Temples and Traders of Tamil Nadu

Overview

Temples and Traders of Tamil Nadu

Discover the Colonial trading posts of India. These towns and villages contrast French and Danish Architecture with Ancient Indian temples, bustling centres with leafy, almost English, backlanes.

Begin your holiday with a sightseeing tour Srirangapatnam, a river island town and home to the Ranganathaswamy temple, & Mysore, an ancient city with a glittering royal heritage, bustling markets, magnificent monuments, and a cosmopolitan culture.

Discover the Former British Settlement of Ooty and take the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway to Coonoor.

Experience the unparalleled magnificence of the Meenakshi-Sundeshwarar in Madurai. The gigantic, multi-coloured gopura towers of the ‘Fish-Eyed Goddess’ soar 46m above the city’s streets, writhing in stucco figures of gods, saints, demons and mythical monsters.

Next you’ll travel through the rural backwater of the Chettinad region, famous above all for its eccentric 19th and 20th-century mansions, which were built by members of the Nattukottai Chettiyar caste. Here you’ll have the chance to visit local temples and merchant homes, before driving north to Thanjavur and the impressive Brihadeshwara temple.

The next few days will be spent exploring former Danish colony of Tranquebar, and the exploring former French colony of Pondicherry. Pondicherry was an important trading outpost since the time of the Romans, but saw its heyday in the 1740s under the flamboyant governorship of François Dupleix. This enduring French influence is epitomised by the leafy streets of Pondi’s old European quarter, the ‘Ville Blanche’, where you still come across policeman wearing a red képis and houses whose colour-washed facades wouldn’t look out of place in Provence.

The final location on this itinerary is the city of Mahabalipuram, littered with dozens of ancient and fascinating monuments.

What's Included:

  • Return flights.
  • 14 nights in hotels (accommodation as specified or similar).
  • Bed & Breakfast basis.
  • All transfers and listed activities.
  • The services of an experienced tour leader.

Full Itinerary

Day 1: UK - Bangalore

Fly overnight to Bangalore on a direct service from the UK.

Day 2: Bangalore - Mysore

Arrive in Bangalore early morning, and drive to Mysore, the former capital of Wadiyar Rajas for a two-night stay.
Overnight - Windflower Resort Meals - Breakfast

Day 3: Mysore

Today is a day of sightseeing in Srirangapatnam & Mysore. Enclosed by the river Kaveri, the town of Seringapatam is a river island 10 miles from Mysore city. The town has great religious significance as the location of the 9th century Ranganathaswamy temple - an important centre of pilgrimage in south India.

Mysore itself is an ancient city with a glittering royal heritage, bustling markets, magnificent monuments, and a cosmopolitan culture. The city is a thriving centre for the production of premium silk, sandalwood and incense, which it markets worldwide.
Overnight - Windflower Resort Meals - Breakfast

Day 4: Ooty

Today you will travel to Udhagamandalam, better know as Ooty. Situated deep within the Nilagiri hills, Ooty was established by the British in the early 19th century and, outside the bustling centre, features what could be mistaken for English country lanes. Visit the Botanical Gardens in the afternoon.
Overnight - Taj Savoy Hotel Meals - Breakfast

Day 5: Coonoor - Madurai

Enjoy a ride on the Romantic Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Ooty to Coonoor. The British built this famous train line in 1908 and features steam locomotives and rack and pinion tracks. Drive on to Madurai for two nights.

Coonoor is a major tea market town at an altitude of 1,858m (6,561ft). Lying at the head of the Dodabetta Ravine, its core is a messy bazaar of tin-roof shops and warehouses – the real interest resides in the town’s upper, leafy fringes, where pretty Raj-era bungalows are swathed in lush tea plantations with sweeping views over the valley.
Overnight - Taj Gateway Hotel Meals - Breakfast

Day 6: Madurai

Visit the Meenakshi temple this morning, a World Heritage Site.

For sheer visual impact, no Hindu temple in South India can match the magnificence of the Meenakshi-Sundeshwarar in Madurai. The gigantic, multi-coloured gopura towers of the ‘Fish-Eyed Goddess’ soar 46m above the city’s streets, writhing in stucco figures of gods, saints, demons and mythical monsters. The great pyramids, however, are merely an overture to the wonders enclosed below, where a labyrinth of richly carved pillared halls, colonnaded walkways and interlocking courtyards host a never-ending round of rituals.
Overnight - Taj Gateway Hotel Meals - Breakfast

Day 7: Chettinad

Roughly midway between Trichy and Madurai, on a plain studded with granite boulder hills and groves of Palmyra palms, lies the Chettinad region. This rural backwater is famous above all for its eccentric 19th and 20th-century mansions, which were built by members of the Nattukottai Chettiyar caste, a prosperous banking and mercantile community who made their fortunes on the back of British rule in Sri Lanka, Burma and other colonies in Southeast Asia.
Overnight - The Bangala Meals - Breakfast

Day 8: Chettinad

Explore this fascinating region; visit local temples and merchant homes.

The grand houses they built in their homeland reflected the Chettiyars’ cosmopolitan lives. Think ‘English stately home’, with a dash of Loire château, crazy polychrome colour schemes, and riot of ornate Mughal domes and Rajasthani cupolas. Several landmark Chettiyar properties have been turned into luxurious heritage hotels where, in addition to an intimate experience of the region’s quirky architecture, guests may sample the region’s famously spicy, peppery cuisine. Cycle rides to craft workshops and village temples fill the days between sessions by the poolside or spa.
Overnight - The Bangala Meals - Breakfast

Day 9: Thanjavur

Drive north to Thanjavur to see the impressive Brihadeshwara temple. The most illustrious dynasty to rule the far south of India in medieval times were the Cholas, whose legacy is most visible in a chain of astounding stone temples erected across their rice-bowl heartland, the Kaveri Delta. Dedicated to Shiva as Nataraj, or ‘Lord of the Dance’, the Brihadeshwara in the former Chola capital of Thanjavur (Tanjore), is the crowning glory of the sequence.
Overnight - Ideal River View Resort Meals - Breakfast

Day 10: Tranquebar

Drive to Tranquebar visiting the many Kumbakonam temples en route.
Overnight - The Beach House Meals - Breakfast

Day 11: Tranquebar

Explore this former Danish colony on foot. Born as a site of a temple built in the 14th Centuary, the fort at Tranquebar was built by the Danish, who occupied the area for more than 200 years. Tranquebar is rich in colonial architecture and contains goods from around the world form when the Danish used the settlement as a trading post. In the museum you will find porcelain ware, Danish manuscripts, glass objects, Chinese tea jars, tea lamps, decorated terracotta objects, figurines, lamps, stones, sculptures, swords, daggers, spears, sudai (stucco) figurines and wooden objects. There is also part of a whale skeleton and small cannonballs.
Overnight - The Beach House Meals - Breakfast

Day 12: Pondicherry

Drive up the coast to Pondicherry via Chidambaram. Pondicherry was an important trading outpost since the time of the Romans. The former French colony of Pondicherry saw its hey day in the 1740s under the flamboyant governorship of François Dupleix. Dupleix competed with his British East India Company counterpart, Robert Clive in Madras to carve out a French empire in Asia. He failed, ultimately, but a pervasive Gallic ambience endures amid the leafy streets of Pondi’s old European quarter, the ‘Ville Blanche’, where you still come across policeman wearing a red képis and houses whose colour-washed facades wouldn’t look out of place in Provence.
Overnight - Maison Perumal Meals - Breakfast

Day 13: Pondicherry

Walking tour of the French quarters; visit Auroville.
Overnight - Maison Perumal Meals - Breakfast

Day 14: Mahabalipuram

Drive to Mahabalipuram to see the ancient Shore Temple and other monuments. Its familiar contours smoothed by more than 1300 years of salt breezes, the diminutive Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram is just one among dozens of extraordinary ancient monuments dotted around the popular little seaside resort of Mamallapuram.
Overnight - Radisson Blu Temple Bay Meals - Breakfast

Day 15: Mahabalipuram

Spend a day at leisure in Mahabalipuram. You could watch the village’s stone carving tradition in action at innumerable workshops around the back lanes, where a pantheon of many-armed deities, mythical monsters and film stars are chiselled from slabs of local granite. Alternatively you can take an optional sightseeing tour in Chennai.
Overnight - Radisson Blu Temple Bay Meals - Breakfast

Day 16: UK

Take an early morning direct flight back to the UK, arriving back the same day. Meals - Breakfast

Hand Picked By

Rachel Jones

As one of my favourite places, India is a country of incomparable fascination; with its astonishing sights and its extraordinary natural beauty. The main problem facing any traveller to the subcontinent, is where to start. We work with India specialist, TransIndus, and can put together an itinerary to suit your needs exactly. Wherever you wish to go, contact us now.

Rachel Jones

Additional Information

  • Date: Various departure dates
  • Board Basis: Bed & Breakfast
  • Duration: 15 nights
  • Departure Airport: London Heathrow
  • Guide Price: From £3,435pp
 Enquire Now

Latest from our Travel Experts

Eva's Star Clipper Voyage Around Thailand

star clipper

I have just come back from an amazing trip to Thailand on the 'Star Clipper'. It provided the experience of a traditional sailing ship or private yacht...

Read More
Star Clipper Tall Ship Sailing Adventure

suzanne hero

I travelled this winter to Phuket in Thailand to join the Star Clipper for a unique sailing adventure through Thailand and Malaysia.

Before joining the...

Read More
Walking Tour of the Amalfi Coast with Claire

claire hero

Having only worked for Miles Morgan for 8 weeks I could not believe my luck when I was offered an educational trip a couple of weeks ago. Someone had...

Read More