Tamil Nadu or the ‘Land of the Tamils’ has been blessed with abundant natural scenery and cultural wealth. The list of tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu is endless. This south Indian state is home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world and thus has a lot to offer to its explorers. While on one side, there are beaches, on the other are the lofty Nilgiri hills. The state is home to a number of splendid ancient temples. The experiences offered here are matchless.
Here is the list of top 10 attractions places in Tamil Nadu:
Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur
One of the most popular places in Tamil Nadu, Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as ‘Great Living Chola Temples’. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also known as RajaRajeshwara Temple. It is a wonderful specimen of Tamil Dravidian architecture. The temple was built in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola I. It turned 100 years old in 2019 and is also referred to as the ‘Big Temple’.
The temple complex in granite is on the banks of a river and is guarded by strong walls that were added in the 16th century. Along with the main temple, there are other structures too including a Nandi bull statue, a sanctuary, 1 mandapa (hall), 1 pillared halls and a few smaller shrines. Vimana, one of the towers of the temple is 66 m high and is one of the tallest towers in the world. An interesting fact about the temple is that the world’s tallest tower does not casts a shadow in the afternoon during all the months. The temple’s walls are adorned by beautiful murals. More information about Brihadeeswarar Temple
Entry Fee: No Fees
Timings: Monday – Sunday: 06.00 AM – 09.00 PM and Public Holidays: 06.00 AM – 09.00 PM
Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
Meenakshi Amman temple, one of the most popular temples in South India, is placed on the banks of River Vaigai. Also known as Meenakshi Amman Kovil and Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, it is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi or Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, who is known as Sundareswarar. It is said that the temple receives around 15000 devotees on a daily basis. Legends state that the temple was constructed in the early AD times and have been destroyed many times. The grand structure that we see today was built by the first ruler of Nayaka dynasty, Viswanatha Nayak in the second half of the 14th century. Later, King Thirumalai Naicker made certain additions.
The complex of the temple spreads in an area of 45 acres and is the largest temple complex in Tamil Nadu. The 14 gopurams of the temple are known for their wonderful designs and carvings. The idols of the Lord and the Goddess in the main shrine are gold plated. Idol of Lord Ganesha is another attraction here. The complex also has holy tanks and a few Mandapas (halls). Strict rules are followed by the temple’s management. More information about Meenakshi Amman Temple
Entry Fee: No Fees
Timings: 05:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram
One of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and one of the Chardham destinations’ temple, Ramanathaswamy temple lies on the eastern side of the Pamban Island. Legends state that this was the place where Lord Rama had prayed to Lord Shiva to atone the sins that he had committee during war with Ravana, the demon king. It is also said that the Shiva Linga found here, Viswanathar, was brought here by Hanumana from Banaras/Mount Kailash. Lord Rama also worshipped another lingam that emerged from earth, which is called Ramalingam.
Also known as Rameshwaram temple, the temple originally had a thatched hut look. Additions and changes were later made by various rulers during their reign such as in 12thcentury, 16th century and then in 18th century. Along with the main shrine, there are 22 smaller shrines also including Mahalakshmi Theertham, Savithri Theertham, Gayathri Theertham, Saraswati, Theertam, Nala Theertham and so on. The temple complex spreads in an area of 15 acres. Pooja is done 9 times in a day starting at 5 in the morning and ending at 08:45 at night. More information about Ramanathaswamy Temple
Entry Fee: No Fees
Timings: 05:00 AM – 01:00 PM and 03:00 PM – 09:00 PM
Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari
Located 500 m eastwards of mainland of Vavathurai, Vivekananda Rock Memorial is the memorial of Swami Vivekananda, Hindu monk and spiritual leader. It is termed as one of the best places to visit in Tamil Nadu The structure is a wonderful amalgam of conventional and modern styles of architecture of India. The colossal monument was constructed in the year 1964, completed in 6 years and is believed to be made on the rock where Swami ji gained enlightenment. The monument is divided into two- Shripada Mandapam and Vivekananda Mandapam.
The monument has a life-size bronze statue of Swamiji in his popular Parivarjak posture. Swamiji had visited the sight of the memorial before leaving for his famous Chicago trip. The memorial is also known as Sripada Parai as legends state that Goddess Devi Kumari had blessed the place by visiting it. Total area of the memorial is 4 acres. Ferry service is available from the Kanyakumari coast to arrive at the rock memorial. It is not for no reason that it is the top tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu. More information about Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Entry Fee: INR 10 (entry); INR 10 (still camera); INR 50 (video camera)
Timings: 07:00 AM – 05:00 PM (daily)
Translated as the Blue Mountains, Nilgiri hills is a wonderful range of verdant mountains that lie on the intersection of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. These mountains are a part of the bigger Western Ghats. Ranging with a varying elevation from 2,280 meter to 2,290 meter, it has 24 peaks. The highest peak of the Nilgiris is the Doddabettea peak with an altitude of 2,623 meter. There are a number of hill stations in Tamil Nadu, nestled amid these mountain ranges. Some of the popular names are Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri.
Nilgiri hills are known for their wonderful natural setting and immense natural scenery. These steep hills have narrow valleys that are traversed by waterfalls, rivulets and rivers. The temperature is pleasant all around the year and the vistas are breathtaking. There also are beautiful and aromatic tea gardens here. These hills also allure trekking enthusiasts, offering them a thrilling experience. There are gardens, views points, wildlife, waterfalls and much more.
Altitude: 2,280 to 2,290 m
Best Time to Visit: Around the year
Pancha Rathas, Mahabalipuram
A part of the Group of Monuments in Mahabalipuram, that is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tamil Nadu, Pancha Rathas are beautiful chariots. A wonderful specimen of monolithic Indian rock-cut temple architecture, these Rathas (chariots) date back to the late 7th century and were commissioned by King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I of the Pallava Dynasty. These monolithic rock temples are in Dravidian style of architecture and vary in their size.
Pancha Rathas, means 5 chariots, which have a connection with the five Pandava brothers and their wife from the great Hindu epic Mahabharata. In order of their size, they are named as the Dharmaraja Ratha, the Bhima Ratha, the Arjuna Ratha, the Nakula Sahadeva Ratha, and the Draupadi Ratha. These temples have towers, stunning carvings, pillared halls and wonderfully sculpted walls. In the front of the rathas is a carved lion statue. Behind this statue are the Rathas of Draupadi, Arjuna, Bhima and Dharamaraja (from left to right) and then on the right is the Ratha of Nakul Sahadev. More information about Pancha Rathas
Entry Fee: INR 10 (Indian citizens); INR 250 (foreigners) (including Shore temple)
Timings: 06:00 AM – 06:00 PM (daily)
Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai
Located on Mylapore, Kapaleeshwarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, along with his consort Goddess Parvati who is worshipped as Karpagambal. The original temple was erected by the Pallava rulers in the 7th century, on the site where Santhome Church is present today. It was later demolished by the Portuguese. The temple that we see today was constructed in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar rulers. Also known as Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar temple, it becomes the venue of 10- day Panguni Peruvizha festival in the month of March/April every year. There are three other festivals also.
The temple complex has a number of shrines, along with the main one being that of Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal. There also are a number halls and a holy tank here. The temple has 6 daily Poojas from 05:30 AM to 09:00 PM. The Arubathimooval festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni is the most prominent festival in the temple. The temple has been done in Dravidian style of architecture and has towering gopuram (37 m high). One can also spot a number of Vahanas (vehicles) such as elephant, bull, peacock, goat, parrot and a golden-colored chariot.
Entry Fee: Free
Timings: 06:00 AM – 01:00 PM and 04:00 PM – 08:00 PM
Kodaikanal Lake, Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal Lake, one of the most popular lakes in Kodaikanal is a manmade lake covering an area of 60 acres. This star-shaped lake is quite popular as a picnic spot amid locals as well as tourists. The water body is surrounded by the north-western Palani Hills. The lake was founded way back in 1986 by the then Collector of Madurai, Sir Vere Henry Levinge. Today, it is a popular geographical landmark in the hill town. Water flowing from the Palani hills filled the lake, which also receives a yearly rainfall of 1650 mm. The lake is 9 km long and lies at an altitude of 6911 feet above the sea level with depth varying from 35.6 feet and 9.7 feet.
The lake is the starting point of Silver Cascade, which falls from the height of 180 feet, and is another popular attraction here. There is a boat club here offering boat rides to the visitors. During the summer season, the lake plays host to flower shows and boat races. Macophyte trees dot the surroundings of the lake and add to the charm. A leisure walk here is one of the best things to do in Tamil Nadu.
Famous for: Boating (30 Minutes INR 50 approx.), Tranquil and lush ambiance
Marina Beach, Chennai
Extending up to 13 km, Marina beach is one of the most popular beaches in Chennai, the second largest beach in the world, and the longest beach in Asia. The beach has been blessed by immense scenic beauty and tranquility. The governor of Madras in the early 1880’s Governor Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff, was enchanted by its beauty and made further additions. Visit the beach in the evening to enjoy the hustle-bustle. You see children playing in the sand and the hawkers busy in their business. Enjoy memorable sunsets here. Pony rides are also offered here.
Marina beach is also the venue of a number of important state functions. There are a number of important buildings near the beach such as Chepauk Palace, Senate-House, Ice House, and samadhis of Dr. C.N. Annadurai, Jayalalitha and M.G. Ramachandran. There is also a statue of Mahatamas Gandhi.
Famous for: Sunset views, Evening walks; Pony rides
Government Museum, Chennai
The second oldest museum in India, Government Museum of Chennai was founded way back in 1851, as the Madras Museum. Also known as Egmore Museum, it is also South Asia’s largest museum with a fine collection of numismatic and archaeological collection. The museum boasts of housing the largest collection of Roman antiques, outside Europe. A number of buildings in the museum complex are more than a hundred years old. The library has a number of galleries such as children, contemporary art, botany, anthropology, archaeology, geology, children, numismatics and so on. This wonderful collection is placed in the Connemara Public Library or the public library.
The Museum complex spreads in an area of over 16 acres and comprises of 46 galleries and 6 buildings. Visitors can have a look at a range of sculptures, artefacts, tribal artefacts, weapons, and palm-leaf manuscripts. The 4 main galleries include the National Art Gallery, the Bronze Gallery, the Hindu Sculpture Gallery, and the Amravathi Gallery. There is a separate Children’s Museum comprising of transportation gallery, kids’ corner and civilization gallery.
Entry Fee: INR 15 (Indian); INR 250 (foreigner); INR 200 (Camera); INR 500 (Video)
Timings: 09:30 AM – 05:00 PM (Saturday – Thursday) (closed on Friday and Public Holidays)