Highlights

  1. Exploring Mamallapuram’s rock-cut Shore Temple
  2. Discovering Trichy’s river-surrounded island temple
  3. Visiting Thanjavur’s exquisite Brihadishwara Temple
  4. Roaming Madurai’s Meenakshi Amman complex
  5. Experiencing Indo-French culture in pretty ‘Pondy’

Day 1: Chennai to Mamallapuram

Arrive in Chennai before travelling down to Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) on the Coromandel Coast – a resort town that’s home to UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples, a thriving fishing industry and, according to celebrity chef Rick Stein, India’s best curry. Overnight at Ideal Beach Resort.

Day 2: Mamallapuram

Embark on a morning trip to Kanchipuram, the Pallava dynasty’s ancient capital, before returning to the coast and exploring Mamallapuram’s stone-carved structures – the highlight of which, arguably, is the appropriately named Shore Temple. Overnight at Ideal Beach Resort.

Day 3: Mamallapuram to Puducherry

Travel south along the cost to Auroville, a 60s-established New Age community dedicated to unity and peace. Proceed to ‘Pondy’, visiting the intriguing Sri Aurobindo Ashram before wandering the charming streets of the French Quarter. Overnight at The Promenade.

Day 4: Puducherry to Thanjavur

Continue down to Chidambaram, whose Shiva Nataraja-dedicated complex is among the region’s temple highlights. Proceed to Gangaikondacholapuram’s 11th-century Shiva temple before taking in similarly impressive monuments at Darasuram and Swamimalai, finishing at Thanjavur (Tanjore). Overnight at Tanjore Hi.

Day 5: Thanjavur to Tiruchirappalli

Visit Srirangam’s Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, located on an island in the River Cauvery north of Tiruchirappalli (Trichy), before travelling back to Thanjavur’s Brihadishwara Temple – arguably the finest structure left behind by the Chola dynasty, and whose foundations date back to 1002 CE. Overnight at Tanjore Hi.

Day 6: Thanjavur to Madurai

Head south-west towards Madurai. On arrival, explore the iconic Meenakshi Amman Temple – quite possibly South India’s most impressive man-made monument. Later, watch tailors at work at Puthu Mandapam, the temple’s former eastern entrance hall. Overnight at GRT Regency.

Day 7: Madurai to Chennai

Visit Thiruparankundram’s Murugan-dedicated temple before flying to Chennai, where you’ll connect with your onward international return flight. Image: Pratyeka/Wikimedia Commons

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