Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu offers a rare sight – mangrove trees permanently rooted in a few feet of water. Together these thousands of trees make up the world's second largest mangrove forest, a spectacle that draws several tourists here every month. To get a closer look, backwater cruises are available and there are more than 400 routes that can be traversed on a boat. Your heartbeat is sure to increase as you penetrate further into the channels of the mangroves. Though it is quite exciting, it can also be risky, for sometimes the boats get stuck in the mud beneath. The playful shades of blue and green, light and dark will keep you glued to this magical topography for hours. The backwaters are interconnected with the Vellar and Coleroon rivers, making it a great spot for rowing, canoeing and kayaking. You can witness a large number of migratory birds on your boat ride, especially if you travel during winter. This includes cormorants, snipes, storks, herons, egrets, spoonbills and pelicans. Besides the forest, Pichavaram is also popular for the Dawn Fest. Organised every year, this is a great event to enjoy folk songs and performances on floating stages, fishing by Irula tribes and yoga too. Pichavaram is easily accessible from Chennai and Pondicherry, which makes it ideal for a day or weekend trip.
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302 Kms from Pichavaram
Best time to visit - January,February,March,September,October,November,December
If you live in a hot part of the country, Bangalore's good weather will immediately put you into a good mood. While the centre of the city has remained as it was during the British Raj, the area encircling it is on a constant boom with a vibrant student culture, popular pubs and a major electronic and industrial lifestyle. As a tourist, you can go see the Bangalore Castle. Modelled on the lines of the Windsor Castle, the one on Bangalore is a great example of the Tudor architectural style. It has beautiful gardens and the wooden carvings. The glass house at Lal Bagh and its botanical garden is a good place to relax while taking a walk. Cubbon park is one of the primary reasons why Bangalore was formerly nicknamed as the Garden City. The picturesque greenery in the middle of the city is stupefying. You can visit the Peninsular Gneiss to witness the oldest granite formations and also the look at the city from an elevated land. For a perfect end to the day, grab a beer at Toit or Peco’s. Follow it up with a grand meal at Koshy’s or Ebony, or the hundreds of other quirky restaurants in the city.
195 Kms from Pichavaram
Best time to visit - January,February,October,November,December
Chennai, standing as the fourth largest city in the country, is still known as Madras by many residents. Kapaleeshwar temple, though always crowded, remains a popular visiting site where one can witness southern India's multi-hued spiritual energy and the beautiful sculptures bedecking it. A place to unwind and enjoy some good street food would be Marina Beach. Those who wish to avoid the crowd, however, should pick Eliot's Beach, which is also relatively cleaner. The Anna Centenary Library is also a great refuge for peace and solace. If anything vintage charms you, make it a point to visit the 17th century British Fort, St George and the historical neighbourhood of George Town circumscribing it, now thronged with bazaars selling everything from spices to flowers and bangles. Parallel to this commercial hub is the Armenian street housing an 18th century Armenian Church. Nature lovers will dote over the Madras Crocodile Bank, where these sunbathing beauties can be seen and thoroughly learnt about. On the same lines, Arignar Anna Zoological Park is another must visit, especially for families with children, who will receive the much required infotainment. Chennai is an unforgettable site of colours and music during January when the festival Pongal is celebrated. Restaurants such as Copper Chimney, Hotel Saravana Bhavan, Dakshin remain widely known for their exquisite versatile cuisines constituting the whole of south India.
58 Kms from Pichavaram
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,October,November,December
Pondicherry used to be India's biggest French colony, and is now the home of many French citizens. This has an influence on the architecture, food and culture. The rocky Promenade Beach is ideal to take long walks along the serene Bay of Bengal. The yellow sand, yellow sea and yellow sky merge to create a breathtaking panorama. Do indulge in scubadiving to experience the abundance of aquatic flora and fauna. The Soorya Beach Resort and Le Pondy Resort are excellent choices for staying by the sea. The city is also the location of Auroville. This innovative township houses explanatory concepts based on diverse philosophies and ideas. The Aurobindo Ashram here is a platform to seek spiritual pleasure. Through the method of integral yoga, the followers aim to become one with the divine, without renouncing the world. A distinct food culture is also notable due to the Franco-Tamil hybridity. Delectable French pastries, baguettes and appams! Seafood and continental! Savour the flavour. Oh! And I almost forgot to mention the rock-bottom prices of alcohol. For delectable food, try Cafe Xtasi and Baker Street. Try ice-cream from a wide variety at Ibaco. A visit is worth a palpable sense of contentment in India’s own French connection.
287 Kms from Pichavaram
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.
101 Kms from Pichavaram
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.
252 Kms from Pichavaram
Best time to visit - January,February,March,November,December
Known all over the country for the sacred Sri Venkateswara Temple, Tirupati is located in the Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh. The temple is actually located in Tirumala along with a number of other temples, though Sri Venkateshwara Temple or Tirupati Balaji is the main attraction for visitors. Tirumala is always bustling with energy owing to the many tourists as well as the number of festivals celebrated here. Legend has it that one should visit Sri Varahaswami temple before visiting Sri Venkateswaraswami. Varahaswami owned the seven hills and agreed to give them to Sri Venkateswaraswami with the demand that he too should be worshipped. And for this, Sri Venkateswaraswami asked his pilgrims to visit the Sri Varahaswami temple before visiting him. For first timers there are a few things you should keep in mind including appropriate clothing, no alcohol and carrying extra locks for your rooms as well as vehicles. Before visiting the temple, you'll need darshan tickets, which are available at various TTD counters across the country. A beautiful place with immense spiritual energy, Tirupati is a must visit.
249 Kms from Pichavaram
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.
139 Kms from Pichavaram
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.