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Tamil Nadu

Religious & spiritual activities

Our most recommended Tamil Nadu Religious & Spiritual Activities

From Cochin: Fort Kochi and Mattancherry Sightseeing Tour

1. From Cochin: Fort Kochi and Mattancherry Sightseeing Tour

See the Chinese fishing nets introduced in Kochi by traders from the court of Kublai Khan in the 14th century. See also the 16th-century St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India, and the burial place of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Next on the 4-hour shore excursion is Santa Cruz Basilica. Admire the interior decorated with frescoes, murals, and paintings depicting scenes from the life of Christ. Visit the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese. See murals with scenes from Hindu tales. Next door is the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in South India. Admire the brass pulpit, glass chandelier, and hand-painted Chinese porcelain floor tiles.

Kochi: Full-Day Christian Heritage Tour

2. Kochi: Full-Day Christian Heritage Tour

Discover the Indian roots of Christianity on this full-day Christian heritage tour of Kochi. Dating back to the 1st century, Christianity in India predates the religions official recognition in Europe by 300 years. The Apostle St Thomas is said to have arrived at the ancient seaport of Muzris in 42 A.D. During his stay he founded seven churches along the Kerala coast, some of which are included in this tour. Visit the first Church of St Thomas, and the oldest Christian Church in India, the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Palayoor. Explore the Indian Christian Historical Museum. See two more St. Thomas churches; The Marthoma Church and the Kottakavu Church, both dating to 53 A.D. Also included on the tour are visits to the Kottapuram Cathedral, the Jewish-Christian Ancestor Tower, Our Lady of Snow Church, and the Vypeekotta Seminary.

Kochi: Private Sightseeing Tuk-Tuk Tour

3. Kochi: Private Sightseeing Tuk-Tuk Tour

The adventure begins with pickup from your accommodation in your very own private tuk-tuk. Arrive at the first stop of the day and marvel at the city’s iconic Chinese fishing nets which were introduced by traders in the 14th century. Take a stroll along the shore to see the local fishermen who still use these nets today, then head to St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India. The church was constructed in 1503 by Portuguese friars, and is now the burial place of Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer who led the first ships that sailed directly from Europe to India. Continue the tour to the Santa Cruz Basilica, which is one of the largest and most impressive churches in India. Boasting two soaring spires and a bright, white-washed exterior, the church is a real treat for the eyes. Head inside and find the walls decorated with stunning frescoes, intricate murals, and large paintings that depict the life of Jesus. Hop back in the tuk-tuk and make your way to Mattancherry Palace, which was also built by the Portuguese in the 1500s. The palace is famous for its breathtaking murals which portray classic Hindu tales such as Ramanaya and Mahabharata. Later, take a trip to the Paradesi Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in South India. Admire the synagogue's ornate brass pulpit, Belgian glass chandeliers, and hand-painted Chinese porcelain floor tiles. From the synagogue, wander around the neighboring Jew Town, a central location for the spice trade. As you peruse the stalls, soak up the vibrant atmosphere of locals going about their day and be enveloped by the aroma of ginger, cardamom, turmeric, and cloves. At the end of an unforgettable experience, sit back and relax in the tuk-tuk on the return journey to your accommodation.

Chennai: Marina Beach Heritage Walk

4. Chennai: Marina Beach Heritage Walk

Start the tour at 4 PM at Marina Light House where your tour will commence. Meet your guide and follow them as you set off along the beach. First, climb up the lighthouse for a great view of the beach and the city, before heading back down to explore the Maritime Museum. Continue your walk and soak up the festive atmosphere as you listen to your guide tell the story of Chennai through its statues. The statues tell a great story about the evolution of the city from a small fishing village to a thriving metropolis. Next, head to the famous Vivekananda House and learn about Swamy Vivekananda and his landmark speech about Indian Philosophy. Hear more about how he was the first religious leader in India to understand the need to provide food and other bare necessities of life to the hungry millions.  Make your last stop at the ancient Parthsarathy Temple. Take a guided walk inside the temple and its surroundings as you get to know the rituals. Admire incarnations of Vishnu and shrines which were built during the rule of Cholas and Vijayanagara Kings. Be spellbound by the intricately carved pillars of the temple. Finally, end the tour at 7 PM outside the temple.

From Chennai: Kanchipuram Temples and Textiles Private Tour

5. From Chennai: Kanchipuram Temples and Textiles Private Tour

Kanchipuram, the ancient city of temples is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim centres for the Hindus. There were believed to be about 1000 temples in Kanchipuram, out of which 126 temples remain today and a few more in its outskirts. The city was the capital of the early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century B.C. and a Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries. Visit the three important temples in Kanchipuram - the Ekambareswarar Temple which is an eleven-storey Shiva Temple adorned with beautiful sculptures; the Kailasanatha Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the earliest temples; the Devarajaswamy Temple which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is an enormous monument and has massive outer walls and a beautifully sculptured 1000-pillared hall. Apart from its temples, this small town is also known for its thriving handloom industry. The silk weavers of Kanchi settled here more than 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation as the producer of the best silk saris in the country. Visit some of the silk weavers who weave saris from pure mulberry silk. These are available in dazzling colours and embellished with fine gold thread (zari).

Auroville & Pondicherry Private Excursion from Chennai

6. Auroville & Pondicherry Private Excursion from Chennai

From Chennai you will be driven to Pondicherry for a full-day excursion. En route you will also visit the town of Auroville where you will explore the Matrimandir. In Pondicherry you will visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Pondicherry Museum along with the sculpture gallery situated at Bharati Park. It contains beautiful artifacts representing the historic eras.  You will also be taken to a local restaurant where you can enjoy a complementary lunch. You will learn all about Pondicherry's history and discover its French roots, you will also see that some people still speak French, as well as Tamil. The streets, buildings and other structures convey a typical French design.  Pondicherry is recognized as one of the holiest places in India where pilgrims come to pay their respects to Rishi Aurobindo. He was a freedom fighter, who later became a spiritual philosopher. After your sightseeing, you will be dropped back in Chennai.

Chennai: 2-Day Great Living Chola Temples Cultural Tour

7. Chennai: 2-Day Great Living Chola Temples Cultural Tour

Day 1 Following an early morning pickup from your hotel in Chennai, head in direction of Tanjore. At around 1:00 PM, you will arrive in Tanjore, the first capital of the Ancient Chola Empire. Visit the famous Brihadeeswara Temple located at the Great Living Chola Temples Trail and gaze in awe at one of the most imposing architectural structures in India. On this trail, you'll also visit the Thanjavur Big Temple, a more than a 1000-year-old temple with remains of the finest specimen of architecture, sculpture, bronze casting, and painting. Admire the excellent collection of frescoes that can be found on the walls around the sanctum and see the legendary tales of Lord Shiva depicted on the walls. Learn about the special material that was used to paint the murals and the secret they were able to last for so many centuries. Another highlight in Tanjore is the Grand Palace, built during the Nayak rule and repaired during the rule of the Marathas. Walk through the queen’s courtyard and witness divine scenes painted on the walls of the Durbar Hall. Then, search for the underground passage in this palace. There is also the Royal Museum, a gallery, and the Saraswati Mahal Library stationed within the palace complex. In the evening, stay overnight in Tanjore and continue your adventure the next morning. Day 2 Drive to Darasuram from Tanjore and visit the Airavateswar Temple, the second destination in the Great Living Chola Temples Trail. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple was built by Chola King Raja Raja II in the 12th century AD. Learn the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site which is considered a treasure trove of art, carvings, and architecture. The final stop in the Great Living Chola Temples Trail is the city of Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Built in 1025 by Rajendra Chola, son of the famous Chola emperor Raja Raja, it was meant to commemorate his victory over the Pala Empire across the Ganges. Gangaikonda Cholapuram served as the capital of the mighty Chola Empire for 250 years and is most famous for its Shiva Temple. Visit other highlights of this lost city of Cholas including The Royal Palace made of burnt brick, a giant Nandi, and a magnificent lion figure next to the well where the King poured the Ganges water brought from his conquests. Following the final stop, return to Chennai from Gangaikonda Cholapuram where you'll be dropped off at your hotel at around 8:30 PM.

Jewish Heritage of Kochi: 6-Hour Tour

8. Jewish Heritage of Kochi: 6-Hour Tour

Discover India's Jewish Heritage in Kochi, home to the country's longest-established Jewish communities. Known as the Malayalam Jews, their history is vague but evidence suggests that the earliest settlers may have arrived in India after the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE. You'll see the city's most important Synagogues, including Chendamangalam and Kadvum Bagam, some of the region's key places of worship. Visit the Jewish Cemetery and Kochi's handloom weaving center. Then enjoy lunch at a serene Vedic village resort. The tour continues with a captivating 2-hour excursion around the area's backwaters, and a trip to the Judeo-Christian Ancestry Tower.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Tamil Nadu

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What people are saying about Tamil Nadu

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 16 reviews

Stanly, our guide, was very knowledgeable and accommodating. It turned out to be a tour of the various Catholic churches. I would have liked to see some Protestant ones too but I am very glad I did the tour.

Great overview of Kochi! The tour guide (Jude) was very knowledgeable, spoke great English, and was very friendly. Highly enjoyed this experience, would recommend this tour!

Excellent value excursion

This was a good introduction tour to the area and much better value than the ship's tour.

Good sevice for this trip

Was very good at showing and telling us about the sites