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Tamil Nadu


Sharing the Western Ghats with its neighbour Kerala, Tamil Nadu is home to Ooty, the best known British hill retreat. State capital Chennai (Madras) is one of the fastest growing cities in India but also hides history dating back 2,000 years. Further down the coast the impressive temples of Mahabalipuram and the French colonial flair of Pondicherry are essential for all visitors. The state has a rich heritage of ornate, significant temples, with further highlights at Tanjore and ancient Madurai further south.Chennai has direct flights to London and international connections with many other airlines.


One of India’s most famous hill stations, visitors can still arrive or leave Ooty on the Blue Mountain Railway, a narrow gauge steam service which takes around four hours from the nearest town. The town itself has grown considerably but some Colonial bungalows and the botanical gardens are reminders of the past. Ooty can be reached by road from Mysore in around four hours.


Formerly known as Madras, Chennai has grown rapidly since its time as a tiny trading port occupied by Armenian and Portuguese traders. Fort St. George was one of the original outposts of the British East India Company. The city’s museum has a good collection of Chola bronze statues and paintings. There are regular flights from the UK to Chennai and it can be the starting or finishing point for a tour of southern India.


About three hours down the coast from Chennai is the curious town of Pondicherry, an outpost of the French Empire from 1673 until 1954 and the site of one of the largest ashrams in India, Auroville. The elegant French quarter of the town has retained its character and the livelier Muslim area has covered boardwalks, reminiscent of New Orleans. Pondicherry provides a good stopping off point to or from Tanjore. By comparison with near neighbours Trichy and Madurai, Tanjore is a quiet town, famed for its 10th century Brihadisvara Temple, a World Heritage Site. Home to the busiest temple in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is a noisy place with families picnicking on the floor and stalls selling garlands and coconuts to be offered to the gods. 


The World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram is on the Coromandel Coast, an hour south of Chennai. There are four main sites to see, all dating from around the 7th century. The Shore Temple has an unusual statue of a sleeping Vishnu as well as a stunning setting by the beach. Nearby are the five larger than life rathas (chariots); carved from single pieces of stone, they depict animals and huts. A short drive away is a beautifully carved stone cave temple.


By comparison with near neighbours Trichy and Madurai, Tanjore is a quiet town. Set on the banks of the Cauvery River it is famed for the vast 10th century Brihadisvara Temple, a World Heritage Site. The nearby palace has seen better days but still houses an impressive collection of Chola bronzes.


Home to the busiest temple in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is a noisy place with families picnicking on the floor and stalls selling garlands and coconuts to be offered to the gods. From Madurai, continue north to Tanjore and Trichy or into Kerala.


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Tamil Nadu, India
Relatively newly opened, the Radisson is a resort hotel with the facilities required for a comfortable stay. There are 72 rooms in total, spread over several buildings including some individual sea facing cottages. The restaurant, Santa Maria, serves an international and local selection of dishes.

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Tamil Nadu, India
This exceptional property opened in 2013 and instantly established itself as the leading hotel in Chennai. It is the only hotel with a seafront location, directly overlooking the Bay of Bengal and the Adyar River.

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Tamil Nadu, India
If you prefer a more relaxed start or finish to your tour, Fisherman's Cove is a resort on the beach, close to the sights of Mahabalipuram and about an hour from Chennai airport.

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Tamil Nadu, India
In the heart of Pondicherry’s French Quarter, the Palais de Mahé is an attentively restored mansion celebrating the shared French and Tamil history.

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Tamil Nadu, India
A former colonial home belonging to the Coats family, renowned textile producers, this hotel is on a hill a short distance away from town and overlooks the city centre. The family home now houses the reception and bar which retain a homely feel.


Hotel Savoy, Ooty

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Tamil Nadu, India
For those who come to Ooty in search of Raj atmosphere, the Savoy is the best place to find it. There are 40 cottage rooms, built around 150 years ago, which still have open fires to keep off the chill in winter.

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Tamil Nadu, India
Situated on the outskirts of the city in a peaceful location, this is the perfect hotel to base yourself as you explore the famous local temples. After a day of sightseeing you can relax and enjoy the large swimming pool and lovely landscaped gardens that border a tributary of the Cauvery River and are a paradise for butterflies and birds.


Tailor-made Holidays

Southern Stepping Stones

13 night high season price from£3,290

Kerala, India
To get a real flavour of southern India, this itinerary takes in the highlights of Tamil Nadu in the east and Kerala in the west. As one of the key port towns of the British East India Company, Chennai (known then as Madras) is dominated by their fort.

Accommodation options in Tamil Nadu

Use the map to pin point our accommodation and find the hotel in just the right spot for your short break or tailormade holiday

To make an enquiry please speak to one of our experts on 020 7593 1899, or enquire online

Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.

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