Which is the old temple in Chennai

Lively temples of Tamil Nadu

Day 1 - Start in Madurai

Transport during the module, visit to the temple ceremony with a guide, overnight stay

This module takes you through the state of Tamil Nadu. Here the residents have a darker complexion than in the rest of India due to the stronger sunlight, the food is even more spicy and the religion is lived even more intensely. Your journey begins in Madurai. With 2500 years of history, it is undoubtedly the most spectacular temple city of Tamil Nadu and was also a highlight for us. The impressive Meenakshi Temple from the 12th century has four huge towers with over a thousand colorful statues on top and you could look at each tower for hours. Only the north tower is a bit bare, so as not to seduce the demons. The huge complex is dedicated to Shiva; Meenakshi was his wife and a princess from Madurai. Inside there is a very authentic atmosphere and most of the places - except for the central Hindu sanctuary - are also allowed to visit. In many places you can see the Brahmins reciting their mantras and pilgrims kneeling at the Holy Shrines. This is also where you can find the famous five music pillars that you can tap on to make music. We only partially succeeded in eliciting beautiful sounds from the pillars. In the evening you will visit a mystical ceremony in the Meenakshi Temple, during which Shiva is led into the bedchamber of his wife Meenakshi.

In Madurai we have chosen a simple but cozy hotel from which you can reach the center on foot or by rickshaw. The climate in Madurai is very hot, so it is advisable to take a short rest in the hotel. The rooms are air-conditioned and very spacious. In the hotel's restaurant you can have a soft drink or have dinner.

Day 2 - With the cycle rickshaw in Madurai

Tour by cycle rickshaw, overnight stay, meals: breakfast (B)

After breakfast we will arrange a special tour for you. Explore the colorful city of Madurai on a cycle rickshaw. You drive from place to place at a leisurely pace and can absorb the unique atmosphere of the temple city. You drive to the typical handicraft areas, visit the weekly market and stop at the interesting Gandhi Museum, with a moving exhibition on the Indian struggle for independence. In the afternoon you can explore the city on your own. For example, explore the Tirumalai Nayak Palace or visit the market across from Meenakshi Temple. If you want to enjoy the magical evening atmosphere of the temple again, you can let your driver know. He will be happy to drive you to the temple.

Incidentally, in Tamil Nadu, with the exception of a few shrines within the temples, almost all of them are accessible to visitors from the west and in some temples we could have stayed for hours.

Day 3 - Madurai - Trichy or Chettinadu - Tanjore

Excursion to the temples in Trichy and Tanjore (without guide), overnight stay, meals: F
Driving time about 3.5-4 hours

You will leave Madurai and continue by private transfer. Discuss your route with the driver as there are two options today. Either drive via Trichy (also called Tiruchirappalli, but luckily you can just call this place Trichy) and visit the huge Srirangam Temple there - a must for fans of Hindu culture. Or you can travel through the Chettinadu region. It is known for its unusual cuisine and for its magnificent houses. Wealthy residents once lived here, who built these imposing villas, some using iron columns from England and setting up furniture made of Burmese wood in the rooms. Many of the houses are still inhabited; some are in a rather shabby condition, others have been lovingly restored. We can also plan an overnight stay for you here; more information at the bottom of the page.

When you arrive in Tanjore you will find a sanctuary which is very different from all other large temples in Tamil Nadu. Instead of the lush colors, the Brihadeshwar Temple is a modest colossus made of sandstone. A visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is very impressive, especially in the late afternoon when the temple glows in a wide variety of colors. Pilgrims crowd to the holy altar and you can quietly experience the special atmosphere. At the entrance you give an account to the temple elephant, who takes the rupees from your hand with its sacred trunk. You sleep in a centrally located hotel.

Day 4 - Tanjore to Pondicherry

Excursion to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the village of Auroville (without guide), overnight stay, meals (B)
Driving time about 4 hours

With French road signs showing the way, we continue to Pondicherry. The former colonial houses with beautiful balconies transport you to the former French Pondicherry with Indian flair. From Tanjore it is a 3.5 hour drive to this pretty boulevard town. The French ruled this pleasant place for a long time and only handed it back to India in 1954. The attractive French quarter of Pondicherry has cozy shops, stately boulevards, elegant churches and green parks. In Pondicherry you can also find a spiritual community at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This community keeps fit with yoga and meditation and lives in a number of buildings in Pondicherry. This community was founded by a French woman, later known as "The Mother", and is responsible for many cultural and educational activities. In addition to visiting the ashram, you will also visit the village of Auroville.

Day 5 - Pondicherry to Mamallapuram

Accommodation, meals (B)
Driving time approx. 2 hours

You continue your journey north and drive to Mamallapuram. You will spend the last night of the module in this cozy fishing village with a hippy atmosphere. You sleep in a simple hotel in the center. The rooms are simply furnished but clean and so you can use the day to explore the city on foot. You can relax in the inner courtyard after the ride.

The small town was not always as sleepy as it is now, but was once an important port and capital of a kingdom. You will find many old reliefs and temples here, most of which are dedicated to Shiva and were built by Queen Pallava. An art-historically important temple is the Shore Temple, which is located directly on the beach and is considered one of the oldest preserved stone temples in the south. If you want, you can hire a guide on site who can tell you about the fascinating mythology. For example, how Shiva caught the water masses of the Ganges with his hair and thus saved the earth from destruction. This scene has been captured very nicely on a rock relief.

Day 6 - Mamallapuram to Chennai

Transfer, meals (B)
Driving time about an hour

It is wonderful to jump into the refreshing pool before returning home. Towards the end of the day you will also see women in brightly colored saris bathing in the sea in Mamallapuram. If you also want to swim in the sea, we advise you to keep your clothes on, out of respect for the other women. From Mamallapuram you finally drive to Chennai, from where your flight goes to Europe or other parts of India.

By the way: If you prefer to start your India trip in Chennai, we can offer you the module in reverse order. You then start in Mamallpuram and travel further south to Madurai. Just talk to us.

Accommodation photos from "Living Temples of Tamil Nadu"

Breakfast in Madurai

Hotel room in Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Hotel with pool in Mamallapuram

For this trip we offer the following additional options:

Lively Tamil Nadu temples with upgraded accommodations

We also offer this module in an upgrade version for everyone who wants more peace and comfort after an eventful day of sightseeing on your tour in authentic Tamil Nadu. You will stay in selected comfortable and elegant hotels.

Traveling expenses: € 762, - p.p. for 2 people for 6 days / 5 nights
Services: Private transfers in an air-conditioned car, 5 nights, 5 x breakfast, tour with the cycle rickshaw and visit to the evening temple ceremony in Madurai with a local English-speaking guide, excursions without a guide to the temples in Trichy and Tanjore, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the village of Auroville near Pondicherry

In Madurai and Tanjore you stay in quiet hotels outside the center with a pool (category 4 each), in Pondicherry in a heritage hotel (category 3 heritage). In Mamallapuram we have selected a hotel with a pool and beach location (category 4) for you. In Mamallapuram in particular, we recommend booking the upgrade hotel, as for many travelers Mamallapuram is the first or last stop on their trip to India.

Stopover in Chettinadu

Enjoy the special atmosphere in Chettinadu and spend a night in an atmospheric villa.

Traveling expenses: 97, - p.p. for 2 people
Services: Overnight stay with breakfast (category 2), car with driver

As described above, you can make a stop in Chettinadu on the day's stage from Madurai to Tanjore. We think it's a lot too

it is worth planning a night here. This way you have enough time to feel the special atmosphere in Chettinadu and you can live in one of the magnificent villas. The accommodation that we plan for you is in the small town of Kandukathan. The house you live in has more than 100 rooms, but only a good dozen are used as guest rooms. The rooms are simply but traditionally furnished and decorated. In the afternoon, take a stroll through the extensive quarter, in which there are many partly dilapidated, partly well-preserved houses from earlier times.
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