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Tamil Nadu: Marvelous Land of Southern India

INDIA is big in every way: size, population, personality and has been captivating visitors for millennia. India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Its name conjures images of crowded streets, colourful spices, textiles, ancient temples, forts and more.

The regions across this epic land – from the mountainous hills covered with temples in the northern states to the bustling beaches and lively nightlife of the south coast – have their own culture and rich histories that entice visitors to return again and again. Whatever you are looking for in India, you’ll probably find it in the south-eastern state of Tamil Nadu. The state has an array of temple towns, including historic Madurai – one known as “the Athens of the East” and Thanjavur. Former French colony Puducherry has a district Gallic ambiance, while the stone-carved Mamallapuram is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For a taste of nature, Tamil Nadu has a long stretch of coastline and a large section of the lush Western Ghats.

India: One of the world’s oldest civilisations, with the first sophisticated urban civilisation emerging in India in 3300 BC. Known as the Indus Valley Civilisation, this culture stretched across large swathes of north India. Around 1500 BC a group known as the Aryans, moved into the Indus region. Their Vedic religion contained casted division, which put the Brahmins (priestly class) at the top of the social hierarchy, followed by Kshatriya (warriors), Vaishyas (treaders) and Shudras (labourers), it was partly as a reaction to this that new religious movements emerged, including Buddhism and Jainism. Siddhartha Gautama (566 BC), who became the Buddha, was born in Lumbini. Mahavira (467 BC), the founder of the Jain religion, dies. The first major dynasty in India, the Mauryan Empire, was established in 322 BC when Chandragupta Mauryan defeated the ruling Nanda dynasty of Magadha. Chandragupta’s grandson Asoka (269 – 232 BC) became one of India’s greatest rulers, eventually expanding the Mauryan Empire from Southeast Iran to Assam in the east. After his bloody conquest of Kalinga, Asoka gave up violence and became a great patron of Buddhism. He had his ethical code recorded in Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic on rocks and pillars all over his vast empire. In 326 BC, the forces of Alexander the Great invaded the Indus Valley, reaching as far as the Beas River in what is now Himachal Pradesh, while from the northwest a series of invaders from Central Asia established successive dynasties. These included the Indo-Greeks from Bactria (200 – 80 BC), the nomadic Indo- European Scythians or Sakas (from 80 BC), the Parthians from what is now Iran (1st century AD) and the Kushanas, Indo-Europeans from Bactria (AD 50 – AD 300). The decline of the Mauryans led to the rise of the Kushanas whose empire linked the Indian Ocean to the Silk Road, Kanishka, the greatest Kushana king, was almost as great a patron of Buddhism as Ashoka had been. As the Kushanas declined, the Gupta empire (AD 320 – 500) emerged and presided over a great culture flowring, including the establishing of the university at Nalanda. The Guptas were superseded by the Vardhanas, based at Kanaut their most famous king was Harsha (AD 606 – 647). In central India, the Mauryan were supplanted by an empire like the Satavahanas (100 BC – AD 200), based at Paithan in Maharashtra and the Ikshvakus (AD 225 – 310) to the east, under whom Buddhist stupas were built at Amaravati. Many superb sculptures and paintings at Ajanta were made under the Vakatakas (AD 250 – 550), while a subsequent dynasty. Chalukyas built temples at Badami and Pattadakal.

In the 8th century, the Rise of Rajputs, The Harsha’s old capital Kanauj became the site of a three-way power tussle between the Pratiharas who ruled Gujarat and Rajasthan, the Rashtrakutas who rules Karnataka and Maharashtra and the Palas, a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal. Finally, around 836, the Pratiharas-who were one of a group of warlords known as the Rajputs, prevailed. Other Rajput dynasties included the Paramara in Ajmer and the Tomers of Delhi. These dynasties fought frequent wars with each other, but between wars, the rulers lived in great luxury, in grand forts and richly ornamented palaces. The origin of the term Rajput is the word reajaputra (หรือ “ราชบุตร”), which translates to “son of King”

Southern India

Southern Dynasties, the Pallavas, based in Tamil Nadu, rose to power in the 6th century. In AD 642, their ruler Narasimha Varman I defeated and killed the Chulaka King Phulakeshin II, and the great Chalukya kingdom fell apart. In the late 9th century, the Chola defeated the Pallavas, Mysore’s Western Ganga dynasty and the Pandyas of Madurai to establish supremacy in the south. International trade flourished, despite the constant wars. From the 7th century, reforms in Hinduism rejecting the casted system led to its resurgence and the wane of Buddhism’s influence.

“TAMIL NADU” A soulful state awash with religious cities and temples, Tamil Nadu was the cradle of ancient Dravidian culture, whose language forms the basis of many of the main south Indian language today. It extends from the Coromandel Coast in the east to the forested Western Ghats in the west and at its heart is the fertile Kaveri valley, a land of rice fields and spectacular temples. This valley was event is the site of ancient Cholamandalam, where the Chola kings built magnificent temples at Thanjavur and Championed a renaissance of religious Hindu art, particularly sculptures.

Many towns in Tamil Nadu have the prefix “tiru”, which means sacred, and indicates the presence of a major religious site. Great temples stand at Madurai and Chidambaram, which witnessed a flourishing of dance, music and literature under their enlightened rulers, as did the 7th century Port-city of Mamallapurum, which has spectacular rock-cut temples. Unlike many states, Tamil Nadu was subject to both French and British colonial forces-The French ruled in Puducherry from the 17th century and Tamil Nadu’s capital, Chennai, was one of the most important cities for first the British East India Company and then the Raj.

(Chennai, formerly known as Madras, is the state capital of Tamil Nadu. The city was once a group of villages set a mid palm-fringed paddy fields, until two British East India Company merchants, Francis Day and Andrew Cogan, established a factory-cum-trading post here, a fortified settlement that came to be known as Fort St. George. Outside its walls was George Town, whose crowded lanes, each devoted to a particular trade, serviced the British colonists. Colonial rule linked the various villages, including the settlement founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese at San Thome, the sacred site associated with St. Thomas the Apostle. Several centuries before the Europeans arrived, the great 7th century Pallava port was in Chennai’s Mylapore neighborhood, its Kapaleeshwarar Temple, along with the Parthasarathi Temple at Triplicane, bear testimony to the city’s antiquity. Colonial rule marked the beginning of the city’s growth as a major commercial centre. Today, Chennai is a dynamic mix of old and the new, its stately colonial structures juxtaposed with modern high-rises.)

The Siam Society will arrange a nine-day study trip to explore magnificent historical sites in the state of Tamil Nadu in Southern India, under the leadership of Khun Euayporn Kerdchouay, Senior Consultant of The Siam Society.


Saturday, 21 to Sunday, 29 January 2023


Khun Euayporn Kerdchouay, Senior Consultant of The Siam Society


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Saturday, 21 January 2023: Bangkok – Chennai
20:00 Meet at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thai Airways check-in counter.
22:25 Depart Bangkok for Chennai by TG337. (3.35 hrs)
Day 2: Sunday, 22 January 2023: Chennai
00:30 Arrive at Chennai International Airport, transfer to The Residency Towers
Breakfast at the hotel.











Sightseeing in Chennai. (Chennai is the fourth largest city of India, it is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu situated on the Bay of Bengal, the eastern side of India and officially named Madras until 1996)

– Visit Fort St. George Museum built by the British East India Company in 1640. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. Visit the Basilica of San Thome, a gothic-style church built in 1898, over the tomb of St. Thomas who according to legend died here in AD 72.

Lunch at a local restaurant.

Visit the Government Museum and Kapaleeshwarar Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple was built around the 7th Century; it is an example of Dravidian architecture.

Evening Dinner and overnight at The Residency Towers.
Day 3: Monday, 23 January 2023: Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram
Breakfast at the hotel.



Check out of the hotel.

Proceed to Kanchipuram, once the capital of the Pallava dynasty. Between the 6th and 7th centuries, some of the best temples were built here during the reign of the Pallavas. The temples are a testament to the dominance of Dravidian heritage and the city’s glorious past.

Visit Kailasanathar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built by Pallava King Rajasimha I and Mahendravarman III completed in the 8th century. It is made up of a Typical Pallava style of a Pyramidal Tower, pillared halls and a vestibule. More than 50 small shrines are enshrined in this temple complex and visit Kamakshi Amman Temple dedicated to the goddess Kamakshi (Parvati), the resident deity of Kanchipuram, this temple has an imposing structure.

Noon Lunch at a local restaurant.


Visit Silk Weaving Production houses to see how the saris are made. (Kanchipuram saris are famous all over Southern India.)

Continue to Mamallapuram, noted in history as a busy port town during the period between 4th and 9th centuries when the Pallava dynasty ruled the land. The heydays of the Pallavas saw the building many impressive architectural wonders, many of which continue to fascinate visitors to this day.

Evening Dinner and overnight at Hotel InterContinental in Kanchipuram.
Day 4: Tuesday, 24 January 2023: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
Breakfast at the hotel.





Check out of the hotel.

Visit Shore Temple, which is in the group of Mamallapuram sanctuaries listed World Heritage site in 1984. This group of sanctuaries, founded by the Pallava kings, was carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is known especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’ and the temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures to the glory shiva.

Sites for visits such as Arjuna’s Penance, this skillfully carved rock is the largest bas – relief sculpture in the world. Five Rathas, there are five monolithic temples, each created in a different style. Krishna’s Butterball is a large rock balanced on the hillside on the other side of Mahabalipuram beach. Mahishasuramardhini Cave, a monolithic sculpture, dedicated to the mother goddess and Varaha Cave, a monolithic rock-cut temple with a Mandapam.

Noon Lunch at a local restaurant.


Proceed to Pondicherry or Puducherry, a French colonial settlement in Southern India.

until 1954, which is now a Union Territory town bounded by the south-eastern Tamil Nadu state.

Visit the Pondicherry Museum and Church of Our Lady of Angels, which is the 4th oldest church in Pondicherry, the original structure was built in Greco Roman architecture by Napoleon III in 1855.

Evening Dinner and overnight at The Residency Towers in Pondicherry.
Day 5: Wednesday, 25 January 2023: Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Gangaikonda
07:00 Breakfast at the hotel.


Check out of the hotel and proceed to Thanjavur.

Visit Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, which is dedicated to the Nataraja, the dancing posture of Lord Shiva.

Noon Lunch at a local restaurant.



Continue to visit the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, was constructed in AD 1035 by Rajendra Chola I AD 1012 – 44, the son of the famous Raja Chola I. It is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Drive to Thanjavur. Upon arrival,check in at Hotel Svatma.

Evening Dinner and overnight at Hotel Svatma in Thanjavur.
Day 6: Thursday, 26 January 2023: Thanjavur – Trichy – Srirangam – Madurai
Breakfast at the hotel.



Check out of the hotel.

Explore Thanjavur, visit the Brahadeeshwarar Temple, a Hindu Dravidian style temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva (World Heritage Site) and visit The Royal Palace, built by the Nayaks in the mid 16th century. An art Gallery, it has a rich collection of 250 Chola bronze statues and about 150 stone statues dating from 9th to 12th century.

Noon Lunch at a local restaurant.




Proceed to Madurai, enroute stop in Trichy and visit Rock Fort Temple which is a historic fortification and temple complex built on an ancient rock. It is reached by a step flight of 437 steps cut into the rock. Then visit Sri Ranganathaswami Temple in Srirangam, the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple is the largest temple in India.

Continue driving to Madurai. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel.

Evening Dinner and overnight at Courtyard by Marriott in Madurai.
Day 7: Friday, 27 January 2023: Madurai –  Rameshwaram – Mauduri
Breakfast at the hotel.
Excursion trip to Ramashwaram, which is on an island only 40 km from Sri Lanka.  According to the legend, Lord Rama worshipped lord Shiva in Ramashwaram. This is also the place where the lord built a bridge called Ram Setu to cross over to Sri Lanka. The town is known as the Varanasi of South India. It is one of the most important pilgrimage centre of Hindus.
Noon Lunch at a local restaurant. (Vegetarian)








Visit Ramanatha Swamy Temple. The legend goes that Lord Rama worshipped lord Shiva after his victory over demon king Ravana at the site where the temple stands. The temple houses one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. It is believed that the foundation of the temple was laid by lord Rama himself. The temple is a perfect piece of Dravadian architectural style. It houses the largest temple corridor in India. It has 1219 pillars which are elegantly carved. The present form of the temple is the result of the individual contributions of the then rulers. There are forty wells in the temple and surprisingly the water tastes differently in all of them. Rama himself installed the Shiva Lingam in this temple.

Later, drive back to Madurai.

Evening Dinner and overnight at Courtyard by Marriott in Madurai.
Day 8: Saturday, 28 January 2023: Madurai – Chennai Airport

Check out of the hotel.

Explore Madurai with visit of Sri Meenakshi Temple, which is dedicated to Sri Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Shiva. The Temple Art Museum is located in the famous “Ayirangal Mandapam” (1000 pillared hall).

Tirumalai Nayakar Mahal (Palace) was built in 1636 by King Tirumala Nayata.

Noon Lunch at a local restaurant.
15:30 Transfer to Madurai Airport.
17:40 Depart to Chennai Airport by Indigo Air flight 6E 7593.
19:05 Arrive at Chennai Airport and proceed to the International Terminal for the return flight to Bangkok.
Day 9:  Sunday, 29 January 2023: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
01:30 Depart for Bangkok by TG338 (3.25 hrs.)
06:25 Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
                         The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.


Important notes:

Contribution of THB 85,000 (THB 88,500 for non-member). Single room surcharge of THB 23,000. A deposit of THB 20,000 and a photocopy of the identification page on your passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. Payment in full will be required 30 days before the start of the trip (i.e. by Wednesday, 21 December 2022). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Transfer can also be made to The Siam Society travel account at TMBThanachart Bank (ttb), saving account no. 053-2-18000-7 or by scanning the QR code on your right. Once payment has been made, please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.


  • The contribution includes accommodation (twin sharing basis), domestic air ticket, meals as mentioned in programme, transfer and sightseeing coaches, entrance fees, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible.


  • International airfares are not included in the price, but for those who would like us to book their tickets, it can be arranged at the time of booking.
  • Visa fees (if any), personal expenses, personal food and beverage consumptions, etc.

Please note that the flight itinerary between Bangkok-Chennai-Bangkok mentioned in the programme only serves as a suggestion. Trip participants are free to travel with their select airline of choice in traveling to Chennai and their return to Bangkok.

To comply with payment and cancellation policies set forth by tour agencies and to facilitate smooth working conditions between The Siam Society and the tour agencies, please read carefully the revised cancellation policies stated below:

Cancellation charges:

45 days before the start of the trip: Deposit forfeited
45–30 days before the start of the trip: 50% of the tour cost
Less than 30 days or cancellation without notice: No refund

For further information and bookings, please contact Khun Supanut at 02-661-6470-3 ext 506 or Khun Thun at 02-661-6470-3 ext 205, or supanut@thesiamsociety.org. The Society’s office is open from 09:00 to 17:00, Tuesday to Saturday.

Covid-19 policy:

Due to a lower number of worldwide infections, many countries have relaxed their travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in regards to Covid-19.

Nevertheless, when traveling as a group, The Siam Society would like to remind you of the following measures that we have put in place:

– We kindly ask that our trip participants perform a self-administered ATK test prior to the commencement of the trip. Participants are also asked to carry along with them multiple sets of ATK test kit, along with their preferred set of medicines (for consumption if infected with Covid-19.)

– In the event that trip participants are tested positive during the trip, the group will continue to follow the planned itinerary. To ensure the health and safety of all trip participants, those tested positive shall adhere to appropriate self-isolation measures as directed by the trip leader.

– Those tested positive with severe symptoms shall be treated in accordance with the health measures stipulated by the local government. Medical costs in excess of the insurance coverage shall be at the expense of trip participant(s).

– The Siam Society will provide a health insurance for all trip participants. Medical costs in excess of the insurance coverage shall be at the expense of trip participant.

– Our staff and local tour operators will constantly provide you with the latest update on local health and safety regulations.

Tourist Visa Policy:

Thai passport holder and foreign nationals will require a visa for entering India. However, visitors can apply for an eVisa via an online application, which is the most convenient option and can be completed from your home.

For more information, please follow the link below:

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