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Tamil Nadu

India

1/5 Hindu priests perform elaborate rituals within the temples
Hindu priests perform elaborate rituals within the temples
2/5 Brihadishwara temple, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu
Brihadishwara temple, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu
3/5 Pondicherry: a little piece of France in Tamil Nadu
Pondicherry: a little piece of France in Tamil Nadu
4/5 A myriad of colourful sculptures representing gods of the Hindu pantheon decorate temple towers across India
A myriad of colourful sculptures representing gods of the Hindu pantheon decorate temple towers across India
5/5 The French Quarter, Pondicherry
The French Quarter, Pondicherry

Too far south in India for invaders to reach and make their mark the architecture, music, culture and spirituality of Tamil Nadu developed in its own way

Too far south in India for invaders to reach and make their mark the architecture, music, culture and spirituality of Tamil Nadu developed in its own way. Religion dominates nearly every aspect of life and you are never far away from elaborately decorated temples, some of them so big they are like villages in their own right. Sensuously carved dancers and deities charm their way on to walls and columns, vibrant medieval paintings cling to ceilings and hand cast bronze statues shelter in holy niches.

Heading south from Madras (Chennai) temple highlights include the eighth century sea ravaged Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, the pilgrimage town of Kanchipuram ‘golden city of 1000 temples, Tanjore (just 100 here), dominated by the enormous Brihadishwara temple and Trichy with a temple topped rock looming above markets. If that all sounds a little too temple-tastic then we’ll only insist that you visit Madurai - its Sri Meenakshi temple draws hundreds of worshippers every day and is not to be missed.

Temples are Tamil Nadu’s big draw but in our opinion the tea plantations and forests of the Southern Ghats are also worthy of exploration and can be reached by the narrow-gauge Nilgiri Blue Mountain Railway to the hill station of Ooty. There’s a little piece of France to be enjoyed in the enclave of Pondicherry on the Coromandel coast, and Chettinad demands a leisurely few days of pottering around its abandoned mansions, cycling down quiet lanes and digging around the markets for antiques.

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A few of our favourite places to stay:

The Coffee Shop, Heritage Madurai is a part of the original building designed by the architect Geoffrey Bawa

Heritage Madurai

In the 1970’s the world renowned Sri Lankan architect was

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Maison Perumal

Pondicherry’s Tamil Quarter is frequently overlooked but

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Tanjore Hi hotel, Tanjore

Tanjore Hi

Built in the 1940’s for a member of the Tanjore royal

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Who to talk to

Andrea Hulme

Andrea Hulme’s travel experiences could fill a small novel; from a bit-part in a Tamil movie, to leading expeditions in Kyrgyzstan and negotiating landslides along the Karakoram highway.

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At Natural High, we've had long experience putting together trips in Africa that really work. Whether it's intimate bushcamps in out of the way places, or a private lodge in one of Africa's top-billing wildlife areas, light mobile camping or remote island escapes, we know there is a lot to choose from. We're absolutely confident that we can recommend the right places for you.

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