Tamil Nadu, South India
Main Attractions: Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville
Popular Excursions: Chunnambar, Karaikal, Arikamedu
Like to Swim, row a boat, or simply watch the sunrise and picnic
at the beach, or go trekking, or feel comfortable on a tree house?
Then Chunnambar is the right place, and to reach Chunnambar in Ariankuppam,
which is just 7-km from Pondicherry
(commonly known as Pondy), one has to go to Cuddalore. Any bus plying
from Pondy to Cuddalore will take one near this spectacular backwater
front. A campfire enthusiast's favourite haunt.
A historical site, 4-km south of Pondicherry, which revealed local
trade with Romans as early as 2nd century BC, some even believe
Roman settlements existed. Wine seems to have been a major import
as excavated amphora jars suggest. In return, textiles, precious
stones and shell-jewellery left these shores.
Moreover, one will still be able to find the amazing ruins of an
18th century French Jesuit Mission House here. It was abandoned
Ousteri Lake (14-km)
Pedal your way to the enchanting Ousteri Lake. A centuries-old,
man-made water body, which the French made good use of, connecting
it to a system of canals. Verdant crops make it a scenic location.
In addition, the lake serves as a bird sanctuary, sheltering an
incredible range of aquatic species.
Nesting along the Bay of Bengal, Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) was
a 7th century port of the Pallava kings. The cave temples here were
carved out of a granite hill mostly between the 5th and 8th centuries.
Besides, one will also find the famous Shore Temple to the east
and the Chariot temples to the south.
Chidambaram (74-km From Pondicherry And 65-kms From Karaikal)
The Nataraja temple located at the centre of the town, sprawls over
an area of 40 acres. With the roof of the Sanctum Sanctorum covered
with gold plates. The presiding deity is represented by air and
is known as "Akaasa Linga".
One can choose one's picnic spot within thousands of acres of lush
mangrove forests. A number of backwater canals criss-cross the area
forming several islands.
A temple town with a history dating back to 23 centuries, Kancheepuram
is called "The City of Thousand temples". The Ekambareswaran temple
said to be the largest Shiva temple has a 1,000-pillared hall and
one of the tallest 'Gopurams' of 185m in South India. Today, the
town is perhaps more widely known for its lovely silks.
The Arunachaleswara temple, a renowned Shiva temple, is situated
at the foot of a hill here. The ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi is
only 3-km from this temple.
Gingee, one of the finest forts in India, is built on 7 hills and
still houses several interesting structures.
On the coastal Bay of Bengal close to Tanjore of Tamil Nadu is Karaikal
- earlier it was part of the Tanjore district. It came under the
French East India rule in 1738. The area of Karaikal is 160-sq-km
with a population of 119,978. The Catholic Church "Our Lady of Angels"
was built in 1740 and underwent repair and renovation in 1828, but
still reminds the past. Though not a popular tourist destination,
there are some spots to visit like Hindu temples of Lord Shiva and
Goddess Ammeiyar. The beach is 1-km away and regular buses ply from
Kumbhakonam to Karaikal.
Yanam was earlier situated in Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
French took hold of it in 1731. The area is 30-sq-km with population
strength of 11,627.
And on the west coast to the north of Kozhikode in Kerala there is
a hilly town. Mahe shaded by coconut trees. The area is only 9-sq-km,
population 28,401. The nature and climate is alike kerala, went
under the rule of French in 1721.
Also known as Tranquebar, this former Danish settlement, contains
the fairy tale-like remains of a 400-year-old fort on the seashore.
On confluence of River Cauvery with the Bay of Bengal, lies this
ancient historic port city of the Chola Dynasty also known as "Ksveripoompattinam".
The healing powers associated with the Basilica of Our Lady of Health
here, draws pilgrims from all religions and faiths.
Kumabakonam is famous for the 'Sarangapani', the 'Kubereshwara',
the 'Nageswara' and the 'Ramaswami' temples. The 'Mahamagam' congregation
takes place over here once in 12 years.
Thanjavur rose to glory as a centre of learning and culture during
the Chola reign between the 10th and the 14th centuries. This place
is renowned for its 11th century Brihadeswara temple, the finest
of its kind in South India. Moreover, the Fort Serfoji Museum over
here holds the richest collection of Chola bronzes.
The Hazrat Meeran Sultan Sayed Shahabdul Hameed Dargah attracts
devout Muslims from far and wide.