Tamil Nadu

Top things to do

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Thanjavur (Tanjore)

Brihadishwara Temple

Come here twice: in the morning, when the honey-hued granite begins to assert its dominance over the white dawn sunshine, and in the evening, when the rocks capture a hot palette of reds, oranges, yellows and...

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Madurai

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple

The colourful abode of the triple-breasted warrior goddess Meenakshi (‘fish-eyed’ – an epithet for perfect eyes in classical Tamil poetry) is generally considered to be the peak of South Indian temple...

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli)

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

So large it feels like a self-enclosed city, Sri Ranganathaswamy is quite possibly India's biggest temple. It has 49 separate Vishnu shrines, and reaching the inner sanctum from the south, as most worshippers do,...

Top ChoiceHindu Monument in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram)

Arjuna’s Penance

The crowning masterpiece of Mamallapuram’s stonework, this giant relief carving is one of India's greatest ancient artworks. Inscribed on two huge, adjacent boulders, the Penance bursts with scenes of Hindu myth...

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Kumbakonam

Gangaikondacholapuram Temple

The temple at Gangaikondacholapuram ('City of the Chola who Conquered the Ganges'), 35km north of Kumbakonam, is dedicated to Shiva. It was built by Rajendra I in the 11th century when he moved the Chola capital...

Top ChoicePalace in Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin)

Padmanabhapuram Palace

With a forest’s worth of intricately carved rosewood ceilings and polished-teak beams, this labyrinthine palace, 35km northwest of Kanyakumari, near the Kerala border, is considered the finest example of...

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Tiruvannamalai

Arunachaleshwar Temple

This 10-hectare temple is one of India's largest. Its oldest parts date to the 9th century, but the site was a place of worship long before that. Four huge, unpainted white gopurams mark the entrances; the main,...

Top ChoiceCafe in Tiruvannamalai

Dreaming Tree

Super-chilled Dreaming Tree dishes out huge portions of exquisite, health-focused veg fare, prepped with mostly organic ingredients, on a breezy thatched rooftop loaded with low-slung purple-cushioned booths....

Top ChoicePalace in Thanjavur (Tanjore)

Royal Palace

Royal Palace

Thanjavur’s royal palace is a mixed bag of ruin and renovation, superb art and random royal paraphernalia. The mazelike complex was constructed partly by the Nayaks who took over Thanjavur in 1535, and partly by...

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli)

Rock Fort Temple

The Rock Fort Temple, perched 83m high on a massive outcrop, lords over Trichy with stony arrogance. The ancient rock was first hewn by the Pallavas and Pandyas, who cut small cave temples on its south side, but...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Chennai (Madras)

Government Museum

Government Museum

Housed across from the striking British-built Pantheon Complex, this excellent museum is Chennai’s best. The big highlight is building 3, the Bronze Gallery, with a superb collection of South Indian bronzes from...

Top ChoiceHindu Temple in Chennai (Madras)

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

Mylapore is one of Chennai's most characterful and traditional neighbourhoods; it predated colonial Madras by several centuries. Its Kapaleeshwarar Temple is Chennai's most active and impressive, and is believed...

Top ChoiceMuseum in East Coast Road

Cholamandal Artists’ Village

There’s a tropical bohemian groove floating around Injambakkam village, site of the Cholamandal Artists’ Village, 10km south of Chennai's Adyar River. This 4-hectare artists’ cooperative – founded in 1966 by...

Top ChoiceMulticuisine in Chennai (Madras)

Amethyst

Set in an exquisitely converted warehouse with a wraparound veranda from which tables spill out into lush gardens, Amethyst is a nostalgically posh haven that's outrageously popular with expats and well-off...

Top ChoiceCafe in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

Café des Arts

This bohemian cafe would look perfectly at home in Europe, but this is Pondy, so there's a cycle rickshaw in the garden. Perfectly prepared dishes range from salads to crêpes, baguettes, omelettes and toasties....

Top ChoiceContinental in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

Villa Shanti

Smart candlelit tables in a palm-dotted, pillared courtyard attached to a colourful cocktail bar create a casually fancy vibe at this packed-out hotel restaurant, one of Pondy's hottest dining spots. The...

Top ChoiceNorth Indian in Chennai (Madras)

Peshawri

Perfect for a five-star splash-out, the ITC's signature Northwest Frontier restaurant serves inventive, flavour-popping creations at intimate booths alongside a glassed-in kitchen that gets you right in on the...

Top ChoiceNorth Indian in Chennai (Madras)

Copper Chimney

Meat-eaters will drool over the yummy North Indian tandoori dishes served in well-lit, stylishly minimalist surroundings, but the veg food here is fantastic too. Jain specialities mingle with biryanis, chicken...

Top ChoiceIndian in Chennai (Madras)

Annalakshmi

Very fine South and North Indian vegetarian fare, plus glorious fresh juices, in a beautiful dining room decorated with carvings and paintings, inside a high-rise behind the Air India building. Buffet lunches and...

Top ChoiceContinental in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

Villa Helena

One of Pondy's favourite culinary teams heads up this fashionable continental-Indian eatery, launched in 2016 in a dreamy, lantern-lit patio engulfed by tropical gardens and lined with white-columned corridors....