10 Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu

Our 10 reasons to visit Tamil Nadu will inspire you to visit this wonderful destination. Delicious regional cuisine, fascinating temples and wonderful wildlife await you in Tamil Nadu, a beautiful state on India’s southernmost coast. There are also gorgeous sandy beaches to relax on, sparkling silver waterfalls and serene hill stations where you can escape from the heat of summer. See the sights from a relaxing ride on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway, or get a taste of Parisian life in the French-inspired Puducherry.

If it’s culture that interests you, then a visit to Tamil Nadu is a must. The capital Chennai is also known as the ‘cultural capital of India’ and is the gateway to a treasure trove of world heritage monuments and timeless temples.

10 Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu

Our ten reasons to visit Tamil Nadu will hopefully inspire you to visit this wonderful region that truly offers something for everyone.

10 – Tamil Nadu Scenery

One of the best reasons to visit Tamil Nadu is for the beautiful scenery and viewpoints.

A key destination is Rajakkad in the beautiful Western Ghats.  The lush green surroundings of rolling hills and coffee plantations are the ideal ingredients for a relaxing visit. Local villages offer bustling markets made up of pepper, cardamom, and coffee traders and temple festivals.

In the Hill Station of Coonoor, you’ll find a wonderland of viewpoints with evocative names like Lamb’s Rock and Dolphin’s Nose. Acres of coffee and tea plantations surround the town, and in Sim’s Park, you’ll find 12 hectares of lush botanical gardens and many rare plant species.

Nature lovers can also tour the dense and enticing Pichavaram Mangrove Forest near Chidambaram in the Cuddalore District of Tamil Nadu. Pichavaram is made up of a series of islands that are strewn across a huge stretch of sea covered with mangrove vegetation. Pichavaram Mangrove Forest is one of India’s largest mangrove forests, comprising over 1,100 hectares.

The mangroves provide an ideal habitat for different species of birds and animals, and around 177 species of birds belonging have been recorded including snipes, cormorants, egrets, storks, herons, spoonbills and pelicans.

9 – Puducherry – the ‘Paris of the East’

Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) is the place to go if you’re looking for unique experiences in a unique location. The combination of French Riviera elegance and South Indian charisma is one of the best reasons to visit Tamil Nadu, yet it’s only part of what makes a visit to Puducherry so special.

Almost two hundred years of French occupation can be seen in the White Town area, also known as the French Quarter. The wide cobbled streets are laid out in a grid pattern, cutting across each other at right angles, as you’d find in many French cities. Many of the structures in the French Quarter of Puducherry are colonial buildings built by the French during their rule, yellow in colour and draped with distinctive bougainvillaea.

Puducherry boasts a plethora of eateries serving an interesting combination of French and Indian cuisines. However, if fusion isn’t your thing, there’s also steak and untaxed beer on offer.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Pondicherry

8 – Museums in Tamil Nadu

It’s wonderful to visit a museum when you’re discovering a new destination, and Tamil Nadu does not disappoint. In Chennai, you’ll find the Government Museum, home to the Bronze Gallery, one of the largest collections of bronze figures in the world. Marvel at over 1500 Hindu, Buddhist and Jain bronze figures dating from the early centuries of the Christian era to recent times. The museum also exhibits stone sculptures, architectural pieces and industrial art.

The Pondicherry Museum is an art and history museum noted for its collection of lost wax bronzes from the Chola Empire. The Museum’s collection includes 81 Chola bronze sculptures and artefacts from the archaeological dig at Arikamedu, a Yavana (Greek) trading port that existed just north of modern Puducherry in the late first century BCE.

In Mamallapuram, you’ll find one of the largest seashell museums in India, home to over 40,000 species of shells. The India Seashell Museum proudly displays various rare and unique seashells including the ‘Breath Maria’, which is one of only four in the world. The museum is next to an aquarium complex where you can see an abundance of ocean and river fish.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Chennail Government Museum

7 – Beaches in Tamil Nadu

A trip to the beach can be a real tour highlight, and with 16 beaches to choose from in Tamil Nadu, you’re spoiled for choice. One of the best reasons to visit Tamil Nadu!

After a day’s sightseeing in Chennai, Marina Beach with its 13km stretch of sand and sea is a popular hangout spot for the locals and is perfect for an evening promenade.

If you’re looking for something more energetic, then the laid-back beachside town of Mamallapuram is a renowned surfing destination with beautiful beaches. Alternatively, you can watch the sunset over the Bay of Bengal from the intricately carved Shore Temple.

The statue of Joan of Arc, Dupleix’s statue, the old heritage hall, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, and the old lighthouse greet visitors at Promenade Beach in Puducherry. Home to the only Padi-certified diving centre on India’s east coast because of its superb underwater visibility, you can spend time below sea level surrounded by friendly manta rays, brilliant coral and crustaceans. Many local firms also provide fishing expeditions and water activities if you choose to stay above the waterline.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Pondicherry Serenity Beach

6 – Temples in Tamil Nadu

If temples are your ideal tourist activity, you might not know where to start with 38,615 to choose from in Tamil Nadu! One of the best reasons to visit Tamil Nadu is that most of the largest Hindu temples in India reside here.

The famous temple town of Madurai is set against a backdrop of the 14 colourful gopurams (gateway towers) of Meenakshi Amman Temple. Marvel at the multi-tiered, technicolour wonder covered in bright carvings of mythical figures. The Dravidian-style temple is a major pilgrimage site with many mysteries waiting to be unravelled. The Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple houses many colourful textile and crafts stalls with diligent tailors at their sewing machines.

The incredible Dhyanalinga Temple can be found in the hills of Coimbatore (Kovai). This is a peaceful venue for meditation, reflection and rejuvenation.

In Kumbakonam, there are 18 different Hindu temples to visit. Most are dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu and all temples have brightly coloured intricately carved gopurams or towers.

You’ll also find ornate temples in Chettinad, each of which has its own oorani, a water tank where lilies are grown for holy rituals.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

5 – Wildlife in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu offers a rich variety of wildlife because of its diverse relief features alongside favourable climate and vegetation. There are five National Parks, fifteen wildlife sanctuaries, fifteen bird sanctuaries and two conservation reserves, as well as five tiger reserves, all of which have stringent protective measures.

You’ll find a huge diversity of mammals due to both dry and moist deciduous forests, along with hills, grasslands, mangroves, scrubs and forests. These are home to vulnerable species including the Bengal tiger, Nilgiri Tahr and the lion-tailed macaque. You’ll also find elephants, deer, panthers, gaur, civets, tigers, sloth bears, wild bears, wild dogs, porcupines, flying squirrels, jackals, and pangolins.

There are many featured friends to spot, including the red treepie, whiskered bulbul, spotted dove, rocket-tailed drongo, and black-headed oriole. For plant and flower lovers, over 2000 species of fauna can be found in Tamil Nadu.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Nilgiri Taur

4 – World Heritage Sites in Tamil Nadu

The deserted town of Mamallapuram was once home to the Pallava King, who used his fondness for architecture to commission a group of temples in the 7th and 8th centuries. Now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ancient Monuments at Mamallapuram are granite-hewn temples in the shape of chariots, cave sanctuaries, lion pilasters and giant open-air reliefs. The most famous of these is the ‘Descent of the Ganges’, depicting the descent of the sacred river to Earth from the heavens. Overlooking the Bay of Bengal, the intricately carved Shore Temple is a perfect place to watch the sunset.

The Great Living Chola Temples in Thanjavur were built between the 11th and 12th centuries by the kings of the Chola Empire, one of the longest-ruling dynasties in southern Indian history. The granite Brihadeeswara is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu, famed for its tall tower and the quality of its sculpture. Brihadisvara and Airavatesvara both boast rectangular walled compounds housing lofty pyramid-shaped towers and are well worth a visit.

There is also the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, part of the Mountain Railways of India – a fantastic way to sit back and watch the scenery and sights gently pass by as you wind your way through the hills.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Mallampuram Five Rathas

3 – Tamil Nadu Cuisine

One of the best reasons to visit Tamil Nadu is the delectable and flavourful regional cuisines. Each cuisine has its own set of culinary techniques and spices, gained from family recipes, ancient culture and traditions, community history, and external influences. A spice that features heavily is tamarind, used to provide sour flavours.

On special occasions, traditional Tamil dishes are served on banana leaves. After the meal, the leaves are then used as a secondary food for cattle.

Popular dishes include:

Sambar – A lentil-based stew using tomatoes and/or tamarind. Sambar is an important part of practically every meal in Tamil Nadu and in Tamilian homes, whether it’s for breakfast or a large traditional Tamilian lunch buffet.

Uttapam – South Indian breakfast pancakes made with lentils, onions, rice, herbs & spices. A very common breakfast dish.

Puliyodarai – a unique dish that’s typically served at festivals and special events. Tamarind, coconut, and rice are common components.

Rasam – a tangy, spicy soup containing traditional spices such as curry leaves and mustard seeds eaten with rice or on its own.

Chicken Chettinad – chicken marinated in yoghurt with turmeric, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds.

Banana Bonda – sweet banana fritters perfect with a cup of tea.

If you’re a foodie or simply enjoy trying food on your travels, then sumptuous cuisine is one of the best reasons to visit Tamil Nadu.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Idli Sambar

2 – Mountain Railway and Hill Stations

A fantastic attraction of Tamil Nadu is the quaint Nilgiri Mountain Railway, whose colourful locomotives weave their way through the backcountry. Built by the British in 1908, the 1,000mm gauge railway is operated by Southern Railway and is the only rack railway in India.

UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in July 2005 and the site then became known as the Mountain Railways of India.

Tamil Nadu is dotted with impeccable hill stations that make a perfect escape from the sometimes punishing heat of the summer season.

Combining Indian hustle and bustle with Hindu temples and charming gardens, Ooty is a popular resort in the Nilgiri Hills. Established in the 19th century, the former headquarters of the Madras government is a picturesque location similar in appearance to the English countryside with rolling hills, tea gardens and scenery lined with trees and breathtaking views.

Coonoor is another beautiful hill station with long-winding roads, numerous tea estates, and old colonial bungalows. Viewpoints include Dolphins Nose, Sim’s Park, Ketti Valley, St. Catherine Falls, Lambs Rock and Hidden Valley. The Nilgiri tea estate is well worth a visit.

10 Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Nilgiri Hill Toy Train

1 – Tamil Nadu Festivals

While Tamil Nadu has its own customs and beliefs surrounding important Indian festivals like Diwali, it also hosts other uniquely Tamil festivities like Pongal and Karthigai Deepam. Tamil Nadu also hosts a number of traditional festivals related to the state’s many regions and cultures. The Melattur Bhagavata Mela in Thanjavur has been held every year since the 17th century and the Koothandavar festival in Villupuram is India’s largest festival for transgender and trans-people.

Here are a few highlights:


Mamallapuram Indian Dance Festival
Set against stunning rock sculptures, this festival celebrates classical and folk dance from throughout India.

Mylapore Festival
A four-day celebration of classical music and dance, crafts, folk art, heritage walks, exhibitions and street food.

Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival
A festival to celebrate the growing popularity of air ballooning in India, with added music entertainment.

A four-day harvest festival similar to thanksgiving in America. The star attraction is the boiled milk and rice dish, Pongal, prepared on the second day.

A festival dedicated to the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, with parades and dancing.


Pondicherry Heritage Festival
Originally created to celebrate the town’s architecture, this festival now includes diverse traditions and cultural practices.


Ram Navami
A celebration of the birth of Lord Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.


Covelong Point Surf, Music and Yoga Festival
A blend of a national level surfing competition with complementary therapies, organic food and music.


Karthikai Deepam
Crowds of pilgrims head to Tiruvannamalai for the full moon, to celebrate the fiery apparition of Shiva on the top of Mount Arunachala.

Ten Reasons to visit Tamil Nadu - Mandaiyamman Festival

We hope our reasons to visit Tamil Nadu have inspired you to head to the south of India. Please browse our website for tours to this exciting, diverse and scenic region.

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