Discovering Tamil Nadu a 14-day tour
While Kerala has prospered from tourism in the last decade, neighbouring Tamil Nadu remains largely untouched and undiscovered. From the Coromandel Coast to the Nilgiri hills there is much that will reward the more adventurous traveller. The temples are open to non-Hindu’s here and you can witness centuries-old rituals, often as the only western presence.
As a refreshing contrast to the heady temple trial, the 19th century Chettiar trader’s mansions in Chettinad can be visited. The architecture and history stand as an interesting comparison to that of the East India Company, whose headquarters were first in Chennai and Pondicherry with its lovely French quarter and French influence that still influences the unique “Frindian”cuisine in the town.
The temple at Kumbakanom near Tanjore.
The tour offers the opportunity to explore the diverse scenery and culture of Tamil Nadu. Starting in the former French department of Pondicherry. The tour then continues along the Coromandel coastline staying at Tranquebar a former Danish settlement with a 16th Century Fort.
Next travel inland to the temple towns of Kumbakanon and nearby Tanjore, both have interesting temples built by the Chola dynasty who ruled this area during the 11th Century, the temples are open to non-Hindus.
In contrast next travel to the Chettinad region, this area is famous for the vast mansions built by the wealthy Chettiars in the 19th and 20th centuries. Also local weaving, tile making, markets and good antique shops containing many spoils from the mansions. From Chettinad you will drive to Trichy to take the train back to Chennai – the capital city of Tamil Nadu with a fascinating history, once the headquarters of the East India Company, but now a busy commercial centre, here the tour ends.
Chennai/Pondicherry – The Trident/ Palais de Mahe.
Arrive Chennai from UK, short transfer to The Trident hotel, after breakfast drive along the coast, stop at Mahabalipuram a town en-route to visit the famous Shore Temple, a world Heritage site. Stay at the Palais de Mahe, a CGH heritage hotel, located in the French quarter. Pondicherry is easy to explore on foot, with the Joubert market in the Tamil quarter, also lovely churches and temples. Pondicherry has some excellent shops. A walk along the seafront in the early evening is fascinating as the locals promenade and many stalls appear selling food and gifts. A guided tour by cycle rickshaw can be arranged. Chennai Trident (part of the Oberoi group)standard double room – half day. Palais de Mahe , located in the French quarter is part of the renowned CGH group. Deluxe room 3 nights
Pondicherry/ Tranquebar – The Bungalow on the beach. The drive along the coast takes you through the famous temple town of Chidambaram, the temple is run by a unique Brahmin community who run the temple as a private enterprise. Tranquebar was home to a Danish mission founded in 1706, there is also a large fort. The Bungalow is a heritage hotel overlooking the beach. Queen Anna Sophia room 2 nights.
Tranquebar/Kumbakonam – Mantra Veppathur. A short drive inland takes you to the temple town of Kumbakonam. There are eighteen temples within the town, this area was the centre of the Chola empire, many contain superb carvings from that era. Silk weavers live in the town, many still have the looms in their houses and can be visited. Mantra Veppathur is located in the countryside on the banks of the river Veera Chooza. The cottages have been built in a traditional style around the gardens, there is a pool, spa and cookery lessons. Mantra Cottage B&B 2 nights.
Kumbakonam/Tanjore – Ideal River resort. A short drive to the temple town of Tanjore. In Tanjore stay at the Ideal River resort, this is located about 25 minutes from the town, with a pool, beside the river. In Tanjore visit the main Brihadisvara temple, this has been left in the natural stone and contains the tallest tower(62m) in India. The museum in the 16th Century Palace- partly renovated contains some superb Chola bronze statues and a whale skeleton! The library next door has some fascinating ancient manuscripts. There is also the Schwartz church built in 1779 by a Danish missionary.River view room 2 nights
Tanjore/Chettinad about 3 hours drive.
Visalam is a superb mansion built in the 1930’s; the property has been meticulously restored by the CGH earth group and retains some lovely original features such as Italian marble pillars and ironwork from Birmingham. The 15 rooms are light and airy with modern bathrooms, there is a delightful garden with a good-sized pool. Dining takes place is four different locations depending on the time of day. Village walks or a trip on the bullock cart can be taken to explore the old Chettiar mansions. Cookery lessons are available here, the Chettinad food is very hot and spicy. Standard Heritage room 3 nights.
Chettinad/Trichy/Chennai – The Taj Connemara. Drive 2.5 hours to Trichy to catch the train to Chennai at 14.10 arrives Chennai 21.15, a short transfer to hotel. The Taj Connemara is the oldest hotel in Chennai built in 1854, with lovely gardens , a pool and spa. A convenient location for exploring Chennai. Superior room with breakfast.
Chennai – Taj Connemara. A guided sightseeing tour of the city is included, Chennai has a fascinating history, the East India Company was based here during the 17th and 18th Century ,Fort St George completed in 1640, St Mary’s Church built in 1675- one of the oldest Christian churches in India and the former exchange house for the East India company, now a museum containing portraits of Madras governors and other interesting historical objects and letter.
Depart for U.K.Tour length fourteen nights/ fifteen days,
please enquire for current prices.