How to plan a trip to major tourist/pilgrim spots in Tamil Nadu


Tamil Nadu, one of the most developed States of India has plenty to offer by means of very good temples, beaches, tourist paradises, and more. What many tourists lack is the inside knowledge of how to travel comfortably within the State and save time and money, and yet enjoy the trip. This article is an attempt in this direction.

Best time to visit Tamil Nadu

Whenever you plan a trip, the first thing you must check is what might be the best time to visit that particular place. That means climate is an important point that affects your trip. This same point is applicable whenever you plan a visit to Tamil Nadu. There is so much to see here and hence you need to plan two or three trips on different dates year after year. The first possible trip is the Chennai/Kanchipuram/ Ooty/Kutralam trip, which will take around ten days. But the important fact is that this trip should be planned in the last week of July and the first week of August., when there will be rains and Ooty will be superb.

In trip number two, one can go direct to Tiruchirapalli/Madurai/Tirunelveli/Nagercoil/Kodaikanal and come back to Chennai. This trip will take about eight to nine days. It should be planned between last week of October and the first week of November, when the climate will be good after the rains. This is basically a temple visit to some of the superb temples. Hence this period is suggested.

In trip number three, one can go to Tanjore/Kumbakonam/Chidambaram and this will also take eight days. If you are planning this trip, remember to visit during October/December.

The other times are pretty hot and during the dates mentioned above, the temperatures are always moderate, and with little rain. The huge advantage of a ten day tour is to space out the journey, covering both the tourist destinations, and the temples where one can pray in peace.

The first hop, particularly for those from up North of India, is obviously Chennai. Contrary to some public perception, Chennai, which is the fourth largest city of India, is also a huge cosmopolitan city and today one can even find Japanese food served in five star hotels. Of course, there are a huge number of restaurants serving superb vegetarian food, at very reasonable prices.

Attractions

The Adayar Snake park, the majestic Marina Beach(the second largest beach in the World), the historical place of Mahabalipuram, (some fifty kilometers from Chennai, well connected by buses), the Vandaloor Zero and the MGM theme park are some good places to visit in Tamil Nadu. The Kishkinda theme park located near Tambaram is another good place to see.

At Mahabalipuram, one can see majestic temples now maintained by the Archeological Survey of India, dating back to the seventh and eighth centuries, and built by the Pallava Dynasty. The sheer architectural beauty attracts millions of foreign tourists who stay on for even one week in this place.

The city buses ply to Mahabalipuram and there are the "hop on, hop off" AC buses too. Chennai is one city where the public transport is so good, and the transport expense will be minimum, as one can see everything with hours and travel by buses right through. For example, even to Vandaloor Zoo, which is around forty kilometers from Chennai, there are direct buses that go from Broadway or one can go up to Tambaram and even the inter-city buses to places like Tindivanam. Please do note from Tambaram one can travel by city buses to another forty kilometers on the Southern side.

Visit to Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram is a very nice city located at eighty kilometers from Chennai, and thousands of buses ply to Kanchipuram from Tambaram as well as Koyembedu, which is the largest bus station in Chennai and the largest in Asia as well.

Kanchipuram is home to the superb Kamatchi Amman Temple and the Varadaraja Perumal temple, both of which are located very much within the town limits. Traveling by autos is very convenient and cheap too. Kanchipuram also has very good restaurants, and so one can plan a trip starting at 6AM, complete visiting both the temples and also visit the peaceful and highly respected Kanchi Mutt.

Two full days at Chennai (including visit to Mahabalipuram) and one day for Kanchipuram should be fine.

Trip to Ooty

On day four, please do take any overnight train to the city of Coimbatore, the second largest and the most beautiful city of Tamil Nadu. This industrial city has a superb place called Kovai Kutralam, which is a lovely water fall, and the Siruvani dam. This city is also home to a superb Murugan temple situated on top of a small hillock called Maruthamalai, which is very well connected by bus. The city can be covered in two days time and, at around 6PM you can catch a bus to Ooty. There are thousands of buses right up 11 PM. There is the superb heritage train from a place called Mettupalayam, but reservations for train travel have to be done at least two months in advance. The bus journey is more easy.

There are so many places to see in Ooty for three days. The main attractions here include Ooty Botanical Gardens, the Ooty lake(famous for its boating), the Botanical Gardens and the Ooty Rose Garden. It is wise to book the rooms in advance. The good two star hotels have very good tourist guides, who can help one plan a nice sight seeing trip to all places. Please do not believe the touts/strangers.

July to August is also the Kutralam Season. So one has to come back to Coimbatore, and take the night train to Tirunelveli. There are hundreds of Government and private Volvo buses. It is best to stay at a town called Tenkasi, and visit the superb Kutralam falls, as this is the peak season. The water falls from a height of over one hundred feet and the beauty has to be seen to be believed. Please do note, only day time is the best time here.

Trips two and three

Trips two and three are basically temple trips, for those who are religiously minded. Those who believe in praying for their near and dear ones, who are no more, Rameswaram has all the facilities. This town is superbly connected by buses and trains from Madurai. However, the best will be the visit to the Magestic Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple. One can also find the best South Indian food, which means, the pipe hot Idlis, that are so soft and served with a lot of affection. Four chutneys and hot sambar, will keep one glued to the taste.

Tirunelveli also has a number of temples. The trip to Nagerkoil is a must, as one can also see nature at its best. There will be superb greenery everywhere. The Suchidram temple here is worth a visit.

Thanjavur and Kumbakonam have so many temples, difficult to be accommodated here. Chidambaram is famous for the Nataraja temple.

Conclusion

The trips can be done at a far lesser cost than what one would have to spend elsewhere. This is chiefly due to the fact that Tamil Nadu has the best organized bus transport to every nook and corner of the State. However, three trips as suggested above, is a must, if one wants to cover around seventy per cent of the "must see" places. If one wants to combine Kodaikanal , the second most beautiful tourist spot in Tamil Nadu, in trips two and three, it is essential that the trip should start and end during the September holidays. Please do note to go straight to Kodaikanal and then to other places.


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