TOP TIPS FOR TAMIL NADU

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - India -

1 Photography is banned in­side the Meenakshi tem­ple

The rule is strictly en­forced by tem­ple at­ten­dants, but you are al­lowed to use your phone (though not tablets) to cap­ture stills and video footage.

2 Dress ap­pro­pri­ately

When vis­it­ing Hindu tem­ples in Tamil Nadu, men and women are not per­mit­ted to en­ter wear­ing short sleeves or short trousers. Socks are pro­hib­ited and have to be left with footwear at spe­cial shoe de­posits out­side the en­trance.

3 Bring your own booze

Tamil Nadu is a dry state. Spir­its and beer may be pro­cured at li­censed ho­tels, but are ex­pen­sive and of du­bi­ous qual­ity. Old hands bring their own duty free.

4 Pho­tog­ra­phers should head to Madu­rai’s won­der­ful flower mar­ket

On the north-east out­skirts of the city, at Mat­tutha­vani, the whole­sale flower mar­ket is the largest of its kind in India and a fab­u­lous photo op­por­tu­nity. Heaps of Madu­rai’s fa­mous jas­mines are piled next to gi­ant marigolds and gar­lands of roses – pop­u­lar of­fer­ings to the God­dess. Get there early, when the flow­ers are fresh and the crowds thin, for the best shots.

5 Rent a cy­cle

Mo­torised traf­fic has been banned in the streets around the Meenakshi tem­ple, which makes them great for cy­cling. Look for rows of iden­ti­cal bikes around the mar­ket – you will pay by the hour.

6 Ex­plore the boul­der hills

The plains around Madu­rai are rid­dled with out­crops of gran­ite, such as the one at Thiru­parakun­dram. Filled with an­cient sculp­tures, caves and in­scrip­tions, they make ideal daytrips. Start with Yanaimalai (Ele­phant Hill – 10km north-east), which has fine 2,000-year-old Jain carv­ings. Be­yond the north-west edge of the city, Naga­malai (‘Snake Hill’) also has some in­ter­est­ing grot­toes and flights of carved stone steps.

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