Travel in Rajasthan, India
A Rajasthani Kid is playing "Ek Tara"
Thar Desert Jaisalmer in Background, Rajasthan, India

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Travel Itineraries

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Indian States Information

Tamil Nadu

Kerala Houseboats, Tamilnadu - IndiaThe southern state of Tamil Nadu is referred to as the cradle of Dravidian culture, an ancient culture distinguished by unique languages and customs. The cultural icons are everywhere - huge temples with their towering gopurams (spires) not seen anywhere else in the country, intricate rock carvings, evocative music and, of course, the complex classical dance. Tamil Nadu is a bastion of Hinduism at its most vigorous, whose past endures into the present.

Temples in Tamil Nadu were the fulcrum of society and even today art forms that have their origin in religious worship continue to colour daily life. Notable among these are splendid bronzes of deities, painting on glass and Bharatanatyam, an evocative dance form.

Tamil Nadu offers the traveller excellent value, particularly in accommodation. Hotel prices are generally lower than they are further north and standards are often higher.

Cuisine

The Aryans never brought their meat-eating influence to the extreme south of India, so Tamil Nadu is more or less totally vegetarian. Dosas (crispy pancakes) and idlis (steamed rice dumplings) have become enormously popular all over the country. Mounds of rice accompany every meal, sweets are a favourite, and coffee is more popular than tea. Alcohol is more likely to be available in non-vegetarian restaurants.

Cities

Chennai (formerly Madras)

Tamil Nadu's capital is a major metropolis, the centre for Tamil films, the most convenient point of entry to South India, and a fast-growing software and retail center. Chennai has an international airport, a sea port and a rail and road network that links it to all major towns and cities. It also has several deluxe hotels and others to suit modest budgets. Visit:

The Art and Bronze Gallery (closed on Fridays and Public holidays)

The Flower and Fruit market

High court

Fort Museum

Marina Beach

Santhome Cathedral

Snake Park

Film Studios, try your luck at 'being discovered'

Kalakshetra Arts Village, to see skilful performances of traditional dance

Coimbatore

This inland district on the east coast is a modern city thriving on its textile, engineering produce and synthetic gems industries. It is famous for its elephant training camp on Varaghliar and Tirumurthi hill forests. Annamalai Sanctuary, rich in wildlife and teak forests, tea and coffee plantations is an added attraction.

Fast Facts of Tamil Nadu

Area

130,058 Sq. Km.

Population

55.8, Million

Capital

Chennai

Climate in Summer

 [March to June] - Warm

Climate in Winter

 [November to February] Warm & Pleasant

Clothing in Summer

Cottons

Clothing in Winter

Cottons or Light Wollens

Languages Spoken

Tamil

Best Time to Visit

December to February

Places to Interest :

Chidambaram

Between two rivers in a 40 acre temple-complex, lies the temple of Chidambaram, one of the oldest, and most magnificent temples of South India. Shiva Natraja (the Dancing Shiva) stands in his cosmic dance pose in the golden sanctum sanctorum. Flanking the temple are 108 sculptured illustrations of Bharat Natya Shashtra.

Kanchipuram

The temple town of Kanchipuram, 64 kms from Chennai, was the ancient capital of the Pallavas. Famous as a city of 1000 temples, it still has 124 shrines. The first temple, dedicated to Shiva, was built in the 7th and 8th century and has paintings on the walls. The temples of Ekambaswara, Kailasanatha, Sri Kamakshi and Varadarajaswamy are also of interest. Kanchipuram, also called Kanjeevaram, is also famous for its silks.

Madurai

Madurai's famous Meenakshi Temple, with its gopurams rising high above the surrounding countryside, is dedicated to Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Also visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace, a gracious building in the Indo-saracenic style, famous for the Stuccowork on its domes and arches; the Alagar Hills; and the Tirupara Kundran Rock temple.

Kodaikanal

120 kms from Madurai, Kodaikanal is a charming hill station situated amidst the grandeur of the southern crest of the upper Palani hill in the Western Ghats, at a height of 2135 mts. Its tranquil lake framed by wooded hills, mighty rocks, slopes and enchanting waterfalls mesmerize visitors. It is noted for hybrids and grafts, hill plantain, fruits and plums and the Kurunji flower which blossoms once in 12 years.

Udhagamandalam (formerly Ooty)

This "little patch of England" was established as a hill station by the British in the early part of the 19th century, in the Nilgiris or the Blue Moutains (so called because of the blue haze that envelops them). Today, echoes of the Raj still linger in its little cottages, colourful gardens, winding lanes, old churches, Botanical Gardens and the lake surrounded by eucalyptus groves. A fine retreat from the heat of the plains, Udhagamandalam is a great place to honeymoon or simply unwind. Visit the Dodabetta Peak and Wenlock Downs.

Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is famous for its' seven pagodas - a group of ancient rock hewn temples on the seashore. They are an excellent example of the Dravidian style of architecture. Mahabalipuram itself is a good example of a temple town, where a multi layered society that preached faith and grew from social harmony developed within the temple precincts.

Rameshwaram

The island of Rameshwaram, spread out over 56 km of gentle sand dunes, embellished with casuarina trees and stark palms, is a sacred place for Hindus since, according to the Ramayana, this is where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva to absolve himself of the sin of killing Ravana. A dip into the sacred waters of the Agnitheertham, which was calmed by Rama, is a must for Hindus.

Thanjavur (formerly Tanjore)

This temple town has the beautiful Chola Temple of Brihadeshwara (a World Culturage Heritage site), capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite block weighing 80 tons. It was taken to its' position with the help of a 6 km long ramp, using the same technique as the Egyptians did for building pyramids. Thanjavur is an important center for bronze figure casting, and its' bronzes and handicrafts make it one of the highlights of a visit to South India.

Kanniyakumari

The Southern-most tip of peninsular India, where the waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea meet, offers visitors the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Visit the Swami Vivekananda Memorial perched on a little rocky island close to the seashore. Also visit The Gandhi Memorial.

Trichy

Trichy, also known as Tiruchirapalli, was the citadel of the Chola dynasty in the medieval period. In the 18th century it witnessed the Carnatic wars fought between the French and the English. Lord Robert Clive's house still stands and so do the Danish Church and The Rock Fort. 434 steps lead to the ancient temple of Ganapati, and a further climb takes you to a Shiva temple.

Vedathangal

This sanctuary is 80 kms from Chennai. The waterbirds are mostly found here during their breeding season, from November to January.

Mamallapuram

Has famous temples, finely carved ancient monuments, beaches and sculptors plying their skills. The Shore temple, here, is a World Cultural Heritage site.

Pondicherry

Quite a contrast to Tamil Nadu's temple heritage is this erstwhile French colony. French is still widely spoken, and seaside villas and cobbled streets are more reminiscent of the south of France than the south of India! The main mode of transport is the bicycle.

Mudumalai Sanctuary

This 103.24 sq km sanctuary is home to elephant, gaur, chital, sambar, tiger, panther, sloth bear, and wild dog. The nearest airport is at Coimbatore (160 kms) and nearest railhead at Udhagamandalam (64 kms). The best time to visit is from February to June.

Brihadisvara

Brihadisvara is the showpiece of Chola architecture, the most enduring aspect of the four-century rule of the Cholas (AD 850- AD 1280). It was probably the richest temple of its time and is today a World Heritage site. The temple rituals have changed little in the thousand years of its existence. Even today, the deity is woken up to the accompaniment of ceremonial music and, after a morning bath, the rituals start with the Vedic chants and singing. In time-honoured tradition, the temple is closed in the afternoon to allow the Lord a nap and the priests return to their homes in adjoining streets, where their families have lived since the time of Rajaraja Chola. At four in the evening, the temple doors are opened again and the rituals start until it is time for the Lord to retire for the night.

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