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    Geopolitical TamilNadu

    Courtesy:SreeChidambaram.I

    Introduction

    TamilNadu,thesouthernmostStateofIndia,nestles intheIndianpeninsulabetweentheBay

    ofBengalintheeast,theIndianOceaninthesouthandtheWesternGhatsandtheArabianSeaonthe

    west.Inthenorthandwest,theStateadjoinsKarnataka,AndhraPradeshandKerala.TamilNadushows

    richvarietyanddiversity in itsgeographyandclimatewithcoastalplainscoexistingwithtropicalrain

    forests,rivervalleysandhillstations.Themainriveristhe760kmlongCauvery,whichflowsalongthe

    entirebreadthofTamilNadu.OthermajorriversarethePalar,Pennar,VaigaiandTamiraparani.

    History

    TamilNaduhasaveryancienthistorywhichgoesbacksome6000years.TheStaterepresents

    Dravidian culture in India which preceded Aryan culture in the country by almost a thousand years.

    Historianshaveheld that thearchitectsof the IndusValleyCivilizationof the fourthcenturyBCwere

    Dravidiansandthatatatime,anteriortotheAryans,theywerespreadalloverIndia.Withthecomingof

    the Aryans into North India, the Dravidians appear to have been pushed into the south, where they

    remainedconfined toTamilNadu,with theothersouthernStatessuchasAndhraPradesh,Karnataka

    and Kerala forming repositories of Dravidian culture. The Tamil country was not subjugated by any

    external power over any long period of time or over large areas, and was not subjected to the

    hegemony of Hindu or Muslim kingdoms of North India. The rise of Muslim power in India in the

    14thcenturyADhaditsimpactontheSouth,however,byandlargetheregionremainedunaffectedby

    thepoliticalupheavals inNorthandCentralIndia.TheTamilarea,forthemostpart,hasmaintaineda

    certainpolitical

    integrity,

    while

    at

    the

    same

    time

    has

    not

    insulated

    itself

    from

    the

    rest

    of

    South

    India.

    Tamil Nadu was subject to the rule of four great kingdoms: Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and

    Pallavas. The Cholas established their supremacy between AD 100 and 200 and continued their

    dominanceovertheCheras inthesouthwestandthePandyas inthesoutheasttillthe5thcenturyAD.

    KarikalaChola,whoruledduringthisperiod,iscreditedwiththebuildingoflargeirrigationtanks,based

    onharnessingtheCauverythroughasystemofbarragesandtanks.ThePallavascametotheforeinthe

    6thcenturyADandtheirdomainextendedtoaconsiderablepartofpresentdayTamilNadu.

    The Pandyas, who reemerged during this period, held sway in the southeastern part of the

    State.ThePallavaperiodextendedtillthe9thcenturyADandmarkedafusionofAryanelementswith

    Dravidian culture. This period is known for the establishment of a land revenue system and the

    emergenceof

    an

    agrarian

    economy.

    The

    Cholas

    re

    emerged

    in

    the

    9th

    century

    AD,

    defeating

    the

    Pallavas, and consolidated their empire over the next four centuries. The Chola period witnessed

    maritimeexpeditionstoneighbouringSriLankaandSouthEastAsiancountriesandforgingoftradeand

    culturallinkswiththesecountries.Historiansrefertotheexistenceofanelaboratebureaucracyduring

    thisperiodwithsomeautonomyforvillagelevelpoliticalunits.

    ThedeclineoftheCholassawabriefperiodofMuslimruletilltheriseoftheVijayanagarrulers,

    who ruled the Tamil territories through Telugu warrior chiefs or Nayaks and through local Tamil

    chieftains.Dominant landedgroupsemergedand therightsofsharecroppingpeasantswhichwasa

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    featureofCholarulesufferederosion.WiththedeclineoftheVijayanagarEmpire,theTamilterritories

    were parcelled out among several petty kings such as the Nayaks of Madurai and Thanjavur who

    declaredthemselves independent.Thiswasaperiodofpolitical,economicandsocial instabilitywhich

    enabledtheBritishtotakefulladvantage.WiththearrivaloftheEastIndiaCompanyatMadrasin1639,

    anewchapterwasopenedinthehistoryofSouthIndiaandverysoon,mostofSouthIndiacameunder

    the

    hegemony

    of

    the

    British.

    During the next two centuries, the East India Company gradually extended its influence and

    obtainedpossessionoftheentireareafromCapeComorintotheNortherncircars,theDanishstationof

    Tranquebar,theFrenchsettlementsatPondicherryand the territoriesof the fivenativeStates1allof

    whichtogethercametobecalledMadrasPresidencywithitscapitalcityatMadras.Theareaofthethen

    MadrasPresidencywas141,705sq.miles.

    WithIndiaattainingindependencein1947,theMadrasPresidencycontinuedinitsoriginalform

    comprising Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and parts of Kerala. However, the agitation for a

    separate Andhra State compelled the Government of India to bifurcate the Madras Presidency into

    AndhrawithTeluguspeakingareasandMadraswithTamilspeakingareas.Theoldcapital,Madras,was

    retainedby thenewMadrasState.Under theStateReorganizationActof1956,Madras lostMalabar

    districtand

    Kasargod

    taluk,

    to

    the

    newly

    formed

    State

    of

    Kerala

    while

    Madras

    gained

    four

    taluks

    of

    Trivandrum district and Shencottah taluk of Quilon district of Kerala. The four taluks gained were

    constitutedasKanniyakumaridistrict inthenewMadrasState.ThenewMysore(Karnataka)absorbed

    some parts of the old South Kanara district (excluding Kasargod taluk) and the Kollegal taluk of

    Coimbatoredistrictin1960. Fourhundredandfivesq.milesofChittoordistrictofAndhraPradeshwas

    transferredtoMadrasinexchangefor326sq.milesfromChengalpattuandSalemdistricts.TheMadras

    Statethusconstitutedhastodayanareaof130,000kmandisthefourthlargestStateinthecountry.It

    wasrenamedasTamilNaduon14January1967.ThetotalnumberofdistrictsinTamilNadustandsat

    30.ThepopulationofTamilNaduasperthe2001Censusis62.11million,constituting6.05percentof

    thetotalpopulationofIndia.

    TamilNaduGeography

    TamilNadu isboundedbyKarnatakaandAndhraPradesh inthenorthandKerala inthewest.

    The coastaleasternand southernboundariesare lapped by thewatersof the Bay of Bengaland the

    IndianOceanrespectively.TheeasternandwesterntipsofthestatearedefinedbythePointCalimere

    andMudumalaiwildlifesanctuarieswhilethenorthernextremeisPulicatlakeandthesouthernmosttip

    isCapeComorinorKanniyakumaritheLandsEndofIndia. .

    Withanareaof130,058sqkmandpopulationover62million,TamilNadu is the11th largest

    stateinIndia.TheUnionTerritoryofpondicherryisasmallenclaveinthedistrictofSouthArcot. .

    Traditionally, the land of Tamils has been divided into 5 major physiographic divisions the

    Kurinji

    or

    mountainous

    region,

    the

    Mullai

    or

    forest

    region,

    the

    Palai

    or

    arid

    region,

    the

    Marudham

    or

    the

    fertileplainsandtheNeidhalorcoastalregion. .

    The Eastern and Western ghats meet in Tamil nadu and run along its eastern and western

    borders. All of Tamil Nadu's famous hill stations, i.e Udhagamandalam, Kodaikanal, Kothagiri and

    Yercaudaresituatedinthisregion.The25kmwidePalakkadgapandShencottahgaparetheonlybreaks

    intothelongchainofhillsthatborderwesternTamilNadu.

    Contrasting with the low rockyhills of theEastern ghats, thehillsof theWestern ghats have

    dense forests.ThisareareceivesabundantrainfallandthescenicvalleysofCumbumandPollachiare

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    dottedwithplantationsoftea,coffeeandspices.However,theupperreachesoftheEasternghatsare

    notwithouttheirshareofbeautyandYercaud intheShevaroyhills isfamousfor itsfruitorchardsand

    bananaandcoffeeplantations.

    Tamil Nadu has a wealth of flora and fauna and some of its major wildlife sanctuaries like

    MudumalaiandAnaimalai(IndiraGandhiW.S)aresituatedinthehillsoftheWesternghatswhichisthe

    habitatof

    elephants,

    tigers,

    bisons

    and

    avariety

    of

    monkey

    and

    deer.

    Of

    the

    3000

    and

    more

    plant

    speciesfoundinTamilNadu,amajorityarefoundinthemixeddeciduousforestsofthisregion.Oneof

    themostnoteworthyflowersistheKurinjiofKodaikkanalwhichbloomsoncein12years.Cinchonafrom

    whichquinine adrugfortreatingmalaria isextracted,andeucalyptusgrowabundantlyintheNilgiris.

    Forests of medicinal herbs are found in Palani hills and Courtallam. Palmyrah trees grow by the

    thousandsinTirunelvelianditsproductsareusedasrawmaterialsforseveralcottageindustries.Rubber

    isthemainplantationcropinKanniyakumariandthemoreexoticsandalwoodgrows,thoughnotinvery

    largenumbers,intheJavadhuhillsofVelloredistrict. .

    Theperennial riverof thestate is theCAUVERIwhichoriginates inCoorg in theneighbouring

    Karnataka. The fertile Coromandel plains are irrigated by the Kaveri and its delta in Thanjavur

    NagapattinamregionisknownasthegranaryofTamilNadu.TheotherriversinthestatearethePalar,

    Pennar,Vaigai

    and

    Tamiraparani.

    .

    The arid, desertlike land in the state is confined to a small area in Tirunelveli district and is

    knownasthePalai.ThecoastalTamilNaducomprisestheCoromandelcoastwhichhasitsnorthernhalf

    andtheFisheriescoastwhichisthesouthernhalf.Mylapore,PoompuharandMamallapuramwerethe

    famousancientportsontheCoromandelfromwheremerchantshipssailedtoRome,Greeceandthefar

    east. There are mangrove forests at Pichavaram and prominent bird

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