Tamil Nadu is definitely my favorite state - my Indian love at first sight. Let me explain why...
This is the temple that I found the most fascinating during all my visits and trips to India. Perhaps because it was the first Hindu temple that is still in use that I visited during my first trip to this country. Whatever the reason, for me, and for a lot of travelers in India, the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is a place that is unique in the world.
A real town within a town, night and day, it is always bubbling with life. Always bustling, I have spent hours and even whole days wandering about there, or sitting in a corner of the temple, watching this unending spectacle of life, not noticing the time passing. Processions, offerings, all sort of prayer...Every moment is enchanting. Unmissable.
In the heart of Tamil Nadu, only an hour by car from the capital of Madras, there is a tranquil spot where it's good to spend a few days at the start or the end of a trip to India. I usually go there for the weekend before taking my plane back from Madras.
Mahabalipuram was originally a fishing village but has gradually transformed itself into a seaside town where the capital's well-off inhabitants come to spend a weekend, and where travelers come to relax for a few days on the beach.
Nevertheless the atmosphere is still very pleasant and quite tranquil. The beach is so big that you come across more fishermen and lonely cows than you do tourists. There are a few inexpensive hotels and some really nice little restaurants where you can have a good time.
To get to Rameshwaram the train has to go over the sea! It's wonderful! Then you arrive on this incredible peninsula which houses a small village and the famous temple of Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu's holy place, also called the Benares of the South.
Make sure you go right to the end of the peninsula, on the incredible 22km long tongue of sand that is rightly called "the end of the world". On one side you can bathe in the turbulent waters of the Indian Ocean and on the other in the tranquil waters of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. An outstanding experience during a trip to India.
If you are traveling in Tamil Nadu you will almost certainly go to its capital, Madras. So I recommend you make the most of it and try the experience of being an extra in a Tamil movie.
In fact, Tamil Nadu has a very big movie industry, whose main studios are based in the capital, Madras. The film crews regularly recruit people from all over the world to take part in scenes. You are paid in food, or a few rupees, but you'll always remember the experience!