Tamil Nadu ( ; ; ; literally The Land of Tamils or Tamil Country) is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital is Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the largest city. Tamil Nadu is a land most known for its monumental ancient Hindu temples and classical form of dance Bharata Natyam. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south.
Tamil Nadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area and the seventh most populous state in India. It is the second largest state economy in India as of 2012. The state ranked 6th among states in India according to the Human Development Index as of 2011. The state has the highest number (10.56 per cent) of business enterprises and stands second in total employment (9.97 per cent) in India, compared to the population share of about 6 per cent. In the 2013 Raghuram Rajan panel report, Tamil Nadu was ranked as the third most developed state in India based on a "Multidimensional Development Index".
The region has been the home of the Tamil people since at least 1500 BC. Its official language is Tamil, which holds a status of being a classical language. Tamil has been in use in inscriptions and literature for over 2500 years. Mythical traditions dictate that Lord Shiva himself taught sage Agastya this language. Sage Agastya is considered to be the father of Tamil literature and compiled the first Tamil grammar called Agathiyam, but the scripts of Agathiyam no longer exist. It is believed that he lived in the 6th or 7th century BC and specialized in language, alchemy, medicine and spirituality (yogam and gnanam). There are 96 books in the name of Agathiyar. Tamil Nadu is home to many natural resources, classical arts, classical music, classical literature, Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture, hill stations, beach resorts, multi-religious pilgrimage sites, and eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Archaeological evidence points to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in Indian peninsula. In Adichanallur, from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, skeletons and bones, husks and grains of rice, charred rice and celts of the Neolithic period, 3,800 years ago. The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script used at that site is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi. Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies. About 60 per cent of the total epigraphical inscriptions found by the ASI in India are from Tamil Nadu, and most of these are in the Tamil language. Virumandi Andithevar, of the Piramalai Kallar community from the Tamil Nadu region of southern India, was identified by the Genographic Project as one of the direct descendants of the first modern human settlers in India. His Y-DNA belongs to Haplogroup C and he carries the M130 marker which defines the first migrants to South East Asia and Australia from the African coast 60,000 years ago; more than half of Australian Aborigines also carry the M130 gene.
Indus valley script between 2000 and 1500 BC
Neolithic people of the Tamil country spoke a Dravidian language.The discovery of a Neolithic stone celt, a hand-held axe, with the Indus script on it at Sembian-Kandiyur in Tamil Nadu is, according to Iravatham Mahadevan, "Stone axe with Indus Valley script found near Mayiladuthurai,Tamil Nadu was a major discovery because for the first time a text in the Indus script has been found in the State on a datable artefact, which is a polished neolithic celt. He estimated the date of the artefact with the script to be around 1500 BC.
Early history (Sangam Period 300 BC - AD 300)
The early history of the people and rulers of Tamil Nadu is a topic in Tamil sources known as Sangam literature. Numismatic, archaeological and literary sources corroborate that the Sangam period lasted for about six centuries, from 300 BC to AD 300. Three dynasties, namely the Chera, Chola and Pandya, ruled the area of present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Chera ruled the whole of present day Kerala and parts of western Tamil Nadu comprising Coimbatore, Karur, Salem and Erode districts from the capital of Vanchi Muthur (thought to be modern day Karur). The Chola dynasty ruled the northern and central parts of Tamil Nadu from their capital, Uraiyur; and the Pandya dynasty ruled southern Tamil Nadu, from capitals at Korkai and Madurai. All three dynasties had extensive trade relationships with Rome, Greece, Egypt, Ceylon, Phoenicia, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Persia. Trade flourished in commodities such as spices, ivory, pearls, beads and gems. Chera traded extensively from Muziris on the west coast, Chola from Arikamedu and Puhar and Pandya through Korkai port. A Greco-Roman trade and travel document, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (c. AD 60–100) gives a description of the Tamil country and its ports. Between the third and the seventh centuries AD, the three Tamil kingdoms were overwhelmed by the Kalabhras which is sometimes referred to as the "Dark Age" in Tamil history and little is known about it. The Kalabhras were expelled by the Pallavas, Badami Chalukyas and Pandyas in the sixth century.
Medieval Period (600–1300)
During the Kalabhras' rule Buddhism flourished in the land of the Tamils. The didactic work 'Naaladiyar' was composed during their reign. It consists of moral sayings in the venpa meter, 400 in number in 40 chapters, each by one Buddhist ascetic, according to tradition. Following the tradition of Tamil Buddhism, Naaladiyar emphasises virtues such as control of the senses, Dhamma (Lord Buddha's teaching), renunciation, and other desirable social qualities. Pali was the court language of the Kalabhras who were also called Kalapara or Kalaparaya according to the Koramangalam inscription.
During the fourth to eighth centuries C.E., Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallavas under Mahendravarman I and his son Mamalla Narasimhavarman I. The Pallavas ruled parts of South India with Kanchipuram as their capital. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during Pallava rule. Narasimhavarman II built the Shore Temple which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They came into conflict with the Kannada Chalukyas of Badami. During this period, The great Badami Chalukya King Pulakesi II extended the Chalukya Empire up to the northern extents of the Pallava kingdom and defeated the Pallavas in several battles. Pallava Narasimhavarman, however, reversed this victory in 642 by attacking and occupying Badami temporarily. However, a later Chalukya King Vikramaditya II took revenge by repeated invasions of the territory of Tondaimandalam and his subsequent victories over Pallava Parameswarvarman I and the temporary occupation of Kanchipuram.
The Pallava dynasty was overthrown in the 9th century by the imperial Rashtrakutas who ruled from Gulbarga. King Krishna III, the last great Rashtrakuta king consolidated the empire so that it stretched from the Narmada River to Kaveri River and included the northern Tamil country (Tondaimandalam) while levying tribute on the king of Ceylon. Much later, the Pallavas were replaced by the Cholas as the dominant kingdom in the 10th century C.E. and they in turn were replaced by Pandyas in the 13th century C.E. The Pandyan capital Madurai was in the deep south away from the coast. They had extensive trade links with the south east Asian maritime empires of Srivijaya and their successors, as well as contacts, even formal diplomatic contacts, reaching as far as the Roman Empire. During the 13th century C.E. Marco Polo mentioned the Pandyas as the richest empire in existence. Temples such as the Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai and Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli are the best examples of Pandyan temple architecture. The Pandyas excelled in both trade and literature. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the south coast of India, between Sri Lanka and India, which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world.
The Cholas, who were very active during the Sangam age, were entirely absent during the first few centuries. The period started with the rivalry between the Pandyas and the Pallavas, which in turn caused the revival of the Cholas.
During the ninth century, the Chola dynasty was once again revived by Vijayalaya Chola, who established Thanjavur as Chola's new capital by conquering central Tamil Nadu from the local clans of Mutharayar and the Pandya king Varagunavarman II. Aditya I and his son Parantaka I expanded the kingdom to the northern parts of Tamil Nadu by defeating the last Pallava king, Aparajitavarman.
Parantaka Chola II expanded the Chola empire into what is now interior Andhra Pradesh and coastal Karnataka, while under the great Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose to a notable power in south east Asia. Now the Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal and Sir Lanka. At its peak, the empire spanned almost . Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular south India and parts of Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navy went even further, occupying coasts from Burma (now Myanmar) to Vietnam, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya, Philippines in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram.
The Cholas were prolific temple builders right from the times of the first medieval king Vijayalaya Chola. These are the earliest specimen of Dravidian temples under the Cholas. His son Aditya I built several temples around the Kanchi and Kumbakonam regions. The Cholas went on to becoming a great power and built some of the most imposing religious structures in their lifetime and they also renovated temples and buildings of the Pallavas, acknowledging their common socio-religious and cultural heritage. The celebrated Nataraja temple at Chidambaram and the Sri Ranganathaswami Temple at Srirangam held special significance for the Cholas which have been mentioned in their inscriptions as their tutelary deities.
Rajaraja Chola I and his son Rajendra Chola, who built temples such as the Brihadeshvara Temple of Thanjavur and Brihadeshvara Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the Airavatesvara Temple of Darasuram and the Sarabeswara (Shiva) Temple, also called the Kampahareswarar Temple at Thirubhuvanam, the last two temples being located near Kumbakonam. The first three of the above four temples are titled Great Living Chola Temples among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes all over the world. Among the existing specimens in museums around the world and in the temples of southern India the fine figures of Siva in various forms, Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, and the Siva saints are the examples of Chola bronze. Though conforming generally to the iconographic conventions established by long tradition, the sculptors worked with great freedom in the 11th and the 12th centuries to achieve a classic grace and grandeur. The best example of this can be seen in the form of Nataraja the Divine Dancer.
During the rule of the great Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI, in the late eleventh to early twelfth century, the Western Chalukyas convincingly defeated the Cholas on several occasions, weakening their empire. With the decline of the Chola dynasty between 1116 and 1185 C.E., the Hoysalas of Kannada country rose to prominence, under King Vishnuvardhana and his grandson, the celebrated Veera Ballala II. The Hoysalas extended their foothold in Tamil Nadu around 1225, making the city of Kannanur Kuppam near Srirangam a provincial capital that give them control over South Indian politics that began a period of Hoysala hegemony in the southern Deccan. Hoysala Vira Narasimha II's son Vira Someshwara earned the honorific "uncle" (Mamadi) from the Pandyas and Cholas. The Hoysala influence spread over Pandya kingdom from who they gained tribute. This revival was short-lived as the Pandya capital of Madurai itself was sacked by Alauddin Khilji's troops under General Malik Kafur in 1316. The Muslim invasion led to the establishment of the short-lived Madurai Sultanate.
Summary of Regions in the Sangam and Medieval Periods
Sangam texts refer to more "Koduntamil" mandalams which are not exactly political or socio - cultural units but linguistic agglomerations.
Vijayanagar and Nayak period (1336–1646)
The Muslim invasions of southern India triggered the establishment of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire with Vijayanagara in modern Karnataka as its capital. The Vijayanagara empire eventually conquered the entire Tamil country by c. 1370 C.E. and ruled for almost two centuries until its defeat in the Battle of Talikota in 1565 by a confederacy of Deccan sultanates.
Subsequently, as the Vijayanagara Empire went into decline after the mid-16th century, many local rulers, called Nayaks, succeeded in gaining the trappings of independence. This eventually resulted in the further weakening of the empire; many Nayaks declared themselves independent, among whom the Nayaks of Madurai and Tanjore were the first to declare their independence, despite initially maintaining loose links with the Vijayanagara kingdom. The Nayaks of Madurai and Nayaks of Thanjavur were the most prominent of Nayaks in the 17th century. They reconstructed some of the well-known temples in Tamil Nadu such as the Meenakshi Temple.
Rule of Poligars (1692–1801)
In the early 18th century, the eastern parts of Tamil Nadu came under the dominions of the poligars. The Poligars were local chieftains under the Nayaks who declared their freedom due to the decline of nayaks.
Early struggle for Independent states
The fall of Nayaka period brought up many small Nayakars of southern Tamil Nadu, who ruled small parcels of land called Palayams. Some of these Palaiyakkarar ('polygar' as called by British) were ruling under Nawabs of Carnatic. Nawabs granted taxation rights to the British which led to conflicts between British and the Palaiyakkarar, which resulted in series of wars to establish independent states by the aspiring Palaiyakkarar. Puli Thevar was one of the earliest opponents of the British rule in South India . He was involved in a vendetta with the Nawab of Arcot who was supported by the British. Thevar's prominent exploits were his confrontations with Marudhanayagam, who later rebelled against the British in the late 1750s and early 1760s. The author of the Thirunelveli District Gazetteer, H.R. Pate, observes as follows: Nelkatumseval is chiefly memorable as having been in the eighteenth Century stronghold of the redoubtable Puli Thevar, who figured for many years as the leader of the Marava Confederacy against the troops of the Nawab and the Company. Azhagu Muthu Kone (1728-1757) was an Indian revolutionary and independence activist. He is regarded for having raised one of the revolts against the British East India Company in India. Kone was born and brought up in Kattalankulam, a village in erstwhile Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Puli Thevar (1715-1767), Vennikkaladi Kudumbar, Thalapathi in Puli Thevar Force chieftain who fought the British East India Company in the 1750s and 1760s. Rani Velu Nachiyar, First Woman Freedom fighter of India and Queen of Sivagangai. She was drawn to war after her husband Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar (1750–1772), King of Sivaganga was murdered at Kalayar Kovil temple by British generals Joseph Smith and Benjour. Before her death, Queen Velu Nachi granted powers to Maruthu brothers to rule Sivaganga. Kattabomman (1760–1799), Palaiyakkara chief of Panchalakurichi who fought the British in the First Polygar War. He was captured by the British at the end of the war and hanged near Kayattar in 1799. Veeran Sundaralingam (1700-1800) was the General of Kattapomman Nayakan's palayam, who died in the process of blowing up a British ammunition dump 1799 which killed more than 150 British soldiers to save Kattapomman Palace. Oomaithurai, younger brother of Kattabomman, took asylum under the Maruthu brothers Periya Marudhu and Chinna Marudhu and raised army. They formed a coalition with Dheeran Chinnamalai and Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja which fought the British in Second Polygar Wars. Dheeran Chinnamalai (1756–1805), Polygar chieftain of Kongu and feudatory of Tipu Sultan who fought the British in the Second Polygar War.
The Vellore Mutiny on 10 July 1806 was the first instance of a large-scale and violent mutiny by Indian sepoys against the British East India Company, predating the Indian Rebellion of 1857 by half a century. The revolt, which took place in the South Indian city of Vellore, was brief, lasting only one full day, but brutal as mutineers broke into the Vellore fort and killed or wounded 200 British troops, before they were subdued by reinforcements from nearby Arcot.
European rule (1801–1947)
Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat, while the Danes had their establishment in Tharangambadi also known as Tranquebar. In 1639, the British, under the East India Company, established a settlement further south of Pulicat, in present day Chennai. In the late 18th century, the British fought and reduced the French dominions in India to Puducherry. Nizams of Hyderabad and the Nawabs of the Carnatic bestowed tax revenue collection rights on the East India Company for defeating the Kingdom of Mysore. After winning the Polygar wars, the East India Company consolidated most of southern India into the Madras Presidency coterminous with the dominions of Nizam of Hyderabad. Pudukkottai remained as a princely state.
India (1947 - present)
When India became independent in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State, comprising present day Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh up to Ganjam district in Orissa, South Canara district Karnataka, and parts of Kerala. The state was subsequently split up along linguistic lines. In 1969, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, meaning "Tamil country".