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Those looking for the spiritual heartland of southern India need search no further than Tamil Nadu. Occupying a large chunk of southeastern India's tip, Tamil Nadu is where you'll find the cream of Dravidian sculptures, rock carvings and architecture in elaborate temples such as Sri Meenakshi in Madurai with its soaring gopuram (gateway tower). Skilled stone sculptors still practice their craft in Mamallapuram, the seaside town that's a World Heritage Site because of its graceful Shore Temple. Mamallapuram was built by the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram, another treasure trove of significant temples as well as a source of top-quality silk ...

Those looking for the spiritual heartland of southern India need search no further than Tamil Nadu. Occupying a large chunk of southeastern India's tip, Tamil Nadu is where you'll find the cream of Dravidian sculptures, rock carvings and architecture in elaborate temples such as Sri Meenakshi in Madurai with its soaring gopuram (gateway tower). Skilled stone sculptors still practice their craft in Mamallapuram, the seaside town that's a World Heritage Site because of its graceful Shore Temple. Mamallapuram was built by the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram, another treasure trove of significant temples as well as a source of top-quality silk saris. The state is not all about temples and holy sites. Safaris and treks are possible through the outstanding Mudumalai National Park in the foothills of the Nilgiris, home to a wild elephant population of around 600 as well as a host of other wildlife. Ride a charming miniature train up to Ooty, one of the hill stations of the Nilgiris, where you'll encounter tribal communities and can also undertake treks and horse-rides. Return to the coast to experience the French colonial vibe of Pondicherry with its appealing restaurants and famed Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

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Simon Richmond for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Tamil Nadu lies on the eastern coast of the southern Indian Peninsula bordered by Puducherry (Pondicherry), Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Language: Hindu, English
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    November to March