Many of us often read about the Great Pancha Bootha shrines, the shrines sung of by the 12 Alvars (Vaishnavite saints), the Six Abodes of Lord Muruga, and of the hundreds of temples sung by the Great Four Saivite saints. For those people already familiar with Tamil Nadu, this is very much treading a well beaten path. Instead, in this article I would like to present a checklist of 100 alternative sites to visit beyond the usual tourist centres

1. Connemara Library - Chennai
2. Saraswathy Mahal Library - Thanjavur

These two libraries host very rare books.

3. The Honey Falls - Courtalam (the other falls are well known - Shenbaga Devi, Five Falls, Old Courtalam Falls, Main Falls, Tiger Falls and Pongumaankadal)
4. Avudayar Temple Granite Ceiling - Avudayar
5. Thiruvallam Suzi Palakani/window
6. Tharamangalam Pillar

Whenever the ancient Tamil sculptors make a contract, they say that they would take on any work but items 4, 5 and 6 - they were such masterpieces.

7. The Musical Pillars - Madurai, Sucheendram, and other temples
8. The Big Nandhi Statue and 80 tonne granite stone in Thanjavur tower - Thanjavur
9. The Monolith Sculptures in Meenakshi temple showing Meenakshi's wedding scene - Madurai
10. The penance of Bhagiratha sculpture at Mahabalipuram
11. Macacue in the Kallakadu Forest. This kind of monkey is not seen anywhere else in the world.
12. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
13. Panban Bridge
14. Padmanabhapuram Palace. Don't miss the bed made up for 64 herbs and the wooden Ramayana sculptures.
15. Sunset and Moonrise at the same time in Kanya Kumari (also Vivekananda Rock, Valluvar Statue and Bhagavati's nose ring)
16. Kalaikudi Chettiar Palace
17. The Jewels of Madurai Meenakshi. Now they are likely to be worth several million rupees.
18. The 108 gestures of dance (Bharatanatyam) in Chidambaram Temple and the golden dome.
19. The huge pillars of Thirumalai Nayak Mahal (no wood or iron was used in this huge palace).
20. The world horoscopes in the Madurai Temple Kalyanam Mandapam (Bhugolam and Kagolam).
21. The Nataraja Statue made of five metals. The dance of Shiva has recently been interpreted variously by scholars and scientists.
22. Ramasethu - Dhanushkodi (even the Nasa pictures from the satelite shows this structure)
23. Nagaswaram made of stone - Alvar Thirunagiri and Kumbakonam
24. Thiruvarur Temple drum with five faces and ivory Nagaswaram
25. Sri Rangam Temple is the largest Hindu temple. It spreads over 156 acres and has 21 towers. The tallest tower is 236ft high.
26. Darasuram Temple sculptures - the delivery scene of a village woman, Ravana lifting Kailash and the ornamental pillars are remarkable
27. Hoganakkal Falls in the Kaveri River.
28. Silk Sarees industry in Kanchipuram and Thirubhuvanam
29. The Thousand Pillar Halls in Madurai, Thiruvanamalai and Thiruterunthurai
30. Chennai Kollywood Cinema Studios
31. The Cave Temple in Narasimham with 1500 year old Pandya inscriptions near Madurai
32. Sithannavasal Cave Paintings near Pudukottai
33. Kurinji Flowers in Kodaikanal and Nilgrais. They bloom once every 12 years.
34. The longest pod - Anaipuliamkottai (this is seen in Tamil Nadu forests and grow up to 5 feet)
35. Uttarakosamangai Maragatha statue (called emerald stone; it is always covered in sandalwood paste)
36. The gold coins of Chera, Shoza and Pandyas found in several museums
37. Vattakottai - the Fort in the Sea - Kanya Kumari District
38. Chenji Fort
39. Sripuram Golden Temple near Vellore. 1,500 kg of gold cover the temple.
40. Valampuri Conch (the big conches in temples are worth several hundreds of thousands of rupees).
41. The Ilmenite and Thorium sand - Kanya Kumari.
42. The pith sculptures - made by artisans all over Tamil Nadu
43. Rare musical instruments at Thanjavur palace
44. Wonderful trees - the Banyan tree in Adayar, the Mango tree in Kanchi temple, the Tamarind tree in Alvar Thirunagiri and the Redwood trees (exported to foreign countries due to resistance to radiation).
45. The oil well in Nanguneri and pure water well in Thiruchandur (on the seashore).
46. The mangrove forest in Pichavaram
47. The magnificent Rangoli/Kolam in front of houses during Diwali and Pongal (precise geometric shapes and patterns drawn without a ruler or compass by Tamil women - they are born with a gene for mathematics!)
48. The Tea estate in Valpari Gardens
49. Fossil trees in Sathanur and Thiruvakarai. They are millions of years old. Dinosaur eggs were also excavated here.
50. 24 Jain Theerthankarar statues near Chenji
51. Papanasam Waterfalls near Thirunelveli
52. Thirumurthi Waterfalls near Coimbatore
53. Thirparappu Waterfalls near Nagarcoil
54. Kolli hills - Puliyan Solai (72km from Thiruchi)
55. Namakkal - Durgam Fort
56. 18ft Hanuman statue at Sucheedram Temple (Also the big statues at Namakal and Nanganalloor).
57. Udayagiri Fort (Near Nagarkoil)
58. There are Samadhis of great people wherein the devotees experience miracles.
- Kulanthaianandar - Madurai
- Gnananandar - Thirukovilur
- Sadashiva Brahmendra - Nerur (near Karur)
- Kanchi Mahaswamigal - Kanchipuram
- Bodhendrar - Govindapuram
- Mother - Pondicherry
- Aurobindo - Pondicherry
- Thiyagabrahmam - Thiruvaiyaru
- Ramana - Thiruvannamalai
- Seshadri Swamigal - Thiruvannamalai
- Judge Swamigal - Pudukottai
- Swayamprakasa Swamigal - Senthamangalam
- Pamban Swamigal - Thiruvamiyur
- Ramanujacharya - Sri Rangam
- Vallalar -Ramalinga Swamigal - Vadalur
- Kaduveli Siddhar - Kanchipuram. There are 51 Jeeva Samadhis in and around Chennai.
- The following 18 great Siddhas are already known to many
- Pazani - Bogar
- Madurai - Sundaranandar
- Rameswaram - Patanjali
- Thiruvarur - Kamalamuni
- Mayuram - Kuthumbhai
- Sankaran Koil - Pambatti Siddhar
- Thiruparankundram - Macha Muni
- Azagar Malai - Ramadevar
- Thiruvannamalai - Yelaikadar
- Yettukudir - Valmiki
- Thiruvarangam - Sattai Muni
- Perur - Gorakkar
- Vaitheeswaran Koil - Dhanvantri
- Chidambaram - Thirumular
- Outside Tamil Nadu - Kasi - Nandeeswarar, Thirupathi - Konganar, Thiruvanandapuram - Agastiar
59. Gulf of Manar - Coral Reefs
60. Grand Anaicut of Karikalan
61. Bull fighting in Alanganaloor near Madurai
62. Flamingos of Point Calimere/Codikarai
63. Sculptures of hunters in Krishnapuram (near Tirunelvelli)
64. Colour changing Ganesh statue at Keralapuram
65. Ancient Jain University in Sitharal
66. Thiruchi - Rock Fort which is 271ft high
67. Kumbakonam - Rajaveda patasala
68. 14ft Krishna statue at Thipparamalai
69. Thiruvarur Chariot (also Kamalalayam Tank)
70. Sri Vallipathur - Andal Garland and the mirrored well
71. Kurusalay Island - Biologists' paradise
72. Ganga Chozapuram sculptures. The smile of the Nataraja statue reflects Appar's Thevaram hymn.
73. The houses of the Badagas and Thodas tribes in the Nilgris
74. Chennai Marina Beach
75. Chennai T Nagar - Ranganathan St (nowhere else in the world can you see so many street vendors in such a tiny place)
76. Thiruvattaru Koil Mandapa - an 18ft square, 3ft thick monolith base on which the mandapam stands. Its an engineering marvel.
77. Thiruvannamalai - Karthigai Light cauldron - 10ft high/5ft radius cauldron with a 300 metre long wick and thousands of kilos of ghee
78. Sivagasi - fireworks and calendar industries
79. Gulf of Mannar - Pearl diving
80. Panrutti clay dolls (Navaratri)
81. Poompuhar - Where the river Kaveri meets the sea
82. The temple vahanas (Particularly the golden horse/eagle/bull in several temples)
83. Othagamandalam Mountain Railway.
84. 3rd Century BC Brahmi inscriptions around Madurai
85. Orchideriums in Yerkad and Kondaikanal. Orchid flowers are rare and expensive.
86. Kavalur - Observatory and telescope
87. Madras AIR station
88. Guindi Rajabhavan Deer Park
89. Thanjavur - Golden Kamakshi Statue
90. Pallankuzi - the ancient Tamil game that has spread to far flung places such as Indonesia and Senegal in Africa
91. Pazani Hills - Siddha medicine centres
92. Kanchipuram has 124 temples. One of them is Varadharajaperumal Temple, which contains 357 inscriptions in one temple.
93. Sunlight entering certain temples on particular days. For example, in Srivaikundam Temple, sunlight falls on the deity on the 6th day of Chitrai and 6th day of Aippasi. There are lots of temples like this in Tamil Nadu.
94. Production of Wheat Halwa in Thirunnelveli
95. Chennai Music Sabha concerts
96. Kalakshetra in Adiar
97. Chennai Koyam Pedu vegetable market
98. Madurai Jasmine flower cultivation and export industry
99. Erode - Turmeric market
100. Thirupoor - vest and towel industry