Friday 4 January 2019

INDIA: Visit Tamil Nadu Bring Good Locks For Your Luggage And Hotel Door, Avoid Sleeveless Shirts And Shorts If Visiting Temples

Tamil Nadu, the land of Tamils is a state in Southern India known for its temples and architecture, food, movies and classical Indian dance and Carnatic music.

The languages spoken here are predominantly Tamil and English in the larger cities and metro capital Chennai. It is the historical home of the famous Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallava kingdoms which thrived in ancient and medieval India.

Tamil Nadu is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai formerly known as Madras.

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 Anaimalai 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.

Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest Indian state by area and the sixth largest state by population. It has high HDI ranking among Indian states as of 2015.

The economy of Tamil Nadu is the second-largest state economy in India with ₹16.78 lakh crore (US$230 billion) in gross domestic product after Maharashtra and a per capita GDP of ₹167,000 (US$2,300).

It was ranked as one of the top seven developed states in India based on a Multidimensional Development Index in a 2013 report published by the Reserve Bank of India. Its official language is Tamil, which is one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world.

The state is home to a number of historic buildings, multi-religious pilgrimage sites, hill stations and eight World Heritage sites. The people of Tamil Nadu have continued to develop their cultural heritage in terms of music, dance, literature, theatre, cuisine, and other art forms.

Tamil Nadu covers an area of 130,058 km2 (50,216 sq mi), and is the eleventh largest state in India. The bordering states are Kerala to the west, Karnataka to the north west and Andhra Pradesh to the north.

To the east is the Bay of Bengal and the state encircles the union territory of Puducherry. The southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula is Kanyakumari which is the meeting point of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean.

The western, southern and the north western parts are hilly and rich in vegetation. The Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats meet at the Nilgiri hills.

The Western Ghats traverse the entire western border with Kerala, effectively blocking much of the rain bearing clouds of the south west monsoon from entering the state.

The eastern parts are fertile coastal plains and the northern parts are a mix of hills and plains. The central and the south central regions are arid plains and receive less rainfall than the other regions.

Tamil Nadu has the country's third longest coastline at about 906.9 km (563.5 mi). Tamil Nadu's coastline bore the brunt of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami when it hit India, which caused 7,793 direct deaths in the state.

Tamil Nadu falls mostly in a region of low seismic hazard with the exception of the western border areas that lie in a low to moderate hazard zone; as per the 2002 Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) map, Tamil Nadu falls in Zones II & III. Historically, parts of this region have experienced seismic activity in the M5.0 range.

There are about 2000 species of wildlife that are native to Tamil Nadu. Protected areas provide safe habitat for large mammals including elephants, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, gaurs, lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri langurs, Nilgiri tahrs, grizzled giant squirrels and sambar deer.

Resident and migratory birds such as cormorants, darters, herons, egrets, open-billed storks, spoonbills and white ibises, little grebes, Indian moorhen, black-winged stilts, a few migratory ducks and occasionally grey pelicans, marine species such as the dugongs, turtles, dolphins, Balanoglossus and a wide variety of fish and insects.

Indian Angiosperm diversity comprises 17,672 species with Tamil Nadu leading all states in the country, with 5640 species accounting for 1/3 of the total flora of India. This includes 1559 species of medicinal plants, 533 endemic species, 260 species of wild relatives of cultivated plants and 230 red-listed species.

The Gymnosperm diversity of the country is 64 species of which Tamil Nadu has four indigenous species and about 60 introduced species. The Pteridophytes diversity of India includes 1022 species of which Tamil Nadu has about 184 species. Vast numbers of bryophytes, lichen, fungi, algae and bacteria are among the wild plant diversity of Tamil Nadu.

Common plant species include the state tree: palmyra palm, eucalyptus, rubber, cinchona, clumping bamboos (Bambusa arundinacea), common teak, Anogeissus latifolia, Indian laurel, grewia, and blooming trees like Indian labumusum, ardisia, and solanaceae. Rare and unique plant life includes Combretum ovalifolium, ebony (Diospyros nilagrica), Habenaria rariflora (orchid), Alsophila, Impatiens elegans, Ranunculus reniformis, and royal fern.

Tamil Nadu has a wide range of Biomes extending east from the South Western Ghats montane rain forests in the Western Ghats through the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests and Deccan thorn scrub forests to tropical dry broadleaf forests and then to the beaches, estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves, Seagrasses and coral reefs of the Bay of Bengal.

The state has a range of flora and fauna with many species and habitats. To protect this diversity of wildlife there are Protected areas of Tamil Nadu as well as biospheres which protect larger areas of natural habitat often include one or more National Parks.

The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve established in 1986 is a marine ecosystem with seaweed seagrassrass communities, coral reefs, salt marshes and mangrove forests. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve located in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills comprises part of adjoining states of Kerala and Karnataka.

The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is in the south west of the state bordering Kerala in the Western Ghats. Tamil Nadu is home to five declared National parks located in Anamalai, Mudumalai, Mukurithi, Gulf of Mannar, Guindy located in the centre of Chennai city and Vandalur located in South Chennai.

Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Mukurthi National Park and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve are the tiger reserves in the state.

Tamil Nadu has a long tradition of venerable culture. Tamil Nadu is known for its rich tradition of literature, art, music and dance which continue to flourish today.

Tamil Nadu is a land most known for its monumental ancient Hindu temples and classical form of dance Bharata Natyam. Unique cultural features like Bharatanatyam (dance), Tanjore painting, and Tamil architecture were developed and continue to be practised in Tamil Nadu.

Regions of Tamil Nadu

- Northern Tamil Nadu, Dharmapuri, Thiruvannamalai, Vellore and Krishnagiri Districts

- Tamil Nadu North Coast, Ariyalur, Chennai, Cuddalore, Kanchipuram, Nagapattinam, Tiruvallur, Villupuram and Tiruvarur Districts

- Western Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore, Erode, Nilgiris and Tirupur Districts

- Central Tamil Nadu, Karur, Namakkal, Perambalur, Salem and Tiruchirappalli Disticts

- Southwestern Tamil Nadu, Dindigul, Madurai, Theni and Virudhunagar District

- Tamil Nadu South Coast, Pudukkottai, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Thanjavur Districts

- Far Southern Tamil Nadu, Kanniyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli Districts

Cities That Make Tamil Nadu

- Chennai (Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu. One of India's four greatest cities.

- Coimbatore, the textile capital of South India or the Manchester of the South

- Madurai, Athens of the East, a place of great historical and cultural importance, and the oldest city in Tamil Nadu.

- Tiruchirappalli, famous for temples like Malaikottai, Srirangam, Thiruvanai Kovil, Samaya puram, Vekkali amman, Vayalore

- Salem, Important Industrial center.

- Erode, center of an agricultural area.

- Thanjavur, fine old architecture and exquisite handicrafts

- Tirunelveli, A Hub and Gateway Southernpart of Tamilnadu. A city of Tradition, surronded by scenic beauty and Temples. Closer to Cape,Tuticorin Port and Kerala State.

- Tuticorin, Known as a Pearl City and has a Harbour

Attractions in Tamil Nadu

- Mudumalai National Park, abundant with wildlife located in Nilgiris

Tamil language is one of the few still living classical languages, with two millennia of written tradition. Unlike northern Indian languages, it belongs to the Dravidian language family that includes the other major South Indian languages - Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

Tamil Nadu was the site of violent anti-Hindi riots in 1965 when the union government tried to impose Hindi as the sole official language of India. English works in almost all the cities.

If you don't speak Tamil, most of the people speak English fluently or know some basic English, so you shouldn't have a problem getting by in the major cities.

Tamil Nadu has 4 international airports and 3 domestic airports. Chennai International Airport is a major international airport that is connected with 19 countries with more than 169 direct flights every week.

This is the third largest airport in India after Mumbai and Delhi and has a passenger growth of 18%. Other international airports present in the state are Coimbatore International Airport, Madurai International Airport and Tiruchirapalli International Airport.

Salem and Tuticorin Airports are domestic airports with convenient connections to the rest of the state and the country. Increased industrial activity has given rise to an increase in passenger traffic as well as freight movement which has been growing at over 18 per cent per year.

Tamil Nadu is served by Southern Railway and there are many trains from Chennai to almost every major city in India. Chennai serves as a gateway city for connections from other parts of Tamil Nadu.

One can easily get around the state from any one city to another using swift transportation available locally. However, it is advised that cabs should be pre-booked to avoid any kind of inconvenience.

Chennai is one point on the Golden Quadrilateral project, the construction of limited access divided highways that link circumnavigate the heart of India.

Chennai has one of Asia's largest bus stations, CMBT. Seven different state owned corporations fly buses to and from various destinations within South India.

There are hourly buses for places like Tirupati, Pondicherry, Coimbatore. You will get the option of A/C or Non-A/C coaches for cities like Bangalore, Trivandrum, Hyderabad.

Several private players also operate buses between most southern destinations. During the weekends most buses are fully occupied and it's better to reserve a ticket in advance.

All buses terminate near Koyambedu but there are different stands for state owned(CMBT), and private buses (Omni bus terminus). Both these terminuses are near each other, and it is better to tell your exact destination to the taxi/autorickshaw driver.

Buses usually drop passengers at various points in the city before reaching the terminus. So feel free to ask the driver or fellow passengers the closest drop-off point to your destination.

Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses ply throughout the city. These are government-run and extremely cheap. You can buy bus tickets online at redbus, or Ticketgoose or

Extreme caution is advised in using these buses as they are often out of shape, will begin moving before passengers are fully boarded, and are, like second class suburban trains, notorious for passengers having to hang off the edge or outside of the bus while in motion.

But now state corporation introduces New Type Deluxe, A/C Buses for Chennai Passengers. Also introduced new 2500 buses for Chennai.

Watch out for the State Express Transport Corporation(SETC) Buses, which are light-green colored. Window panes are to be opened upwards.
Tamil Nadu is conservative place, in the sense that in a 3-Seater seat which is to the right side of the bus, if there are 2 ladies sitting, Men are looked down, if they try to sit next to them.

It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but still bear in mind with the rickety buses and road-humps, it can get uncomfortable.

Visit these tourist attractions

- Hill stations, Ooty, Kodaikanal , Yercaud and Valparai

- Coimbatore, Manchester of south India known for its textile industries and an engineering Hub, plesant climate,Kongu tamil language well known for hospitality.

- Mamallapuram, Pallava dynasty rock cut temples

- Kanchipuram, temples and sarees

- Tiruvannamalai, temples

- Thanjavur, temples

- Thiruchy, temples, fort

- Kumbakonam, famous upilliyapan temple

- Chidambaram, the seat of the cosmic dancer Nataraja

- Sirkazhi

- Palani, A Murugan Hill Temple

- Madurai, one of the oldest cities of Tamilnadu, documented since 4th century BC, seat of Kadai Sangam, a sort of ancient conference on the Tamil language.

Once the capital of the ancient Pandiyans, the city is famous for the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Shrine.

- Poompuhar, for its heritage of sculpture

- Kanniyakumari, Cape Comorin, the southern-most tip of peninsular India, where you can find the Kanniyakumariamman temple on the sea shore where the mookuthy (nose stud) which is in the face of goddess shines so much that it guided ships passing by.Vivekanandha Rock,Saint Thiruvalluvar Statue

- Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple

- Thirumayam, 7th century archaeological wonder. Oldest vishnu temple.

- Srivilliputhur one of the temple towns in tamilnadu, the Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary at Sirvilliputhur.

- Tuticorin one of the well known towns in tamilnadu, the Harbour, beach, Macroon(sweet) and people are nice.

Recently, there has been a great rise in the number of complaints about harassment of innocent tourists in various destinations around the country.

The Ministry of Tourism has adopted a strategy of introducing Audio Guide Devices at various places of interest around the country such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, etc. to provide reliable and factual information to tourists.

It is wise to hire such devices as you can avoid being ripped off or ambushed by desperate touts itching to make a buck.

The Ministry of Tourism has also announced its partnership with AudioCompass, a company specializing in creating Audio Tours of all places of interest in the country including Chennai, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, etc in the form of Audio Devices available at the monuments and Smartphone apps that can be download from the App Store.

Pongal , the harvest festival of the state is celebrated during the Tamil month of Thai which is in mid-January in Gregorian Calendar, and is an important festival for the people of Tamil Nadu, especially the farmers, irrespective of their religion.

It is celebrated over four days. The festival thanks everyone, the sun god for his sunshine, Cattle for their work, Friends & fellow workers for their support, for the season's harvests.

The first day, Bogi Pongal, is about getting the old things out of your household to make way for the new harvest. On this day, discarded household items such as brooms, mats, etc. are burnt before sunrise and delicacies are offered to the Gods.

The second day, Uzhavar Thirunaal or Farmer's day, is about thanking the sun god for his sun shine. On this day Ven Pongal, a mixture of rice and lentils, is cooked in earthen pots and offered to the Gods along with sarkarai pongal the sweeter version of the former.

The third day, Maatu Pongal or Maatu - Cow, is for paying respect to cattle. Cows/bulls are washed, their horns are painted and decorated, and they are taken to a nearby temple. Challikattu, Indian version of the Bull run, competitions are also held.

On the fourth day, kaanum Pongal, family and friends are visited and new clothes are given to maids and servants. This day is for thanking fellow humans for their support.

Tamil Varsha Purappu or Tamil New Year. The 1st day of the Tamil month of Chittirai. Usually, this falls on 14th or 15th April.

Krishna jayanti or Gokulashtami A celebration of Lord Krishna. Women pray to Lord Krishna and offer foodstuffs to him.

Aadi Perukku on 18th day of the Tamil Month of Aadi is celebrated to welcome the huge infux of water in the seasonal-yet-major River Cauvery. The paddy fields in the cauvery delta are huely dependent on this water.

Varalakshmi pooja On this day, married women keep kalasam, they pray, they dress-up and they decorate the temples.

Navaratri is a festival in honor of the three goddesses Laxmi or prosperity, Sarasvati or learning, and Durga or strength. In Tamil Nadu, women prepare elaborate arrangements of dolls based on these goddesses and visits are made to see and compare these arrangements.

As with all festivals, sweets and food feature in a large way.

Saraswati pooja, the ninth day of Navaratri, is in honor of the goddess of learning. Students and elders place their books in front of the goddess and neither study nor play musical instruments in honor of the goddess.

Vijayadasami is the 10th day of Navaratri and is considered to be the day for starting new things like learning to play a new instrument or the start of a new school year.

Deepavali or Diwali, the festival of lights, has a markedly different story and reason than what the North Indian version. In Tamil Nadu, this day marks the killing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. On his death bed, Narakasura realises his mistake and begs Krishna for pardon.

Lord Krishna, moved by the change of heart, promised Narakasura that people will remember him on this day and will remember that good always triumphs over evil outside and within a person as well.

To celebrate the end of evil, people symbolically take oil bath. They burst crackers, exchange sweets and adorn new dresses to express their joy.

Karthigai is a festival in honor of Lord Muruga. It is celebrated in the month of November to December every year.

Karthigai deepam chariot festival this is one of the oldest festivals in south-india, honoring Lord Muruga, also known as kaarthikeya. In the month of Karthigai thousands of devotees assemble in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil-Nadu, to take part in the many street and temple ceremonies and to offer prayers to Lord Muruga.

Gowri PoojaSimilar to varlakshmi pooja is done on the eve of vinnayakar chaturthi,for all these amman festivals karugumani is mandatory to be offered to goddess,and even in maangalyam ladies can wear in addition to gold and is safe nowadays because gold is capable of getting stolen.

Vinayaka Chaturthi Known as Ganesh Chaturthi in other parts of India, this festival is in honor of the elephant god Ganesh. An idol of Vinayaka is immersed in the sea or in a temple tank on the third day of this festival.

Purataasi Maadham famous for lord venkatachalapathy,many slokas,dance programmes,music concerts are all done in praise of lord narayana and brahmotsawam is done in thirupathi in grand scale.

Karthigai deepam fastivel or Tiruvannamalai deepam a famous festival in temple city of Tiruvannamalai

Id Tamil Nadu has a large muslim population and Id and Ramzan are celebrated here.Christmas, Good Friday and other Christian festivals are also celebrated.

Panguni Utaram utsavam in Ranganathar temple

Natyanjali is celebrated in many Hindu temples at the end of February and beginning of March, and includes daily classical Indian dance and music performances.

December Festival or Kacheri at various locations in Chennai is dedicated to classical Indian dance and music performances. It attracts large crowds and performances often sell out early.

Mamallapuram Festival of dance is held in Mamallapuram in the months of January and February.

New Year's Eve Special prayers are offered in churches in the form of midnight services. Women light villaku to goddesses at home or candles to Christ or Mother Mary, and prayers are offered in Mosques.

Akshaya Tritiya On the third day after the new moon day that follows the tamil new year. Locals believe that anything done on this day is equivalent doing it a thousand times over and it is believed that buying gold on this day will ensure prosperity throughout life. Curd rice made with curds from fresh milk is offered as a service prasadham.

Karadaiyaa nonbu just when maasi maadham and panguni join they celebrate preparing kaaradai as offering to god,ladies do this pooja to protect their maangalyam.

Tamil Nadu provides the visitor with a wide variety of delicious food both for the vegetarians as well as the non-vegetarians, though most food in Tamil Nadu consists of grains, lentils, rice and vegetables. Spices are added to give a distinctive taste.

Breakfast or tiffin includes idli or steamed rice dumplings, dosai is a crisp pancake made from a batter of rice and lentils, vada is a deep fried doughnut made from a batter of lentils.

Pongal is a mixture of rice and lentils cooked together and seasoned with ghee, cashew nuts, pepper and cumin seed, uppuma is semolina cooked, seasoned in oil with mustard, pepper, cumin seed and dry lentils.
Lunch usually consists of rice with Sambar, rasam, and yogurt along with a number of spicy side dishes. This is called meals. A decent meals costs less than a dollar. There are 2 types of meals Limited and Unlimited.

There are several variations of the dishes mentioned above which are eaten with coconut chutney, sambar which is a seasoned lentil dish and mulaga podi which is a powdered mix of several roasted lentils and red chili blended with oil.

Salem is renowned for its unique mangoes, Madurai is the place of origin of milk dessert Jigarthanda while Palani is known for its Panchamirtham. Coffee and tea are the staple drinks.

- Meat Madras. This is a spicy but delicious curry is named after Chennai, the metropolis in southern India perhaps because in the humid south, people rather eat hot food. Strange though it may seem, this is because hot and spicy food makes one perspire thereby cooling the body.

- Plain idlis. Plain Idlis are similar to rice cakes, but they are eaten with a coconut side dish made out of beaten coconut white mixed with a little spice. Its called Coconut or Thenga in Tamil, Chutney.

Also typically served are Tomato chutney, the difference is here tomato pulp is used and Dal sambar. The Idlis are served steaming hot. They are meant to be eaten with hand.

- Kancheepuram idlis. Hot and spicy. These differ from the normal Idlis due to the extra ingredients added usually to make it a little more spicy.

- Pal payasam or rice pudding. This is a sweet dish made from rice and thick milk.

- Dosai or dosa. This is India's answer to the French Crepes, though the answer could arguably have been given much before the question was asked. It is made from rice flour. Rice flour is mixed with an optimum level of water.

Finding the optimum level is an art which most of the Indian women are born with. As too much or too less can make your Dosa non-appetizing. Dosas again come in a variety of forms and sizes. A dosa with potato curry stuffed inside becomes a Masala Dosa.

A Dosa made from Rice flour and Fine semolina or Rawa becomes a Rawa Dosa. Like idlis, dosas are usually eaten with coconut chutney, tomato chutney and sambar.
Poori Masala
- Poori Masala or Poori Kizlaingu. It's made in fine wheat flour, quite oily food. It served as break fast or evening tiff-en with potato curry.

- Vadai. Prepared with different lentils and fried in oil, which can be eat with or without chutney & sambar. It can be had with breakfast or evening snacks. Different types of vadai are prepared like, medu vadai or orid Dal, masala vadai or Toor Dal, etc.

- Aapam

- Ven Pongal

- Lemon Rice

- Tamarind Rice

- Curd Rice

- Rasam

- Murukku

- Adhirasam

- Bajji

- Vetral Kuzhambu

Hotels at all SETC Bus Stands are pricey. One plate Break-fast means, you get to eat One Dosa (One per plate) or Two Chapati, It all costs 50 Rs. As of April 2018, this seems to be the norm.

The famous filter coffee special to Tamil Nadu is carefully made from chosen coffee beans, and roasted to preserve the original aroma of the beans.

These roasted beans are powdered and the flavour of rich ground coffee powder is used to make filter coffee, enjoyed by every one. The water that you add has to be at boiling point so for the coffee powder to release its flavor. It is not possible to make coffee with tepid water.

Tender Coconut Water. It's very widely available in Tamil Nadu. You can find plenty of roadside shops everywhere in all season and it cost you from Rs.30 to Rs.50.

Sugarcane Juice. It's mainly available in summer season(April-June) and cost you less.

Alcohol. Tamil Nadu Government sells Liqour both wholesale and retail and by-law, carrying liquor from other Indian States into Tamil Nadu is officially restricted since 2003.

Watch out for Boards mentioning the same at Prohibition Enforcement Wing (PEW) Check-posts on the highway. Tamil Nadu is a pretty conservative place and has had a history of prohibition.

Tamil Nadu has a wide range of accommodation to provide to its visitors, be it the class-conscious tourist or the budget-backpacker. Seeing the success of Homestay type accommodation promoted by the Kerala Ministry of Tourism, the Tamil Nadu counterpart introduced the "Bed and Breakfast" scheme.

Under this scheme accommodation is provided at nominal rates and at the same time with hygienic conditions. Anyways this "Bed and Breakfast" is a western concept neither developed by Kerala or Tamil Nadu. As a bonus you can experience the local life style.

"Bed and Breakfast" scheme was introduced by Tourism Department Tamil Nadu in 2001-2002. The scheme derives inspiration from a quote of Late Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, which goes like this - Receive a guest and send back a friend.

Under this scheme, a house owner can let out a few rooms to tourists. During the stay of the tourists in his house, the tourists will be provided with accommodation and food by the house owner.

A detailed booklet containing the Names, addresses, Telephone Nos. etc. of the Bed and Breakfast scheme providers was published during 2001-2002 and this information was also put on the website of TTDC.

During the period 2001-02 to 2003-04 as many as 3,258 tourists had availed of this scheme. The Bed and Breakfast service providers are scattered throughout the length and breath of Tamil Nadu as below:

- Chennai 117

- Madurai - 12

- Tirunelveli - 6

- Kanniyakumari - 4

- Thanjavur - 2

- Kodaikanal - 1

- Virudhunagar - 1

- Salem - 1

The house owners require the services of helpers to attend to the needs of the tourists. Hence, in 2004-2005 a project was established to train such helpers in the field of health and personal hygiene, cleanliness, basic service techniques, basic nutrition values etc.
Apart from this the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) has 36 Hotels in Tamil Nadu that are hygienic and suits the budget to middle category travellers. TTDC Corporation was incorporated during the year 1971.

It made a modest beginning with Five Tourist Bungalows and with two coaches. It has made rapid strides since then, and today has earned the proud distinction of owning the largest chain of Hotels in South India numbering 36.

The bed strength has increased from 253 in 1971 to 2504 in 1998. 24 fleet of coaches are in use at present. Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation has established the following Tourist's amenities in the State:-

- Hotels : 36

- Youth Hostels : 8 intended for Budget Tourists

Decent budget categories abound from Rs 300 ($7) to Rs 700 ($20). The former will get you a Non-Ac room with clean bed, TV and most probably a shared bathroom in most parts of Tamil Nadu. The latter will fetch you a Ac single room with basic amenities like TV, Bed, Room service and attached bathroom.

If travelling as a couple expect to pay around Rs 500($10) to Rs 1100 ($23). Though you might be lucky to find a decent English speaking concierge at this range, you will find lots of people well-versed in Tanglish a concoction of Tamil and English which can be understood quite clearly if you listen hard and pay attention.

Please take due precautions with your luggage and other essential documents and money. It is advisable to not leave any money in the room and to always carry your passport in person.

Bring a good lock both for your luggage and the hotel door. If you are carrying laptops or digi-cams, keep them under lock and key when not taking them on person.

Medium category hotels can be had from Rs 1500 ($27) to Rs 4000 ($80). These will be your 2 to 4 Star rated Hotels.

You will most probably be given a well furnished - by Indian standards Air conditioned room with good lighting, bed, TV, attached bathroom with a bathtub and warm water during most of the day and hot water from 6AM–10AM and 6PM–10PM and a good concierge who will serve you well provided you tip him the moment you see him rather than the last moment.

Follow this advice when it comes to tipping. If you have reserved or kept in mind a certain amount for tipping, tip 20% of the amount at the beginning itself and the rest of the amount should be watered down subsequently on each tip with the final 20% as the last tip. Do not pay a flat rate tip all the time.

Safety in this category of hotels is more, though it is always advisable to be a little paranoid if you are carrying very expensive items. The safety issue is not a constant and will vary according to the city you are visiting and the hotel you are staying.

Most of the hotels in this category will have an in house restaurant and a bar.

If you are lucky or choose well you might even get one with a Pub and a Discotheque around which the nightlife of the city is centered, though these kind of hotels are limited to the major cities which will serve you as a stop-gap in between visiting places of tourist interest. Expect a buffet breakfast to be thrown in as a compliment.

Individual cottages at beach resorts can be had within this budget.

Unlike Rajasthan, you will not find any Heritage Hotels, these ancient Palaces that have been converted in to hotels in Tamil Nadu. You will have to splurge on 5 star and 5 star deluxe hotels. They will cost you anywhere from Rs 5000 ($75) to Rs 20000 ($300).

They are usually run by an international chain and so does not need description as checking into them here is akin to checking into them in San Francisco or Amsterdam.

These hotels are mostly limited to in and around the city of Chennai and a few in Madurai & Coimbatore. Generally speaking Tamil Nadu is a haven for the back-packers and the medium-budget travellers. As a result, in the more tourist oriented cities, good hotels with good food and service come cheap.

You will be hard pressed to find a hotel where you can splurge these amounts. But of course what you save on your stay can be channeled into some good Kancheepuram silk saris for the beautiful ladies or into stone carvings of beautiful women for the Gentlemen.

Generally, Tamil Nadu is one among the safest places in India, but like any other tourist destination there are a few problems. Beware of pickpockets and thieves in buses and trains.

If you travel via train, think twice before eating anything offered by co-passengers, sedative-laced drink/food followed by robbery have been reported.

Dress appropriately in public places. Anything below knee should be OK, better to avoid sleeveless shirts if going to temples.

When traveling with someone from the opposite gender, it would be advisable to avoid too much of physical intimacy, as it may invite unwanted attention and comments.

The Sri Lankan Civil War is a sensitive topic for people residing in Tamil Nadu. Some will even backlash on you if you call the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group or show some support of the Sri Lankan government. It is best to avoid this topic at all costs when in Tamil Nadu.

The tourism industry of Tamil Nadu is the largest in India, with an annual growth rate of 16 per cent. Tourism in Tamil Nadu is promoted by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), a Government of Tamil Nadu undertaking.

According to Ministry of Tourism statistics, 4.68 million foreign 20.1% share of the country and 333.5 million domestic tourists 23.3% share of the country visited the state in 2015 making it the most visited state in India both domestic and foreign tourists.

The state boasts some of the grand Hindu temples built in Dravidian architecture. The Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple in Darasuram built by the Cholas and the Shore Temple along with the collection of other monuments in Mahabalipuram also known as Mamallapuram, have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Erwadi in Ramanathapuram district is one of the major Islamic tourist attraction site.

Enjoy your visit to Tamil Nadu
Tourism Observer


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