Rich in history, literature and culture, Tamil Nadu is strongly rooted in its heritage despite progressing by leaps and bounds. The state has five World Heritage Monument sites certified by UNESCO, 48 Centres declared as Heritage Towns by the Government of Tamil Nadu and Innumerable Heritage Monuments declared by the Archaeological Survey of India and the Archaeology Department, Government of Tamil Nadu.
The shining example of Tamil Nadu’s legacy is in its architectural heritage. The rock-cut caves to intricately carved temples in the state reflect the skills of the craftspeople who lived here centuries ago. Mahabalipuram, which is a short drive from Chennai, is a living example of the rich heritage of the state. The Shore Temple and other monuments in the region were recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. These rock-cut cave temples, monolithic temples and sculptures were built between the 6th and 9th centuries during the time of Pallava rulers.
In 2004, UNESCO awarded World Heritage Site status to what is collectively known as the Great Living Chola Temples. They were built between the 11th and 12th centuries. It consists of three temples – the Brihadeeshwara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram.
In Thanjavur, we cannot miss the renowned art and craft that flourishes here which includes the bronze statues, especially that of Nataraj (Dancing Shiva) and the unique Tanjore paintings (known for their gold-coated finish).
The meter-gauge Nilgiri Mountain Railway, running between Mettupalayam-Conoor and Ooty, is also part of the UNESCO Heritage.