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Trichy

The city of Trichy, officially Tiruchirappalli, lies on the south bank of the auspicious Kaveri River. Since the 2nd century, when the city was raised by the early Cholas as a citadel, Trichy has passed through the hands of the Pallavas, the Pandyas, the emperors of Hampi and the Deccan sultans, the Madurai Nayaks (who made it their capital in the 17th century), before becoming an important military base and missionary centre in the British period.

It was under the Nayaks of Madurai in the 17th century, that the town itself started to grow, and it was them who turned a mighty conical rock at its centre and overlooking the river, into the spectacular Rock Fort. The fortified rock rises more than 83m above the plains and is reached by over 400 steps. At the to, on top of earlier constructions, the Nayaks built two temples, one to Shiva and one at the summit to Ganesh dating back to the late 6th century. Please note that both temples are closed to non-Hindus, but the climb is worth it for the views over the delta plain.

From the top of the Rock Fort, the great Ranganatha temple complex at Srirangam, dedicated to Vishnu, is clearly visible on an island in the river. Dating back to the Chola period, with quite superb carvings from the Vijayanagar period, this is one of India’s largest and most important temples. And it really is huge; with no fewer than seven concentric rectangular enclosures, of which only the inner four contain temple buildings, the temple now takes up 60 hectares and has a 20-year-old, 75-metre-high entrance gopura. We recommend heading up to the rooftop for stunning views of the numerous gopuram and the golden roof of the innermost shrine, and to get a clearer view of the layout of the temple.

More or less the geographic centre of Tamil Nadu, today Trichy is known for its heaving bazaar, and for making artificial diamonds, the pungent Indian cigarettes, bidis, and numerous other products. From the outside, the city is a busy travel junction, but underneath this façade, Trichy’s strong character and long history has a way of overturning first impressions.

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My favourite thing is to go where I've never been.
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