kumbakonam : Tamilnandu

Kumbakonam is a busy, grimy business center, settled along the Cauvery River some 37km northeast of Thanjavur. you can visit numerous superb Chola temples scattered around town, or head east to the coastal towns of the Cauvery Delta. It’s also an easy day trip from Thanjavur. road names and signs here are more erratic than usual.

Thanjavur : Tamilnandu

Famous the magnificent World Heritage–listed Brihadishwara Temple, and a sprawling Maratha Palace complex, Thanjavur is an easy-going town and a worthy stopping off the Chennai–Madurai route. The town is famous also for its unique art style, a combination of raised and painted surfaces. Krishna is the most popular deity depicted. Thanjavur was the ancient capital of the Chola kings, whose origins go back to the beginning of the Christian era. The Cholas’ era of empire building was between AD 850 and 1270; at the height of their power, they controlled most of the Indian peninsula.

Madurai : Tamilnandu

Famous for the awe-inspiring Sri Meenakshi Temple complex, Madurai is an lively city crowded with pilgrims, beggars, business-people, bullock carts and underemployed rickshaw drivers. It’s one of South India’s oldest cities and has been a center of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. Madurai’s landmark temple in the heart of the old town is a remarkable example of Dravidian architecture with gopurams covered from top to bottom in a breathtaking profusion of multicolored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures.

Kanyakumari : Cape Comorin

Approached through a surreal landscape of wind farms, Kanyakumari is the ‘Land’s End’ of the Indian subcontinent, where the Bay of Bengal meets the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. Chaitrapurnima (Tamil for the April full-moon day) is the time to experience simultaneous sunset and moonrise over the ocean. Kanyakumari has great spiritual significance for Hindus, and is dedicated to the goddess Devi Kanya, an incarnation of Parvati. Pilgrims come here to visit the temple and bathe in the sacred waters.


Mamallapuram is Tamil Nadu’s only true travelers’ enclave, a mix of sun, seafood and sand with a dash of seediness thrown in. But it’s much more than that. Famous for its ancient rock carvings, especially the Shore Temple, it was once the second capital and seaport of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. The village is listed as a World Heritage site and remains a renowned centre for stone carving; you’ll see and hear the constant tapping of hammer and chisel as artisans chip away at exquisite sculptures.


With its seafront walkway, wide boul­evards, enduring gift of French culture and architecture, and a popular ashram, charming Puducherry – whose name officially changed from Pondicherry in October 2006 – is unlike anywhere else in South India. A big draw in Puducherry is its alluring restaurants – many serving an approximation of French cuisine – and some superb hotels that make use of the town’s French architectural heritage. Without the crippling taxes of Tamil Nadu, beer is relatively cheap and accommodation good value.