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Tamil Nadu Information - History of Tamilnadu - Tamilnadu State Culture

Tamilnadu State Culture

The majority of the population are Tamils, whose mother tongue is Tamil. Telugus form a sizable minority. English is widely spoken, and is used almost exclusively in business and education. British Madras used to be the capital of the Madras state, known as the Madras Presidency, which at one point covered most of the area now occupied by the modern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu - minus the princely states enjoying British patronage. Madras thus inherited a rich mix of languages and dialects, most of which have corroded with time. With the advent of Marwari moneylenders and businessmen from north India (mainly from Gujarat and Rajasthan), who settled in and around north Chennai in the 1950s, Chennai has adopted a truly cosmopolitan colour, becoming a melting pot of cultures and traditions.

There are a number of film halls, amusement parks and shopping malls in and around the city. The Marina Beach in Chennai is a popular tourist spot. Chennai is one of the most British of Indian cities. Residential areas like Tiruvallikeni (Triplicane), Mayilapur (Mylapore) have a distinct, unmistakable ancient aura about them. Many buildings over 150 years old are still fully functional and host business establishments. The Central Railway station and the adjoining Southern Railway headquarters are cases in point. However, the main arterial road of the city Anna Salai (erstwhile Mount Road) has seen maximum changes with buildings of different eras coexisting. One of the buildings on this road, the Life Insurance Corporation building (popularly known as the LIC), has been used right from its construction during the 1950s as a symbolic image of modernity in the state of Tamil Nadu. However, today the attention has shifted to newer buildings following latest trends in the West.

Chennai is known for traditional South Indian cuisine. Food from various restaurants is usually inexpensive for the quality that it offers. Familiar dishes include Pongal, Dosa, Idli, Vadai and Sambar. A special form of coffee known as 'Filter Coffee' is the popular beverage. Another, perhaps more popular beverage is strongly brewed tea found in thousands of small stalls (Tea Kaday) found across the city. Chennai is also a major cultural hub. It is famous for a branch of classical music called Carnatic music, and a classical dance form called Bharatanatyam, also the official dance form of Tamil Nadu. An important cultural centre for Bharatanatyam is Kalakshetra, located in Adyar in ths south of the city. Housed in sylvan surroundings by the seashore, Kalakshetra, literally 'temple of arts', is a hotspot of cultural activities, with thousands of individuals of many nationalities under its aegis.

December-January is the time of the Carnatic music festival in Chennai, popularly known as the 'Music Season'. During this time, a host of music halls called "Sabhas" organise Kutcheris for which performers gather from across India and recently from the diaspora around the world. The Madras music festival has also been recently acknowledged to be Asia's biggest cultural event. Apart from the rich indigenus culture of the city, Chennai also has a vibrant Western-Cultural scene. There are a number of active theatre and dance groups that give performances on a regular basis. Rock shows are also a regular feature. The unwind centre, hosts a show every friday night. The June Rock Out, conducted every year, brings in bands from around the country to participate.

Chennai also has a number of home-grown rock bands, mostly playing popular english rock music. Of late, some of groups play their own music, most notably The LBG. Some of the popular bands from Chennai at the moment are Moksha, Little Babooshka's Grind (The LBG), Buddhas Blown, No Idea, Shadow Symphony, Sound Sleep, Tin Leaf and Powder in the Ashtray. Of late, schools that teach ballet, jazz and other forms of traditional and modern western dances have also sprung up in Chennai.

 

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