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4 DAY TRIP FROM CHENNAI | KANCHIPURAM - TIRUVANNAMALAI - CHIDAMBARAM - MAHABALIPURAM

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage | Beach

Photo Credit: Flickr

ITINERARY SUMMARY

Trip Starting Point: Chennai City

Mode of Travel: Car (or Cab)

Trip Duration: 4 Days

Ideal Start Time: 6 AM:8 AM:9 AM:8 AM

Total Places Visited: 18

Day 1 Destinations | Day 2 Destinations
DAYS

DAY 1 : TRAVEL TO KANCHIPURAM & KANCHIPURAM SIGHTSEEING

Travel from Chennai to Kanchipuram

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 6 AM - 12 noon & 4 PM - 8.30 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 1 km from Kanchipuram Bus Station and 2 kms from Railway Station, Kamakshi Amman Temple is the landmark of Kanchipuram. It is believed that the Kamakshi Amman Temple in Kanchipuram was existing even before Aadi Sankaracharya's period (788-820 AD). It has been told that there are three major Shakti's (Amman) in India. They are 'Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi and Kaasi Visalakshi'.

Even most of the locals are unaware of the fact that there are no shrines for Shakti in any of the Shiva temples in Kanchipuram. The Kamakshi temple is the only traditional temple dedicated to Shakti in Kanchipuram.

The sannathi (sanctum) is covered with a gold plated roof. The temple has a golden charriot of which the procession takes place during festive seasons.

Timings: 6 AM - 12 noon & 4 PM - 8.30 PM

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6 AM - 12.30 PM & 4 PM - 8.30 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 2 km from Kanchipuram Bus Station and 3 kms from Railway Station, Sri Ekambareswarar Temple is also known as 'Ekambaranathar Temple' (temple of Lord Shiva). The 'Pallavas' demolished the old structure and rebuilt the existing structure during 600 AD and 700 AD.

The total area of the whole temple is about 40 acres. The temple tower at the main entrance (Raja Gopuram) that you see here was constructed by the king Krishnadevaraya (Vijayanagar Dynasty). The height of this temple tower is 174 feet (about 57 m).

Until recently there was a mango tree in this temple, which was about 3500 years old. The tree has perished about 2 years ago due to its age. It is believed that Goddess Kamakshi Amman, whose temple is about 1/2 km away from here, worshipped Lord Shiva under this mango tree.

Timings: 6 AM - 12.30 PM & 4 PM - 8.30 PM.

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6 AM - 12 noon & 4 PM - 7 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3 kms from Kanchipuram Bus Station and 4 kms from Railway Station, the Kailasanathar temple (Shiva Temple) was built during the period from 685 A.D. to 705 A.D. by the Pallava king Rajasimha Pallava, and his son, Mahendra Varma Pallava.

Kailasanathar temple was constructed using sandstones for most of the sculptures. All the walls around and inside the temple are filled with great sculptures.

The architecture and sculpture of this temple resembles the temples found in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) which were also constructed by Pallavas.

This might be the only temple in Kanchipuram which has not been modified after its original creation.

Timings: 6 AM - 12 noon & 4 PM - 7 PM.

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6.30 AM - 12 noon & 3.30 PM - 8 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 3 km from Kanchipuram Bus Station and 4 kms from Railway Station, Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple is also known as Devarajaswami Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

The 100 ft high temple tower (gopuram) was built in 11th century AD and was renovated by the Vijyanagar Kings in the 16th century. This temple has a 100 pillar hall (mandapam) which is beautifully carved. There is a chain that is carved out of a single stone.

The temple owns a chariot (ther) which is parked on Gandhi road. The chariot is taken out for procession (chariot festival) around the city once in a year (during the month of May).

Timings: 6.30 AM - 12 noon & 3.30 PM - 8 PM

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6 AM - 12.30 PM & 4 - 8:30 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 1 km from Kanchipuram Bus Station and 1 kms from Railway Station, Vaikuntha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram is one of the most important temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

It was built by the Pallava king Nandivarman and was completed in the 7th century A.D. There are three different levels of the main shrine. There are a number of sculptures of Lord Vishnu which are quite massive in size depicting the Lord in sitting, standing and reclining postures.

One of the main attractions of this temple is the exceptional 1000-pillared hall. The unique characteristic about it is that each pillar has a statue carved on it. Lion pillars support the enclosed passages inside the temple. The architecture of the temple has played a vital role in the architectural evolution of the grand thousand pillared mandaps built in the later south Indian. There are several inscriptions in the temple related to the wars between Pallavas and Chalukyas.

Timings: 6 AM - 12.30 PM & 4 - .....

Overnight Stay in Kanchipuram

DAY 2 : VISIT TIRUVANNAMALAI, GINGEE FORT & TRAVEL TO CHIDAMBARAM

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 2 Hours
Timings: 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 120 Kms from Kanchipuram, 195 Kms from Chennai, 204 Kms from Bangalore and 83 Kms from Vellore, the famous Arunachala Temple in Thiruvannaamalai is one of the greatest Shaiva temples in South India. Tiruvannamalai along with Gingee Fort is one of the ideal Chennai weekend getaways and a major pilgrimage site in Tamilnadu.

Built within an area of 25 acres, this temple was constructed by Vijayanagara kings between 16th and the 17th centuries. This temple is famous for its huge & massive gopurams built on four sides of the temple. The Rajagopuram on East Gateway is 217 feet high with 11 storeys. The base measure 135 feet by 98 feet. This tower was built by King Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagar. The Thousand Pillared Mantapam and the tank opposite to it were also constructed by Krishna Devaraya. The temple is fortified by a huge wall. Each of the prakarams has a huge Nandi.

The .....

Adventure / Trekking | Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 2-3 Hours
Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: Rs. 5 for Indian & Rs. 100 for Foreigners

At a distance of 2 km from Gingee Bus Stand, 71 km from Puducherry, 85 km from Kanchipuram and 93 km from Vellore, Gingee Fort or Senji Fort in Villupuram District is one of the largest surviving forts in Tamil Nadu. The fort was historically considered most impregnable and it was called the 'Troy of the East' by the British. The fort is one of the prominent tourist places to visit near Villupuram & Chennai also among the best places near Chennai & Pondicherry for a day trip.

Originally the site had a small fort built by the Chola dynasty during 9th century. Gingee Fort, also known as Chinji or Jinji, was modified by Kurumbar while fighting the Cholas and again by the Vijayanagara Empire during the 13th century. As per one account, the fort was built during the 15-16th century by the Gingee .....

Overnight Stay in Chidambaram

DAY 3 : CHIDAMBARAM SIGHTSEEING & TRAVEL TO MAHABALIPURAM

Start Chidambaram Sightseeing

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 6 AM to 12.30 PM & 4.45 PM to 9 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 2 Kms from Chidambaram Bus Station and less than 1 Km from Chidambaram Railway Station, Nataraja Temple located in the centre of the town covers an area of 40 acres. It is one of the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu.

The roof of the sanctum sanctorum is covered with gold plates. The presiding deity of the temple is represented by air, one of the five elements of the universe and is known as Akasa Lingam. Dedicated to Lord Nataraja, this ancient temple of the Cholas is unique as it one of Panchabootha sthala in India - and it is one of the rare temples where Shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary lingam.

The Eastern tower rises to a height of 40.8 metres. 108 Bharathanatyam dance gestures can be seen on the eastern tower as well as on the western tower. The northern tower rises to a height of 42.4 meters.

Timings: 6 AM to 12.30 PM & 4.45 PM to 9 PM

Lake & Backwaters

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 8 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: Boating cost varies

At a distance of 16 kms from Chidambaram & 217 Kms from Chennai, Pichavaram is among the most exquisite places of tourist interest near Chennai and a scenic spot.

The backwaters are interconnected by the Vellar and Coleroon River system and offer abundant scope for water sports such as parasailing, rowing and canoeing. The Pichavaram forests not only offer scenic waterscape and backwater cruises but combines the mangrove forests. These are trees permanently rooted in a few feet of water.

The mangroves of Pichavaram are considered among the healthiest mangrove forests in the world. Pichavaram consists of a number of small islands interspersing a vast expanse of water and covered with green trees. The area is about 2800 acres and is separated from the sea by sand bars.

Pilgrimage

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 6 AM - 11 AM and 4:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 17 km from Mayiladuthurai, 27 km from Chidambaram, 45 kms from Karaikal, 54 km from Kumbakonam and 94 km from Thanjavur, Vaitheeswaran Koil is town in Nagapattinam district which is famous for the Vaidyanatha Swamy Temple. The temple is also known as Pullirukkuvelur.

Vaidyanatha Swamy and Thaiyalnayaki are the presiding deities of this temple. The Selva Muthukumara Swamy shrine here is also considered to be of important. There are Shiva lingas said to have been worshipped by Rama, Jatayu, Skanda, Surya and Angaraka. It is believed that Rama and his brother Lakshmana cremated the vulture king Jatayu who was killed by Ravana when he tried to prevent the abduction of Sita at this place. There is a pond at this temple called Jatayu kundam.

It is one of the Navagraha temples associated with the planet Mars (Angaraka). According to legend, Planet Mars was once afflicted with leprosy and was cured by Vaidyanatha .....

Overnight Stay in Mahabalipuram

DAY 4 : MAHABALIPURAM SIGHTSEEING & TRAVEL TO CHENNAI

Start Mahabalipuram Sightseeing

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 1-2 Hours
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: Rs. 10 for Indians, Rs. 250 for Foreigners & Rs. 25 for Still Camera

At a distance of 2 Kms from Mahabalipuram Bus Station, The Shore Temple (700-728 CE) is so named because it over looks the Bay of Bengal. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

Mahabalipuram Shore Temple is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. The site is famous for the rock-cut caves and the sculptured rock that line a granite hill. The temple was built by Pallavas during the reign of Narasimhavarman.

The Shore Temple is a five-storeyed structural Hindu temple rather than rock-cut as are the other monuments at the site. It is the earliest important structural temple in Southern India. Its pyramidal structure is 60 ft high and sits on a 50 ft square platform. There is a small temple in front which was the original porch. It is made out of finely cut local granite.

The Shore Temples has two Shiva shrines .....

Museum & Gallery

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 1 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station (situated in East Raja Street), the Sculpture Museum is famous for its elaborate collection of sculptures and images of god and goddesses of Hindu mythology. There are more than 3,000 sculptures can be found in this museum. All the sculptures bear the historic significance and the tales of the by-gone days. In the display of the museum there are sculptures made of wood, metal, brass and cement. There are creations of ancient artists to the contemporary ones.

Not only Hindu mythology but the Buddhists sculptures and images too, exist in the temple town. The monolithic statues, the Rathas (chariots), sculptured relief and their miniature can be seen in the museum.

Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM on all days

Beach

Duration of visit: 30 Mins - 1 Hr
Timings: 24 Hrs
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 2 Kms from Mahabalipuram Bus Station (near The Shore Temple), the golden sandy Mamallapuram Beach is a picturesque place bounded by the shimmering sea and rolling hills. Identified as the most pristine beaches of Tamil Nadu, the beach attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year. This is another popular attraction in Mahabalipuram to visit as part of Chennai tour packages.

On request, the local fisher folk can arrange sea cruises in the country crafts. Angling can also be done with the help of the fishermen. The deep-sea angling is also famous here. There is a wide choice of resorts along the beach. Fisherman's Cove, a private beach resort offers water sports apart from its magnificent beach area. Some resorts are also having beachfront restaurants.

Sunrise and sun set watching cruises are another attraction. The sea is rough and swimming is not .....

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 0.5 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station (on Mada Koil Street), Arjuna's Penance or Bhagiratha's Penace is the name of a massive open air bas-relief monolith dating from the 7th century CE. Measuring 96 feet long by 43 feet high, the bas-relief is also known as The Descent of Ganga. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

In one interpretation, a figure in the bas-relief who is standing on one leg is said to be Arjuna performing an austerity Tapas to receive a boon from Shiva as an aid in fighting the Mahabharata war.

The bas relief is situated on a rock with a cleft. Figures within the cleft are said to represent the River Ganges and Shiva. This provides the basis for an alternative interpretation, rather than Arjuna, the figure performing austerities is said to be Bhagiratha.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 0.5 Kms around Mahabalipuram Bus Station, there are 14 rock-cut carves and Mandapams in and around Mamallapuram. Mythological scenes are depicted on these architectures. These caves have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

Following three are important Mandapams:

1) Krishna Mandapam - This is the biggest among the Mandapams and is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The sculptures inside this Mandapam beautifully picturize the myth of Lord Krishna during his brave and energetic adulthood.

2) Mahishasuramardhini Mandapam - The battle between goddess Durga and the buffalo headed demon, Mahishasura is beautifully inscribed.

3) Varaha Mandapam - the side walls have large sculptured panels depicting Vishnu as Varaha, the boar, holding up Bhudevi, the earth goddess.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of nearly 0.5 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station, Ganesh Ratha Temple is located towards the north of the Arjuna's Penance. It is a temple carved out from a rock to resemble a chariot and is built in Dravidian style of temple architecture. It was once dedicated to Lord Shiva. But when the original lingam was removed, the temple came to be known as the temple of Lord Ganesh.

It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: FREE

At a distance of 0.5 Km from Mahabalipuram Bus Station (on Mada Koil Street), Krishna's Butter Ball is a huge boulder near the Ganesha Ratha. It rests precariously on a narrow rock base. Legend has it that several Pallava Kings attempted to move it, but all the kings and their elephants could not shift the boulder even by an inch.

Historical & Heritage

Duration of visit: 1 Hour
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: Entry tickets of Shore Temple can be used here

At a distance of 1.5 Kms from Mahabalipuram Bus Station, Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) - five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of 'Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram'.

An interesting aspect of the rathas is that, despite their sizes they are not assembled - each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone.

The Pancha Rathas shrines were carved during the reign of King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I. Each temple is a monolith, carved whole from a rock outcropping of pink granite.

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