5 Must-Visit Places In Tamil Nadu

5 Must-Visit Places In Tamil Nadu
The atmospheric ruins at Dhanushkodi Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Mist-laden hills, beaches, classic art and architecture.. Tamil Nadu has a lot to offer

OT Staff
March 06 , 2023
03 Min Read


This is a storied land, the home of the Nattukot­tai Chettiars, the Tamil community that made its wealth in the early 20th centu­ry through trade with Southeast Asia. With this wealth they built fabulous mansions, and with a new cosmopoli­tanism, outfitted them with pillars of Burma teak, chandeliers from Europe and art from around the world. Verita­ble palaces. World War II scattered the community, which left behind a ghost­land dotted with beautiful structures. Visit for splendid heritage, a world-famous cuisine and sophisticated crafts. Karaikudi is the main town in Chettinad, 2hrs from Madurai.



How can you not want to visit the ‘Land of the Singing Waves’? Tharangambadi is a sleepy fishing ham­let on Tamil Nadu’s Coromandel Coast, a tiny Danish outpost also known as Tranquebar, though it also had spells of British and Dutch rule. Unlike other co­lonial enclaves, not much remains by way of built heritage. And the few struc­tures that stand, such as the Dansborg Fort, the Pandya-era Masilamaninathar Temple and the Town Gate, all suffered the ravages of the tsunami of 2004. A major development project is underway. Meanwhile, if staying in a heritage hotel, taking long coastal walks, enjoying the sun and sand, interacting with the peaceable locals and buying local crafts sounds appealing, Tranquebar awaits you. Tranquebar is a 290km drive from state capital Chennai.


In Chennai’s backyard stands a monumental  testa­ment to history, art and architecture. Mamallapuram, aka Mahabalipuram, is a coastal cluster of temples built be­tween the sixth and ninth centuries by the Pallava dynasty, and now a Unesco World Heritage listed site. The town it­self was a major historical seaport. Some of the temples are carved out of caves, some out of monolithic boulders of granite; the sculptures on many are considered to be among the best in the country. The astonishing bas-relief, ‘Ar­juna’s Penance’, and the ‘Govardha­nadhari’ panel are both intricate and subtle. Continuing excavation has brought to light more structures from the same period. A must-do when in Chennai. Mahabalipuram is a 1.5-hr-drive from Chennai along the East Coast Road.


Located around 20 km away from Rameshwaram, at the southern tip of Pamban Island, Dhanushkodi  literally means the ‘end of a bow’. At a length of just 50 yards, this is one of the smallest towns in the world. With the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, this long stretch lies just a 15 km swim away from Sri Lanka. The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, Pamban Bridge, and the historic Ram Setu are the major attractions here.


The non-descript village of Gangaikondacholapuram is home to the magnificent ruins of the Brihadeesvara Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. King Rajendra Chola I (r. 1012-1044 CE) built this temple to celebrate his conquest of lands up to present-day Bangladesh. From this triumphant journey, he brought back the waters of the sacred Ganga and poured it into the absolutely enormous tank here, then named Chola Ganga and now referred to as Ponneri. He assumed the title Gangaikondachola and constructed the great temple at Gangaikondacholapuram (the Chola land where the Ganga was brought/ conquered). The temple is almost an exact replica of the Big Temple of Thanjavur.

RELATED: Aranmanai: Remembering the Marathas of Thanjavur

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