India, a country of continental dimensions, is the largest democracy in the world. A multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-racial society, India is rich heritage, colourful culture and timeless traditions make it a unique travel destination. With 28 states and 9 union territories, India is the second most populous country in the world.
Nestled in the south east corner of India lies the state of Tamil Nadu which is the seat of one of the oldest civilizations, called the Dravidian. It has witnessed the evolution of a language and culture that finds a place of pride amongst the oldest civilizations of the world. Tamil is considered as one of the oldest classical languages of the world. The region developed under the patronage of powerful ancient and medieval monarchs who contributed extensively to its growth. The Pallava monarchs were the pioneers of a distinct style of temple architecture which evolved over time. Unique specimens of Pallava architecture can be found at the ancient port of Mamallapuram, which has been deemed as UNESCO world heritage site.
The city of Chennai or Madras has its origin in the pre-historic times. The ancient port of Mylapore is acknowledged in Ptolemy’s Geography as a port of ancient Roman traders. The Santhome Basilica built over the mortal remains of St. Thomas, was the contribution of Chennai’s Portuguese traders who formed a settlement dating from 1521. However the real fortunes of this coastal strip of land began in 1639, when the English East India Company traded along the Coromandel, despite the absence of a harbor. It grew in prominence as a weaving centre and by the 19th century it emerged as a full-fledged commercial and industrial hub.
During the 19th century, the city witnessed the starting of three colleges and in 1857, The University of Madras opened its doors heralding new opportunities for the young. To the city goes the credit of pioneering engineering and medical education and has the distinction of educating the country’s first female doctor. Since the 21stcentury, the city had a reputation of being an educational hub, with excellent educational institutions attracting students not just from Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states but across the length and breadth of the country and even abroad.
Contemporary Chennai remains a curious blend of tradition and modernity with music sabhas and kutcheries co-existing and jostling for space with an increasing number of swanky malls and gourmet eateries. The city has a vibrant landscape with ancient temples, mosques such as the thousand lights mosque, churches in Gothic and classical styles, government buildings in Indo-Saracenic architectural style remnants of a colonial past.
The port city of Madras became a virtual gateway to the south and the British used it to extend their political authority over South India. The Presidency of Madras became the state of Madras after Independence and in 1969 was renamed as Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is a progressive, largely urbanized and developed state of India with state of the art transport and communication infrastructure.
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