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South India photoblog: Tanjore, Trichy and Chettinad

We have a few more photos of our tour of South India to share with you, this time taking in Tanjore, Trichy and Chettinad. We hope this gives you a flavour of Tamil Nadu's fantastically rich culture. The number of exotic, often UNESCO-protected temples in this region is truly remarkable - including the magnificent Chidambaram, Brihadeeshwara and Darasuram temples.

In a few short days we've been lucky enough to experience Tamil New Year, Puthandu, as well as some atmospheric local festivals, specialist local craft workshops, such as the famous tile making of Atthangudi, and the gorgeous ancestral mansions of Chettinad, which are packed with imported period furniture, chandeliers, curios and paintings. Southern India’s ancient tapestry hides many cultural treasures off the beaten track. The Chettiars were and are prosperous traders with a far-flung diaspora, stretching away to Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia - but their roots are here, in the age old dust of Chettinad, deep in Tamil Nadu's interior.

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Darasuram Temple
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Along the edges of the main Darasuram Temple structure you will find these shallow ponds which would once have been filled with water and lined with oil flames in each of the exterior circles - it must have been a magnificent sight!
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Beautiful stone carvings at Darasuram Temple bring this ancient site to life
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This pregnant carved figure at the Darasuram Temple is a manifestation of Lord Shiva who is showing his people the correct position for childbirth
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Ancient warfare depicted in the intricate wall carvings at Darasuram Temple. The creature above them is Yali, a mythological animal to keep away evil, who has the face of a lion, the body of a sea horse, the trunk of an elephant and the tail of a bull
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Priests at Amma Mandapam in Trichy. Three horizontal lines of holy ash on the forehead represents devotion to Lord Shiva, whereas three vertical lines represents devotion to Lord Vishnu
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Streetside masala chai stall... Click here to watch the video!
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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, Trichy
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The ubiquitous Ambassador car parked outside the Vellai gopura at Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
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The smell of jasmine is all around you in South India - most of the ladies tie strings of these little flowers in their hair and a wonderfully sweet smell pervades the air when they waft past
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We stopped at Attangudi to see the production of their famous handmade tiles
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The steady hand of the talented tile makers of Attangudi
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These tiles were made in front of us in a matter of minutes; they are then dried out in the baking sun for a few days and voila... no need for a kiln!
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Visalam Hotel near Karaikudi village in Chettinad is a beautiful art deco mansion restored to its former glory by CGH Earth
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The chilled-out living room at Visalam Hotel
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A treasure-trove of junk and gems at the Karaikudi antiques market, which is completely jam packed with original pieces sourced from the hundreds of old mansions in Chettinad
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Stunning architecture at an ancestral house in Karaikudi, Chettindad. This is the home of the owner of Bangala Hotel
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A living slice of Chettinad history - we were honoured to be shown around this splendid home, furnished entirely with antique pieces and original tiles
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The jaw-droppingly atmospheric main hall of the mansion

Next stops on our tour: Dindigul, Madurai and Munnar...



Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Ampersand’s details preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet/direct booking age. Shalmali was a delight to work with – before and during our trip.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India

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