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Colombo To Jaffna By Road

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Day 15 Jaffna
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Pondicherry
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,October,November,December
For a dose of south Indian culture with a side of French flavours, travel to the city of Pondicherry (also known as Puducherry), perched on India’s east coast in Tamil Nadu. Peppered with Gallic landscapes of bougainvillea draped colonial townhouses, pastel villas and leafy boulevards, Pondicherry is a haven for both – the traveller in the quest for spiritual awakening, and the leisure-seeking tourist. One of the Puducherry’s most sacred attractions, is the internationally acclaimed Sri Aurobindo Ashram located off Goubert Ave. Drawing lakhs of devotees from across the world every year, the grounds are home to the shrines of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (The Mother), and a meditation hall, which is one of the most peaceful places to visit in Pondicherry. Another must visit destination is the township of Auroville that was founded in 1968, located 8kms away from Pondicherry. The community, houses people of 45 nationalities. One of the lesser known things to do in Puducherry is bird watching at the Ousteri Wetlands, 10kms from the heart of the town. You could spend your mornings at city’s major beaches - Auroville, Serenity, Promenade and Paradise, and end your trip with a walk along the seafront promenade, as you chase the setting sun.
Kodaikanal
Best time to visit - April,May,June,August,September
Translating to 'the gift of the forest' in the native language of Tamil Nadu and originally home to the Palaiyar tribal people, this modern city has been a retreat long since the 19th century. Located in the hills of the Dindigul district, this city was established by British bureaucrats and American Christian missionaries. Kodaikanal offers an experience of stunning culture and natural beauty. Some famous attractions include Kodaikanal Lake, where one can always take a peaceful boat ride, Berijam Lake and Pillar Rocks. Take a walk in the pine forest or explore the Kukkal Caves and the Devil's Kitchen, a cave with a series of hidden ravines. Bear Shola falls, Glen Falls, Silver Cascade and Fairy falls make for a magical setting for nature lovers to observe and unwind. Religious dwellings such as the La Saleth Church, Lutheran Church and Subhramanya Temple are admired famously for their intricate architecture. For the inquisitive minds, Shembaganur Museum of Natural History, which is home to 500 species of taxidermy animals, birds and insects and the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory are great places to visit. Coakers walk, Silent Valley View Point, Perumal Peak and 80 Mile round make for interesting walks and treks, offering breathtaking views of the plains below. Natyanjali Festival, celebrated over 4 days, is a spectacular sight to behold with dazzling dance performances and top notch acts from across the country, which one can enjoy in the months of February or March. You can get a bite to eat at Cloud Street, Cafe Cariappa, Altaf's Cafe and Tava restaurants.
Thanjavur
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
Thanjavur is more of a pilgrim centre than a tourist destination. It is also popularly known as the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu. The city is dotted with temples and palaces that are reminiscent of the Dravidian civilisation, making it not only a temple town but also a cultural headquarter. The ancient Brihadishwara Temple with its ochre foundational blocks is a magnificent piece of South Indian temple architecture with the intricate detailing on its walls, ceilings and pillars. The Thanjavur Royal Palace is another marvel that speaks largely of the royalty of the past empires. There is an art gallery that not only houses art pieces and sculptures from the Chola period but also offers a beautiful view of the entire town. It is a delight to watch festivities such as Pongal, Ekadasi or Saraswati Puja over here when the entire city puts up a show and comes to life. There is a worldwide demand for Tanjore paintings, which have almost become souvenirs for festive occasions of the Thanjavur culture. The artistic brass plates and handloom silk sarees too are beautiful collectibles that are only available in Thanjavur. You can stay at Svatma or Ideal River View Resort to make the trip a rejuvenating one.
Madurai
Best time to visit - January,February,September,October,November,December
With an intriguing history, the oldest inhabited city in the world is a delight to discover. Visited by people from all over the country, no tour of the south is complete without a visit to Madurai. Shree Meenakshi Sudareshwara Temple is a 2000-year-old temple and is a must visit when in Madurai. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. There are four towers in the temple and each tower is embellished with a thousand sculptures symbolising an assortment of mythological themes. There are huge lines at multiple points in the temple so do keep patience. There are also a few rules that one must remember, especially women. Other points of interest in Madurai are Gandhi Museum, Pazhamudhir Solai and Koodal Azhagar Temple. The food in Madurai is a delight for food lovers! There are small stalls selling mutton rolls, which will have your taste buds thanking you.
Tirunelveli
Best time to visit - N/A
This is one of the most beautiful places of Tamil Nadu and also one of the most important in the southern part of the state. This has a glorious history of about 2000 years and was the capital of the Pandya Rulers. Most of the important monuments and temples you will see here belong to the time of the Pandya rulers and the beauty of each of these are worth admiring. Most of these temples are still very well preserved. The presence of the Tamirabharani River makes this place even more beautiful. The main attractions present here are the Sankaran Kovil, Kutrallam, Kattabomman Memorial Fort, tiruchendur, Papanasam, Manappad, Thuthukudi, Mundanthurai and Kalakadu Wildlife Sanctuaries and many more.
Tiruchirappalli
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
This city in Tamil Nadu does not provide much to see unless your sightseeing interests include religious dwellings. In that case Trichy can keep you busy throughout the day with a plethora of temples to visit, such as Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Brahmapureeswarar Temple, Jambukeswarar Temple and the Rock Fort Temple. There is also a majestic Gallo-Catholic church, St. Lourdes, which interestingly lies at the conjunction of a temple and a mosque, an attribute to secularism and diversity. The city is also home to a planetarium, located at the Anna Science Centre, which is worth a visit. Sangeetha, Hotel Kannappa Mannarpuram and Saba are good restaurants for vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Flights to Trichy operate from all around the country, and there are also bus and train services to this city.

About Jaffna

We stopped over at the Jaffna lagoon on the way which had a huge Buddha staring into the horizon. I chatted with some locals and some policemen. They informed me that Jaffna is now a peaceful area and there is no fear of the LTTE or their notorious gang leader Prabhakaran. The journey was a long one. It took us twelve hours to reach Jaffna and finally to my hotel.
Jaffna

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