The coexistence of several different religions and traditions has resulted in India being a country filled with cultural diversity. Towering temples, tribal lifestyles and inspiring forces of nature make India an incredible place to visit. Before you get too comfortable you will then discover that there is a whole other side to the country with tropical rain forests, sandy deserts and palm filled beaches.
Chennai is a 350 year old city that has been under a huge influence of an English settlement. Despite this, it has managed to preserve its Hindu and Indian culture and its foreign influence is still clearly visible. It is one of the major trade centres of India and is therefore well linked by road, rail and air to other major cities. The city is much less polluted and congested than some parts of India making it a pleasant and charming place to visit. There is plenty to do in Chennai if history and culture from temples and shrines to forts and palaces is what you’re after from your holiday in India.
The Brihadishwara Temple, known by the locals as the Big Temple, is a World Heritage site that was built in the late tenth/early eleventh century. What makes the temple so intriguing is the fact that it stands at over an impressive 210 feet. You can also find pictures of dancing damsels on the inner walls of the temple and find out for sure if it’s really true that the shadow of the cupola never falls on the ground, this is something you won’t find anywhere else except for on your holiday to South India. There is plenty to do at this site with a museum, Art Gallery and the Saraswati Mahal Library which has over 30,000 manuscripts available in several European and Indian languages.
If there’s one thing you do during your holiday in India, make sure you visit Trichy and the Rock Fort. Located in a city of flat land, at 272 feet it really stands out. Making the site even more fascinating is the fact that the rock is one of the oldest in the world at approximately 3.800 million years. At the top of the rock is a temple from where you can see amazing views of Tiruchirappalli. There are several temples and sculptures dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries making the Rock Fort the perfect attraction for those interested in the history and culture of this village.
For those of you with a keen interest in wildlife and animals, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve is definitely for you. Located high in the ranges of the Western Ghats, tourists can come here to see elephants, wild pigs, gaur, sambar, deer, Indian wild dogs, a variety of birds and if you’re lucky enough, a tiger. Other attractions at the sanctuary include Kumily, a town that is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, jeep and taxi trips up to the Cradomom Hills and boat cruises which are a unique way of seeing the wildlife.
Kanchipuram is a popular spot amongst tourists, is commonly referred to as the “Golden City of Temples” and is considered to be one of the seven sacred cities of India. Although it boasts more than 100 temples, it is believed that in its time it had an impressive 1000. Famous for hand-woven silk fabrics and saris, Kanchipuram is known to have the best source of high quality hand-woven silk items. Be aware that the temples are closed between 12:30 and 4pm so you either need to go early in the morning or late afternoon.
Unpredictable, diverse and astoundingly beautiful, a holiday in India will leave you breathless and hungry for more. You can almost guarantee that this time next year you will be booking the same holiday.
Image belongs to: Christian Bachellier. Taken from: http://www.flickr.com