History of Tamilnadu

Prehistory

Tamil Nadu's history dates back to pre-historic times and archaeological evidence points to this area being one of the longest continuous habitations in India. In Adichanallur, 24 km from Tirunelveli, archaeologists from the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed 169 clay urns containing human skulls, skeletons and bones, plus husks and grains of rice, charred rice and Neolithic celts, giving evidence confirming them to be of the Neolithic period, 3800 years ago.The ASI archaeologists have proposed that the script is "very rudimentary" Tamil Brahmi.Adichanallur has been announced as an archaeological site for further excavation and studies.

About 60% of the epigraphical inscriptions found by the Archaeological Survey of India in India were from Tamil Nadu and most of which are in Tamil language

Chera Rule

From early pre-historic times, Tamil Nadu was the home of the four Tamil kingdoms of the Chera, Chola, Pandya and Pallavas. The oldest extant literature, dated between 300 BC and 600 BC mentions the exploits of the kings and the princes, and of the poets who extolled them. Cherans, who spoke Tamil language ruled from the capital of Karur in the west and traded extensively with West Asian kingdoms. An unknown dynasty called Kalabhras invaded and displaced the three Tamil kingdoms between the fourth and the seventh centuries CE. This is referred to as the Dark Age in Tamil history. They were eventually expelled by the Pallavas and the Pandyas.

Pallava Rule

Around 580 CE, the Pallavas, great temple builders, emerged into prominence and dominated the south for another 150 years. They ruled a vast portion of Tamil Nadu with Kanchipuram as their capital. They subjugated the Cholas and reigned as far south as the Kaveri River. Among the greatest Pallava rulers were Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I. Dravidian architecture reached its peak during the Pallava rule.

Pandya Rule

Pallavas were replaced by the Pandyas in the 8th century. Their capital Madurai was in the deep south away from the coast. Tirunelveli was their another important city which is the South India's second largest producer of Rice after Thanajavur. Nellaiappar temple, Tirunelveli and Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai are some of the best examples of Pandyan Temple architecture. Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli is the first largest Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu.

Chola Empire

By the 9th century, under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose as a notable power in south Asia. The Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal. At its peak, the empire spanned almost 250 million acres (1,000,000 km2). Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular South India and parts of the Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navies went even further, occupying coastal Burma (now Myanmar), the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of the Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

The Cholas excelled in building magnificent temples. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur is a classical example of the magnificent architecture of the Chola kingdom. Brihadshwara temple is an UNESCO Heritage Site under "Great Living Chola Temples." Another example is the Chidambaram Temple in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram.

Pandya Rule (Restored)

With the decline of the Cholas towards the end of the 11th century, the Pandyas rose to prominence once again, under Maravarman Sundara Pandya.

Delhi Sultanate

This restoration was short-lived as the Pandya capital of Madurai itself was sacked by Alauddin Khilji troops from the north in 1316. The invasion led to the establishment of the Madurai Sultanate.

Vijayanagar Empire

These northern invasions triggered the establishment of Vijayanagara Empire in the Deccan. It eventually conquered the entire Tamil country (c. 1370 CE). This empire lasted almost three centuries.

Rule of Nayaks

As the Vijayanagara Empire went into decline after mid-16th century, the Nayak governors, who were appointed by the Vijayanagar kingdom to administer various territories of the empire, declared their independence. The Nayaks of Madurai and Nayaks of Thanjavur were most prominent of them all in the 17th century. They reconstructed some of the oldest temples in the country such as the Meenakshi Temple.

Rule of Nizams and Nawabs

Around 1609, the Dutch established a settlement in Pulicat. In 1639, the British, under the British East India Company, established a settlement further south, in present day Chennai.

The British exploited rivalries between the provincial rulers to expand their sphere of influence throughout the Nizam's dominions. The British fought and reduced the French dominions in India to Pondicherry. Nizams bestowed tax revenue collection rights on the East India Company by the end of 18th century. Some notable chieftains or Poligars who fought the British East India Company as it was expanding were Maveeran Sundaralinga Kudumbanar , Veerapandya Kattabomman, Pulithevan and Dheeran Chinnamalai.

British Empire

In early 19th century, East India Company consolidated most of southern India into the Madras Presidency coterminous with the dominions of Nizam of Hyderabad. Pudukkottai remained as a princely state under British suzerainty.

Independence

When India became independent in 1947, Madras Presidency became Madras State, comprising present day Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh up to Ganjam district in Orissa, northern Karnataka, and parts of Kerala. The state was subsequently split up along linguistic lines. In 1968, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, meaning Land of Tamil.