Today you will visit the smaller but magnificent UNESCO-cited Chola era temple in the tiny village of Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The tongue-twisting name means. “The town of the Chola who conquered the Ganges”. On the way back, visit the UNESCO-cited Airavateshwara Temple, in the village of Darasuram which ranks alongside those at Tanjore and Gangaikonda Cholapuram.
After your breakfast, leave Kumbakonam and drive eastward, passing through vibrant green fields, small villages and happy people who will wave at you for no reason and reach Tranquebar on the east coast. Tranquebar is an atmospheric Danish colonial relic in the middle of vibrant rural Tamil Nadu.
Places: Tiruchirapalli, Grand Anicut, Kumbakonam, Tranquebar, Thiruvarur, North bank of Vennar & Tanjore.
The Cauvery is Southern India’s mightiest river and gave birth to one of its greatest ancient empires – the Cholas. Under their patronage, stunning temples were built, rich art and craft was encouraged, and under them religious devotion and music thrived. All of this was helped by the life-giving waters of the Cauvery and its fertile alluvial soil that gave rise to a surfeit of food and grain, supported by a visionary irrigation system. With this prosperity and the knowledge of river and coastal navigation, the Cholas built a powerful navy that conquered all of South East Asia and created extensive trading links with the Eastern World. Centuries later, European trading companies came calling to the Delta and established posts and principalities on the coast at Porto Novo and Tranquebar.
On this trip, you plunge into the heart of the Cauvery Delta, as you gasp at the UNESCO World Heritage temples of the Cholas at Tanjore, admire their engineering prowess at the Grand Anicut dam, and enjoy the beauty of the rivers, and lush paddy fields of the Delta as you drive along back-country roads. Stay in a small rural hamlet at a Brahmin village home and experience local Tamil customs and rituals. And watch the sunrise over the Coromandel Coast in the old Danish colony of Tranquebar from the verandah of the restored Governor’s mansion.
Today morning you are transferred to Kumbakonam via Grand Anicut. Stay in a rural village atmosphere just outside the town. In the evening along with other temples, visit the atmospheric 9th century AD Nageshwara Swami Temple with some of the best Chola sculptures on the walls of the inner sanctum.
Families & Couples | Visit August - March | Fly to Chennai
Visit the towering Danish church and the Dansborg Fort. In the evening spend some time on the clean stretch of beach near your accommodation.
Short Breaks | 8 nights
Fly from Chennai to Tiruchirapalli (or an early morning drive from Chennai). Visit the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, one of the largest temple complexes in India. The gateway towers surrounding the main temple are beautifully coloured and the mada (temple) streets immediately outside the temple walls, are lined with the homes of the Brahmin priests who serve inside.
Drive south for just over an hour to reach Thiruvarur, home to the 7th century AD Thyagarajaswami Siva temple and famous for its annual chariot festival held every April. Stay in a restored rural guesthouse.
The town is also considered to be the home of Carnatic music, because this is the birth place of Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri, popularly known as the Trinity of Carnatic music.
Early morning this day, drive westward to reach Tanjore. Tanjore is home to the mighty Brihadeeswara Temple, built over 1000-years ago by the Chola King, Rajaraja I and is considered one of the world’s major architectural feats. Visit this temple at sunset for an unforgettable experience.
Spend your time to explore the other places in Tanjore. Visit the Royal Palace, built by the Marathas, who occupied Tanjore since the 16th century AD and rule to this day. The Durbar Hall is still in fine nick and the Saraswati Mahal Library has over 40,000 rare books dating back to medieval periods, palm-leaf manuscripts, and beautiful examples of Tanjore painting.
You are transferred to Tiruchirapalli airport to board your flight to Chennai.