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Tamil Nadu

This southern most state of India has some of the most amazing temples of the country that allure the travelers coming here. Adorned with vast beaches, serene hill stations, mind boggling cuisine a trip here will surely leave you wanting to come for more.

Temples

This “Land of Temples” studded with complex architectures, sculptures, rich inscriptions remains the very essence of culture and heritage of the state with most of the temples between 800 -3000 years old. Scattered across the length and breadth are temples that are thematic spiritual circuits and living museums with constant activity that depicts the regions cultural heritage. Some of the spectacular temples are Kailasanathar at Kanchipuram, Thillai Nataraja at Chidambaram, Brihadeeswarar at Thanjavur, Sri Ranganathaswamy at Srirangam, Meenakshi Amman at Madurai and Ramanathaswamy at Rameshwaram. Also worth visiting is the new age Golden Temple near Vellore where you can see that building incredibly large temples has never stopped in Tamil Nadu.

Heritage

Heritage evolved through the rule of famous dynasties like Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas with a history of more than 3000 years and each contributing richly to its development. This has been reflected with UNESCO declaring Airavateswara temple at Kumbakonam, Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur, monuments at Mahabalipuram and Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple at Jayakondam as World Heritage Sites. Tamil Nadu has also culturally contributed to literature, music and arts. In fact, Tamil has been given the classical language status and Bharatha Natyam which is the most famous and oldest among the classical Indian dances originates here. Maybe you will be able to learn a few steps of this dance form to practice back home.


Hill Stations

The most famous of hill stations in South India - Ooty, which is also known as the “Queen of Hills” and along with Coonoor in the Nilgiri biosphere which is part of the Western Ghats is a year round destination. Other well known hill stations are Kodaikanal and Yercaud. Valparai located at 3500 feet above sea level on the Annamalai hill range of Western Ghats with its spectacular scenic beauty and tea plantations at a short distance from Coimbatore is now emerging as a popular place of visit. Some of the finest tea plantations in India known for its aromatic brew are located in the Nilgiri and Annamalai hill ranges and are ideal destinations for tea tourism, so why not taste some of the best tea straight from the gardens where you might just come across a bison lurking around.

Beaches

With a coast line of 910 kms along Bay of Bengal on the eastern sea board Tamil Nadu has some of the most tranquil beaches on this stretch. At the southernmost tip of Kanyakumari one can witness three major water bodies of Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean merging into each other. Some of the well known beaches are Covelong on East Coast road, Marina in Chennai which is the second longest urban beach in the world and Mahablipuram. Other beautiful beaches are Danuskodi near Rameshwaram and Muttukadu near Chennai. Just relax, watch the sun rise or explore the places around, you will surely not be disappointed.

Cuisine

The region has rich cuisine involving both non vegetarian and non Vegetarian dishes. Many of the snack variety originated and evolved from ancient traditions and are still popular like idly, vada, pongal. Over a period of time based on geographical areas the cuisine developed into its own variation of common dishes in addition to the local dishes. It broadly comprises of Chettinad cuisine from the areas of Kariakudi, Kandanur, Atahngudi, here food is aromatic and spicy with dishes like Kozhi Varuval (Chicken fry), Melagu Perathal (pepper chicken), Eral Thokku (prawns fry) along with Idiyappam (string hoppers) and Paniyaram (dumpling) are popular. Nanjilnadu cuisine from the southern area of Kanyakumari is famous for its fish curry, being a coastal district, fish and coconut form the integral part. Konganadu cuisine from the western districts of Coimbatore and Erode is predominantly vegetarian like Oppitu, Kambu Koozh (porridge), Vazhai Poo Vadai. Finally the cuisine of Madurai, Tirunelveli which are predominantly non vegetarian dishes and parotas like kottu (minced) and mutai (egg). Forget your calories and try out the wide variety of dishes on offer.

Pondicherry

Along the eastern sea board it has diverse attractions along the 32 kms of coast line like palm fringed beaches, fishing villages, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, International township of Auroville, French quarter with beautiful boulevards known for its heritage is a great place to look around, take a walk or attend a cultural program, enjoy fine meal with a glass of wine at one of its quaint restaurants, rent a bike and take a ride along the sea facing promenade, learn some pottery, do some serious meditation or go fishing. Explore the Tamil quarter in a cycle rickshaw or just walk along its narrow streets and try their local cuisine.

Chittinad

It is a land of heritage, splendor and devotion. The Chettinad houses are adored for its 19th Century mansions which are palatial with wide courtyards, spacious rooms embellished with marble and teak. These houses are found in and around the villages of Kaanadukatham, Aathangudi, Kandanur and Kodiyapatti. Some of them are converted into boutique hotels where you can go back in time to the glorious years of Chettiyars and experience their regal life style. Take a tour around the country side and smell the age old remnants which history has left behind in Chettinad. Visit the stately Chettinad Palace, Vairvan Kovil, Karpaga Vinayakar and Kundrakudi Murugan temples, Aathangudi tile factory, besides check out art work centers, saree weaving centers, antique shops and take back a piece of heritage. Off course, indulge in authentic Chettinad cuisine.