Tamil Nadu

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Tamil Nadu - தமிழ் நாடு
coat of arms
status State
Capital Chennai
founding January 26, 1950
(as the State of Madras)
surface 130,058 km²
Residents 72,138,958 (2011)
Population density 555 inhabitants per km²
languages Tamil , English
governor Banwarilal Purohit
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ( AIADMK )
Website tn.gov.in
ISO code IN-TN
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Tamil Nadu ( Tamil தமிழ் நாடு Tamiḻ Nāṭu  [ ˈt̪amɨɻˌnaːɖɯ ] ), until 1969 Madras , is a federal state of India . It is located in the southernmost part of the subcontinent and has around 72 million inhabitants (2011 census) on an area of ​​130,058 square kilometers. This makes it the seventh largest in terms of population and the tenth largest state in India by area. The capital of Tamil Nadu is Chennai (Madras). Please click to listen!Play

The main language of Tamil Nadu is Tamil , after whose language borders the state was formed in 1956. Initially the state was called Madras, it was not until 1969 that it was given its current name Tamil Nadu, which can be translated as "Tamil land" or as "land of the Tamil language". Tamil Nadu has a rich cultural heritage in its own right, which manifests itself in the 2000 year history of Tamil literature and the architecture of the state's great temples.


Position and extent

Tamil Nadu topographic map

Tamil Nadu is the southernmost state in India. It occupies the southern tip of the Indian peninsula without the coastal strip in the west. With an area of ​​130,058 square kilometers, Tamil Nadu is India's tenth largest state and about the size of Greece . Neighboring states are Kerala in the west, Karnataka in the northwest and Andhra Pradesh in the north. On the east coast, Tamil Nadu includes the two enclaves of Puducherry (Pondicherry) and Karaikal , which belong to the Union Territory of Puducherry . In the east and south, the state borders the Indian Ocean or its tributaries, the Gulf of Bengal in the east and the Gulf of Mannar in the southeast. The Palk Strait separates Tamil Nadu from the island state of Sri Lanka in the southeast . The coast is 1076 kilometers long. Tamil Nadu's southernmost point, Cape Komorin , is also the southernmost point of the Indian mainland.

Landscape structure

Rugged mountains and fertile plains characterize the landscape of Tamil Nadu (landscape in the Kanyakumari district )

Tamil Nadu can be roughly divided into two natural areas. In the west and northwest, mountainous and hilly countries determine the landscape. The Cardamom Mountains , a southern branch of the Western Ghats, rise along the western border with Kerala . They drop off steeply, especially in the extreme south. Another foothill, the Palani Mountains , protrudes into the lowlands to the east. The Nilgiri Mountains in the extreme northwest, separated by the Palghat Valley and the Coimbatore Plateau, are a side chain of the Western Ghats. The highest peak of the rugged Nilgiri Mountains, the 2,636 meter high Doddabetta , is also the highest peak in Tamil Nadu. In the north, the Nilgiri Mountains merge into the Javadi - and the higher Shevaroy Mountains , reaching up to 1,500 meters , both side chains of the Eastern Ghats .

A wide plain stretches east of the mountainous area, through which several streams flow. In the south, the Palani Mountains divide the lowland into the Madurai Plain and the west-east-running cavry plain in the central part of Tamil Nadu. The coastal strip north of the mouth of the Kaveri is called the Coromandel Coast . The hinterland of the Coromandel coast is shaped by the Arcot plain.


Upper course of the Kaveri shortly after the
Hogenakal Falls on the border with Karnataka

The Tamil Nadu coastal plain is traversed by the rivers Palar , Ponnaiyar , Kaveri , Vaigai and Thamirabarani , all of which have their source in the precipitation-rich Eastern and Western Ghats and therefore carry water all year round. There are also a number of smaller, but sometimes only periodic, rivers. The 760 kilometer long Kaveri is the largest and most important river. Coming from Karnataka and flowing south, it crosses the Eastern Ghats in order to turn east south of Erode . Around 200 kilometers before it flows into the Bay of Bengal, it fans out into a large delta with countless side arms.

Tamil Nadu is poor in natural larger lakes. For energy generation and irrigation purposes, however, several large reservoirs have been created on water-rich rivers . The largest of these is the Stanley reservoir at Kaveri near Mettur in the Erode district , and is also used as a fishing ground, which covers an average of 93 square kilometers, during the rainy season 153 square kilometers. There are ten other large reservoirs with a maximum area of ​​more than 10 square kilometers. In many arid regions, there are so-called tanks , artificially created water reservoirs that are used as drinking water supplies or for irrigation farming. There are a total of almost 39,000 such tanks in Tamil Nadu.


Climate diagram Chennai

Tamil Nadu's climate is tropical . The temperature fluctuates only slightly over the course of the year and is an annual average of 29 degrees Celsius in the lowlands, where the thermometer rarely falls below 20 degrees, but can climb to over 40 degrees in the hottest months of the dry season. At high altitudes, temperatures reach 13 to 24 degrees in summer and 3 to 20 degrees in winter.

The precipitation conditions are significantly influenced by the monsoon . In contrast to most of India, the main precipitation season in Tamil Nadu is the winter monsoon between September and December. During this time, the northeasterly winds absorb moisture over the Bay of Bengal and bring heavy monsoon rains with them. Rainfalls also occur during the summer monsoon from July to September, but the amount of precipitation remains lower because Tamil Nadu is shielded from the southwest winds by the Western Ghats. In the mountains as well as in the extreme south there is also heavy rainfall during this time. During the dry season between January and June it hardly rains.

Annual rainfall of 900 to 1200 mm is normal for the plains. The lowest annual precipitation amounts are recorded at 700 to 850 mm in the lowlands of Madurai and around Coimbatore in the rain shadow of the Western Ghats. In general, the climate of Tamil Nadu is drier than that of the western neighboring state of Kerala, since the Western Ghats, where up to 4000 mm of annual precipitation fall, act as a weather divide. However, the humidity is high all year round.


In the Nilgiri Mountains

Around 18 percent of Tamil Nadu's area is forested. Due to the high population density in the lowlands, however, larger, contiguous forest areas are almost only found in the mountainous regions. In the positions over 1500 meters of the Nilgiri, Palani and Cardamom Mountains, there are evergreen tropical rain-leaf forests with the tiered structure typical of such forests. The top step is characterized by tall, slender trees, some of which tower more than 40 meters high. Lower trees thrive underneath, followed by shrubs and herbaceous plants on the ground . In the lower elevations, mixed landscapes of grassland and - depending on the amount of precipitation - evergreen or deciduous wet forest prevail. Deciduous dry forests are characteristic of the transitions into the lowlands .

In the lowlands, savanna-like grasslands dominate , most of which have been converted into arable and cultivated land. Remnants of the original dry forest vegetation can only be found sporadically on rivers and in uneven terrain. Evergreen dry forests were once the characteristic form of vegetation for a narrow strip along the Coromandel coast. Today they have been destroyed or at least severely degraded except for scattered groves , which make up less than one percent of the original forest area. In the lagoons in the delta of the Kaveri, on the Gulf of Mannar and between Ennur and Pulicat north of Chennai, there are still mangroves , which, however, are increasingly being pushed back by human interventions and their biodiversity is limited.


Asian elephant in Mudumalai National Park

Tamil Nadu has a rich animal world, which is threatened by the high level of urban sprawl and the associated destruction of natural habitats. The partly still densely forested mountain regions in the west and north are retreats for Asian elephants and big cats such as king tigers and leopards . Other mammals include deer (e.g. sambar , axis deer , muntjac ), gaure , wild boars , striped hyenas , golden jackals , red dogs , sloth bears , pangolins , langurs , hat monkeys and numerous species of rodents and bats . In total, there are more than 100 different species of mammals in Tamil Nadu. With around 280 recorded species, birds are far richer in species, including drongos , bulbuls , pigeons , orioles and peacocks . On the coast and in wetlands there are countless water birds such as flamingos . There are also reptiles with over 140 species, among which snakes and smaller lizards predominate. Two crocodile species are: freshwater inhabiting marsh crocodile , and the rarer, Headquartered on the coast saltwater crocodile .

The coastal waters of Tamil Nadu are also rich in marine life. The coral reefs in the Gulf of Mannar are among the most biodiverse undersea habitats in the Indian Ocean . To protect this unique marine landscape, threatened by commercial fishing, pollution, aquaculture and pearl divers, the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park was established in 1980 as India's first underwater national park .


Coimbatore is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu.

By far the largest city in Tamil Nadu is the capital Chennai (Madras). Located on the coast in the extreme northeast of the state, Chennai has 4.7 million inhabitants in the city proper and 8.7 million in the agglomeration . This makes Chennai the sixth largest city in India and the center of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country. In addition to Chennai, the industrial city of Coimbatore in the west of Tamil Nadu and Madurai in the south , which can look back on a rich history spanning over two thousand years, exceed the one million population mark. Other important cities are Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) in the center of the state and Salem in the northern interior.

The largest cities in Tamil Nadu according to the 2011 census are:

city Residents city Residents
1 Chennai 4,681,087 8th Tiruppur 444,543
2 Coimbatore 1,061,447 9 Avadi 344.701
3 Madurai 1,016,885 10 Tiruvottiyur 248.059
4th Tiruchirappalli 846.915 11 Thoothukudi 237.374
5 Salem 831.038 12 Rodent coil 224,329
6th Ambattur 478.134 13 Thanjavur 222,619
7th Tirunelveli 474,838 14th Pallavaram 216.308



Farmer with ox in Tamil Nadu

According to the 2011 Indian census, Tamil Nadu's population is 72,138,958. This makes Tamil Nadu India's sixth largest state in terms of population. The population density of 555 inhabitants per square kilometer is above the overall Indian average (382 inhabitants per square kilometer). 48.5 percent of the population live in cities. This means that the state has one of the highest rates of urbanization in India.

The population of Tamil Nadu is growing a little more slowly than in other parts of India. From 2001 to 2011, Tamil Nadu recorded a population growth of 15.6 percent, while the national average is 17.6 percent.

The population is mainly made up of Tamils . Many immigrants from other Indian states live in the greater Chennai area in particular . About one percent of the population belongs to the Adivasi , the indigenous tribal population who live mainly in northern Tamil Nadu and in the Nilgiri Mountains .

In the period from 2010 to 2014, the average life expectancy was 70.6 years (the Indian average was 67.9 years). The fertility rate was 1.67 children per woman (as of 2016) while the Indian average was 2.23 children in the same year.

Population development

Tamil Nadu census population since the first census in 1951.

Census year population
1951 30.119.680
1961 33.687.100
1971 41.199.170
1981 48,408,080
1991 55.859.300
2001 62.111.390
2011 72.138.958


Street scene with posters in Tamil in Thanjavur

The main language Tamil Nadu and the only official language of the state is Tamil , spoken by almost 90 percent of the population , according to whose language borders the state was formed in 1956. Tamil belongs to the Dravidian language family and can look back on at least 2000 years of literary history. The largest of the minority languages ​​is Telugu , whose speakers make up almost 6 percent of the total population of Tamil Nadu. It is spoken in many places by long-established Telugu-speaking communities, as well as by parts of the population in the border region to the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh. Also in the border areas to Karnataka and Kerala, Kannada and Malayalam , the languages ​​of the respective states, are partly widespread. Part of the Muslim minority, especially in northern Tamil Nadu, speaks Urdu , but most Muslims speak Tamil. Speakers of Saurashtri , a language closely related to the Gujarati spoken in north-west India, live in various cities of Tamil Nadu (including Madurai ) . In the official statistics, the approximately 240,000 Saurashtri speakers are subsumed under the number of Gujarati speakers. Various smaller minority languages ​​are spoken by the tribal population in the mountainous regions of the northwest and north, most notably Irula , Badaga and Kurumba . Kota and Toda each have only a few thousand speakers in the Nilgiri Mountains, where there is the greatest diversity of languages. As in other regions of India, English has a special status as an educational and business language.

Languages ​​in Tamil Nadu (2011)
language speaker proportion of
Tamil 63,753,997 88.4%
Telugu 4,234,302 5.9%
Kannada 1,286,175 1.8%
Urdu 1,264,537 1.8%
Malayalam 726.096 1.0%
Others 881.923 1.2%
total 72.147.030 100%


Typical Hindu village shrine near Pulicat

With 88 percent (2011 census), Hindus make up the clear majority of the Tamil Nadu population. The Hindu population in Tamil Nadu is thus above the national average (80 percent). The Shaivism is the most widespread Hindu faith flow. Hinduism in Tamil Nadu has some regional characteristics, for example the god Murugan (Skanda), who plays practically no role in northern India, is one of the most popular deities among the Tamils.

The various Christian denominations account for 6 percent. In absolute numbers, Tamil Nadu is home to 4.4 million Christians, the second largest Christian population of all Indian states after Kerala. Christianity is said to have been brought to South India by Apostle Thomas , who allegedly died around 70 AD on St. Thomas Mount near Chennai. The largest Christian denomination in Tamil Nadu is the Roman Catholic Church , followed by the Anglican Church of South India . The Christians in the southernmost district of Kanyakumari represent a particularly high proportion of the population . With the Marian Basilica of Velankanni , the most important Christian pilgrimage site of India is in Tamil Nadu.

The Islam never found such a large spread, in most parts of North India in Tamil Nadu. Today just under 6 percent of the state's residents are Muslim, mostly Sunnis . Islam was brought into the country by Arab traders as early as the 9th century and therefore developed a form that in some cases differs significantly from northern Indian Islam. In addition to the Hanafi school of law that predominates among Indian Muslims , the Shafiite school of law is also widespread. One of the most important centers of Islamic learning in Tamil Nadu is Kilakkarai about 15 kilometers south of Ramanathapuram . There are two Islamic universities here, the Jāmiʿa ʿArūsīya founded in the early 19th century and the Jāmiʿa Sayyid Hamīda founded in 1995.

Religions in Tamil Nadu (2011)
religion Relatives proportion of
Hinduism 63.188.168 87.6%
Christianity 4,418,331 6.1%
Islam 4,229,479 5.9%
Others 311.052 0.4%
total 72.147.030 100%


Early history

Roman pottery excavated in Arikamedu (1st century, Musée Guimet )

The area of ​​today's Tamil Nadu was probably first settled around 300,000 years ago. Archaeological finds confirm that as early as 1200 BC A highly developed society existed. The Brahmanic culture of northern India spread in pre-Christian times to the south of the subcontinent and thus to today's Tamil Nadu. Its prehistoric development concentrated mainly on the coastal plain. In addition to archeology, the ancient Tamil Sangam literature , various local and North Indian inscriptions, Ceylonese chronicles and reports by Greek and Roman scholars provide information about this epoch . Close trade relations with the Roman Empire already existed at the time of Emperor Augustus , as proven by numerous coin finds and the existence of a Roman trading post in Arikamedu south of Puducherry . With the increasing decline of Rome in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, Southeast Asia assumed its importance as a trading partner. Large parts of Southeast Asia were colonized from the Tamil Coromandel coast in the Middle Ages.

Three dynasties shaped Tamil Nadu in ancient times. The Chola had its core area in the Kaveri Delta , the Chera ruled over the western parts of today's Tamil Nadu and the Malabar coast , while the south was under the rule of the Pandya . The Greek historian Megasthenes , who lived around 300 BC, reported on the wealth of the latter . At the court of the north Indian Maurya ruler Chandragupta . The Pandya are also mentioned in Old Tamil Sangam poetry. The earliest known ruler name, however, is that of the legendary Chola king Karikala (around 190 AD), who defeated the combined armies of the Pandya and Chera and had the banks of the Kaveri fortified. The Kalabhra , invading from the Deccan in the 4th century, abruptly ended the rule of the Chola and Pandya. Little is known about their own rule, however.

Pallava (6th to 9th centuries)

The rock temples of Mamallapuram date from the Pallava period

At the end of the 6th century, the Pallava coming from Andhra , presumably former vassals of the Shatavahana , defeated the Kalabhra and rose to become the dominant power in Tamil Nadu. They made Kanchipuram their capital . The greatest threat to the Pallava was the Chalukya , who had been fighting a bitter struggle for supremacy in southern India since the early 7th century. After Mahendra Varman I (r. About 610 to 630) was able to avert the threatened capture of Kanchipuram by the Chalukya, his son Narasimha Varman (r. About 630 to 668) succeeded in conquering the enemy capital Badami in 642 . The success was short-lived, because after 670 the Pallava were faced again with their revitalized enemies. Introduced by the sacking of Kanchipuram in 740, the Pallava dynasty began to decline in the 8th century and ruled until the late 9th century.

Under the Pallava, a strong regional empire emerged for the first time in Tamil Nadu, which also made outstanding contributions to cultural development. The Pallava capital Kanchipuram became one of the most important cultural centers in South India. Although the Pallava adhered to Hinduism , it also appeared as an important Buddhist teaching center. The University of Kanchipuram became an important place of activity for great Tamil and Sanskrit scholars and numerous visual artists. The rock temples of Mamallapuram , pioneers of Hindu temple architecture in South India, but also in Southeast Asia , also date from the Pallava era .

Chola and Pandya (9th to 14th centuries)

The arts flourished in Tamil Nadu under the Chola dynasty ( bronze sculpture by Shiva , 11th century, Musée Guimet)

The Pallava were succeeded by the Chola , who had served as vassals until the middle of the 9th century. Around 850 they regained their independence and made Thanjavur in the Kaveri Delta the capital. King Aditya (ruled 871 to 907) finally defeated the Pallava around 897. After the fall of the central Indian Rashtrakuta empire, the Chola rose to become the most powerful dynasty in South India in the 11th century. Particularly noteworthy are the kings Rajaraja I (ruled 985 to 1014) and Rajendra I (ruled 1014 to 1044, as co-regent from 1012), who achieved great fame not only as conquerors but also as promoters of the arts and sciences . Rajaraja I. defeated the Chera on the Malabar coast and extended his empire to the southern Deccan , Ceylon and the Maldives . His son Rajendra moved up the Andhra coast to Bengal . There he defeated the ruler of the Pala , whereupon he had his new capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram ("city of the Chola who defeated the Ganga ") blessed with water from the Ganges. He also established the Chola Empire as a sea power and penetrated across the Bay of Bengal to the Southeast Asian Srivijaya Empire ( Sumatra , Malaya , Java ). No other ruling house in southern India before or after the Chola was able to extend its power to such a vast area. The time of the Chola kings Rajaraja I and Rajendra I is therefore considered the marriage of South India and thus also of Tamil Nadu.

In 1070 Rajendra's line died out. Kulottunga, a prince of the eastern Chalukya, now ascended the throne of the empire. Despite some territorial losses, including Ceylon, the Chola remained the dominant dynasty of southern India until the beginning of the 13th century. Nevertheless, there were already signs of creeping decline in the decades after Kulothunga's death in 1120. Above all, the dispute with the southern vassals of the Pandya cost the Chola some of its authority and helped the Pandya to become more independent. After the death of the Chola king Kulothunga III. In 1218 the Pandya, with Madurai as their center of power, were gradually able to restore their full independence. Jatavarman Sundara (ruled 1251 to 1268) was finally strong enough to attack the Chola. His successor defeated the last Chola king Rajendra IV in 1279. The Pandya now took over the dominant position of the Chola in Tamil Nadu and were able to expand their empire again to Godavari and the north of Ceylon. Succession disputes in the early 14th century weakened the Pandya empire noticeably.

Muslim Rule, Vijayanagar, and Small States (14th to 18th Century)

In 1311, Muslim troops from the north Indian sultanate of Delhi under the command of General Malik Kafur attacked the Pandya capital Madurai, captured and sacked it. For the first time, Tamil Nadu was under Muslim rule. The Sultanate of Madurai , which emerged from a province of the Delhi Sultanate in 1334 and is the southernmost Muslim state on Indian soil, was short-lived, however. As early as 1370 the Sultan fell in the fight against the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire.

The Minakshi Temple in Madurai: the highlight of Nayak architecture

The heartland of Vijayanagar was in the south of what is now Karnataka . After defeating the Madurai Sultan, it encompassed almost all of southern India, including Tamil Nadu. Vijayanagar's expansion eastwards to the coast of Andhra challenged Kapilendra , the king of Orissa on the east coast , who in 1463 advanced along the northeast coast of Tamil Nadu into the Kaveri Delta. After a few years, however, he had to withdraw again. Weak rulers initiated the decline of Vijayanagar in the 15th century. When his arch enemies, the Deccan sultanates that had emerged from the Bahmanid Empire, united and defeated Vijayanagar at the Battle of Talikota in 1565 , the empire split into several individual empires within a very short time.

After the collapse of Vijayanagar, the military governors of his districts, the so-called nayaks , filled the power vacuum in Tamil Nadu and went into business for themselves. The most powerful of them were the nayaks of Madurai and Thanjavur . Despite their relative political and military insignificance, these empires saw a flourishing of late Dravidian art. In the 17th century, various Indian empires began military campaigns against the small states of Tamil Nadu. First, Mohammed Adil Shah , the Sultan of Bijapur , invaded northern Tamil Nadu, where, among other things, he defeated the nayak of Gingee . Both Madurai and Thanjavur became tributaries to Bijapur. In the 1670s, a dispute between Madurai and Thanjavur led the Marathas to intervene on Thanjavur's side. But the troops of the Marathan ruler Venkaji immediately turned against the Nayak of Thanjavur and occupied his empire. After the Mughal Mughal Aurangzeb subjugated Bijapur in 1686, northern Tamil Nadu came under the control of the Mughal Empire and was ruled by the Nawabs of Arcot as vassals of the Mughals. Thanjavur, however, remained a possession of the Marathas; Madurai existed until the British conquest in 1781.

Advance of Europeans and Colonial Rule (17th Century to 1947)

View of the English fortress of Fort St. George in Madras in the 18th century
1909 map of the southern part of the Madras presidency; the princely states in yellow

As the first major European power, Portugal tried to gain a foothold on the Coromandel Coast in the early 16th century , but without success. The Portuguese were followed by the Dutch , English and Danes in the first half of the 17th century and by the French in the 1660s . The European trading powers did not initially strive for land gain, but for the highest possible profits from the cloth trade. For this purpose they acquired coastal bases and set up factories. Around 1700 there were several Dutch trading bases on the Tamil Nadu coast, including in Pulicat , Nagapattinam and Tuticorin . The English had settled in Madras , the French in Pondicherry and the Danes in Tranquebar .

The British rose to become the most important major European power on the Coromandel Coast in the 18th century. Their greatest competitor turned out to be the French, who fought with the British in the Carnatic Wars for supremacy in southern India and who in 1746 even took Madras for three years. In 1760, the French were defeated in the Battle of Wandiwash and had to give up their ambitions in India. The heavily indebted Dutch East India Company retired as an adversary of the British in India after the fourth Dutch-English War from 1780 to 1784.

Along with Calcutta and Bombay, Madras became a main starting point for the British colonization of India. The city was the administrative center of the Madras Presidency , one of three presidencies of the British East India Company . The British expanded their influence from the second half of the 18th century to large parts of Tamil Nadu: In the Third and Fourth Mysore Wars (1790 to 1792 and 1798/99) they wrested most of the possessions of the Kingdom of Mysore , including the north and west of today's Tamil Nadu. After the complete defeat of Mysore in 1799, the supremacy of the East India Company in all of southern India was finally sealed. In 1799 the Marathi kings of Thanjavur were forced to surrender their possessions. Two years later, the Arcot Nawab, who controlled the coastal hinterland, had to surrender all of its territory to the British. The conquest of Tamil Nadu was complete. Only the small principality of Pudukkottai remained as a formally independent princely state under British rule. In 1858, as a result of the uprising in northern India , the East India Company was overthrown and power over all its possessions was transferred directly to the British government. Madras became one of the provinces of British India .

Parallel to the all-India independence movement under the leadership of the Indian National Congress , which awoke at the end of the 19th century, the so-called Dravidian movement emerged in the Tamil-speaking parts of Madras , which was directed against the alleged supremacy of the Brahmins and an independent identity of the Tamils as " Dravids " in contrast to the " Aryans " of northern India postulated. EV Ramasami 1925 (Periyar) founded the self-respect movement ( Self-Respect Movement ), which he in 1944 with the anti-Brahmin Justice Party to organize Dravidar Kazhagam ; united (Confederation of Dravidians DK). The DK represented a radical agenda and called for the abolition of the caste system and the Hindu religion as well as the establishment of an independent state Dravida Nadu for the "Dravids" of South India.

Developments since 1947

The state of Madras between 1950 and 1956 with the territorial changes in 1953:
             Madras border before 1953 Andhra (from 1953) Mysore before 1953 Bellary district (1953 to Mysore) Madras after 1953

After British India was granted independence in 1947, Madras State became a member of the Indian Union. In addition to today's Tamil Nadu, it included large parts of today's state of Andhra Pradesh as well as parts of Karnataka and Kerala . PS Kumaraswamy Raja of the Indian National Congress was the first Chief Minister (1950 to 1952). He was followed by his party colleagues C. Rajagopalachari (1952 to 1954), K. Kamaraj (1954 to 1963), who made a special contribution to improving the education system and fighting illiteracy, and M. Bakthavatsalam (1963 to 1967). In the course of the States Reorganization Act 1956, the Indian states were reorganized according to language borders. The Tamil-speaking areas were added to the state of Madras. This gave the state the borders of what is now Tamil Nadu, but initially retained the name Madras.

In the meantime, a new party called Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (Union for the Progress of the Dravids; DMK) had formed from the DK in 1949 under the leadership of CN Annadurai . At the beginning it also supported the demand for secession, but gave it up in the early 1960s and replaced it with the demand for political and cultural autonomy for the states within the Indian Union. The DMK first took part in elections in Madras in 1957 and soon rose to become the most important opposition party. In 1967 she won the regional parliament elections for the first time under the leadership of Annadurai. The new DMK government decided to rename Madras to Tamil Nadu (“Land of the Tamils”), which came into force in 1969. After Annadurai's death M. Karunanidhi took over the management of DMK. In 1972 the AIADMK split off from the DMK under the popular film actor MG Ramachandran (MGR) . Since then, the Tamil Nadu government has always been one of the two regional parties. The AIADMK won the elections for the first time in 1977. MG Ramachandran became the new Chief Minister and remained so until his death in 1987. Since the 1990s, Tamil Nadu's policy has been shaped by competition between M. Karunanidhi (Chief Minister from 1969 to 1976, 1989 to 1991, 1996 to 2001 and 2006 to 2011) and the former actress J. Jayalalithaa , who succeeded MG Ramachandrans at the helm of the AIADMK and held the post of Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996, with interruptions from 2001 to 2006 and again with interruptions in 2011 until her death in 2016 .

In the 1980s, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), fighting for the independence of the predominantly Tamil-inhabited parts of Sri Lanka , used Tamil Nadu as a retreat and base for their activities in Sri Lanka. The government initially approved this action out of consideration for the sympathy of the Tamil Nadu population for the oppressed Tamils ​​of Sri Lanka. However, several assassinations carried out by LTTE separatists on Indian soil destroyed the confidence of the Indian Tamils ​​in the LTTE. On May 21, 1991, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was murdered by an LTTE-affiliated suicide bomber during an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Kanchipuram . Today the Indian government classifies the LTTE as a terrorist organization.


Political system

The Fort St. George in Chennai, seat of parliament and government of the state

Tamil Nadu's parliament consisted of two chambers until 1986 . Since then, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly , elected for five years, has been the sole legislative body. Of the 234 seats, 42 seats are reserved for disadvantaged castes and 3 seats for tribal people (Adivasi). In addition, the governor of the state can appoint a representative of the English-speaking minority if he believes that they are not adequately represented in parliament. The Chief Minister , the Prime Minister of Tamil Nadu, is elected by the MPs. But is appointed by the President of India Governor (at the head of the State Governor ). Its main tasks are to appoint the Chief Minister and to entrust him with the formation of the government. The ministers are also appointed by the governor on the recommendation of the chief minister . In addition, the governor is responsible for dissolving parliament at the end of the legislative period or in the event of a government crisis. In this case he can put the state under the direct administration of the Indian President (" President's rule ").

The highest court in Tamil Nadu is the Madras High Court , which also has jurisdiction over the Union territory of Puducherry . The Chief Justice chairs the meeting . A branch has been in Madurai since 2004 .


Distribution of seats after the
2016 general election
DMK 88
congress 8th
Anglo-Indians 1
total 235
AIADMK election campaign in Chennai (2011)

Tamil Nadu politics is shaped by the two Tamil nationalist regional parties Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). The state has been ruled by one of these two parties without interruption since 1967. Its roots lie in the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) organization, from which DMK split off in 1949. In 1972 the AIADMK was created again after internal party disputes by splitting off from the DMK and subsequently established itself as its strongest competitor. The DMK has largely exchanged the demands originally represented by the DK for a separate Dravid state and radical social reform for the evocation of the greatness of Tamil culture and language and the demand for political and cultural autonomy of the federal states. The AIADMK, on ​​the other hand, distinguishes itself primarily through a populist welfare policy .

Besides the two major parties more regional parties exist: the best film actor Vijayakanth founded Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), the Tamil nationalist Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and the box-based parties Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) . Supraregional parties only play a subordinate role in Tamil Nadu: The Indian National Congress and the two communist parties Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)) are far from the majority ability, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not even represented in the state parliament. In any case, the Hindutva movement in Tamil Nadu is less strong than in other parts of India, even if it has experienced a certain boost since the 1980s with the establishment of the Hindu Munnani and Hindu Makkal Katchi organizations .

Due to the prevailing majority voting system , a small group of swing voters can have a major impact on the election result. So it came about that in the 1990s and 2000s, the DMK and the AIADMK alternated after each election to the government. In the last state election in 2016, the AIADMK succeeded for the first time in 27 years in breaking this trend. The AIADMK won almost 41% of the vote and 134 of the 234 constituencies. The rival DMK came up with almost 32% and 89 seats, while the Congress party ended up far behind with 6.4% and 8 seats. The BJP got 2.4% of the vote and no mandate.

Although the Tamil regional parties only run for elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, they can play an important role in the formation of a government at the nationwide level by tipping the scales. They therefore often join party alliances under the leadership of one of the country's large parties. The DMK and the AIADMK, but also smaller regional parties such as the MDMK and the PMK, have been involved in all-Indian governments several times. Most recently, DMK was part of the Manmohan Singh government led by the Congress Party from 2004 until it left in 2013 . In the all-Indian parliamentary elections in 2014 , DMK and AIADMK did not join any of the nationwide party alliances. The AIADMK achieved a landslide victory with 37 out of 39 constituencies won in Tamil Nadu, but could not make any political capital out of it due to the strong performance of the BJP nationwide.

Administrative division

Tamil Nadu is divided into 32 districts (population and population density according to the 2011 census).

Tamil Nadu districts
District Administrative headquarters surface Population
1 Ariyalur Ariyalur 000000000001940.00000000001,940 km³ 000000000754894.0000000000754.894 000000000000389.0000000000389 inhabitants / km²
2 Chennai Chennai 000000000000175.0000000000175 km² 000000004646732.00000000004,646,732 000000000026553.000000000026,553 inhabitants / km²
3 Coimbatore Coimbatore 000000000004732.00000000004,732 km² 000000003458045.00000000003,458,045 000000000000731.0000000000731 inhabitants / km²
4th Cuddalore Cuddalore 000000000003703.00000000003,703 km² 000000002605914.00000000002,605,914 000000000000704.0000000000704 inhabitants / km²
5 Dharmapuri Dharmapuri 000000000004497.00000000004,497 km² 000000001506843.00000000001,506,843 000000000000335.0000000000335 inhabitants / km²
6th Dindigul Dindigul 000000000006036.00000000006,036 km² 000000002159775.00000000002,159,775 000000000000358.0000000000358 inhabitants / km²
7th Erode Erode 000000000005760.00000000005,760 km² 000000002251744.00000000002,251,744 000000000000391.0000000000391 inhabitants / km²
8th Kanchipuram Kanchipuram 000000000004483.00000000004,483 km² 000000003998252.00000000003,998,252 000000000000892.0000000000892 inhabitants / km²
9 Kanyakumari Rodent coil 000000000001684.00000000001,684 km² 000000001870374.00000000001,870,374 000000000001111.00000000001,111 inhabitants / km²
10 Karur Karur 000000000002904.00000000002,904 km² 000000001064493.00000000001,064,493 000000000000367.0000000000367 inhabitants / km²
11 Krishnagiri Krishnagiri 000000000005129.00000000005,129 km² 000000001879809.00000000001,879,809 000000000000367.0000000000367 inhabitants / km²
12 Madurai Madurai 000000000003710.00000000003,710 km² 000000003038252.00000000003,038,252 000000000000819.0000000000819 inhabitants / km²
13 Nagapattinam Nagapattinam 000000000002569.00000000002,569 km² 000000001616450.00000000001,616,450 000000000000629.0000000000629 inhabitants / km²
14th Namakkal Namakkal 000000000003420.00000000003,420 km² 000000001726601.00000000001,726,601 000000000000505.0000000000505 inhabitants / km²
15th Nilgiris Udagamandalam 000000000002565.00000000002,565 km² 000000000735394.0000000000735.394 000000000000287.0000000000287 inhabitants / km²
16 Perambalur Perambalur 000000000001756.00000000001,756 km² 000000000565223.0000000000565.223 000000000000322.0000000000322 inhabitants / km²
17th Pudukkottai Pudukkottai 000000000004644.00000000004,644 km² 000000001618345.00000000001,618,345 000000000000348.0000000000348 inhabitants / km²
18th Ramanathapuram Ramanathapuram 000000000004104.00000000004,104 km² 000000001353445.00000000001,353,445 000000000000330.0000000000330 inhabitants / km²
19th Salem Salem 000000000005237.00000000005,237 km² 000000003482056.00000000003,482,056 000000000000665.0000000000665 inhabitants / km²
20th Sivaganga Sivaganga 000000000004233.00000000004,233 km² 000000001339101.00000000001,339,101 000000000000316.0000000000316 inhabitants / km²
21st Thanjavur Thanjavur 000000000003411.00000000003,411 km² 000000002405890.00000000002,405,890 000000000000705.0000000000705 inhabitants / km²
22nd Theni Theni 000000000002868.00000000002,868 km² 000000001245899.00000000001,245,899 000000000000434.0000000000434 inhabitants / km²
23 Thoothukudi Thoothukudi 000000000004745.00000000004,745 km² 000000001750176.00000000001,750,176 000000000000369.0000000000369 inhabitants / km²
24 Tiruchirappalli Tiruchirappalli 000000000004509.00000000004,509 km² 000000002722290.00000000002,722,290 000000000000604.0000000000604 inhabitants / km²
25th Tirunelveli Tirunelveli 000000000006693.00000000006,693 km² 000000003077233.00000000003,077,233 000000000000460.0000000000460 people / km²
26th Tiruppur Tiruppur 000000000005187.00000000005,187 km² 000000002479052.00000000002,479,052 000000000000478.0000000000478 inhabitants / km²
27 Tiruvallur Tiruvallur 000000000003394.00000000003,394 km² 000000003728104.00000000003,728,104 000000000001098.00000000001,098 inhabitants / km²
28 Tiruvannamalai Tiruvannamalai 000000000006188.00000000006,188 km² 000000002464875.00000000002,464,875 000000000000398.0000000000398 inhabitants / km²
29 Tiruvarur Tiruvarur 000000000002274.00000000002,274 km² 000000001264277.00000000001,264,277 000000000000556.0000000000556 inhabitants / km²
30th Vellore Vellore 000000000006075.00000000006,075 km² 000000003936331.00000000003,936,331 000000000000648.0000000000648 inhabitants / km²
31 Viluppuram Viluppuram 000000000007194.00000000007,194 km² 000000003458873.00000000003,458,873 000000000000481.0000000000481 inhabitants / km²
32 Virudhunagar Virudhunagar 000000000004241.00000000004,241 km² 000000001942288.00000000001,942,288 000000000000458.0000000000458 inhabitants / km²


After Maharashtra , Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu is the fifth largest economy of the 28 states of India and also one of the most advanced states in the country, which has benefited above average from the economic liberalization measures introduced in 1991. Since then, numerous large foreign companies have settled in Tamil Nadu. In 2010 the nominal gross domestic product of Tamil Nadu was 4,640 billion Indian rupees (equivalent to 98 billion US dollars ). Tamil Nadu thus generated over 7 percent of the total Indian economic output. The gross domestic product per capita, at 1,358 US dollars, is only slightly higher than the Indian average of 1,087 US dollars.


Farmers harvesting rice ( Thanjavur District )

Although Tamil Nadu is one of the most industrialized states in India, agriculture is still the most important employer. Around 45 percent of the area is used for agriculture. Tamil Nadu's agriculture is one of the most advanced in India. The rates of return are well above the Indian average. Since the introduction of the “ Green Revolution ” in the mid-1960s, whose “father” is the Tamil Nadu-born agronomist MS Swaminathan , the area of ​​irrigation has been expanded considerably, so that around half of the agricultural area is now artificially irrigated. Nevertheless, the share of agriculture in the gross domestic product is declining due to significantly higher growth rates in other areas. In 2004 it was only 14.2 percent.

Rice , peanuts , corn , sorghum , finger millet , pearl millet , legumes and various types of fruit such as bananas and mangoes are grown as food . By far the most important commercial crop is sugar cane . In contrast, the importance of cotton has declined sharply since the 1980s. Spices, coffee , tobacco and tea are also grown to a lesser extent .

Natural resources and mining

80 percent of the known Indian lignite deposits are in Tamil Nadu, mainly in the area around the city of Neyveli in the district of Cuddalore . In the south and south-east of the state, mineral sands are mined, from which rare minerals such as titanium iron , garnet , zircon , rutile and monazite are extracted. There are deposits of magnesite in the northeast . In addition to granite , limestone , quartz and quartz sand , feldspar , magnetite , bauxite and graphite mined. Small amounts of crude oil are produced off the coast of the Nagapattinam district .


The Tidel Park in Chennai is the largest IT -Zentrum Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu is one of the most industrialized states in India. In 2004 the industry generated 29.6 percent of the gross domestic product. The most important branch of industry is still the textile industry , which accounts for almost a third of all Indian cotton yarn production. The leather industry even has a share of 70 percent. In addition to these traditional sectors, the vehicle industry and its suppliers are particularly important. In addition to domestic automobile companies, Ford , Hyundai , BMW and Mitsubishi also have production facilities in Tamil Nadu. Other important branches of industry are the metalworking, chemical, mineral oil, pharmaceutical , electrotechnical, software, bicycle, food, cement and pyrotechnic industries as well as mechanical engineering. Avadi near Chennai is one of the most important locations for Indian arms production, including the only production location for Arjun tanks in all of India.

Spatially, industrial production is concentrated in three large areas. By far the most important industrial region is the Chennai metropolitan area, where almost all major industries are represented. In central Tamil Nadu an industrial axis runs from the Kaveri delta through the plain of the river with the locations Tiruchirappalli (metal processing, textiles, cement) and Salem - Mettur (steel, aluminum, textiles, cement, plastics, chemicals) to the western highlands, where with Coimbatore and Tiruppur are two important textile centers. Coimbatore is no longer just a textile stronghold, which once earned it the nickname “ Manchester of South India”, but has also developed into the second most important industrial location in Tamil Nadu after Chennai. Mechanical engineering in particular has achieved a priority. The third major industrial region is the Madurai metropolitan area in the south.

Services and tourism

The beach town of Mamallapuram is one of Tamil Nadu's most popular travel destinations

The service sector, meanwhile the main driving force of the economic development, had a share of 56.2 percent of the gross domestic product in 2004. Information technology is recording particularly high growth rates . In addition, the telecommunications and biotechnology industries are gaining in importance. Many foreign companies, especially from English-speaking countries, outsource parts of their business such as call centers or accounting to Tamil Nadu.

Also the tourism has developed rapidly since the 1990s. In 2011, 137 million local and 3.3 million foreign visitors visited Tamil Nadu - an increase of 42 percent over the previous year. In addition to the capital Chennai, popular travel destinations are the beach town of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) with its buildings from the Pallava period and the old temple cities of Madurai , Thanjavur , Kanchipuram , Chidambaram , Tiruvannamalai and Rameswaram, which also attract many pilgrims. The three “ great temples of the Chola dynasty ” in Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram are UNESCO World Heritage Sites , as is the temple district of Mamallapuram and the Nilgiri mountain railway . The hill stations in the Western Ghats, such as Udagamandalam (Ooty) and Kodaikanal , which were developed during the British colonial era , are valued as holiday destinations thanks to the scenic surroundings and the pleasantly cool climate. Nature lovers get their money's worth in one of the five national parks, among which the Mudumalai National Park is particularly outstanding due to its biodiversity. Health tourism, for example in the form of Ayurveda cures , is becoming increasingly popular, especially with foreign guests . Beach tourism, on the other hand, is less pronounced despite suitable beaches.


Bus in Thanjavur
Chennai Central Railway Station

The main route of transportation in Tamil Nadu is the road. The road network covers a total of almost 200,000 kilometers, three quarters of which are paved (as of 2007/08). The National Highways do with a total length of 4,500 kilometers, only a small part of the road network, but account for 40% of traffic from. The Tamil sections of the national highways from Chennai to Mumbai and Calcutta - a total of around 340 kilometers - were upgraded to four-lane motorways as part of the “ Golden Quadrilateral ” project . Further expansions are planned in order to cope with the growing volume of traffic: the number of registered vehicles increases by over 10% every year. The state bus company Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and private companies offer numerous bus services between the cities of the state.

All major cities in Tamil Nadu are connected to the rail network. It is subordinate to the regional company Southern Railway of the Indian state railway . The total length of the rail network in Tamil Nadu is 3941 kilometers (as of 2007/08). The main lines, which make up a little over half of the railway network, are broad-gauge , but only partially electrified. The remaining rail routes are meter gauge . The capital Chennai has a suburban railway and a subway is under construction.

Chennai has a major international airport, Chennai International Airport . It is the third most important airport in India after Mumbai and Delhi. There are also two smaller international airports in Tiruchirappalli and Coimbatore and domestic airports in Madurai , Salem , and Thoothukudi .

Three of India's twelve main sea ports are in Tamil Nadu: Chennai, Thoothukudi and Ennur . The port of Chennai had a cargo volume of almost 57 million tons in 2007/08. This makes Chennai and Thoothukudi the most important container ports in the country, alongside Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra . In addition, there are 15 smaller ports in Tamil Nadu, but these are only important for coastal shipping.

Tamil Nadu is one of the few Indian states to generate excess electricity that it passes on to neighboring states. Electricity is obtained primarily from heat (lignite, natural gas), water, nuclear and wind energy . In the latter, Tamil Nadu occupies a leadership position within India, as it accounts for more than half of India's wind energy generation.

At the end of 2016, the Tamil Nadu solar park, the most powerful solar park in the world at the time, went into operation. It has an output of 648 MW and provides enough electrical energy for around 150,000 households on an annual average.

Social and Education


Compared to other regions of India, Tamil Nadu is relatively wealthy. Extreme poverty is therefore not as common as in northern India. The per capita income was 32,733 rupees in 2006/07, slightly above the national average of 29,642 rupees. In 2015, Tamil Nadu had a human development index of 0.694, compared to 0.624 for all of India. Health indicators such as life expectancy of 64.6 years (men: 63.7 years, women: 65.7 years) compared to the national average of 61.7 years (men: 60.8 years, women: 62.5 years; as of 1999 in each case ) and the infant mortality of 41 per 1000 live births compared to the national average of 60 (as of 2003) indicate that Tamil Nadu is relatively better off within India.

Nevertheless, serious social problems and inequalities persist in Tamil Nadu. Thus, the outside of the box system standing Dalit that have a disproportionately high proportion of the population of about one fifth in Tamil Nadu, still exposed to social exclusion and economic disadvantage. Many of them have to earn their living as day laborers in agriculture. Child labor is still a widespread problem; What is striking is the high proportion of girls - an indication of the lower reputation of girls and women in society. Almost half of all children are malnourished . High unemployment is a major challenge, especially in cities.


University of Madras Senate Building

Tamil Nadu has good education indicators compared to other parts of India. The literacy rate is 80.3 percent (men: 86.8 per cent, women: 73.9 percent), well above the all-India average of 74.0 percent (men: 82.1 per cent, women: 65.5 percent, as of 2011 census). Schooling is compulsory from the age of 6. In fact, 98.3 percent of all children in Tamil Nadu go to school, with the school enrollment rates hardly differing for boys and girls. In contrast, only 42.8 percent of all young people between the ages of 16 and 18 attend higher school. In total, the state has just under 50,000 elementary and secondary schools in which Tamil is the first language of instruction. At universities, on the other hand, a large part of the courses are held in English.

There are 21 universities in Tamil Nadu . In addition, there are hundreds of private and state colleges for technical, vocational and general education. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in the capital Chennai is one of only seven institutions of this type in India. It is one of the elite universities in the field of technology and engineering.


A Kolam - visible sign of Tamil culture

Tamil culture is part of the all-Indian cultural tradition, but in many ways has retained a distinct face that is clearly different from the rest of India. The most important link in Tamil culture is the Tamil language , which is elevated to a central identification feature and sometimes almost deified. Tamil belongs to the family of the Dravidian languages spoken in South India and is therefore not related to the languages ​​of North India. It can look back on over 2000 years of independent literary history and therefore counts as a classical language. Many Tamils ​​proudly emphasize the old age and the independence of the Tamil language.


Tamil literature is around 2000 years old, making it the oldest continuous tradition of all modern Indian languages. It is also not based on Sanskrit literature, but has a largely independent origin. The earliest layer of Tamil literature is the Sangam literature, probably dating from the first centuries AD . The Tolkappiyam , a Tamil grammar, describes the aesthetics of classical poetry. It is differentiated according to subjective content ( akam ), such as love and sexuality, as well as objective topics ( puram ), such as war and the state, which are each represented graphically. In contrast to North Indian Sanskrit literature, religious topics hardly played a role in early Tamil literature. The corpus of Sangam literature is divided into the Ettuttogai (“Eight Anthologies”) and Pattuppattu (“Ten Songs”) collections. The "Five Great Epics", including the Silappadigaram, date from the post-Sangam period .

Towards the end of the Sangam period, the influences of Sanskrit culture became increasingly noticeable, which were expressed, among other things, in extensive Buddhist and Jainist writings. New topics such as morals and ethics came to the fore, for example in Tiruvalluvar's instructive assembly, Tirukkural . With the emergence of the Hindu Bhakti movement in the 7th century, pious Hindu poetry in the form of songs of praise for Shiva and Vishnu flourished. In the Chola period, the epic became the most popular genre. Particularly noteworthy here is Kamban with its Kambaramayanam , a version of the Ramayana .

Tamil literature experienced revolutionary changes as a result of Western influences during European colonial rule. New genres such as the novel , essay, and short story prevailed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and continue to shape modern Tamil literature to this day. The poet Subramaniyam Bharati (1882–1921) is considered to be the founder of Tamil modernism . Kalki (1899–1954) mainly used historical material in his novels and short stories. Pudhumaipithan (1906–1948) achieved great recognition for his socially critical works.


Shore temple in Mamallapuram
Nataraja temple in Chidambaram with characteristic gopuram

In architectural terms, temple architecture stands out in Tamil Nadu . Large temple complexes in the South Indian Dravida style can be found in numerous places in the state . Characteristic are the high gopurams (gate towers) , usually decorated with rich figurines, and the structure of the extensive temple complex, which can extend over several hectares, around the central main shrine. In the classic temple cities such as Madurai , Srirangam , Chidambaram , Rameswaram and Tiruvannamalai , the sanctuary forms the center of the city, the city plan of which follows the outline of the temple.

Some of the most outstanding examples of early medieval Hindu temple architecture can be found in Tamil Nadu. The monolithic rock temples from the Pallava period (7th and 8th centuries) in the former port city of Mamallapuram are early forms of the South Indian Dravida style and are characterized by a pyramid-shaped temple tower ( vimana ) above the sanctuary. The Vimana is usually preceded by a pillared hall. In the 8th century, the temple style begun in Mamallapuram continued in the old Pallava capital Kanchipuram . The Chola further developed the Vimanas of the Pallava period into huge storey pyramids, the storeys of which were decorated with false cells. This development reached its climax with the Brihadishvara Temple in Thanjavur in the early 11th century.

Under the late Chola, and in particular under the Pandya and the Nayak dynasties , which replaced them, there was a structural shift in emphasis from the Vimana to the gate tower ( gopuram ) of the temple area surrounding the actual sacred building. While the Vimana is smaller and less conspicuous, the Gopuram now takes on its size and artistic design. With the addition of additional porticos and walls decorated with gopurams , many temple districts grew into spacious complexes. The climax of this development is the Minakshi Temple in Madurai , which was essentially in its present form in the 16th – 17th centuries. Century received.

Under European rule, the previously largely neglected secular architecture experienced an upswing. In Chennai in particular , monumental administrative and representative buildings such as the High Court and numerous museum buildings in the Indo-Saracen style , which combined European, Indian and Islamic influences, were built.

music and dance

The Tamil Nadu classical music style is carnatic music , one of the two main directions of Indian classical music alongside the Hindustan music of northern and central India, which is influenced to a lesser extent by Persian traditions . In classical music and often also in folk music styles, ragas form a tonal order and are linked to rhythmic cycles ( talas ). Classical music is melodic and essentially vocal. The most frequently used melody instruments in Carnatic music are the plucked long-necked lute Sarasvati vina , the violin , the short transverse flute pullankuzhal (to distinguish it from the double-reed instrument kuzhal , also venu , corresponds to the longer bansuri in northern India) and the long double-reed instrument nadaswaram . The gottuvadyam is a long-necked lute played horizontally like a zither. The double-cone drum mridangam , the clay pot ghatam and the frame drum kanjira provide the rhythm . The nadaswaram is accompanied by the double-skinned barrel tavil . Well-known carnatic vocalists are MS Subbulakshmi (1916–2004), Ramnad Krishnan (1918–1973), DK Pattammal (1919–2009), ML Vasanthakumari (1928–1990) and Sudha Ragunathan (* 1956).

The oldest religious chants go back to the end of the 1st millennium and are contained in the two Tamil congregations Tevaram with hymns to Shiva and Naalayira Divya Prabhandham with hymns to Vishnu , compiled around 1000 AD . They are performed by a group of temple singers ( oduvar ) in the respective Hindu temples. In religious ritual music at temples and for processions, wind instruments are used as mangala vadyam ("blessing musical instruments"), which include the combination of nadaswaram and tavil, the curved trumpet kombu and the rare straight trumpet tirucinnam .

Village religious or folk music includes the double drum pambai , the short cone oboe mukhavina , the small hourglass drum udukai and the rare small kettle drum dhanki . The religious folk song genre Villu Pattu is accompanied by the lower caste group Pulluvan with a special musical bow viladi vadyam and drums.

Components of classical Carnatic music can also be found in modern Tamil pop music, often film music from popular cinema strips. The most successful composer of modern music from Tamil Nadu is AR Rahman . The capital Chennai hosts a major music festival every December ( Chennai Music Season ), where some of the most recognized virtuosos of Carnatic music and performers of South Indian dance forms perform.

Dances have always served as expressions of religious worship or to represent mythological themes. Even in ancient times they were offered by temple servants ( devadasis ). The Bharatanatyam , today one of the seven leading classical dance styles in India, has its origin in Tamil Nadu. It was revived and further developed by Rukmini Devi Arundale in the 1930s and is now taught at the Kalakshetra Academy in Chennai, which she founded . It includes purely dance and dramatic elements. As a single dance it can be performed by both women and men. In addition, there are numerous folk dance and dance drama traditions specific to Tamil Nadu, including the religious street theater Kattaikkuttu and the ritual theater Bhagavata Mela, which is limited to the area around Thanjavur .


The Tamil cinema bears the name "Kollywood" in reference to Hollywood and Bollywood , the film industry in Mumbai . The first letter indicates Kodambakkam , the Chennais district , where Tamil film production is concentrated. The first feature film was made in Kodambakkam in 1916, directed by R. Nataraja Mudaliar . The first sound film followed in 1931, Kalidas by HM Reddy . Today, Tamil film, with currently 150 to 200 productions per year, is one of the three largest Indian regional film industries alongside Hindi film and Telugu film, all of which have already held the top position for most films produced (Tamil for the first time in 1979 with 139 productions).

Most Tamil productions are similar in concept and subject matter to those of Hindi films, but are differentiated through the use of the Tamil language . As in Bollywood films, music and dance are very important, but there are more comic and martial arts elements . Successful Tamil films are often in a slightly modified form and with a different composition in Bollywood neuverfilmt , rarely reversed. Well-known directors of contemporary Tamil film include S. Shankar , Mani Ratnam , Linguswamy , AR. Murugadoss and Gautham Vasudev Menon , who have meanwhile also participated in numerous other language productions and are considered outstanding Indian directors. The current “superstar” is the successful actor Rajinikanth , who in the past has achieved a lot of commercial success through his films.

A special feature is the extraordinarily high, at times idolatrous admiration that actors and actresses are shown. In no other state in India have former filmmakers been as politically successful as in Tamil Nadu. The close connection between politics and the film industry began in the 1950s when the DMK party made Tamil film a vehicle for its propaganda (“DMK film”). Since 1967, all of Tamil Nadu's political leaders - screenwriters CN Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi, and actors MG Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa - have been film personalities.


Cricket game at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai

As in all of India, by far the most popular sport in Tamil Nadu is cricket , followed by hockey . The Chennai Veerans are Tamil Nadu's most successful hockey club. The state's first-class cricket selection plays in the Ranji Trophy , one of the premier national cricket competitions, and plays at the 50,000-seat MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai . The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with 40,000 seats, also in the capital, is used for athletics events and football games. It is the home ground of Tamil Nadu's most successful football club, Indian Bank RC , which was a founding member of the National Football League in 1996 , but is currently (2010/11 season) only second-rate.

Three of the internationally best-known Indian athletes come from Tamil Nadu: Viswanathan Anand (world chess champion 2007-2013), as well as the former Formula 1 racing drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok .


Idli and Vadai served on a banana leaf with sambar and coconut chutney

The Tamil cuisine, which is considered particularly spicy, is characterized by an extraordinary variety of vegetarian dishes. Meat dishes are of minor importance for religious reasons, but fish or seafood are occasionally used. Rice is used as a staple food . A typical main meal consists of rice, which is eaten with lentils , various vegetables, sambar (a sauce based on lentils and tamarind), rasam (a thin pepper sauce) and yogurt . A variety of spices are used in the preparation of the sauces, including tamarind , curry leaves , coriander , ginger , chilli , garlic , pepper , cardamom , cumin , cinnamon , nutmeg and cloves .

Are popular as snacks Dosai , a kind of pancake made from rice and Urdbohnenmehl , Idli , steamed cakes, which are also made of rice and Urdbohnenmehl and Vadai , fried cakes made of black grams. This is served with sambars and chutneys made from coconut meat or tomatoes. The food is usually served on a banana leaf. Traditionally, people eat with the right hand.

Even before tea, which is popular all over India, coffee is the most important drink in Tamil Nadu . It is prepared as filter coffee with lots of milk and sugar and served in stainless steel cups.


Pongal cooking on the second day of the Pongal festival

In addition to the national holidays of the various religious communities, the Pongal harvest festival is considered the most important of all Tamil festivals. It is celebrated for four days from the first day of the Tamil month of Tai (mid-January). On the first day old objects are symbolically thrown away. The most important day is the second when you cook a kind of rice pudding, which is also called pongal. The dish has to boil over, which is supposed to express the desire for a good harvest, prosperity and abundance. On the third day, the cows and buffalo are thanked for their services. In many places there is a competition called jallikattu in which young men try to wrestle a bull. On the fourth day, the Pongal festival ends with family visits.

The Tamil New Year festival takes place in mid-April. Among the religious festivals of the Hindus, the festival of lights Diwali stands out, called Dipavali in Tamil . In the temple cities of Tamil Nadu, large temple festivals are celebrated every year, during which the images of gods are drawn through the streets in elaborate processions on large temple floats .


Tamil Nadu has more winners of India's highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna , than any other state. The eight Tamil holders of the order, last awarded in 2001, include the politician C. Rajagopalachari (1878–1972), India's second president S. Radhakrishnan (1888–1975), the physicist and Nobel Prize winner CV Raman (1888–1970), the politician and former Chief Minister K. Kamaraj (1903-1975), the actor and longtime Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran (1917-1987), the rocket engineer and former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam (born 1931), the singer MS Subbulakshmi (1916-2004) as well the politician C. Subramaniam (1910–2000), who was instrumental in the implementation of the “ Green Revolution ” . The agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan (born 1925) is considered to be the real father of the “Green Revolution” . The mathematician S. Ramanujan (1887–1920) and the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910–1995) were of Tamil descent. The spiritual teacher and predecessor of the Satsang movement Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) was also born in Tamil Nadu.

see also: List of known Tamils


  • Joachim K. Bautze: India and its states. Komet Verlag, Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-89836-527-1
  • Fritjof Capra, Jacqueline Capra: The soul of India. Tamil Nadu. Ellert & Richter Verlag, Hamburg 1984, ISBN 3-922294-37-5
  • R. Nagaswami: Art and Culture of Tamil Nadu. Sundeep Prakashan, Delhi 2004, ISBN 81-7574-015-9
  • George Michell: Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu. Marg Publications, Mumbai 2003, ISBN 81-85026-21-1

Web links

Commons : Tamil Nadu  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Tamil Nadu  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Tamil Nadu tn.gov.in
  2. ^ Census of India 2011: Provisional Population Totals. Cities having population 1 lakh and above. (PDF; 154 kB)
  3. Census of India 2011: Distribution of population, sex ratio, density and decadal growth rate of population: 2011 ( Memento of April 9, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  4. ^ Census of India 2011: Provisional Population Totals - India - Rural-Urban Distribution. (PDF; 8.1 MB)
  5. Census of India 2001: Tamil Nadu - The Scheduled Tribes ( Memento of September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 38 kB)
  6. ^ Indian States by Life Expectancy 2010-2014. Retrieved March 19, 2018 .
  7. ^ Fertility Rates. Retrieved March 19, 2018 .
  8. Census of India 2011: C-16 Population By Mother Tongue. Tamil Nadu.
  9. Cf. Torsten Tschacher: Islamic Education in a Tamil Town: The Case of Kilakkarai in Jan-Peter Hartung, Helmut Reifeld (eds.): Islamic Education, Diversity, and National Identity. Dīnī Madāris in India Post 9/11 . New Delhi-London 2006. pp. 196-223.
  10. ^ Census of India 2011: C-1 Population By Religious Community. Tamil Nadu.
  11. ^ Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly: The State Legislature - Origin and Evolution
  12. ^ Election Results - Full Statistical Reports. Indian Election Commission, accessed on March 15, 2017 (English, election results of all Indian elections to the Lok Sabha and the parliaments of the states since independence).
  13. B Sivakumar, K Sambath Kumar & L Saravanan: AIADMK wins all three seats in Tamil Nadu. The Times of India, November 22, 2016, accessed March 14, 2017 .
  14. ^ Assam Results Status. Indian Election Commission, accessed May 23, 2016 .
  15. Census of India 2011: Primary Census Abstract - Tamil Nadu. (PDF; 873 kB)
  16. VNW Analystic Services: State Domestic Product of India 2010-11. ( Memento from July 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  17. ^ Governement of Tamil Nadu, Department of Geology & Mining: Mineral Wealth.
  18. ^ The Hindu, March 1, 2012: State attracted over 14 crore tourists during 2011 . ( Memento from July 13, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  19. a b c d Transport ans Communication
  20. World's largest solar power plant unveiled in Tamil Nadu . In: The Indian Express , November 30, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  21. STATEMENT: PER CAPITA NSDP (STATE INCOME) AT CURRENT PRICES ( Memento of April 13, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  22. ^ Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab. Retrieved August 12, 2018 .
  23. Census of India 2011: Literates and literacy rates by sex: 2011. ( Memento of April 9, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  24. Sumathi Ramaswamy: Passions of the Tongue. Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970, Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997.
  25. On Tamil literature see Kamil Zvelebil: Tamil Literature, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1973.
  26. ^ Regula Qureshi: India, subcontinent of. I. The region: cultural context and musical categories. 3. Musical categories. (iii) Devotional songs and musical form. (a) Tamil: the oldest songs. In: Grove Music Online, July 1, 2014
  27. Overview of the number of productions in the individual languages ​​of India in: Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Paul Willemen. Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema . P. 30 ff.
  28. ^ Robert L. Hardgrave: "Politics and the Film in Tamilnadu: The Stars and the DMK", in: Asian Survey 13.3 (1973), pp. 288-305.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on August 6, 2006 in this version .

Coordinates: 11 ° 0 '  N , 78 ° 0'  E