The mangroves of Pichavaram

After a couple of restful days in Tranquebar, we drive on to Pichavaram, for a look at the second largest mangroves system in India after the Sunderbans (in the world, as some sources claim). Despite this, Pichavaram is literally off the beaten track, seeing less than a hundred visitors everyday. The pier is practically empty…

The land of singing waves

There are many ways to enjoy the monsoon season. My favourite is to sit on an armchair on an open verandah with a cup of masala chai, listening to the pitter patter of raindrops falling on the roof. And if you add to it the music of giant sea waves crashing against rocks on the…

A perfect weekend in Ooty and Coonoor

Just a two-hour drive from Coimbatore lies the Nilgiris, also known as the Blue Mountains. Its heart is the hill station of Ooty – an anglicised abbreviation of Udhagamandalam – which is a bustling small city. In contrast, the nearby district of Coonoor offers beautiful heritage buildings and verdant surrounds. Sample both worlds with this…

A heart cooler for the heat

Some people have called it a ‘heart attack in a glass’. They are terribly unkind. I prefer to think of it as ‘heaven in a glass’. How else would you describe a concoction that has almond resin, Sarsaparilla syrup, cold milk, sugar, finely chopped dried fruit and nuts, and all of this topped with a…

The Bungalow on the Beach

A few months ago, we went on a road trip through Thanjavur and Kumbakonam, then going up north towards Tranquebar, before finally fetching up at Pondicherry. By the time we – we were tired of the hectic temple visits in and around Thanjavur. And all we wanted to do was put our feet up and…

Why you should visit Tamil Nadu in 2016

My home state of Tamil Nadu has found a place in the NY Times’ list of must-do destinations for 2016 – rightly described as a gateway to India’s cultural core. From the temples of Rameshwaram to the hills of Ooty, the music concerts of Chennai to the jallikattu of Madurai, the spicy kaara kuzhambu of…

Conservation, at what cost?

A quick glimpse at a couple of small temples, to continue my series on the recent Tamil Nadu road trip. Our host at the Swamimalai resort, knowing our interest, had recommended them highly for their architectural details (temple carvings mainly). So that evening, we headed to the Pullamangai temple near Ayyampettai, half an hour’s drive…

Memories from the road trip

It’s just over a week since we returned, but the eight day road trip in Tamil Nadu is already a distant memory. It was a whirlwind (but great) tour with a bit of everything: starting with the temple circuit of Thanjavur and Kumbakonam, a beachy time at Tranquebar, a bit of wildlife at Point Calimere,…