Jasmine Trails Travel GuidesSouth India

Southern Splendours Tour: A South India Travel Guide

A Jasmine Trails travel guide: South India – Part I
A quick guide for the Southern Splendours tour January 2020

The cities and towns that are covered in this Jasmine Trails travel guide are:
Chennai- Mamallapuram- Pondicherry- Gangaikoda Cholapuram- Kumbakonam- Thanjavur (Tanjore)- Madurai- Thekkady- Kumarakom- Cochin

In April 2017 we had blogged about “Where to travel in South India-Part 1”. Read more about travel in South India.

Chennai

Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is a 400-year-old city. The Portuguese arrived in 1522 and built a port named São Tomé, after the apostle St. Thomas, who preached here AD 52 to AD 70. The modern city of “Chennai” arose from the British settlement of Fort St. George.

Some interesting facts about Chennai:

Jasmine Trails Southern Splendours Tour January 2020 - Image 1 Chennai

Marina Beach with a length of 6 K.M. is the longest natural urban beach in India. With an average width of 300 meters and at its widest almost 500 meters!

Chennai is home to one of the oldest engineering colleges in the world. The College of Engineering, Guindy founded in 1794 by the East India Company is India’s oldest technical institution. It is also the oldest technical institution established outside of Europe.

Chennai is the automobile hub of India and is also known as the “Detroit of India”.

Formerly known as the Corporation of Madras now officially the Greater Chennai Corporation is the oldest municipal body of the Commonwealth outside Great Britain and was formed in 29 September 1688. The first Mayor was American-born Englishman Nathaniel Higginson.

Chennai has second largest judicial structure in world! The Madras High Court complex covers 107 acres of land is second to only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

When World War I came to Chennai:
On September 22, 1914 Chennai became the only city in India that was attacked during World War I! The daring raid was conducted by a German light cruiser Emden, under the command of Captain Karl von Müller. The Emden fired 130 shells from a range of 3,000 yards and destroyed 346,000 gallons of fuel of the Burmah Oil Company! Read more about this daring attack.

When World War I came to Chennai: On September 22, 1914 Chennai became the only city in India that was attacked during World War I! The daring raid was conducted by a German light cruiser Emden, Captained by Karl von Müller. Click To Tweet

Interested in the the Southern Splendours tour January 2020? Check out the tour here.

Mamallapuram

Mamallapuram, formerly Mahabalipuram was an important seaport in the 1st millennium CE. and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Chinese and Roman coins of the 4th century CE that have been excavated suggest that Mamallapuram was a thriving port in the late classical period.

Puducherry

Formerly Pondicherry, this Poduke or a marketplace, was a Roman trading post from the mid-1st century. In 1674 the French East India Company set up a trading centre and this outpost became the chief French settlement in India.

Jasmine trails Pondicherry Map for the Southern Splendours Tour January 2020Some interesting facts about Pondicherry:

The Union Territory of Puducherry is a group of four geographically isolated districts, namely Pondicherry (Puducherry), Mahe, Yanaon (Yanam) and Karikal (Karaikal).

The Masquerade Festival is celebrated before lent and is a conglomeration of French and Tamil Cultures.

Internationally acclaimed Hollywood director M. Night Shyamalan, director of “The Sixth Sense” and the superhero thriller “Unbreakable” was born in Mahé.

Gangaikoda Cholapuram

The ancient city of Gangaikonda Cholapuram was destroyed barring The Brihadisvara Temple, now a UNESCO world heritage site. This living temple is dedicated to Shiva. Built by Rajendra Chola I the son of the famous king Raja Raja Chola I, who built the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur. The temple is similar in design and name, its older 11th century, counterpart.Jasmine Trails Southern Splendours Tour January 2020 - Image 4 Gangaikoda Cholapuram

Some interesting facts about Gangaikoda Cholapuram:

Apart from the Brihadisvara Temple the ancient city of Gangaikonda Cholapuram was destroyed along with its other major Chola-era Hindu temples and the reasons for the city’s destruction are unclear.

The Gangaikonda Cholapuram “Brihadisvara Temple” is an active temple and is a part of the UNESCO’s Living Chola temples World Heritage sites.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple resembles the older but much bigger Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur. The original Temple in Thanjavur was built by famous king Raja Raja Chola I and this temple was built by his equally famous son Rajendra Chola I.

Kumbakonam

The ancient city of Kumbakonam, was inhabited in the Sangam Age (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD) and is also known as the “City of temples” with 188 Hindu temples within the municipal limits. It was also the capital of the Chola dynasty as early as the 7th century. Kumbakonam betel leaves are ranked amongst the best in the world in terms of quality.

Some interesting facts about Kumbakonam:

Jasmine Trails Southern Splendours Tour January 2020 - Image 5 Kumbakonam

 

The famous mathematician C. P. Ramanujam finished his high schooling from Kumbakonam.
During the British Raj, Kumbakonam became a center of European education and Hindu culture and was also known as the “Cambridge of South India”.

Kumbakonam is known for its monasteries and temples with around 188 Hindu temples within the town’s municipal limits.

Kumbakonam is a leading producer of betel leaves and nuts and are ranked amongst the best in the world in terms of quality. Kumbakonam also produces the finest silk weaved in the Indian subcontinent.

Thanjavur

Formerly Tanjore is also known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu”. The Great “Living” Chola Temples, which are UNESCO world heritage sites, are located around Thanjavur and the most famous of these temples being the Brihadeeswara Temple. Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore style of painting and the equally famous Tanjore silk sarees.

Some interesting facts about Thanjavur:Jasmine Trails Southern Splendours Tour January 2020 - Image 6 Thanjavur

The Brihadeeswarar Temple of Thanjavur, is among the most visited monuments in Tamil Nadu. The Temple dedicated to Shiva is more than 1000 years old and the architect of this fascinating temple was Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perumthachan.

The main tower above the sanctum (Vimana) of the temple is 16 storeys high, of which 13 are tapering squares. The main Linga is a staggering 29 feet high and occupies two storeys of the sanctum.

Above the Vimana’s 16 storeys sits a single square block of granite weighing 80 tons, on top of this block sits the cupola shaped Sikhara and weighs another 25 tons!

Above the Vimana's 16 storeys sits a single square block of granite weighing 80 tons, on top of this block sits the cupola shaped Sikhara and weighs another 25 tons! Click To Tweet

In 1011 CE the Temple employed more than 600 personnel.

Interested in the the Southern Splendours tour January 2020? Check out the tour here.

Madurai

The recorded history of Madurai goes back to the 3rd century BC and the city also finds mention in Kautilya’s Arthashastra. The city built around the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which is its geographic and ritual center. The city is a major exporter of Jasmine flowers.Jasmine Trails Southern Splendours Tour January 2020 - Image 7 Madurai

Some interesting facts about Madurai:

Madurai’s unique link with the Madurai Malli or jasmine dates to 300 BC or earlier and finds prominent mention in ancient texts like the Kamasutra and Mahabharata. The Jasmine flower is known for its seductive, powerful and mysterious fragrance. It takes 1 ton of flowers to extract 1 Kg of Jasmine concentrate which retails for about 1500 USD.

The Meenakshi Temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and Sundareshwar, her consort, a form of Shiva.

In Madurai you get the rare opportunity to see Indo-Saracenic architecture in South India at the Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace.

Thekkady and Kumarakom

Thekkady is home to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, which were the hunting ground of the Travancore kings and was declared a tiger reserve in 1978. Thekkady is a heaven for natural spices.
Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake and is famous for its backwater tourism and its chundan vallams or Kerala snake boats.

Cochin

Now known as Kochi, was the center of the spice trade for hundreds of years and the port traded with the Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs and the Chinese for centuries. Cochin hosted the first European settlers in India with the arrival of the Portuguese in the year 1500 and were followed by the Dutch and finally the British.Jasmine Trails Southern Splendours Tour January 2020 - Image 10 Cochin

Some interesting facts about Kochi:

St. Thomas is believed to have landed in Kerala at Kodungallur (Cranganore) in AD 52.

The kingdom of Cochin was the only kingdom in South Asia to be a protectorate of China and sent tribute to the Ming Dynasty since 1411! The third emperor Zhu Di of the Ming dynasty granted special status to Cochin and its ruler known as Keyili to the Chinese.
The kingdom of Cochin was the only kingdom in South Asia to be a protectorate of China and sent tribute to the Ming Dynasty since 1411! The third emperor Zhu Di of the Ming dynasty granted special status to Cochin and its ruler known… Click To Tweet

The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama docked at Kappad in 1498.

Vasco Da Gama’s body was originally buried at the St Francis Church before it was moved to Lisbon in 1539. This Church was built in 1503, is the oldest European church in India.

The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese but is popularly known as the Dutch Palace! The palace was gifted to the King of Cochin by the Portuguese in around 1555. In 1663 the Dutch carried out some renovations and extensions and thereafter it was popularly called Dutch Palace. The Palace is on the “tentative list” of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

When India gained independence in 1947 from the British, Cochin was the first princely state to join the Indian Union willingly.

Kochi Metro is the world’s first rapid transit system whose entire management and operations are handled by women. In addition, this metro project is the first urban mobility system in India which connects rail, road and water transport facilities.

In 2018 JLL a global professional services firm ranked Kochi as the topmost emerging future megacity in India.

 

Interested in the the Southern Splendours tour January 2020? Check out the tour here.

Leave a Reply