Kumbakonam & Tanjore is a good 3 night , 4 day holiday from Bangalore. There is so much of History & Culture tucked away here – probably the only place where you will see 1000 year old temples in every second street – empty , serene & peaceful.
A quick summary of “Whats the place famous for”
1. Temples, temples & more temples 2. Chola Bronzes & Rock Sculpture (Most temple figurines are crafted at Kumbakonam & Swamimalai and shipped from here worldwide ) 3. Tanjore Paintings 4. Silk Sarees 5. Good Food
This was the Capita of the Chola dynasty and one can but imagine the glory of the old times. Sadly things are in bad shaw now.
Getting There :
Train from Bangalore – The Mysore Mayiladuturai Express ( 16232) leaves Bangalore around 8 PM and reaches Kumbakonam at 7 AM in the morning. The train gets booked fast – so plan your tickets 90 days in advance. ( The return train Leaves Kumbakonam at 6 PM and reaches Bangalore at 5.30 AM)
We stayed at a Resort in Swamimalai – Indecco (Formerly called Sterling Swamimalai – http://www.indecohotels.com/swamimalai.html)rustic place – That has been renovated. The Resort has all modern amenities and a pure Veg Restaurant. Includes room service / TV / Hot Water ….Priced around Rs 7000 / Night. ( they have a tie up with Club Mahindra) Swamimalai is a 20 Min drive from Kumbakonam station.
Things to Do
Most temples are closed in the afternoon. You can start at 9 come back by 1.30 , post a siesta again leave by 4.30 and return by 7.30. Resort normally has some cultural program in the evening
1. World famous Brihadeswara temple at Tanjore is a must visit. its a half day trip. Tanjore is about 40 Km from Swamimalai and takes 90 Min to reach. You can spend a few hrs at the temple.
2. The 9 Navagraha Temples – located in different parts , all can be covered in 1 – 1/2 days.
3. The Uppaliappan Temple – In Kumbakonam ( Brother of Lord Tirupathi)
4. The Airatheshwaram Chola Temple at Darasuram
5. Temple of the sacred rivers in Kumbakonam
6. Sarabeshwaran Temple
7. Vedanarayana Perumal Temple
8. The Murugan Temple at Swamimalai
and many many more – you will see huge temples of Vishnu & Shiva and you can spend a week visiting them . Normally not crowded , and there is no pestering by the priests
8. At Tanjore – visits some galleries selling Tanjore paintings ( they are 30 – 40 % cheaper than those in Bangalore / Madras). There is a palace and museum of the Marathas ( They ruled before the British) – not very impressive. You can also buy Tanjore Silk Sarees. Handmade
9. If you have time you can include a trip to Tiruchi which is a 2 – 3 hrs drive or Chidambaram , which is also a a few hrs drive. We kept these for another trip
Travel is easy , You need a good driver who knows the place , Strongly recommend our driver Bhaskar ( 9943664449) who made a big difference. He was arranged from the Resort. Cars for the full day will cost you about Rs 2500/-. A full trip inclusive of 4 nights (You need to book the room for the day you arrive at 7 AM) will cost you about 50 K INR.
Best time to travel – Nov to Jan. Summers can be very hot 40 Degree +. Winters are warm – no woolen clothing needed.