Accompanied by art historian Olivier Bernier, discover South India, where three millennia of culture are part of everyday life. Explore the region’s rich heritage on visits to the splendid temples, fine museums and extraordinary landmarks of Chennai, Trichy, Thanjavur and Madurai. Here are a few of the highlights of the fascinating places we will visit.
In Chennai (Madras) visit the Government Museum to view the South Indian stone sculptures, some dating to the 2nd century B.C.E., and 10th– to 12th-century Chola bronzes of unrivaled quality. At the nearby seaport of Mahaballipuram, admire bas-reliefs depicting Arjuna’s Penance. Explore Kanchipuram, the “golden town of a thousand temples,” and a living museum of South Indian carving and architecture.
In Thanjavur, discover Brihadeeswarar Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in 1010, the temple is the most important of the Chola Dynasty shrines. Follow the evolution of style at Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram, and attend a classical dance performance.
Spend a day in Chettinad, where beautiful mansions were built by the wealthy Chettiar merchants and bankers. Savor a specially arranged lunch at Chettinadu Mansion, a 100-year old architectural marvel, now a heritage hotel. Click here to watch a video about the cuisine of Chettinadu.
In Madurai. witness an ancient evening ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple. This historic Hindu temple, considered by many to be the pinnacle of South Indian temple architecture, is located on the southern bank of Vaigai River. During the ceremony, the Statue of Lord Shiva, Meenakashi’s husband, is brought to her in a pageant of swirling life.