Tamil Nadu Profile Information 2017 - Download as PDF

Tamil Nadu Cultural and Heritage History Part 1

(Key Point and Notes)

This Tamil Nadu Profile Post Covers Important Exam Points to Remember in the following subjects, Tamil Nadu's Cultural, History, Geography, Political and Economic Profile of Tamil Nadu for TNPSC and other Competitive Exams.

  • Tamil Nadu  literally The Land of Tamils or Tamil Country is one of the 29 States of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Its official language is Tamil, which is one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world.
  • Tamil Nadu lies in the Southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the Union Territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. 
  • 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. It also shares a Maritime border with the Nation of Sri Lanka.
  • Tamil Nadu is the Eleventh-Largest State in India by Area. The state was ranked Sixth among States in India according to the Human Development Index in 2011
  • Tamil Nadu is the Second Largest State Economy in India with ₹4789 billion (US$71 billion) in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • The State has the Highest Number (10.56 %) of Business Enterprises and Stands Second in total Employment (9.97%) in India, compared to the population share of about 6%.
  • Tamil Nadu was ranked as one of the Top Seven developed States in India based on a "Multidimensional Development Index" in a 2013 report published by a panel headed by current RBI governor Raghuram Rajan.
  • Archaeological Evidence points to this area being one of the Longest Continuous Habitations in the Indian Peninsula. 
  • In Adichanallur, 24 km (15 miles) from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) unearthed 169 clay urns containing Human Skulls, Skeletons, Bones, Husks, 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% of the total Epigraphical Inscriptions found by the ASI in India are from Tamil Nadu, and most of these are in the Tamil language.  
  • 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.
  • A Neolithic stone celt (a hand-held axe) with the Indus script on it was discovered at Sembian-Kandiyur near Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu. According to Epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan, this was the First Datable Artefact bearing the Indus script to be found in Tamil Nadu. 
  • Mahadevan claimed that the find was evidence of the use of the Harappan Language, and therefore that the "Neolithic people of the Tamil country spoke a Dravidian language". The date of the celt was estimated at between 1500 BC and 2000 BC.
  • The Early History of the Reople and Rulers of Tamil Nadu is a topic in Tamil literary 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, Dharmapuri, 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Besides these three dynasties, the Sangam era Tamilakam (Tamil Homeland) was also divided into various provinces named 'Nadu', meaning 'Country'. 
  • Sangam literature refers these provinces as "Koduntamil Mandalam" which were not exactly political or Socio-Cultural units but linguistic agglomerations like Kongu Nadu, Puzhinadu, Thondai Nadu, Nanjilnadu, Ay Nadu and Venadu.
  • Between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD, the three Tamil Kingdoms were overwhelmed by the Kalabhras. The period of their rule is sometimes referred to as the "Dark Age" in Tamil history and little is known about it. 
  • The Kalabhras were expelled by the Pallavas,Mutharaiyar, Badami Chalukyas and Pandyas in the 6th century.
  • The Bhakti Movement originated in Tamil Speaking region of south India and spread northwards through India. 
  • The Bhakti Movement was a rapid growth of bhakti beginning in this region with the Saiva Nayanars (4th-10th centuries) and the Vaisnava Alvars who spread bhakti poetry and devotion. 
  • The Alwars and Nayanmars were instrumental in propagating the Bhaktitradition.
  • During the 4th to 8th centuries, Tamil Nadu saw the rise of the Pallava Dynasty under Mahendravarman I and his son MamallaNarasimhavarman 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.
  • During the 9th 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 Mutharaiyar 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 Sri Lanka. At its peak, the empire spanned almost 3,600,000 km2 (1,400,000 sq mi). 
  • 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 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 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 . This is awesome period for Chola Empire.
  • Much later, the Pallavas were replaced by the Chola Dynasty as the dominant kingdom in the 9th century and they in turn were replaced by the Pandyan Dynasty in the 13th century. 
  • 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, 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 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 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.
  • By the early 18th century, the political scene in Tamil Nadu saw a major change-over and was under the control of many minor rulers aspiring to be independent. 
  • The fall of the Vijayanagara empire and the Chandragiri Nayakas gave the sultanate of Golconda a chance to expand into the Tamil heartland. 
  • When the sultanate was incorporated into the Mughal Empire in 1688, the northern part of current-day Tamil Nadu was administrated by the nawab of the Carnatic, who had his seat in Arcot from 1715 onward. 
  • Meanwhile, to the south, the fall of the Thanjavur Nayaks led to a short lived Thanjavur Maratha kingdom. 
  • The fall of the Madurai Nayaks brought up many small Nayakars of southern Tamil Nadu, who ruled small parcels of land called Palayams. The chieftains of these Palayams were known as Palaiyakkarar (or 'polygar' as called by British) and were ruling under the Nawabs of the Carnatic.
  • Europeans started to establish trade centers during the 17th century in the eastern coastal regions. 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. British constructed Fort St. George and established a trading post at Madras. 
  • By 1693, the French established in trading posts at Pondichery. The British and French were competing to expand the trade in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu which also witnessed many battles like Battle of Wandiwash as part of Seven Years' War. 
  • British reduced the French dominions in India to Puducherry. Nawabs of the Carnatic bestowed tax revenue collection rights on the East India Company for defeating the Kingdom of Mysore. 
  • Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah surrendered much of his territory to the East India Company which firmly established the British in the northern parts. In 1762, a tripartite treaty was signed between Thanjavur Maratha, Carnatic and the British by which Thanjavur became a vassal of the Nawab of the Carnatic which eventually ceded to British.
  • In the south, Nawabs granted taxation rights to the British which led to conflicts between British and the Palaiyakkarar, which resulted in series of wars called Polygar war to establish independent states by the aspiring Palaiyakkarar. 
  • Puli Thevar was one of the earliest opponents of the British rule in South India. Thevar's prominent exploits were his confrontations with Marudhanayagam, who later rebelled against the British in the late 1750s and early 1760s. 
  • Rani Velu Nachiyar, was the 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. 
  • Before her death, Queen Velu Nachi granted powers to the 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 Kattabomman Nayakan's palayam, who died in the process of blowing up a British ammunition dump in 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 an 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. After winning the Polygar wars in 1801, the East India Company consolidated most of southern India into the Madras Presidency.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, the British firmly established governance over the entire Tamil Nadu. 
  • 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 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.
  • The British crown took over the control governance from the Company and the remainder of the 19th century did not witness any native resistance until the beginning of 20th century Indian Independence movements.
  • During the period of governor George Harris Harris (1854–1859), measures were taken to improve education and increase representation of Indians in the administration. 
  • Legislative powers given to the Governor's council under the Indian Councils Act 1861 and 1909 Minto-Morley Reforms eventually led to the establishment of the Madras Legislative Council. 
  • Failure of the summer monsoons and administrative shortcomings of the Ryotwari system resulted in two severe famine in the Madras Presidency, the Great Famine of 1876–78 and the Indian famine of 1896–97. 
  • The famine led to migration of people as bonded labours for British to various countries which eventually formed the present Tamil Diaspora.
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