Tamil Nadu is one South Indian State, where tradition meets modernity, literally every where.  One can nature at its best, and the very common people.  One can also see the highly urbanized, liberal men and women who tend to ape Western culture and are upwardly mobile as well.

Be that as it may, this article is all about some little points for any one planning to visit Tamil Nadu as a tourist. 

One of the most important points to be noted is that there are temples of various types, and histories in many parts of Tamil Nadu.  Perhaps the most famous of them is the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, which is the abode of Goddess Meenakshi.  It is reputed to over four centuries old, and is a typical example of what is called as Cholan architecture.  It stands majestically in the temple city of Madurai, which is well connected by both day and night trains and thousands of buses as well, from every city of Tamil Nadu.

Chennai, the modern city, and the capital of Tamil Nadu, is the most modern in terms of spread of information technology, connectivity through road and air and train, to every other part of India.  It is reputed as the Gateway of South India. 

If one is particular about visiting temples, seeing the beach in Chennai, and temples in many parts of Tamil Nadu, it is wise to stick to a one week holiday, and tourists should come to Chennai on a Sunday, relax for some time, visit the local zoo at a place called Vandalur, which is very well connected from the bus station called Broadway in Chennai.  The evening can be reserved for visiting the Marina Beach, the second largest beach in the world.  Its beauty is breadth-taking particularly at night. 

It is wise to do some shopping, particularly for sarees in the busy commercial district called T.Nagar, which is also very well connected from Broadway bus station.  One should not rely on auto rickshaws, which are not cheap in Chennai. The excellent network of buses will take care of any requirement for travel in Chennai.  Hindi is not widely spoken, but if one knows even broken English, one can easily manage in Chennai, for, most people speak English, and even the illiterate tend to understand the language quite well, and guide a person, through the sign language.

For accommodation, one has lodges that suit several budgets.  For instance, not so far away from Broadway, in the commercial district called Parry's corner, one can find several lodges for as less as Rs.450/- per day.  These are basic lodges without air-conditioning.  Those who want the facility have to part with double the amount for a decent accommodation.

In the evening of the second day, one can comfortably reserve his or her accommodation or for an entire family, by a train called the Pallavan Express, and go to Tiruchirapalli, the fourth largest town in Tamil Nadu.  This train reaches Tiruchirapalli, at around 8 45 PM in the night.  Even near the Railway Station and near the Central Bus Station in Tiruchirapalli, there are several lodges.  The Murugan temple at Vayalur, the Lord Ganesa temple at the Rock Fort in the heart of the town, and the Goddess Mariamman temple at Sayapuram in the outskirts of the town, are major attractions.

The temple city of Madurai is superbly connected to Tiruchi by thousands of buses, and it takes just three hours to reach Madurai.  Once a tourist family reaches Madurai, by say 8 PM at night, the entire family can easily check into a decent hotel near the Railway Station, have a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food,  Many night shops start around 7PM and go up to as much as 3 AM, well past midnight.  In such shops one can eat a huge variety of food.

Madurai, as already mentioned is famous for the Goddess Meenakshi temple, and also for the Lord Muruguan temple at Tiruppurankundram, which is very near Madurai. 

Lord Muruga gives darshan to millions at six places, and two of them are very near Madurail.  ONe is the Tiruppurankundram temple, and another is a temple at Palani, which is just around ninety minutes by bus from Madurail.  So, one day in Madurai and another in Palani is just about fine.

One can also shop for some traditional items like glass bangles at Madurai, and this is available in typical Tamil tradition, some varieties of which can be found only in Madurai. 

After these two days, one can visit Rameshwaram, which is around four hours by bus from Madurai.  Rameshwaram is also a temple town.

Hence, two days, inclusive of travel, in Chennai, one in Madurai and in Palani, and one in Rameshwaram is just about fine for some budget tourists who can afford only a four day holiday.  Even at reasonable prices, for a single person, accommodation, food and travel expenses would set one back by four thousand rupees.  Nowadays, the cost of bus travel has gone up in Tamil Nadu.

Four thousand is on the lower side.  Shopping would cost another two thousand, and it depends of what you buy.  Passenger trains are available at some places, and one needs detailed planning to make use of such services.

However, there are superb temples in places like Kumbakonam.  If one has deep pockets and ten days to spare, two more days could be spent in visiting Kumbakonam and its surroundings, where there are virtually hundreds of temples.  Tour packages are available, and some hotels combine these tours or organize such tours on special request. 

Another two days can be spent in visiting the Lord Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, the headquarters of the famous Annamalai University and a small temple town, with some temples within a radius of twenty kilometers.

A lot of information is now available online and the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation also organizes various tours to many places, which include the temples as well.

Of late, the number of such tours have also increased.  The contact numbers are also available online.

However, if one does not want to visit temples, and wants to see only the beautiful hill stations of Tamil Nadu, there are two of them, which are famous throughout the world.

Near Madurai, there is a hill station called Kodaikanal, and this place is a superb place.  It is crowded throughout the year, and the summer season, which starts in March and ends in June, is the busiest season.  Without planning, tourists can be in deep trouble.  Even the most ordinary lodges charge as much as one thousand five hundred rupees every day, and even breakfast is not included.

Food at Kodaikanal, is quite costly, and tourists should note that for each day, they need to spend at least six hundred rupees per head, in decent hotels.  However, there are several small hotels, but the charges are very huge and it is not possible to find very neat places at cheap prices.

Ditto for the best hill station in India, also called the Queen of Hill Stations --- Ooty.  This is well connected by road from Coimbatore, the second most important and most developed city of Tamil Nadu.  Regular flights are available to many cities from Coimbatore and it is connected to Dubai and Singapore as well.  However, Ooty is even more costly than the other hill station, and in the summer months, one needs advance booking.  Thousands of tourists come to Ooty, go back to the nearest town called Mettupalayam in the plains and commute every day during the tourist season.  Lodging is much cheaper in this place, and Coimbatore itself is just two hours from Ooty.  Hence, if one is a real budget tourist, stay in Coimbatore, take a bus to Ooty in the morning, roam around and come back in the evening.

Information from the internet can be very useful to plan a holiday.  Friends or relatives or even business partners or those associated with one in some way or the other, can also be helpful.

When compared to other States, Tamil Nadu, stands out for one big facility.  It has the best and the largest organized network of both Government and private buses, that helps one to hop on to different buses at any time of the day or the night and hop on, wherever required.  One can split journeys, as connecting buses are aplenty as well.  For example, it is fine to take a bus to Madurai, and then take another to Nagerloil, and stay there to visit Kanyakumari, where the sun rise and sun set is a big big treat to watch in the hot summer.  And of course, there is a huge statue of Tiruvalluvar, the world famous Tamil poet,  which is another tourist attraction.

Welcome to Tamil Nadu, as a tourist!


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