For the visitor wishing to explore southern India extensively, Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, is the most convenient point of entry. Chennai has an international airport, a sea port and a rail and road network that links it to all major towns and cities of the region. It also has several deluxe hotels and others to suit modest budgets. Tamil Nadu is a bastion of Hinduism, whose past endures into the present. Temples with towering spires called gopurams are a common feature of this state, seldom seen anywhere else in the country. Temples in Tamil Nadu were the fulcrum of society and even today art forms that have their origin in religious worship continue to colour daily life. Notable among these are splendid bronzes of deities, painting on glass and Bharatnatyam, an evocative dance form.
Mamallapuram
Mamallapuram renowned for its shore temple is still popularly referred to as MahabaIipuram, after the Pallava ruler­Narasimhavarma I Pallavammala - [also known as MahamaIla, the great wrestler], who made this port town famous in the 7th century and was largely responsible for its magnificent temples. There are fourteen cave temples, nine monolithic raths or shrines in the shape of temple chariots, three stone temples and four relief sculptured rock panels.
The rock carvings at MamaIlapuram are noted for their delightful simplicity and freshness and stone carving is still very much a living craft here. This pleasant and friendly village has an excellent combination of cheap places to stay, interesting restaurants, handicraft shops, a good beach and the fascinating remains of an ancient Indian kingdom.
Places of Interest
Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance, Ganesh Ratha, Trimurti Cave Temple, Mandapams, Five Rathas, Museums, Beaches.
How to reach
The best way to get there is by bus from Chennia, Pondicherry or Madurai.Taxis are also available to get here.
 
Vellore

About 157 Kms by road from Chennai, is Vellore , a dusty semi - rural bazaar town. The only place worth visiting is the 13th century
Vijaynagar Fort that is even today very well preserved. The Jalakanteshwara Temple within the fort complex is superbly sculpted. The tiny Museum also within the fort contains sculptures dating back to the Pallava and Chola periods.
Christian Medical College & Hospital [CMC&H] one the best equipped and renowned hospitals in the country is a major landmark here at VeIlore. Originally established by Dr. Ida S Shudder, an American in the 1900s' with a single bed, it today has over 2,300 beds and treats over 20,000 patients per day. Run by Christian Missionaries, it has been successful in obtaining support from various secular organizations worldwide.

Gingee
Gingee often pronounced 'shingee' is the site of an extensive fort complex about 40 Kms east of Tiruvannamalai. Built mainly by the Vijaynagar Empire in the 16th century AD, the fort has been occupied by various armies over the years. Built straddling three hills, Krishnagiri to the north, Chandrayandurg to the south, and Rajagiri to the east, the fort complex is massive albeit deserted and could take a whole day to cover on foot. The fort is open from 9am - 5pm everyday.
Hogenakkall
Hogenakkal is a quite village straddling the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Accessible only from Tamil Nadu, this village nestles in the Melagiri hills, about 200 Kms south of Bangalore at the confluence of the Chinnar and Cavery rivers. The Cavery enters the plains from here in a series of falls, and is a popular day trip location. The Falls are most impressive in July/August. A visit to Hogenakkal is incomplete without an oil massage and a ride in the little round boats locally referred to as parisals.
Yercaud
This is a popular hill station, at an altitude of about 1500 meters above sea level. Situated just
35Kms from the town of Salem , which is also the nearest railway station, Yercaud is pleasantly cool with many a picturesque spots. Surrounded by the coffee plantations this is an excellent place to unwind and relax.
Pichavaram
15 kilometers away from Chidambaram are the last remaining mangrove forests, spread out over 51 islands separated by creaks and protected from the sea by a sand bar. They represent some of the richest mangroves in the country. The backwaters flowing in from the Bay of Bengal makes Pichavaram a truly idyllic picnic spot well worth a visit. The beauty and seclusion if this seaside resort can be explored at leisure by hiring rowboats from the TTDC tourist office stationed here.
Thiruvaiyaru
About 13 Kms north of Thanjavur is this tiny hamlet where the revered saint and composer Thyagaraja Bhagavathar lived. Every year, in the month of January an eight-year music festival is hosted here in his honor and people from around the world attend it. A library will eventually house his compositions as well as information about this doyen of Carnatic Music.
Kumbakonam
This dusty, busy commercial town 37 Kms away from Thanjavur is noted for its many temples with erotic sculptures. The most famous are the Brahma, Nageshwara, Kumbeshwara and Sarangapani temples. All temples remain closed between noon and 4.30pm.

Close to the Nageshwara temple once every 12 years, the holy waters of the Ganges are believed to flow into the Mahamaham Tank, and a festival is held here during that time with thousands of devotees flocking here to take a dip. The next festival will be held here in early 2004.
Karaikal
Although a former French colony, Karaikal has little or no lingering French influence unlike Pondicherry. It is today a part of the union territory of Pondicherry, and is an important Hindu pilgrimage town. The Darbaranyeswar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Arnmaiyar Temple dedicated to Goddess Punithavathi are the two most important places of pilgrimage at this coastal township.
About 2Kms out of town is a deserted windy beach and some boating is possible on the nearby estuary. Along the main Bharathiar Road is the Tourist office , restaurants and a fairly wide range of accommodations.
Nagore
Burial place of the revered Muslim saint Hazat Meeras Sultan Syed Shahabdul Hameed (1491-1570), the village of Nagore is situated 12 Kms south of Karaikal. The land was granted to the saint for having treated and cured the son of a Nayak king. It is today an important pilgrim centre especially for Muslims.
Poompuhar
Poompuhar is an ancient seaport on the eastern coast north of Karaikal about 150 Kms from Thanjavur. It was from here at the Cauvery delta that the Cholas traded with Rome and other centres in the east. Today it is just a small fishing village with a long and sunny beach. A few sculptors that give you a hint of its glorious past surround the art gallery set up here by the state government. 'Silapathimaram', one of the five famous Tamil epics is illustrated here on the walls of the art gallery as sculptures. This place is popular with locals who often gather here to watch the fishermen set out to sea in their small catamarans and haul in their catch through the thundering surf.
Velanganni
South of Karaikal, about 35Kms away is the township of Velanganni, famous for the Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. Pilgrims of all faith flock here in hundreds of thousands, especially during the annual 9 days festival known as the Feast of Our Lady of Good Health. Accommodations are available here in plenty but maybe difficult during the festival unless reserved well in advance.
Calimere Wildlife & Bird Sanctuary
This coastal sanctuary is 90 Kilometers southeast of Thanjavur, on the wetlands jutting out into the Palk Straits, which separate India and Sri Lanka. The best time to visit here is in winter
[November to January] every year; these wetlands spill over with bird life. The call of a thousand birds fill the air, as Teals, Terns, Gulls, Sandpipers and Herons nosily go about their business of setting up nests and raising families. Flamingos that fly in each year from Europe, Australia and Russia resemble pink clouds. About 30,000 of them are estimated to arrive here every year. In the spring, a different set of birds’ ­koels, mynas and barbets arrive here, attracted by the wild berries. Apart from birds, Dolphins, endangered blackbucks, spotted deer and wild boar are also spotted here. The best way to arrive here is by road from Thanjavur. The only place to stay within walking distance of the sanctuary is the Forest Department Rest House.
Kuttralam
About 135 kms out of Kanyakumari at the base of the Western Ghats is the popular family health retreat town of Kuttralam whose waterfalls are believed to be rich in mineral deposits and processing curative qualities. Bathing here under the falls is a truly revitalizing experience. Oil massages are available for men. The peak season here is June to August and lodging available are very basic and are impossible during this time.
 
Kodaikanal
Situated on the southern crest of the Palani Hills at an altitude of 2100 m is this charming retreat of Kodaikanal, often referred to as Kodai for short. This is one of India's most popular hill stations and is frequented by tourists throughout the year. The hill town has the distinction of being the only one to be set up by the Americans during British colonial period and is famed for its Kodaikanal International School set up in 1901 by American missionaries for European children, and is today one of the most prestigious private schools in the country.
The pride of Kodai is the 'Kurunji', a, shrub with light purple colored blossoms that flower only once every 12 years. The next blossoming will be in 2004. The surrounding hills have plantations of Australian blue gums or Eucalyptus trees, which lend its unique fragrance to the
air.Settled on an artificial lake, Kodai is the summer retreat of the Sai Baba, and it is remarkably compact for a hill station with almost all activity centered around the lake. Pleasant to visit at anytime of the year except in November/December, this is the height of the wet season temperatures range from 8º C to 20ºC.
Places of Interest
KodaikanalLake
The Lake skirted by a 6.4 kms road is the chief attraction. This artificial lake was dug in 1820 by the erstwhile collector of Madurai, Mr. Vele Leving. It is a star-shaped lake spread over 24 hectares. Boating and fishing are allowed. The lake glitters like sapphire embedded in emerald green. It is nice experience to stroll along the road or to row a pleasure boat.
Bryant Park
It is on the eastern side of the lake. A well laid-out park with exotic and native flowers, hybrid varieties etc. The flowers are even cut and exported. The annual horticultural show is held here in May.
The Solar Observatory
This is one of the oldest observatories in the world that came into being in 1899. The solar observatory is being used to observe sunspots and their behavior. Solar Physics, Astronomy and Meteorology are the main concerns. It is about 850 ft higher than the lake.
Coaker's Walk
It is about’ a km from the lake. It runs along a steep slope on the southern side of the hill. It is a semi-circular beautiful path overlooking the plains. The view from here is simply captivating. The distant plains appear to be a dream land.
KurinjiAndavarTemple
Kurinji is the name of a flower of the hills. That is why in Tamil, the mountainous region is called Kurinji. It is a small bush and blooms once in 12 years. The flowers are a delicate mauve and during the flowering season the hill sides’ look completely mauve and look like a mauve-tinted fairy land. Near the Prospect Point is the Kurinji Andavar temple. The presiding deity is Lord Murugajust like Lord Dandayuthapani of Palani. The site for the temple was picked by a Ceylonese named Sri Ponnambalam Ramanathan simply because of the visibility of Palani 60 kms away and 6000ft below. One can also get a glimpse of the Vaigai dam which is 3.2 kms from here.
Telescope House
Two telescopes are erected in two different viewpoints in Kodaikanal to have a clear view of the plains and valleys. One is near the Kurinji Andavar temple and the other is at Coaker's Walk. Entrance fee has to be paid to look through them.
GreenValley Viewpoint
It is about 5.5 kms from the lake and near the Golf Club. It commands a beautiful view of the entire Vaigai dam.
The Pillar Rocks
3 massive granite rocks about 400 ft high standing abreast on an edge by the Coaker's Walk are called the Pillar Rocks. The sight is quite enchanting. It is about 7.5 kms from the lake and a nice road passing through charming greenery takes you there.
How to Reach
Kodai is very well connected by bus services to Trichy, Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Chennai and Bangalore amongst the more important places. The nearest rail connection is at Palani to the north on the Coimbatore-Madurai-­Rameswaram line, and Kodai Road on the Madurai – Trichy - Chennai line to the east. The nearest airport is Madurai 120 Kms away.
 
Coonoor
The Nilgiris is the oldest and one of the highest mountain ranges in India and is second only to the mighty Himalayas. Its early inhabitants are believed to have traded with Asian Empires as far back as 3000 BC. Tippu Sultan last ruled the area in the 18th century AD till it was handed over to the British East India Company in early 19th century.
Home to an endless variety of flora & fauna, Nilgiris boasts of an impressive array of wildlife apart from tea plantations that dot the countryside. Coonoor is the first of the Nilgiri hill stations apart from Udhagamandalam [Ooty] and Kotagiri when you drive up from the plains. Located 28 Kms from Metupalayam and 18 Kms from Ooty, Coonoor is connected by rail on the Mettuppalayam - Ooty route and there are regular bus services connecting it to Ooty, Kotagiri and Coimbatore.
It was the British who first inhabited Coonoor and Kotagiri and grew tea in the district from as early as 1853. It is now a crowded and bustling township and the better accommodations are available only in Upper Coonoor.
Places of Interest
Sim's Park
Inaugurated in 1874, this park named after a former member of the Governor General's Council, it is located in Upper Coonoor covering an area of over 12 hectares containing over 1000 species of plants and innumerable monkeys. There is a lovely rose garden surrounding a lotus pond. A fruit & vegetable show is held here every May. The park is open everyday from 8am to 6.3Opm.
Pasteur Institute
Situated opposite Sim's Park, this institute is famous for the research and development it does on rabies and polio vaccines. This institute was established following the death of a British colonial from rabies in 1902, and has grown into a major source for supply of vaccines for national immunization programs.
LawsFalls
5 Kms away these falls provide a gorgeous sight to behold and a popular picnic spot frequented by large number of bathers.
Lambs Rock
Lambs Rock is 8 Kms away from the Coonoor bus stand. It is a sheer precipice of several 100 meters and commands a panoramic view of the Coimbatore plains.
Dolphin's Nose
A unique rock of tremendous proportions, this formation is about 10 Kms away from the town and the drive through the dense forests and tea plantations to get here is truly exhilarating. The view from here is breathtaking and includes the township of Kotagiri and the Catherine Falls. But for the crashing of water on to the valley floor there is absolute silence.
Kotagiri
This is a small quite town 28 Kms east of Ooty. The oldest hill station in the Nilgiris, it is 1983m above sea level and has a climatic advantage as it is protected from the onslaught of the monsoon by the Doddabetta ranges.
Life here now concentrated around tea plantations and is much lesser paced than at Coonoor or Ooty. The places of interest here are the Catherine Falls, the Elk Falls, and the Kodanad View Point 25 Kms away from where you get a fabulous view of the Coimbatore plains, the Mysore plateau and the eastern Nilgiri slopes.
 
Ooty
British founded this popular hill station in the early 19th century as the summer capital of the Madras government. Prior to this, the Toda tribal people inhabited it and their way of life centered on the buffalo. Today only about 1,500 of them remain and you see their shrines in various places throughout the hills.

Ooty was the first established hill station in India and is considered the 'Queen of the Blue Mountains'. In spite of the influx of hoteliers and real estate developers who have literally changed the topography of this once beautiful laid back town, one can still see remnants of theBritish occupation in the single-storey stone cottages, winding lanes with tall leafy
eucalyptus, the stone churches, the private schools and the Ooty Club House. The Maharaja's summer palace harks back to yet another time.
Places of Interest
BlueMountain Railway
Ooty is spread over a large area among rolling hills and valleys, and is located 2,286m above sea level. A small hill train in Blue and Ivory chugs up daily from Mettupalayam in the plains. Known as the Blue Mountain Express, it was originally funded by the citizens and the planters of the Nilgiris and has been in operations since 1898. It uses a unique pinion rack system with the locomotive pushing the carriages, and it is indeed a novel experience to travel by it as it laboriously rides past plantations and lush forests. At times one can even get off and walk along with it!
Botanical Gardens
One of the loveliest in India, this garden was established in 1848 and is spread over 22 hectares. Planned by the Marquis of Tweeddale, these were developed later by WG Ivor, a renowned horticulturist from the Kew Gardens in England. Currently maintained by the Horticultural Department - Government of Tamil Nadu, it has contributed substantially to the development of horticultural research.
In the centre of the garden, just below the mini-lake is a fossil tree trunk believed to be 20 million years old! There are over 2000 species of flowers representing 117 natural odors, and an annual flower show is held here in the month of May that attracts thousands of tourists.
OotyLake
The then collector of Nilgiris Mr. John Sullivan built it between 1823 and 1825 as an irrigation tank. It has been shrinking for decades and part of the land that was underwater was reclaimed to form the racecourse in the last century. There is a boathouse on the banks run by the Tourism department that hires out boats.
Raj Bhavan
Built in 1877 by the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, this former Government house is superbly located on the Doddabetta Ridge and is approached from the Botanical Gardens. The well­ maintained grounds are open to visitors although the building is not and is today occasionally used for official entertaining.
Kandal Cross
This is a Roman Catholic shrine considered to be the ' Jerusalem of the Ea6t'. The clearing of the area as a graveyard in 1927 turned up a huge boulder on which a cross was erected. The annual feast is in May.
St.Stephen's Church
Built in 1829 in the Gothic style, this is the oldest church in the Nilgiris. Its huge wooden beams came from the Lal Bhag Palace of Tippu Sultan in Srirangapattinam 120 Kms away. It is a quite peaceful church perched on the hill on Club Road and offers a good view of Ooty.
Government Museum & Art Gallery
Situated on Mysore Road, 3 Kms from Charring Cross houses a collection of art and sculpture of the Nilgiris Admission is free and it is open from 9am to 5pni on weekdays from Monday to Thursday.
How to Reach

Air: Coimbatore is the nearest airport.

Rail: The miniature Blue Mount Railway is the best way to get here. Arrivals and departure are usually in synchronization with that of all major trains connecting Mettupalayam to Chennai and Coimbatore. But during heavy monsoon, the train is washed out and sudden landslides often disrupt services.
Road: Ooty is well connected by road to Coimbatore and Mysore. Frequent bus services connect all neighboring towns and cities efficiently and at all times.
Hotels & resort in Ooty
Most places to stay at Ooty as in Kodaikanal hike up their rates substantially during the peak season between April and mid June. Accommodations of all ranges are plentiful and it would be advisable to book your rooms in advance at places a little away from the town centre. A few hotels are listed here.
Savoy Hotel, Holiday Inn Gem Park, Fortune Hotel Sullivan Court, The Monarch,Merrit Inn Southern Star, Hotel Lake View, Hotel Charing Cross, Hotel Dasaprakash,Hotel Durga,Hotel Khems,Hotel Nahar,Hotel Ooty International, Hotel Tamil Nadu,Nilgiri Woodlands Hotel, Reflections Guest House, Regency Villa, The Willow Hill,TTDC Youth Hostel,YWCA..
 
Mudumalai
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary & National Park is situated at the trifurcation of the three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kamataka and Kerala. Part of the 'Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve’, this 322 sq. Kms of tropical wilderness was established in 1932 and was the first to be declared a national park. Easily accessible from both Ooty and Mysore, this place is a favorite among day-­trippers who often unfortunately destroy the tranquility.
Mudumalai, which means 'Ancient Hills', is mostly tropical dry and moist deciduous forest with some secondary grasslands, swamps, bamboo, sandalwood and teak. One of the largest numbers of wild and domesticated elephants in South India is found here apart from gaur; spotted, barking and sambar deer; wild dogs; giant squirrels: sloth bear; leopards and pangolins.
With over 200 species of sedentary and migratory birds, Mudumalai has a fascinating miscellany of birds and is indeed a bird-watchers paradise. These include the golden oriole, paradise fly catcher, Malabar grey hornbill, scarlet mini vet, golden backed woodpecker, king fishers, peacocks, parakeets, rare sirkeer cuckoos and speckled peculates. Otters and crocodiles inhabit the Moyar River flowing through the park and separating it from the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka.
Organized Tours
The best option for visiting Mudumalai would be to come for a day trip from Ooty or Mysore, which is what most visitors do. A bus tour for a day would cover scenic places such as Pyakhara Lake & Falls, and Kalahatti Falls.
Trekking
The Nilgiris is the most popular area in Tamil Nadu for trekking, hiking and walks. But every trek route will require a permit and a guide. The permits will have to be obtained from the relevant forest department and will have to be applied at least seven to ten days in advance of the intended date of departure. The best place for a reliable guide would be at the resorts and hotels listed below.
How to Reach
Frequent buses from both Ooty and Mysore ply through Theppakkadu every 20 to 30 minutes. There are two steep roads from Ooty to Mudumalai: via Gudalur (67Kms) or along Singhur Ghat Road (36 Kms). Private jeep services are also available. The nearest airports are Coimbatore 135 Kms away and Bangalore 250 Kms away. Trains are available from Ooty, Mysore and Bangalore.
Hotels & resort in Mudumali
There are places here to suit every budget ranging from cheap forest lodges inside the park, mid-range hotels at Masanagudi and expensive resorts at Bokkapuram south of Masinagudi. A few of them are listed below.
Bamboo Banks, Jungle Trail Lodge, Forest Hills Guest House, Hotel Dreamland, Hotel Tamil Nadu,Jungle Hut Guest House, Jungle Retreat, Mountain Rest House, The Monarch Safari Park.
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