5 days in Chennai
, staying at Raintree Hotel
(St Mary's Rd). We shall join Storytrails on a few tours around Chennai which shall give a cultural and religious background into Tamil life. We will explore some Hindu temples, some churches, some British monuments and bazaars and do a bit of shopping! A day trip to Kanchipuram, the site of a beautiful ancient temple, and a town where silk sarees are woven will add some colour! 2 days in Mahaballipuram
, a beach town, staying at the Chariot Beach Resort.
Here we shall explore some world heritage monuments and ancient ruins from the late 7th century Pallava empire. This is also a stone cutters' town - some beautiful stone carvings are made here. 4 days in Pondicherry
at either La Villa
or Maison Perumal
. Both very lovely boutique hotels… La Villa only has 6 rooms, so I'm in negotiation with them to book the whole place out. Failing that Maison Perumal is also very lovely. This is a particularly relaxed and chilled part of the itinerary. Pondicherry was a French colonised town. Part of it is very European (still called Whitetown), and the other more congested side is called Blacktown. There are lovely boutique-y shops, cool cafes, set amongst French and British colonial architecture. It is a coastal town with a lovely stretch of beach. For those feeling meditative there is the Aurobindo Ashram, which we shall visit and wander amongst the lovely gardens. 4 days in Thanjavur
at the Ideal River Resort
. This resort is on the banks of the River Cauvery. It is set on a large property with beautiful gardens, and the kitchen will prepare a delicious Tamil meal one night for us. We will visit a few temples - both heritage and in use. We will visit a beautiful Shiva temple called the Brihadeshwara Temple, and visit the towns of Swamimalai and Kumbakonam, known for their bronze artisans where we will be able to see the bronze alloy being made and statues made using the 'lost wax' method. 4 days in Madurai
at either the Taj Pasumalai
or the Heritage Madurai
. Madurai is the site of the colourful and stunning Meenakshi temple. She is a popular goddess, the more benign form of Kali. Her temple and the surrounds are fascinating. We will wander around the temple markets and visit a potters' village. We then fly back to Chennai
, to spend a last couple of days at the luxurious Taj Clubhouse
, where we might do some last minute shopping and get ready for the trip home. Those who are still feeling energetic may want to take a last Storytrail walking tour on food, spices and cooking!