Hear about a one-week itinerary for your travel to Tamil Nadu in Southern India as the Amateur Traveler talks to Girin Nayak about his native region.
Why should you go to Tamil Nadu?
“Tamil Nadu is where one of India’s ancient civilizations started. And it’s also just a bit of statistics. It was the number one state in India for domestic tourists in 2020 and the number two state for foreign tourists. So clearly there is something happening here, which makes everyone come here. So there is something for everyone. There’s heritage, there’s culture, architecture, shopping, and great food.”
Girin recommends a one-week itinerary to the region starting in Madurai, and then heading to the Chettinad region and finishing in Thanjavur.
Madurai is the Indian version of “the city that never sleeps”. Its two biggest sites are the Meenakshi Temple and the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal (Palace).
The Meenakshi Temple dates back to around the year 1200 and covers 14 acres. It has 14 different colorful gate towers known as gopuram. The gopuram are covered with small deity figures and other figures from Hinduism. There is a pond with a floating golden lotus that legend says was used as one of the first plagiarism detectors. Girin recommends visiting some of the shops outside of the temple and particularly some of the street food vendors.
The Thirumalai Nayak Palace was built in the 1600s. Girin says, “it used to be a grand place, but it fell into ruin, especially during several conflicts with colonial traders and armies.”
You can also visit the local Gandhi Memorial Museum.
We talk about side trips from Madurai that Girin recommends to the Keezhadi excavation site which dates back 2000 years, the much cooler Kodaikanal hill station, and Silver Cascade Falls.
The region of Chettinad is known for its rich 19th-century mansions from the local merchants, many from the spice trade. Here is a great place to book a stay in a mansion like Visalam or Chidambara Vilas. This is a more quiet area. It is a great place to visit antique markets or explore the old Thirumayam Fort. Girin also recommends a visit to a tile factory to see the handmade tiles of Athangudi. Also in Athangudi, you can visit the Athangudi Palace.
Around Thanjavur, you can visit the Great Living Chola Temples which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 3 11th-century temples compose this site including the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, and the Airavatesvara Temple at Kumbakonam.
Visit the Thanjavur Maratha Palace, taking the time to stop in the library of the palace to see their collection of ancient palm-leaf manuscripts, from before paper was introduced to India.
See the sites, try the food, and meet the people of Tamil Nadu.
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right click here to download (mp3)
Travel to Chennai India – Episode 681
Hall Of Thousand Pillars
Nannari Sarbath – Indian Sarsaparilla Sharbat
Paruthi Paal, a nutrient-rich healthy drink from cottonseed
Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal
Madurai Nayak dynasty
Gandhi Memorial Museum, Madurai
Bun Parotta Recipe
Keezhadi excavation site
Silver Cascade Falls
Karaikkudi Antiques Market
The Bangala Chettinad
The Eco-friendly Handmade Tiles of Athangudi
Chettinad Kuzhi Paniyaram: Rice balls recipe by Chef Sadaf Hussain
Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Thanjavur Maratha Palace
Thanjavur Maratha kingdom
Saraswathi Mahal Library
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