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Temple, Tamil Nadu

Gemma’s Tamil Nadu Highlights


Product Manager, Gemma, recently visited India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu for the first time. Boasting some of the country’s most impressive temples and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the area is also home to bustling cities, miles of coastline, and quiet forested hilltops. The food is some of the tastiest (and spiciest) in India, and the local people are some of the friendliest. If you’re looking for an authentic Indian experience, that’s not overrun with tourist coaches, Tamil Nadu needs to be on your list! Read on to discover the highlights of her special trip...
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India‘s Tamil Nadu is best known for its abundance of ancient temples. There are thousands scattered across the state and you can quickly get templed-out! If you only visit one temple, make it the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai: an iconic temple complex covering 14 acres.

It’s an architectural wonder featuring exquisite sculptures and ornate gopuram (gateway towers) and considered to be one of the most beautiful and colourful temples in south India. It’s a major pilgrimage site and the atmosphere inside is electric.

Meenakshi Temple, India
Woman cooking Indian food

Treat your taste buds

Madurai is known as the city of temples however it’s also home to some great eateries that serve up an extensive variety of regional cuisine. The best way to sample a mouthwatering mix is on a food tour with a local guide.

You will be taken to a selection of places to eat that only the locals know about. Expect to try Kari Dosa, Idiyappam, Sambar Vada and Kothu Parotta. One unexpected tipple is Paruthi Pal – a drink that’s unique to Madurai.

Bonjour Pondicherry

The coastal city of Pondicherry was ruled by the French until 1954 and has a distinctly French vibe, with its wide, tree-lined boulevards, European churches and colourful colonial houses. And unexpectedly, the bakeries are stacked with delicious croissants!

Pondicherry truly is an oasis of calm after visiting busy cities and lively temples. You can easily spend a day here leisurely strolling the streets, popping into the boutique shops and stopping for a coffee and sweet treat in one of the many cafés.

Tuk tuks in Pondicherry
Brihadeeswarar Temple, India

Tick off UNESCO World Heritage Sites

We’ve already mentioned temples, but Tamil Nadu is rich in cultural heritage and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites are found here. The Brihadeeswarar Temple, near Tanjore, is one of the largest and most important temples in India. It’s an architectural masterpiece constructed using impressive techniques for the 11th century.

Another UNESCO designated site, yet completely different, is the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram: an 8th century, rock-cut temple that has withstood sea winds and saltwater.

And one more thing...

Tamil Nadu is blessed with miles of coastline however you’ll not find beaches set up for R&R. If you’re looking for a beach break to tag onto a busy Tamil Nadu holiday you may wish to consider the Andaman Islands that lie just off the east coast. This archipelago of picture-postcard islands boast unspoilt white sand beaches, pristine jungle interiors and fantastic snorkelling and diving opportunities. Yet they’re little-visited by tourists.

You’ll need to take a domestic flight from Chennai to Port Blair followed by a ferry to Havelock or Neil Island (the most accessible islands), but the lengthy journey is worth the effort.

Beach on the Andaman Islands
Woman on food tour in Madurai

Follow in Gemma’s footsteps and explore the wonders of Tamil Nadu on our Mystical Temples of the South bite-sized trip. Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring state of Kerala can easily be combined to create a longer itinerary. Check out our Sights and Sounds of the South itinerary.

Get in contact with our India Travel Specialists to discuss ideas and plan your adventure to India!




Speak to our India specialist, David

“After multiple unforgettable trips, I can’t wait to plan my next India holiday- there’s always somewhere new and exciting to explore! For me, nothing beats the delicious food and the colourful festivals.”

travel specialist david
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