamy
Dubbed as the tip of India, Kanyakumari is known for its beautiful beaches, Vivekananda Memorial and the ever-so perfect sunset. Indeed it is one of the most exotic places to visit in India. One can find destinations here that can never cease to amaze, there are temples, churches, religious pillars and statues everywhere. The perfect mix of culture of the place is reflected in the art, architecture and even in the local cuisine of Kanyakumari. Those who enjoy history can undertake an excursion to the Kumari Amman Temple or to the Vattakottai Fort. Chilling at seashores like Sanguthurai Beach, Sothavilai Beach amongst plenty others is simply exotic. The wax museum is a different yet equally alluring place for tourists and is must see in the city.
Photo: Soumya Bandyopadhyay
An all time hit hill station in India, Ooty is situated in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. An equally popular haunt for honeymooners, Ooty is located at an altitude of 2,240 mt above sea level. Adorned with beautiful tea states and green rolling mountains and sprawling grasslands, Ooty doesn’t even need any flattering words to prove that it is one of the best destinations in Tamil Nadu to visit.
Photo: Thangaraj Kumaravel
Kodaikanal is the most sought after honeymoon destination in South India because of its scenic beauty with which it can create the most memorable experiences for its visitors. Kodaikanal is blessed with dense forest that consists of varieties of trees; huge rocks in the wilderness and enchanting waterfalls. To make the most of this holiday destination in Tamil Nadu, one can undertake various activities such as trekking, boating and horse riding.
Photo: Jaskirat Singh
Ideal for landscape photography, Coimbatore is indeed a destination that you don’t want to miss in Tamil Nadu. Situated on the banks of River Noyyal is blessed with natural beauty and places for sightseeing like temples, churches, dams and more. Away from the hustle-bustle of the city life, Coimbatore is the perfect escape with more than perfect weather and geographical features. One can visit places like Monkey Falls, Vydehi falls, Kovai Kutralam falls and Siruvani Falls and Dam, Kodiveri Dam and Amaravathi Dam. Ayyappan temple, Anubhavi Subramaniar Temple, Infant Jesus Church and Dhyanalinga Yogic temple are some popular places of worship in Coimbatore.
Coonoor Tea Estate, Photo: B Balaji
Coonoor is slowly emerging as one of the most preferred hill stations in Tamilnadu. It is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiri Hills and is situated at an altitude of 1930 meters and just 19 km from Ooty. It boasts panoramic view of the Nilgiri Hills and the Catherine Falls. An ideal place for a romantic getaway in Tamil Nadu- Coonoor is not less than a dream come true for those with creative instincts.
Yercaud Lake, Photo: Suresh Mohan Rao
Snuggling the Eastern Ghats, Yercaud is known for its vast forest and rich coffee plantations and unique flora and fauna resulting. It is absolutely a scenic hill station, where the most enjoyable activity could be trekkinng. The major attraction of Yercaud is Emerald lake that is surrounded by hills and natural shoals. The Anna Park, Japanese Park, Lady’s Seat, waterfalls of Killiyur are some of the best sightseeing places in Yercaud. The view of the ghat road and the town of Salem to the South is certainly a highlight as well. One can also see Ladies Slipper (an insect eating Orchid) in the Orchidarium.
Photo: Sivaneswary Vadivelu
A historic town, Thiruvannamalai is the place where the Hindu Mythology takes the shape of stunning architecture. Perched on top of the Malai hill, Thiruvannamalai is a sacred town, which is most famous for its Arunachala temple amongst several other temples and ashrams. Sri Ramana Ashram, Sathanur Dam, Sri Seshadri Swamigal Ashram are some of the important tourist places in Thiruvannamalai. The city comes to life during the Arunachaleswarar temple festival, which by the way is a must attend festival in Tamil Nadu.
Famous for its Meenakshi Temple, Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India. The city is said to be constructed in the form of a lotus and thus known as Lotus City as well. Madurai is basically the place for those who cherish architecture or have great faith in Hindu religion. The place seems to have a sanctifying effect and the moment one steps in the city, a strange kind of peace starts to settle in him. Apart from Meenakshi Temple, one can also visit Thiruparankundram, which is one of the older temples dedicated to Lord Muruga(Karthikeya). Gandhi Museum is another place to see in Madurai. The museum houses Gandhi’s bloodstained dhoti and some other artifacts related to freedom struggle in India. Tamil speakers may be interested in the classes and workshops offered in subjects as diverse as t’ai chi and local herbs in Madurai.
Photo: Shanmuga Velan
Located in the Nilgiri hills, Mudumalai is most famous for its national park. Consisting of some of the most exotic varieties of flora and fauna and the scenic landscapes, Mudumalai makes a great destination for a family holiday in Tamil Nadu. Even visiting this place with friends would be of some great fun also solo travelling can open a whole new chapter for you in Mudumalai. Giving excellent chance for getting connected to nature, Mudumalai is the home to animals like grey langur and bonnet macaque. Tigers, leopards, dholes, golden jackals can also be spotted in there. It is also a bird watchers paradise as fine bird species swarm this place often.
Hogenakkal Falls, Photo: Mahendra Patnaik
One of the most scenic places in Tamil Nadu, Hogenakkal is a small village that is known because Kaveri river splits into multiple streams of waterfalls here. Located in Dharmapuri District, Hogenakkal is blessed with nature’s beauty and therefore is ideal for romantic escapes as well as family picnics in Tamil Nadu. A smoky appearance over the place due to the water cascading at a high speed has earned the place name as Hogenakkal.
A sparsely populated beach town, Dhanuskodi is an excellent place to ditch the city life and spend some time contemplating the beauty of nature. Cut off from the rest of the state, this town seems untouched by time and therefore it makes a perfect place to lose oneself to. The town holds on to its heritage and reflect its grandeur and beauty in the most modest ways.
Tranquebar is for those seeking solace and solitude. Running at its own speed this sleepy town seems to have been touched by lapse of time. Tranquil and rustic, this place is a dreamy patch that knows only the language of beauty. In and around the little town, one can see mixes of the Danish, British, German and French colonies that once made Tranquebar their home.
Photo: Enoch Joseph Wetsy
Known for its majestic Church dedicated to Mother Mary, Velankanni is a beautiful coastal town. A popular religious destination in Tamil Nadu, Velankanni is said to be the place where Mother Mary appeared and helped people in trouble. Therefore a church named Our Lady of Good Health has been built to honour her here. This place of worship is seen crowded throughout year as well as the beach at Velankanni has been the haunt of tourists as well.
Photo: Ramesh Sharma
Bellikkal is a small village in the south of Sigur Plateau in Tamil Nadu. It is one of those places that are often frequented by the free spirited individuals. Blessed with unspoilt nature’s beauty, Bellikkal is the destination where one can sit back, relax and contemplate the surroundings. An ideal place with those with artistic bent of mind as this place can offer inspiration for their work. Quiet and beautiful are the two words that best describe Bellikkal. A must see in Tamil Nadu, indeed.
Chettinad Palace Inner Hall – Complete View, Photo: Natesh Ramasamy
Chettinad comprises of a town known as Karaikudi and a cluster of 96 villages. The town has is one the most culturally rich places in Tamil Nadu. The town has some truly fascinating traditions and its own way to perform things. There are several temples, palaces, museums, delectable food and everything that one can possible think of for a memorable vacation.
Tuticorin Beach, Photo: Ramkumar
A mix of everything can be best reflected by Tuticorin. A port town, Tuticorin has beautiful beach, a wildlife sanctuary, numerous temples and churches and several other monumental sites. Spending a few days here will not just disconnect you from the world but will also enhance your knowledge and concern about your surroundings. The place has the potential to distress you and to transport you to another completely different world.
Bridge – Nagapattinam, Photo: Balaji Srinivasan
A coastal town, Nagapattinam is adorned with major historical and religious monuments. Mostly the town is seen as a pilgrim centre and is visited by people of different faiths. One can find many temples, churches and mosques dotting the town and the long coastline fringing the territory. Some of the major tourist attractions of Nagapattinam are the Sapta Vidangar, Divya Desam and the sacred town of Velankanni nearby. Apart from various holy sites, there is also a long stretch of beach offer some lovely time to the visitors.
Photo: Manfred Sommer
Situated between two great flowing rivers of South India, Kaveri and Arsala, Kumbakonam is a lovely temple town in the heart of the Thanjavur district. Kumbakonam is reckoned to be one of the oldest towns in Indian history is popular for its temples. A paradise for history lovers, the town is for those seeking to understand India’s cultural roots and Hinduism. The best time to visit here would be around the grand festival called Mahamaham, which is celebrated every twelve years at the Mahamaham Tank.
Nataraja Temple – Chidambaram, Photo: FabIndia
Chidambaram is a beautiful temple town in the eastern part of Tamil Nadu. The town is situated 250 km from Chennai in the Cuddalore district. Chidambaram has been a destination of architectural glory and religious significance since ancient times. Popular amongst pilgrims is its Lord Nataraja Temple. The town is apt for the history buffs, who like to indulge in the glorious history, rich cultures, diversity of traditions and festivals in the state.
Photo: Satheesh Babu
Known for its bird sanctuary, Vedanthangal lies close to Mahabalipuram district. The Vedanthangal sanctuary is said to have been protected by the locals ever since they realised that the bird droppings that fall into the tank are rich in nitrogen and can make the water a natural fertilizer. The sanctuary is also home to at least 30,000 birds in the migratory season. Herons, spoon bills, storks, ibises and egrets are some of the common migratory birds sighted in the sanctuary.
Photo: R.Amudha HariHaran
Kutrallam is a paradise for those in love with nature. A small town of Tamil Nadu located in its Tirunelveli District, Kutrallam is blessed with cascades of waterfalls, the sprawling greenery and bouts of fresh air. The town have also gained popularity for being home to several health resorts and clinics as well as waterfalls that have some medicinal values. The town is also dotted with ancient temples that reflect age old legends. Offering splendid panoramic vistas and unforetold peace, visiting Kutrallam can indeed be memorable experiences.
Srirangam Temple, Photo: Raj
Trichy is a fast commercializing city in Tamil Nadu. Visiting here brings a refreshing change from other bustling cities. The good thing about Tiruchi is this that it offers a nice blend of spiritualism and modern city life. So, one can relax and attain peace of mind whenever and wherever and suit up for some fun and adventure at any given time. Trichy is an ideal weekend destination in Tamil Nadu that enthrals visitors with its breathtaking temples and churches.
Brahmadesam Temple, Photo: Soma Sundaram
Tirunelveli is a city amidst several small towns, each with its beautiful sights, temples, waterfalls and more. Unlike many temple towns, Tirunelveli offers many sites including breath taking waterfalls to its visitors. Despite being one of the largest cities in Tamil Nadu, Tirunelveli is far from maddening rush and has roots intact in multiple religious splendours. The city also offers some delectable delicacies to gorge on.
Photo: Manfred Sommer
Also known as the Fort city, Vellore is located at the bank of Palar River at the North-eastern part of Tamil Nadu. The city has historic relevance as the fort of Vellore is said to have housed Tipu Sultan’s family during the British Rule. Apart from the fort there are several other attractions that are a must see. There are various temples with brilliant display of craftsmanship, carvings and architecture. The churches and mosques and various shopping hotspots also add to the charm of Vellore.
Tea Plantations Valparai, Photo: Thangaraj Kumaravel
At a distance of 92 Kms from Coimbatore, Valparai is a beautiful hill station that stands at an altitude of about 3,500 feet on the Anamalai Hill Range. The place is a part of Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary but also has a decent number of tea and coffee estates surrounded by forest. The region is also a rich elephants and is known to have many leopard sightings as well. The Upper Sholayar Dam, Monkey Falls, Balaji temple, Puncha Mugha Vinayagar Koil (Near Sholayar) are some of the best places to visit in Valparai.
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