Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is the homeland of one of humanity’s living classical civilisations, stretching back uninterrupted for two millennia and very much alive today in the Tamils' language, dance, poetry and forms of Hinduism.

Some of the temples here are among India's finest, from the sculpted stonework at Thanjavur (Tanjore) to the sprawling halls at Madurai. Across the state, pulsing urban centers rise like concrete islands amid a landscape of palm and banana plantations, rice fields and rugged sandstone scarps. Among them you'll find renowned yoga and meditation retreats, ancient forts and French colonial buildings turned into bohemian B&Bs.

When the heat of Tamil temple towns overwhelms, escape to the southernmost tip of India where three seas mingle; to the splendid mansions sprinkled across arid Chettinadu; or to the cool, forest-clad, wildlife-prowled Western Ghats. It’s all packed into a state that remains proudly distinct from the rest of India.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Tamil Nadu.