Singapore Airlines operates 137 direct flights a week between Singapore and six Australian cities – Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney – connecting with 10 flights weekly to Chennai, with regional carrier SilkAir. singaporeair.com
Australians require a visa to travel to India. November to April is the cool – and peak travelling – season in Tamil Nadu. May to July is hot; June to December is monsoonal.
Luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent specialises in private and small-group journeys to southern India and throughout the subcontinent. Its 16-day limited-edition small-group tour “India: The Beautiful South”, for example, travels through Tamil Nadu and Kerala and costs from $9,895 per person twin share, with departures in February and October 2019. This includes hotel stays in Chennai, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Madurai, Periyar, Kumarakom and Kochi; transfers and transport; a resident tour director; daily sightseeing; entrance fees and most meals. 1300 851 800, abercrombiekent.com.au
Maison Perumal This restored heritage home in Pondicherry’s Tamil Quarter is the logical bookend to a stay in the French Quarter. A traditional façade opens to two courtyards (with a swing chair) and 10 rooms featuring carved timber details and stained glass. New No. 44, Old No.
58, Perumal Koil St, Pondicherry, cghearth.com Palais de Mahé Also owned by CGH Earth, this colonial-style mansion in the quiet French Quarter has a rooftop terrace and 18 elegant large rooms with breezy balconies arranged around a courtyard pool. 4 Rue Bussy, Pondicherry, cghearth.com Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram This seaside resort, with 157 villas and suites, and huge family-friendly pools, is close to the town’s World Heritage rock galleries and walking distance to the Shore Temple. 57 Kovalam Rd, Mahabalipuram, radissonblu.com
Svatma A clever mix of heritage restoration and contemporary styling and art creates a hotel full of surprises, much like the oft-forgotten city of Thanjavur. 4/1116, Blake Higher Secondary School Rd, Maharnonbu Chavadi, Thanjavur, svatma.in Taj Coromandel One of Chennai’s best-known hotels has understated dark-timber interiors, subdued lighting and a cool, tuberose-scented lobby, belying its ability to host weddings with up to
1,000 guests. 37 Uthamar Gandhi Rd, Chennai, taj.tajhotels.com
Aaharam An all-day fine-diner serves outstanding Tamil vegetarian breakfasts, thalis and evening tasting menus based on family recipes and heirloom grains. Don’t miss the finger millet dosas. 4/1116, Blake Higher Secondary School Rd, Maharnonbu Chavadi, Svatma, Thanjavur, svatma.in
Bread & Chocolate This busy café at Auroville is a joint venture by Chicago-born baker Daniel Trulson and Sydney-born yoga teacher and vegan bean-to-bar chocolate maker Jane Mason. Expect baked goods, seasonal bowls and Mason & Co chocolates, made from organic Tamil cacao and spiced with the likes of chilli and cinnamon. 1115 Auroville Main Rd, Kuilapalayam, Auroville,
+91 413 262 3778
Coromandel Café Restored and styled by Chennai retail entrepreneur Kiran Rao, this century-old mansion has a leafy courtyard, dining and drinking spots indoors, and seasonal all-day menus. 8 Romain Rolland St, Pondicherry, +91 413 222 1100
Southern Spice Heavy pillars, mood lighting and wall murals create a temple-like ambience for feasts showcasing traditional dishes from four southern Indian states. Some of them, such as lamb dumplings trussed in banana fibre, have intriguing backstories; ask the obliging waitstaff to tell tales. Taj Coromandel, 37 Uthamar Gandhi Rd, Chennai, taj.tajhotels.com
Villa Shanti Dine indoors or on a colonnaded patio facing a vertical garden at this boutique hotel in the French Quarter, serving French and pan-Indian dishes.
14 Rue Suffren, Pondicherry, lavillashanti.com