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Just 45 minutes out of the city, the East Coast Road first stops at the historic town of Mahabalipuram. The 7th century erstwhile port city is famous for its rock-cut shore temples. A lone lighthouse on a hill watches over a group of temples below. Mahabalipuram also has some great cafes that serve good sea food. A backpacker’s delight, one can find cheap accommodations and plenty of activities.
The famous sari hub of the country, Kanchipuram is just 83 kilometers from Chennai. Apart from the silk weavers, the temple town is considered one of the holiest destinations in India. If you want to target a single stop to see temples, this is relevant for both Shiv and Vishnu followers.
The holy city of Tirupati draws tourists and religious pilgrims alike, who flock to the Ancient Lord Venkateswara Temple, known for its elabourate Dravidian style and gold-plated cupola. Prayers are offered daily at this popular temple, which sits high in the Tirumala hills. Several other temples dot the town, and the lush countryside contains numerous waterfalls. Tirupati is also home to a rare, naturally-occurring pre-Jurassic stone arch that is 25 feet long and 10 feet high, one of only three of these geological features in the world.
Popular destinations for Hotels with Complimentary Breakfast
Known as both the "Garden City" and "The Silicon Valley of India," Bangalore (officially "Bengaluru") is a techie’s paradise, boasting the highest concentration of IT companies in the country. When you’re done geeking out, there are plenty of gardens, museums, natural features, palaces and temples to fill your dance card. Visit Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park and the Ulsoor Lake of Bangalore, well known for its beautiful locales and boating facilities. Bangalore is also a major centre of Indian classical music and dance, and of vivid, cutting-edge nightlife.
Want a taste of being royal? Eat in Hyderabad, where culinary traditions have been passed down from the Nizam monarchy. Arabic, Turkish and Mughlai influences are easily recognisable. The city is famous for its rich, aromatic biryani made with lamb, chicken or vegetables and served with fragrant basmati rice. Satisfy your sweet tooth with double-ka-meetha, a bread pudding.
East meets West in this sun-soaked state, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. To the north, the tourist-centric scene is prevalent, with an international flair that is now skewing more hip than hippie. Travel south for stretches of unspoiled sand and an escape from large resorts. Temples, mosques and wildlife sanctuaries provide diversions from the beach.
Coastal charm meets cultural heritage in the sacred city of Puri, where pilgrims flock annually to celebrate the Ratha Yatra. Besides world-famous temples, Puri boasts beaches and markets that buzz year-round, while the wetland landscape beyond the city retains its wild edge.