Despite the wonderful array of ‘big’ sights in Tamil Nadu – temples, fortifications, great sweeping beaches, high mountains – it is the little things, the low-key and random interactions with local people which really give the state its true flavour.Of course it’s impossible to ‘predict’ what types of experiences you might encounter during a tour of Tamil Nadu but there are many possibilities; here are a few.
All along the coast there are communities of fishermen who live in very simple villages close to the ocean. And everywhere you go you’ll pass through villages where the simple event of you getting out of your vehicle will attract a crowd- people love nothing more than to chat with visitors over a cup of chai at a local tea stall and the amount of English spoken in south India means that it’s possible to have an actual conversation in most places you’re likely to stop.This is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of the local way of life and experience Tamil Nadu as the locals do.
Witness the day to day life of Tamil people at Athoor Village in Dindigul
Athoor is a serene village located at the Dindigul district of Tamilnadu. If you are looking for a pure village experience, Athoor is a great option.
As you take a tour around the village you will come across the goat herders’ village, the local primary school, the Athoor village square, the small yet spectacular ancient temples etc. Witness brick making, traditional saree making, pottery making and much more.
Experience the rural wonder of Swamimalai village
Tucked away in the outskirts of the Kumbakonam town, Swamimalai is popularly known as the cradle of Chola bronze statues and stone sculptures. A visit to this village allows you to witness and learn how the sculptors artistically work upon and bring about a piece of bronze art into life.
They use the traditional wax method of bronze casting which they perfected throughout their generations. Make a visit to Swamimalai, experience the brilliance of the bronze artists and admire the numerous ancient temples in and around Swamimalai.
Explore the palatial structures and culture of this kingly city
In the heart of the Cauvery River Delta lies the ancient Chola kingdom capital of Tanjore, still dominated 1000 years on by the truly majestic Brihadishwara Temple. The temple now carries UNESCO World Heritage status and is perhaps the crowning glory of ancient temple architecture in India. Also of note in Tanjore are the Palace and Museum; the latter houses an amazing collection of bronze statues and other art of the region.
Also in this region are the World Heritage Temples at Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram, peaceful havens with few visitors, where one can marvel at the intricate stone carvings depicting Hindu legends and epics.
Meet the doll making artists of Vilachery
Around 200 families in the Vilachery village are engaged in clay Doll making. The artisans here really have a way of their own with clay, and they owe their skill to their forefathers who were traditionally involved in making clay potteries. They also make papiermache dolls which are in high demand.
First the dolls are made using moulds, and then the artists bring the dolls to life by skilfully painting them as per the designs in their mind. Navratri, VinayakaChathurthi and Christmas are the major occasions when these dolls of Vilachery are sought by people from far and near.