Best of Three Cultures in South India
You travel to the God’s doors only when he wants! That was a hard luck for me when I was planning a trip to Kerala since one long year and could not get even a single chance. But surprisingly, this year when my mother wished to visit temples in south India, I got a two-week’s leave from office very easily! So we did a stretched packing for a long vacation in south India. This was the lifetime opportunity for me when I was about to explore the best three cultures – Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
While starting from Mumbai, we first visited Chennai – the place known for its cultural heritage & temple architecture. On the city tour of Chennai, we visited the finest of historical monuments like Fort St. George, St. Mary’s Church, Fort Museum, and many such places. Later we headed towards Mahabalipuram, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The true beauty of Mahabalipuram lies in its rock-cut & monolithic structures and authentic Dravidian architecture. The best part here was visiting Shore Temple (one of the oldest Dravid temples in South India), Arjuna’s Penance (world’s largest bas-relief), and Pandava Rathas (monolithic temples fashioned as chariots).
We also extract some time and took a day excursion to Kanchipuram, one of the seven holy cities in the country. My mom was willing to visit Kanchipuram as the place is world famous for its temples & silk sarees. We paid a short visit to Kailasanatha Temple (built in typical Pallava style), Ekambaranatha (ancient Shiva temple) and Kamakshi Amman Temple (where the deity is seated on Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Eswara & Sadasiva).
Our next halt was Tanjore, the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu. Being an art lover, I appreciated the city’s fine art plates, pithwork, bronze icons, Thanjavur paintings & classical South Indian musical instruments. After lunch, we paid a short visit to the Brihadeshwara temple, one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a classic example of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. Next we moved on to Madurai via Trichy and spent one day there.
Seeking for the true peace in the lap of nature, we headed for Periyar. This is the perfect heaven in Kerala that has endless attractions ranging from Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary to Periyar Lake, boat cruise facility, spice / tea plantations and the finest of divine greens. After a day of relaxation, we left for Kumarakom where we visited the Kumarakom Wildlife Sanctuary and spent the rest of the day at leisure in a luxurious houseboat (traditional Kettuvallom). The houseboat was equipped with all the modern amenities like bedrooms, attached bathrooms, kitchen, lounge, deck etc. We spent the night there only and travelled to Alleppey the next day, which is again a soothing, green and watery destination – meant for perfect relaxation.
Our next destination was Cochin, which is a popular historical sea trade center. A half day tour to Cochin is sufficient to visit the major attractions like Jew Town, Chinese fishing nets, and Kerala’s most popular classical dance – Kathakali. Cochin is located at a distance of about 300 km. from Ooty – the Queen of Hill Stations & the capital of Nilgiri district. We spent one another day at leisure at this picturesque picnic spot, and left for Mysore the next morning.
Along with Mysore, last on our list was Bangalore. Both these places are known for various historical monuments, temples and a cool climate throughout the year. We travelled like exploring the world. The trip was so fantastic that it refreshed my mind, body & soul. It was quite rejuvenating in every aspect.