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.
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288 Kms from Thanjavur
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.
151 Kms from Thanjavur
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.
Eravikulam National Park
236 Kms from Thanjavur
Best time to visit - April,May,June,September,October,November
This national park is the breathtaking home of a plethora of precious flora and fauna, and lies along the Western Ghats. Considered the magnum opus of Kerala, the park provides magnificent panoramic views of tea plantations and rolling hills blanketed in mist. The grasslands protect the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and harbour several other species of animals, birds and butterflies, including a new species of frog that was discovered recently. Eravikulam park becomes a sought after destination when the hill slopes get veiled by a carpet of blue, a miraculous phenomena caused by the flowering of Neelakurinji, which blooms only once in 12 years. Anamudi, translating to elephant's forehead and located within the park, is the highest peak of South India and its might and height of 8,842 ft can be enjoyed from a distance at Rajamala, from where the endangered Nilgiri Tahr can also be observed. The park provides a number of safaris for convenient and safe tourism around the park. The Kurinji Trail, which follows through misty tracks of protected animals and flowery grasslands, is a must for trekking lovers. Another famous but charming spot is the Lakkom Waterfalls, which provide an enchanting view along with an eco-shop cafeteria to eat at. Close to these falls is a log house, which offers comfortable accommodation with complimentary food and the much desired solitude and peace amidst the lap of nature.
283 Kms from Thanjavur
Best time to visit - May,June,September,October,November
This renowned hill station once housed the Madras Presidency during the British Rule and possesses many remnants in the form of regal looking bungalows, such as the Stone House, The Ootacamund Club, Government House and Fernhill Palace. This along with the tall pine trees in the green areas almost makes you believe you are in old English country. Ooty is also home to some of the most breathtaking lakes in the country, such as the Avalanche Lake, Emerald Lake and the popular Ooty Lake. For some adventure, one can hop on the Nilgiri Toy Train and enjoy a ride through the blue mountains, winding through dense forests, dark tunnels and valleys from Ooty to Coonoor. Ooty is heaven for nature lovers and a trek through the Mukurthi National Park will be etched on your mind for years to come, offering a stunning panorama of carpet like green hills, home to the tallest peak of the Nilgiri Range, several wildflowers and beauties such as the Nilgiri Tahr, Bengal Tiger, Indian Elephant, Leopard, Bonnet Macaque, Mouse Deer, Otter, Small Indian Civet and many more. If you still want more, you can take a mesmerising walk through the charming 19th century Government Botanical Gardens. Ooty's beauty can be explored more adventurously with everything from horse riding to hand gliding and mountain biking, all arranged by various resorts. Avid readers will be overwhelmed to visit the 19th century Nilgiri Library, sheltering around 25,000 books and hosting many events to promote reading habits among all age groups. Chocoholics should place King Star on the top of their itineraries for purchasing a plethora of delicious homemade chocolates. More delicious food from vegetarian, cafe to non-vegetarian cuisines can be enjoyed at popular places such as Quality Restaurant, Earl's Secret and Willy's Coffee Pub, which also has a commendable library for one to delve into while enjoying their drink. Witness Ooty come alive in the month of May, with its vibrant boat races and flower shows, hosted across the town.
247 Kms from Thanjavur
Best time to visit - January,February,March,September,October,November,December
A major city and commercial hub in Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore offers not much in terms of touristic attractions unless you're on your way to Ooty or any of the Nilgiri hill stations. Although some places might make for really interesting stopovers, such as the Kovai Kutralam Falls, Vaidehi Waterfalls and Thoonakkadavu Lake. For a taste of knowledge, there's the Gass Forest Museum, which is a natural history museum, or pay a visit to G.D. Naidu Industrial Exhibition, a science and exhibition centre which has a lot to exhibit in terms of innovation and science. The city is home to innumerable temples, some of them being Marudamalai and Velliangiri hill temple. Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park makes for an interesting visit for nature lovers. Places such as Shree Annapoorna, Junior Kuppanna and Anandhas Quality Vegetarian are well known for their Indian dishes.
195 Kms from Thanjavur
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.
245 Kms from Thanjavur
Best time to visit - February,March,April,May,August,September,October,December
This is the kind of place that will look good on any camera, no matter which angle you take your picture from. Emerald green hills, with mist looming over them like wandering ghosts, Munnar makes for a vacation that will be etched in your memory for years. Munnar happens to be South India's largest tea growing region, hence a walk through its aromatic tea gardens cannot be missed. For more insight into the tea industry, the Tea Museum can make for an interesting visit. Sadly the meddling of the plantation industry with the flora and fauna, causes many species to lose their habitats and become endangered, some being the Nilgiri Thar, the Nilgiri wood-pigeon, the Grizzled Giant Squirrel, the gaur, the sambar, and the Neelakurinji flower, which blossoms only once in 12 years. Consequently, Munnar is home to many national parks, such as the renowned Eravikulam National Park, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kurinjimala Sanctuary, Amaravati Reserve Forest, Anamudi Shola National Park and the Pampadum Shola National Park, a visit to which is highly educational and peaceful. More quiet and scenic spots include Devikulam Lake and Attukal waterfalls. Munnar also caters to restless spirits, who can enjoy adventure sports such as paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling and even cycling. Some famous places to eat are Rapsy restaurant, Saravana Bhavan and Eastend, all known for their delicious non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes. Munnar is easiest to access by road through state run or private buses, compared to flights since the nearest airport is in another city, Cochin. The nearest train station is in Aluva, although cabs and buses are easily available from both the places to reach Munnar.
149 Kms from Thanjavur
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.