Typically, India's southernmost state of Tamil Nadu is renowned for its intricately ornate and monumental ancient Hindu temples and the Marina Beach. Surrounded by the Eastern Ghats to its north, by the Nilgiri Mountains and Kerala to its west, and the Bay of Bengal on the west, the region has prospered under several great empires of the south. From the Pallava Dynasty under who Tamil architecture reached heights never seen before to the Pandyan Dynasty of the 13th century whose excellence in literature and trade saw Tamil Nadu flourish the cultural heritage of the province was constantly evolving and adapting while also preserving its venerable past. One such long-standing tradition of the state is the Thanjavur painting.
This classical South Indian painting style comes from the Tamilian city of Thanjavur. Encouraged in the 1600s coinciding with the downfall of the Vijayanagar Empire, its surface richness and dynamic colour scheme distinguish them from other styles of paintings. Further embellishments of semi-precious stones, pearls, and glass pieces were added to captivate viewers and give it a delicate texture. Marathas princes and Nayakas (governors) in particular were in awe of Thanjavur Paintings and adorned the walls of their house with them. Revolving around the themes of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, the protagonist of the artwork is always in the centre. In a darkened room, the paintings have a glowing presence.
Home to the mighty Pallava Dynasty and the indomitable Chola Empire, Tamil Nadu is blessed with elaborate Dravidian styled temples. The Airavatesvara Temple, for instance, built by the Chola is one among the cluster of eighteen medieval era temples large Hindu temple in the region. Exquisite sculpture work brings a spectacle of wonder to this holy sanctum. The reliefs along the base of the temple narrate the stories of sixty-three Shaiva Bhakti saints called the Nayanars. Many of the temples constructed were tributes to Lord Shiva. The gorgeous Brihadisvara Temple is one such sacred place. Incorporating fifty relief works, three of which - Saraswati, Nataraja, and Shiva garlanding a devotee - are its highlight. The Brihadisvara and Airavatesvara Temples are part of the Great Living Chola Temples. I don't think you can speak of Temple architecture without mentioning the spell-binding Meenakshi Temple. The main shrine of this destination captivates those who visit here. Embellished with colourful sculptures that narrate legendary Hindu stories, the Meenakshi Temple is still popular among the locals this till day. The Meenakshi wedding festival typically celebrated in April attracts over a million people in a mere 12 days
Tamil Nadu is a great hub of Indian culture. The great region is a paradise for women looking to add Kanjeevaram sarees to their collection. A magnificent creation of the craftsmen living in Kanchi, the Kanjeevaram silk used in the sarees is extremely fine and durable. The bright colours are an eye catcher while the designs on the saree seek inspiration from the Pallava temples, palace, and paintings. Hindu mythology like the Ramayana and Mahabharata are used as motifs. The texture, colours, and designs of the traditional wear are so complex that they can take up to 20 days to produce. Unbelievably expensive, many Tamilian women's wardrobe is incomplete without this mesmerizing piece of cloth.
Sarees are an integral part of the Tamilian culture. Such is their importance that they happen to be a major prop during Bharatnatyam dance. A major genre of South Indian classical dance, Bharatnatyam was used to express religious themes and spiritual ideas of Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism. A sophisticated mixture based on the gestures of eyes, face muscles, and hands, the dance form is core to the culture of Tamil Nadu and is one of the major classical dance forms around the country. Try to catch a live performance and I guarantee that you will be glued to your seat from the start to the end.
Enthralling dance performances, detailed craftsmanship, and faith are at the heart of the rich Tamilan culture. Its traditions are one which has come to shape over centuries - adapting and evolving through the ages to give its modern form. Visit the Southernmost tip of the country for a trip for the soul.