Tamil Nadu, South India – 10 Top Foodie travel spots – on my Wishlist

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On My Wish list – Top Ten in Tamil Nadu

Top ten in Tamil Nadu Map (source Lonely Planet – South India and Kerala)

1. Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram)

About 1-1 ½ hours south of Chennai on the coast.

Why Go?
Visitors stop here to see the World Heritage listed temples and carvings, particularly lovely at sunset, but I’m hoping to sample the fish curry at the Seashore Garden Restaurant, that Rick Stein declared was the best curry in all of India.

Where to Stay?
Grande Bay Resort and Spa (Grande Chalet room $160 incl. breakfast)

Book on booking.com or contact Samuel (phone works best) from Australia 0011 91 9840793960

How to get there?
Grande Bay Resort pick up from Chennai airport costs about $42 if travelling down the scenic east coast.

2. Puducherry (Pondicherry)

Why Go?
A former French colony on the coast, where Indian and French foods and architecture blend to achieve some lovely street scenes, good shopping and creole cusine.

Where to Stay?
L’Orient Hotel (every room is different but try the Karikal for about $185)
or

Les Hibiscus – A Lonely Planet Guide top pick in Tamil Nadu

How to get there?

Hotel pick up from L’Orient Hotel costs about $40.

3. Tranquebar

Why Go?
A little coastal town and former Danish colony, with a lovely place to stay.

Where to Stay?
Bungalow on the Beach (again, every room is different, but try the Queen Anna Sophia room (approx.. $179 incl. breakfast)

How to get there?

Drop off from Les Hibiscus $45, from Hotel L’Orient $53

And two stops in different Chettinadu towns:

4. Karaikudi
Why Go?
Stay in a mansion and enjoy authentic spicy Chettinad cuisine.

Where to Stay?
The Bangala – Famous for it’s food – the set lunch or dinner is a Chettinadar wedding feast

How to get there?

Drop off from Bungalow on the Beach $82

5. Kanadukathan
Why Go?
Stay in a beautifully restored mansion and enjoy authentic spicy Chettinad cuisine.

Where to Stay?
Visalam – A Lonely Planet top pick in Tamil Nadu, a gorgeous art deco restored mansion with great style and a lovely pool and garden.

How to get there?
Local taxi (only 20 mins)

6. Madurai

Why Go?
One of the oldest cities in India, that traded with Ancient Rome and home of the amazing Meenakshi AmmanTemple and Foodies Day Out tour.

Where to Stay?

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai
How to get there?

Drop off from Visalam $45

7. Kodaikanal

Why Go?
A misty hill station in the Palni hills. Popular for it’s spectacular lookout points, waterfalls and very pretty lake.

Where to Stay?
Lonely Planet’s top picks:

Villa Retreat
Great views over the valley

or

The Carlton
Nicely situated on the lake and recommended by Lonely Planet for its restaurant.

Book through the hotel website to get a special two night package that includes sightseeing and a romantic boat ride.

How to get there?

Pick up from Villa Retreat/ The Carlton Hotel approx. $45

8. Coonoor

Why Go?
Coonoor A hill station with beautiful scenery in the Nilgiri Hills and on the Nilgiri Toy Train Railway line.

Where to Stay?

180 McIver – A Lonely Planet top pick in Tamil Nadu and a classic 1880s British bungalow

How to get there?

Drop off from Villa Retreat/ The Carlton Hotel approx. $85

9. Ooty
Why Go?
Ooty another hill station of the Raj era in the Nilgiri Hills with great scenery.

Where to Stay?
Savoy Hotel

How to get there?

Take the famous toy train to Ooty leaves 10:40am (very cheap)

10. Chennai

Why Go?
Chennai the gateway to Tamil Nadu and a major airport in Southern India

Where to Stay?
Best location in Chennai to stay is T.Nagar near the Pondi Bazaar and some good spots to eat.

The Residency Towers has a great package for $155 for a Club Room on 18th floor for 24 hours (i.e. check in time is check out time) that also includes buffet breakfast, airport transfers, use of the Club Lounge for breakfast and free drinks between 7:30-8:30pm and a pool.

Contact the hotel directly to book.

But a cheaper, good option also in T. Nagar is the Lotus Apartments

(Make sure you pick the branch on Venkatraman Street).

How to get there?
Being such a major airport, it’s easy to get specials on airfares from some of the best airlines.
keep an eye out for Singapore Airlines specials that often drop to around $1150 return ex Canberra/Sydney.

If you have extra time, consider continuing on to Mysore (a wonderful palace) and the Coorg or Kodagu region (for coffee estates, hill staions and a distinct regional cuisine), in Karnataka and then flying back from Bangalore.

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