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Old 11th May 2024, 15:56   #1
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15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

Folks,
Please pitch in with what temples can be visited, best time of the year for such a plan, order of visits, where to stay and route plan.

Background/Theme
Our idea is for a 15 day road trip later this year or early next year, Ex Bangalore, to visit temples in South India, typically the ones with historical and architectural significance (Hoysala, Chera, Chola, Chalukya and the like), not necessarily from a religious/worship perspective, so they could also be temples that are ASI/UNESCO sites with or without regular worship. Would like to visit the lesser known temples as well, if they can be included in the plan.

Rough Plan
I was thinking we will mostly include temples in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and also the Navagraha temple circuit since we will definitely be visiting the bigger, well known ones in that list anyways (possibly add Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum also).
It would be nice to make a city/town our base for 2-3 days while visiting a set of temples in a 50-75Km radius.

Not sure how we should go about planning at the moment, maybe start with listing down the temples to visit, then planning the order and where to stay.

Would February be a good time to embark on this trip or sometime after the monsoon say September?

Last edited by NPV : 11th May 2024 at 15:58.
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Old 11th May 2024, 16:14   #2
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

KSTDC has a set of packages that can help you plan your itinerary (also see page 1 of the site). Those averse to driving can of course even avail these services and have hassle free holidays.

There are a number of options - both inside and outside the state of Karnataka. For instance, the Best of South India follows this route:

15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan-img_20240511_160950.jpg

This thread would also be of help to you.

Last edited by dailydriver : 11th May 2024 at 16:40.
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Old 11th May 2024, 17:21   #3
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

From memory, having taken multiple trips in fits and starts to Temples in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, you have a few options for creating this trip.

One, you could go by historical and architectural significance - in which case I recommend you ''Temples of South India" by KR Srinivasan. This slim volume by the former ASI deputy director has excellent information.

Second, you could just go by how different temples (and their settings are) from one another. In this case, you may want to not cover a lot of temples, but rather go for few notable groups in each type.

With that, in no particular order, are the temple groups worth visiting in the 2 south indian states you've mentioned.

in TN -

1. Temples in Trichy including Srirangam and Jambukeswarar
2. The living chola temples - Brihadeesvarar, Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram. (highly recommend doing all 3)
3. Madurai
4. Rameswaram
5. Kanchipuram (some of the best sculpture) and Mahabalipuram (if you havent been)
6. Chidambaram (just the temple, even if its for an hour)
7. Swamimalai (only for the murugan temple) but also for watching the lost wax casting of bronze sculptures

There are others such as Tiruvannamalai, Sucheendram, Kanniyakumari that i cannot speak for

In Karnataka you've got a bit of a problem - there are 3 distinct groups and areas - each very different from another -
1. South Karnataka - easiest - Halebidu, Belur and Sravanabelagola (Jain temple). Also, if time allows Somnathpura. I went to the last one in 2006 via an old road and it was the most complete hoysala temple extant.
2. North Karnataka- Hampi, Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal. Also, while you're at it, Mahakoota (which was brilliant). Now comes the problem - this area is littered with small gems of architecture such as Lakkundi, Annigeri, Itagi, etc. So you have to pick and choose. There is also the one off ''tribal'' temple in Sirsi with its facsinating wall paintings. I actually spent 2 weeks+ doing only North Karnataka and bit of coastal, so maybe best left to another trip.
3. Coastal Karnataka - while there are many temples that are stylistically quite different from one another, Sringeri stands out - both for the ''zodiac'' temple and also their kitchen. A possible excursion would be ''varanq'' near Karkala

There is a world to see out there, should be fun!

cheers
Vaibhav
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Old 11th May 2024, 19:06   #4
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Background/Theme
Our idea is for a 15 day road trip later this year or early next year, Ex Bangalore, to visit temples in South India, typically the ones with historical and architectural significance (Hoysala, Chera, Chola, Chalukya and the like), not necessarily from a religious/worship perspective, so they could also be temples that are ASI/UNESCO sites with or without regular worship. Would like to visit the lesser known temples as well, if they can be included in the plan.
I would say stick to a region and reduce the drive.

4-5 days in Kumbakonam.
This should include the Navagraha circuit for 1.5 days


One day for Chidambaram, Sirkazhi and temples around Mayaram (Peralam, Koothanur)

3 days for temples around Kumbakonam:

1. Thiruvalanchuzhi, Swamimalai, Papanasm. Thirikargayur, Pattiswaram, Nachiyar Kovil
2. Temples on/near Poompuhar road: Thiruvisainallur, Thiruvidaimaradur, Thirukodikaval, Kadiramangalam, Thiruloki, Uppiliappan
3 temples closer to Thiruvarur: Srivanjiyam. Thiruvarur Natrajar, Thirukollikadu, Ettukudi.


Twos days around Trichy/Tanjore: Mannargudi, Samayapuram, Srirangam, Thiruvanaikaval, Rockfort Thirupattur,

2-3 days in Karaikudi:
Pudukottai: Bragthambal, Thirumayam. Piiiarpatti. Thirukashtiyur, Avdayar Kovil, Kalayar Kovil and the one in Karaikudi.

You can also add Vedaranyam.

Return via Madurai.

If you want to extend you can, but it would be temple over load!

Last edited by ampere : 11th May 2024 at 19:07.
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Old 11th May 2024, 20:54   #5
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
I would say stick to a region and reduce the drive.
….
What if we keep the theme to Tamil Nadu temples with historical background, unique architecture/unique locations, regardless of whether the temple is being worshipped at or not currently (some of the ASI and UNESCO sites for example aren’t living temples), then we will have a smaller, clearer list to help plan it easier.
And additionally, the Navagraha temple circuit.

Last edited by NPV : 11th May 2024 at 20:58.
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Old 11th May 2024, 21:11   #6
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

Good idea. In that case the list I've shared in #3 with the addition of below should provide the most variety

- Tiruchendur (it would be your second murugan temple in addition to swamimalai) plus it's by the sea
- you'd have pallava temples in Mahabs, Kanchi kailasnathar
- chola temples as mentioned post #3 and they can be split between early, middle and late chola temples

Personally, as I have no knowledge of Tamil but with a deep interest in arts, architecture and history, I've suggested the names in previous list so it doesn't get too 'samey' and you won't get all templed out.

Id advise combining some other historical monuments and museums to complete your tour and better understand what you're out to see. In this case would recommend, at least -

Govt museum Egmore (Chennai)
Govt museum Tanjore
Tanjore palace and Saraswati Mahal Library
The workshops in swamimalai
Govt museum pudukottai that has eluded me so far.

(Plus these places are open between noon and 4ish when all temples are closed, helps with time optimization).

You may choose to view only sculpture section if you so wish and since youd be short of time and peruse the publication counter, if there is one working.

Last edited by vaibhav_a_a : 11th May 2024 at 21:14.
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Old 11th May 2024, 21:20   #7
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Originally Posted by NPV View Post
What if we keep the theme to Tamil Nadu temples with historical background, unique architecture/unique locations, regardless of whether the temple is being worshipped at or not currently (some of the ASI and UNESCO sites for example aren’t living temples), then we will have a smaller, clearer list to help plan it easier.
And additionally, the Navagraha temple circuit.
If I can add, try to include the six abodes of Muruga in your plan as that would set up the baseline. Four of them will be around the Madurai region while one of them will be in the Kumbakonam belt. You don't have to detour to do them together. And the last one's close to Chennai and you can plan it if you got anything around this region like the Mahabalipuram(Pallavas) and even Kanchipuram for a day while heading back to Bangalore. Would recommend adding this, although doesn't have UNESCO certifications.

On a different note, Thiruchendur Murugan temple in Thoothukudi is on a different level by the beach, something you don't want to miss when you are down south exploring temples.

And if I can sum it up, suggest you do the Kerala side of it in 2-3 days like the Guruvayoor, Chottanikkare, Padmanabha Saamy all the way to the Madurai belt of Tamil Nadu in 4 days including Thiruchendur, Pillayarpatti and then to Trichy and Tanjore, spend a couple of days exploring Samayapuram temple, the Big temple, Gangai Konda Cholapuram and then to the Kumbakonam belt for 3-4 days(try visiting Thirunallar if you can, again you can have a peaceful break at the coastal city of Karaikal, PY) and moving all the way up to Chennai and back to Bangalore.

Temples I don't want to miss in TN if I'm looking at your conditions:
1. Thanjavur Big temple (Architecture)
2. Thiruchendur Murugan temple(Location)
3. Gangai Konda Cholapuram(Architecture)
4. Palani(Location)
5. Thirunallar (Historical background)
6. Madurai Meenakshi Temple (Historical background)

Cheers,
Jagan

Last edited by Jagann13 : 11th May 2024 at 21:21.
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Old 11th May 2024, 21:57   #8
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Ex Bangalore, to visit temples in South India, typically the ones with historical and architectural significance (Hoysala, Chera, Chola, Chalukya and the like), not necessarily from a religious/worship perspective, so they could also be temples that are ASI/UNESCO sites with or without regular worship. Would like to visit the lesser known temples as well, if they can be included in the plan.
Do check my thread that lists lesser known Hoysala era temples. I have tracked down 30 such places:
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...a-temples.html (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)

There are apparently 20 more, in and around 100 km radius of Belur/Halebid

Another thread on heritage sites near Davanagere:
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...stination.html (Davanagere (Karnataka): An offbeat & overlooked Heritage destination)

Last edited by SmartCat : 11th May 2024 at 22:02.
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Old 11th May 2024, 22:27   #9
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re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Do check my thread that lists lesser known Hoysala era temples. I have tracked down 30 such places:
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...a-temples.html (Guide to the lesser known Hoysala Era Temples)
Of course, how can I miss your thread which is a treasure trove of information!

Initially we thought we’ll do temples in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, but decided against that since it’s too ambitious to do in one long stretch and we’d end up being on the road every day with pressure to cover as many temples, not doing justice to any of them, not to mention eventually getting burnt out and stressed.

Currently, the idea we’re trying to crystallise is to visit the big temples in Tamil Nadu, including the Navagraha temples and also try and include a few places to chill/relax in between. We’d probably do Bangalore-Trichy-Kumbakonam-Chettinad-Rameshwaram-Dhanuskodi-Madurai-Bangalore with stays at Trichy, Kumbakonam, Chettinad, Rameshwaram, Madurai before returning to Bangalore.

Last edited by NPV : 11th May 2024 at 22:29.
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Old 13th May 2024, 11:08   #10
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Re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Folks,
Please pitch in with what temples can be visited, best time of the year for such a plan, order of visits, where to stay and route plan.
Hi you can start with Tirupati then you can cover Pancha Bhuta lingas - Kalahasthi, Kanchipuram, Arunchalam, Chidambaram Trichy (Jambukeshwaram) in that order. Between Kanchi and Arunchalam you can cover Vellore golden temple. From Arunachalam you can take a detour towards Pondicherry for a day or two and from there to Chidambaram. Between Chidambaram to Trichy you can cover Tanjavuru. You can also slot in madurai and Rameshwaram in between if time permits. From Trichy you may proceed to Ooty to culminate the tour.

You have your own vehicle then it's really good tour plan if it aligns with your interests. I did this in 2022 October in 12 days. You will have to plan night stays in such a way you cover 1 or 2 places a day. Most of these places are within 250 kms from each other. If you have the luxury of time you can spend a full day in every place. I personally feel even a full day doesn't do justice to these marvels.

Climate in TN is good from October to February. My heart bleeds at the TN governments apathy towards these architectural marvels of temples. I don't think such huge beautiful temples built thousands of years ago exist anywhere in India. Hope this helps
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Old 13th May 2024, 11:32   #11
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Re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Wed probably do Bangalore-Trichy-Kumbakonam-Chettinad-Rameshwaram-Dhanuskodi-Madurai-Bangalore with stays at Trichy, Kumbakonam, Chettinad, Rameshwaram, Madurai before returning to Bangalore.
Hi, you may include Pondicherry also in your circuit to enjoy its unique French flavour and legacy. A well deserved stay in Pondicherry with local and French cuisine would be an added delight. Mabalipuram, Chidambaram (alongwith Pichavaram mangrove boating escapades) and Thiruvannamalai temple visits could be easily managed from Pondicherry.

February would be an ideal time of the year for the trip.
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Old 13th May 2024, 12:44   #12
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Re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
I would say stick to a region and reduce the drive.

4-5 days in Kumbakonam.
This should include the Navagraha circuit for 1.5 days


One day for Chidambaram, Sirkazhi and temples around Mayaram (Peralam, Koothanur)

3 days for temples around Kumbakonam:

1. Thiruvalanchuzhi, Swamimalai, Papanasm. Thirikargayur, Pattiswaram, Nachiyar Kovil
2. Temples on/near Poompuhar road: Thiruvisainallur, Thiruvidaimaradur, Thirukodikaval, Kadiramangalam, Thiruloki, Uppiliappan
3 temples closer to Thiruvarur: Srivanjiyam. Thiruvarur Natrajar, Thirukollikadu, Ettukudi.
Really a good plan Ampere.

Couple of suggestions would be, as Vaitheeswaran Koil one of Navagraha circuit temple is near Sirkazhi it would be better cover during the stay in Chidambaram. Same with Thiruvenkadu and Keezha Perumpallam. Instead of Navagraha circuit.

The odd one out is Thirunallar, which can be covered while staying in Thirvarur as it is only 40Kms instead of 70 Kms from Kumbakonam.

Also other suggestion is if they are covering Thirukollikadu, they can skip Thirunallar.
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Old 13th May 2024, 17:34   #13
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Re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
4-5 days in Kumbakonam.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Would February be a good time to embark on this trip or sometime after the monsoon say September?
February is a good time to visit for two reasons.
  1. The weather will be better (Early morning dew will prevail till shivarathiri).
  2. There will be fewer crowds due to the annual exam season.

Added Gangaikondacholapuram in Ampere's list.

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠When booking hotels online, it is advisable to verify your reservation by contacting the hotel directly.

Last edited by KarthikK : 14th May 2024 at 11:40. Reason: Typo correction
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Old 13th May 2024, 17:48   #14
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Re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

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Couple of suggestions would be, as Vaitheeswaran Koil one of Navagraha circuit temple is near Sirkazhi it would be better cover during the stay in Chidambaram. Same with Thiruvenkadu and Keezha Perumpallam. Instead of Navagraha circuit.
Yes this needs to be optimized. But I would still suggest to keep the hotel base as Kumbakonam. There are few good places on Pomupuhar road which helps reduce the distance. Covering the Navagraha circuit is more a closure for many. Most wont skip or break that chain. Depends on how it can be done.


Quote:
The odd one out is Thirunallar, which can be covered while staying in Thirvarur as it is only 40Kms instead of 70 Kms from Kumbakonam.

Also other suggestion is if they are covering Thirukollikadu, they can skip Thirunallar.
As I mentioned earlier, any temple on the Navagraha circuit, people would like to keep it and do the whole circuit. Also since the NPV is heading to multiple regions, moving to a different hotel within the same region, may not a good idea.

The Navagraha circuit Plan as per me:

If NPV is visiting Trichy, then while coming from Trichy and driving to Kumbakonam he should visit Thingaloor (and may Thiruvaiyaru). And then the next day start from Kumbakonam, head to Alangudi and then Thiruvallar, Thiruvengadu, Keezhaperumpallam and Chevvaai (in that order) before lunch. Post lunch start in the evening from the hotel and cover: Suryanaar, Kanjanoor, Thirunageswaram and Uppiliappan (additional). This has to be executed like clock work. I would suggest one takes a cab.

I know we may cross the same road again for visiting other temples, but I would still suggest to get Navagraha circuit done in a day and then plan rest of the temples.

Last edited by ampere : 13th May 2024 at 18:07.
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Old 13th May 2024, 20:26   #15
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Re: 15 day tour of temples in South India : Itinerary and route plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by NPV View Post
Background/Theme
Our idea is for a 15 day road trip later this year or early next year, Ex Bangalore, to visit temples in South India, typically the ones with historical and architectural significance (Hoysala, Chera, Chola, Chalukya and the like), not necessarily from a religious/worship perspective, so they could also be temples that are ASI/UNESCO sites with or without regular worship. Would like to visit the lesser known temples as well, if they can be included in the plan
That is extremely difficult; here's an example: Sembiyan Mahadevi financed to build lord Shiva temple at Thiru mullai vanam which is now known as Thirumullaivoyal with Lord Shiva known to be as Masilamaneeswarar. Rajasimha Pallavan built the physical temple, now known as Hirudhayaleeswarar Lord Shiva temple at Thiruninravur that was inaugurated by Poosalar, who built the temple around the same time at his heart due to poverty but with devotion. Point is these are very lesser known temples & there're even more at land of 1000 temples in Thondai naadu {Now Kanchipuram, Chengalpet, Chennai & Mahabalipuram} & the fort of temples around old Urayur {including Trichy, Kumbakonam & Tanjavur}. My humble opinion is, it would take a lifetime getting to know the history & visit the temples only from Chera, Chozha & Pandia dynasties.

And I hope you're aware that the Padmanabaswamy temple was reconstructed several times from the period of Cheras & Cholas and it does not reflect the original architecture

Edit: Here's something that you may be interested Sir

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
I would still suggest to get Navagraha circuit done in a day and then plan rest of the temples.
I hope you're aware that this is an extremely tiring journey to be done in a day

Last edited by aargee : 13th May 2024 at 20:35.
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