How India occupied Tamil Nadu

GREEN - COLORFUL - MYSTICAL - SPIRITUAL - SOUTH INDIA

India is one of the most impressive travel destinations in the world - this undoubtedly also applies to the green south of the country, the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A wide variety of great landscapes and cultural sites await us here, each one a highlight and worth visiting.

The best starting points for a round trip through South India are Bangalore / Bengaluru or Madras / Chennai (very convenient to reach with Lufthansa from the federal states ...). This results in a great combination of the three southernmost states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which offers an immeasurable range of nature and culture.

Let's start in Karnataka: While Bangalore (once a green garden city) is increasingly becoming an overpopulated IT metropolis, the drive to Mysore already gives a foretaste of the countless shades of green of the south. The region is so fertile that up to 3 rice harvests per year are possible. The darker shades of green - groves of mulberry trees - refer to the long tradition of silk production in Karnataka. In the small villages, tw. The silk moth is still traditionally bred in huge wicker baskets - branches with mulberry leaves serve as a source of food up to the cocoon stage. Near Mysore we explore the Jain shrine Shravanabelagola: Around 980 a more than 18 m high (monolithic) statue of the Jain saint Gomateshwara was erected here on a hill, which is one of the most important and impressive shrines of the Jain religion in India. The palace city of Mysore rightly bears its nickname: The most magnificent of the numerous palaces is Amba Vilas, it was built at the end of the 19th century by Henry Irwin in the Indo-Saracen style for the Maharajas of Mysore. Exuberant splendor meets the finest handicrafts in the marble-clad courtyards and Durbar halls, which are presented in a wide variety of styles. But not only the last ruling family of Mysore left their mark - not far from Mysore we find the unique temples of the Hoysala dynasty, who established a great empire here between the 11th and 14th centuries. Visible witnesses are the lavishly decorated temple complexes in Somnathpur, Belur and Halebid - richly decorated ribbons in relief cover the temples from top to bottom. In the south of Karnataka - on the border with Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where the Deccan plateau merges into the mountains of the Western Ghats - we dive into the largest contiguous forests in India in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The world natural heritage extends over 5500 square kilometers in numerous national parks and game reserves over the hills and mountains of the Western Ghats and includes all 3 southern states. In the 3 ecoregions we find moist tropical forests, mountain rainforests and dry deciduous forests in the foothills of the Deccan Plateau. The Nagarhole National Park and the Bandipur National Park, which have enormous biodiversity, are particularly worth visiting. Here we go on safari and look out for elephants, deer, tigers and leopards. The two national parks are now among the best observation spots for Bengal tigers in India!

We travel further to the southwest of South India: The province of Kerala is not only known for the mountains of the West Ghats but also for the idyllic lagoon landscapes of the backwaters and its beautiful beaches. But Kerala also presents itself as a cultural treasure trove, with magnificent palaces, temples and churches - and the oldest synagogue in India. We get to know the folk art of Kerala and see the classical temple dance Kathakali. We can admire the finest landscapes here - including the grandiose tea mountains near Munnar (a unique sight not only for photographers). At the height of Munnar (approx. 1500 m), one of the three most important types of tea, Assam tea, thrives first-class. With regular harvest and pruning, the camellia plant can reach heights of 1.2 - 1.5 m and can be up to 40 years old. Tea has been cultivated here since 1880 - now with an annual harvest of around 21,000 tons. The history of tea cultivation is very interestingly told in the Munnar Tea Museum. The spice gardens at Periyar offer a wide range of different types of spice - cardamom, the "queen of spices", is particularly important economically. We also find pepper, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla. Finally, we explore the infinitely wide world of the backwaters (for 1 day including overnight stay) by houseboat: Canals, lagoons and lakes shaded by palm trees form a merging landscape of water and rice fields (approx. 1900 square kilometers) in the hinterland of the Malabar coast. As a counterpoint we visit baroque churches (Kerala is an exceptional state in some - very high level of education, communist and to a considerable extent Catholic) and the painted temples of Kerala, such as Vaikom, whose sanctuary is decorated with the most magnificent frescoes on the outside.

Do you want to explore cities? - With pleasure! We visit the beautiful old Portuguese Fort Kochi, which also bears the manifold traces of the later Dutch colonial rulers (Mattancherry Palace). Where Vasca da Gama once went ashore, where a cenotaph in the Francis Church still reminds of him, a particularly beautiful old town spreads out with narrow alleys that lead down to the port with the Chinese fishing nets. Here we also find the oldest synagogue in India. But the ancient temple city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu also inspires us - especially with the huge Meenakshi temple, which was built between the 12th and 17th centuries. Here we experience the first encounter with the Dravidian temple architecture, huge gopurams (entrance towers), which are filled with hundreds to thousands of colorful figures of gods, with magnificent courtyards, wonderful frescoes on the walls and ceilings and great sculptures. The old French colonial town of Pondicherry / Puducherry with the very well-preserved old town of White Town presents itself completely different, European charm. A tour with the bicycle rickshaw takes us through the beautiful alleys and streets of the old town to the coast of the Indian Ocean.

The state of Tamil Nadu is the final highlight of the trip through the south: If color is necessary after so many varied shades of green, then we are in the right place with the temple cities of Tamil Nadu: great temple complexes like the temple city of Srirangam with the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (10th - 16th century) in Trichy inspires every visitor with 21 huge gate towers (gopurams) and artistically painted ceilings and walls. This is the main place of Vishnu worship in Tamil Nadu. The Brihadishvara Temple (built around 980) in Tanjore is dedicated to Shiva and is one of the most beautiful temples of the Chola dynasty. But also other temples like Gangaikondacholapuram or Chidambaram lead us into the vast world of the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu. The palaces of the Chettiar or the rock temples of Mahabalipuram prove that that is not all: between the 7th and 9th centuries, during the reign of the Pallava kings, a grandiose temple district by the sea, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the oldest surviving structures in South India. Here was one of the most important ports of the Pallava kings, which contributed to the wealth of the rulers. Particularly impressive are the coastal temple, the 5 Rathas - temple experiments that were carved out of the natural rock, as well as the huge relief "Descent of the Ganga" from the 7th century - with 12 x 33 m one of the largest rock reliefs in the world.

Overall, a world full of nature, culture and spirituality that is worth immersing yourself in ...

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