Plus pick: Tamil Nadu.
Fisherman's Cove, Covelong Beach
A luxury beach resort that combines a sense of nostalgia with the allure of the sand, sea and surf, the Fisherman's Cove is just what you need to get away from Chennai's heat and grime. Choose from luxury cottages and elegantly appointed rooms that come with their own private, open garden showers and sit-outs. And go for a massage in the spa later.
Tel: (044) 6741 3333; www.tajhotels.com
Cardamom House, Dindigul
This 'eco-farm' at the edge of the Kamarajar Lake is a green tourism project which ensures that your meals are fresh from the garden and the showers are solar powered. Begin your day with coffee on the verandah and wind down with dinner on the rooftop, as the fragrance of frangipani wafts around you. Head for daytrips to Madurai and Palani; or Kodaikanal, a three-hour drive from here.
Tel: (0451) 255 6765; www.cardamomhouse.com
Taj Gateway, Coonoor
Surrounded by lush gardens, this hotel's USP are the stunning views of the Nilgiris anywhere you happen to be. The building is a throwback to the days of the Raj. We recommend the Nilgiri specialities from the Gateway kitchen--Nilgiri Korma, Chicken Ball Curry and Gassu Dhotti (roti made of cornflour and potato.
Tel: (0423) 223 0021; www.thegatewayhotels.com
When you dine at Kefi, the rooftop restaurant at the Taj Mount Road, you will fall in love with the breads, naan and pita-style pockets of soft doughs stuffed with various yoghurt dips and spreads such as Antep Mezze and Horiatiki Salata. The falafel, Hummus Beiruti, Chicken Tagine and Prawn Pastilla should not be missed.
Tel: (044) 6631 3131; www.tajhotels.com
Food Trail in Madurai
You can eat all day in this city, starting with steaming-hot idlis and crisp dosas from any of the roadside eateries. Avoid drinking water at these joints. Lunch can be a Chettinad meat feast or a traditional Brahmin thali at the College Hotel. For dessert, the local drink jigarthanda is a must. Ponnusamy, Chennai Ponnusamy beautifully demonstrates the culinary influence of the Chettiars. From Chettinad Chicken--succulent morsels of chicken seasoned with black pepper--to Shark Puttu, this is a meal that is as authentic as it can get. Wind up with banana and beeda (paan) and if there's room for more, try some payasam.
Tel: (044) 2827 0784
These classic paintings, inlaid with gold leaf, glass and precious stones, flourished in the Chola capital of Thanjavur. They have remained traditional, featuring gods and goddesses, and religious themes, in a subtle composition and a stunning blend of colours. However, the artists have experimented over the last century, choosing to add various figures depicting nature, in different proportions. Available at Poompuhar showrooms across the state
The gorgeous silk sari from Kanchipuram tops just about anyone's shopping list when they're in Tamil Nadu. With designs inspired by nature, myth and religion woven into silk, embellished with gold thread and contrasting borders, the saris are both sensuous and dramatic. The pallu is often woven separately. The most popular shop in Chennai is Nalli's, with branches all over India.
Nagercoil, in the district of Thanjavur, is famous for its artistic brass lamps. Known as kuthu vilakku, these lamps are used for pujas and for decoration. Pick them up in various patterns and sizes, depending on what you're looking for. The metalware of the area is distinctive as well--tumblers, containers, spittoons, bells and candlestands.
Also known by its Danish name, Tranqebar, a fishing village was, a thriving Danish port in the 17th century. Much of this town has survived and you'll enjoy wandering the deserted streets. Pop into the Danish buildings that still stand tall or walk through the old gateway into King Street. Don't miss the Danish Government bungalow and Dansborg, a Viking fort. 275 km from Chennai
Fort St George, Chennai
Built in 1654, this regal structure, which resembles a collection of mansions more than a fort, was one of the first bastions of British power in India. Its walls have withstood many sieges--from Daud Khan, the general of Aurangzeb in 1701, from the Marathas in 1741, and from Hyder Ali in the 18th century. It now houses the state's Legislative Assembly and offices of the Secretariat.
This is where the Cauvery river gushes into Tamil Nadu from Karnataka in a thundering surge--at some spots falling from as high as 20m. The constant gush of water on the rocks below looks like smoke rising from the horizon. Take a short ride down the rapids on a parisal, a locally made boat. Rewind to the Mani Ratnam film Roja--remember the coracles at the waterfall in the song Chhoti si Asha? 340 km from Chennai
Reproduced From India Today Travel Plus. Copyright 2010. LMIL. All rights reserved.
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