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The Traveller’s Temple Of Tamilnadu

A melange of all things young and old, Tamil Nadu’s extensive platter meets every kind of traveller’s needs, often leaving you spoilt for choice.

Heritage, nature or wildlife. What’s your pick? Occupying the bottom stretch of the Coromandel Coast, Tamil Nadu sits comfortably in the lap of nature. Supremely rich in culture and heritage, it is home to the ancient Chola Dynasty, the state has a wealth of temple architecture. A social-distancing friendly destination, especially in the hill stations, the towering mountains and charming landscape offer countless reasons as to why this southern gem should be your next vacation destination post the pandemic. 

Pancha Rathas

Pancha Rathas

Step Back In tIme 
The rich history of Tamil Nadu has resulted in many notable sights across the state. Its diversity is best exemplified in the plethora of religious sites including a number of churches, mosques and even Buddhist monasteries. 

The Chola dynasty that ruled the region till the 13th century is credited with the most outstanding temples that showcase the grandeur of the bygone era. During their reign of nearly 1,500 years, the Chola temples became the hub of economic, political and cultural activities. Head to the Great Living Chola Temples, a Unesco World Heritage Site, to witness their architectural brilliance. The site includes three great temples— the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur, the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram and the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple at Jayankondam. 

Vivekananda Rock Memorial and statue of poet Thiruvalluvar

Vivekananda Rock Memorial and statue of poet Thiruvalluvar

The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, another Unesco World Heritage Site, is a collection of monolithic monuments built by the Pallava kings in the 7th and 8th centuries. The rock sculptures are inspired by tales from Mahabharata and are a sight to behold. Some of the prominent ones are Arjuna’s Penance, Pancha Rathas, Varaha Mandapam, Mahisha suramarthini Mandapa etc., Located in the heart of Madurai, the Meenakshi Temple, built in 6th century BC, is one of the most iconic attractions down south. Madurai situated on the banks of River Vaigai, has a rich cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil Sangam era which is more than 2500 years old. It was the capital city of Pandya Kings. Meenakshi Temple is dedicated to Parvathi or Meenakshi – the consort of Lord Shiva. It is a splendid example of Dravidian Architecture. The temple has doors in all four directions for devotees to enter. However, it’s the Koodal Azhagar Temple here that is believed to be older than the Meenakshi Temple. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one can spot the three varied statues in different postures—standing, sitting and reclining. 

Airavatesvara temple in Darasuram

Airavatesvara temple in Darasuram

Along the Coast
With the Indian Ocean in the south and the Bay of Bengal in the east, this Tamil Nadu is the perfect destination for a beach holiday. Each beach has its own charm with resorts and tiny cafés serving delicacies as you gaze into that picture-perfect sunset. 

Apart from the monolithic structures, the sandy beach of Mahabalipuram also attracts hordes of tourists from all over the world. If you love swimming and windsurfing then this is the ideal spot for you. The Mahabalipuram Dance Festival held during winters every year is another reason to hit this beach town. 

The southernmost tip of the Indian mainland, Kanyakumari is located at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. Its tranquil aura is contrasted by the roaring tides of the sea, making it the perfect getaway for those who prefer the solitude of a less-touristy beach. The sight of the waves striking the rocks makes for an alluring visual. While in Kanyakumari, you can pay your respects to goddess Kanya Kumari at the 3,000-year-old Kumari Amman Temple, visit the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the century-old lighthouse. A memorial dedicated to Swami Vivekananda, 500 meters from main land, accessible by a ferry service and gigantic 40 meters high statue of Tiruvalluvar, a great poet – saint are major attractions. 

Chettinad Mansion in Kanadukathan

Chettinad Mansion in Kanadukathan

If you’re looking to get away from the bustle of city life, then you surely need a holiday to the ‘lost town’ of Dhanushkodi at the southernmost end of Rameshwaram. Surrounded by the Bay of Bengal on one side and Indian Ocean on the other, Dhanushkodi Beach offers a chance to encounter the thrills of sea surfing. With every beach extraordinary in its own sense, it is a sweet addition to your Tamil Nadu vacation. 

ENCOUNTER NATURE’S BOUNTY
There’s no doubt that Tamil Nadu is a nature lover’s paradise. With its quaint hill stations, including the likes of Ooty, Kodaikanal, Coonoor, Yelagiri and many more situated in the Western Ghats, it offers ample scope for eco-tourism. 

The tranquil hill station of Valparai in Coimbatore

The tranquil hill station of Valparai in Coimbatore

Known as the ‘Queen of Hills’, Ooty or Udhagamandalam is one of the most popular hill stations in the region. Situated in the Nilgiri Mountains, this little town served as a getaway for the British in the pre-independent era. A boat ride at Ooty Lake can be very refreshing. If a heritage ride is on your mind, then the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is just the one for you. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2005, it was first built by the British in 1908. The train runs from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam, via Coonoor. As the train chugs over bridges, be prepared to be awed by the vistas of mountains, valleys and tea plantations along the way. 

The journey to upper Bhavani Lake located within the deep jungles is worthwhile and if you are lucky you might even spot wild cats and peacocks. You can spend the night at the forest boat house near Pykara Lake. The highest point in the Nilgiri Mountains, the Doddabetta Peak in Ooty is a real treat to the eyes, offering a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline. 

The ancient Brihadeeswarar Temple

The ancient Brihadeeswarar Temple

Kodaikanal, nestled in the Palani Hills is perfect for those looking for something a bit more offbeat and away from the typical touristy crowd. Be it a boat ride along the star-shaped Kodaikanal Lake or capturing the ethereal beauty from the Pillar Rocks, where three vertical granite boulders play hide and seek with mists, this resort town creates the ideal setting for you to connect with nature. Apart from its manicured cliffs and rolling slopes, the charming hill station is known for its mesmeric cascading waterfalls. The Bear Shola Falls and Vattakanal Falls are both sights to behold especially during the monsoons. 

Into the Wild
With as many as 15 wildlife and bird sanctuaries, five national parks and four tiger reserves, the sheer number of flora and fauna is incentive enough for travellers to visit the state. 

Located at the foothills of the Nilgiris, Mudumalai National Park is a must-visit on a first timer’s itinerary. Established in 1940, it is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Home to many endangered species like the royal Bengal tiger and the Asiatic wild dog, reports suggest that nearly 13 per cent of the mammal species in India can be found in Mudumalai. Bird watchers are in for a ride as one can spot the crested serpent eagle and the tiny-eared owl. 

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Catch a glimpse of the wild cats at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Situated in the Anamalai Hills of Coimbatore, the reserve is home to not only tigers but many other species such as spotted deer and panthers. A biodiversity hotspot in its truest sense, you can find more than 250 species of birds here. 

Offering a real insight into urban wilderness, the Guindy National Park in Chennai serves as the humble abode of a large number of migratory birds, reptiles, blackbucks, jackals, pangolins and Indian civets among many others. For the adventure lovers, Mukurthi National Park in the Nilgiri Hills has some of the most beautiful trekking routes up its sleeve.

Do You Know How Much Fuel Do ‘Cruise’ Ships Use?

Today’s cruise ships are extravagant, to say the least. From magnificent dining halls and towering water parks to skydiving simulators and bowling alleys, their decks are brimming with a huge array of impressive facilities. And that’s without mentioning all the machinery putting it in motion. Throw in hundreds, sometimes thousands, of passengers on top of all that and you’ve got a seriously heavy ship. So, what powers these super-vessels and all their technical wizardry from A to B? The answer, of course, is fuel and lots of it.

Fuel capacity plots the voyage

Did you know that there’s a direct correlation between fuel capacity and the fuel consumption/fuel efficiency of the ship? This largely fluctuates depending on how much fuel the ship leaves port with, the rate at which fuel is burned and how much fuel it has left. These factors dictate how far a ship can travel between ports and what route it should take.

To give you an idea of what today’s state-of-the-art liners drink up, we’ve taken a look at some of the biggest names in the business and how much fuel they consume on the average voyage.

Queen Mary 2

Norwegian Spirit

Freedom of the Seas

MSC Magnifica

P&O Britannia

Fred Olsen Boudicca

Queen Mary 2

Lauded as the fastest cruise ship on the planet, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 has a total fuel capacity of 4,381 metric tonnes. This propels the 151,400-tonne luxury liner at a rate of 41 feet for every gallon. At her average speed of 29 knots, this gives her 10 days at-sea without having to refuel. On an hourly rate, this translates to six tonnes. If she’s hitting her top speed of 32.5 knots she’d get to her destination faster but drink up a lot more fuel.

Norwegian Spirit

This 76,000-tonne, 878-foot long ship may be Norwegian’s smallest fleet member but it is still capable of carrying 1,150 metric tonnes of fuel, or the equivalent of 354,144 gallons.  Her small size makes her extremely fuel efficient, with her average speed of 24 knots chewing up 1,100 gallons of fuel per hour. This gives her an average of 12 at-sea days before she needs to return to port to refuel.

Freedom of the Seas

At 160,000 tonnes and 1,112 feet, Freedom of the Seas is over twice the size of Norwegian Spirit. It has an increased fuel capacity to match, with its tanks able to carry 3,533 metric tonnes at a time. At its average speed of 21.6 knots, she burns around 2,800 gallons of fuel an hour. Thanks to advanced eco-friendly propulsion systems Royal Caribbean is able to save 10-15% on fuel usage and costs every voyage.

MSC Magnifica

Smaller than the other ships listed so far, MSC Magnifica still has 95 tonnes and a plethora of facilities to ferry around, including 1,259 cabins, 1,038 crew members and almost three times as many passengers. With an average speed of 18 knots that can reach 22.90 knots when pushed to its maximum, Magnifica also has an energy saving and monitoring system for more eco-friendly energy usage which helps bring down the fuel consumption.

P&O Britannia

P&O’s flagship vessel, Britannia, is like a five-star hotel at sea, weighing in at an impressive 143,730 tonnes. With 4,324 passengers and 1,398 officers onboard when at sea, Britannia needs some serious power to travel the waters; its average speed of 21.9 knots is more than up to the task, burning just 3,000 gallons of fuel every hour.

Fred Olsen Boudicca

Fred Olsen’s nimble, streamlined Boudicca is on the smaller side of things, with a collected crew and passenger number of around 1,200 and a total tonnage of 28,388. Averaging 18.5 knots with a max speed of 22 knots at its very limit, Boudicca uses less fuel than most liners currently criss-crossing the world’s waters.

How important is the ship’s size?

Ultimately, size has a weighty impact on how far a ship can sail. On a daily basis, the average cruise ship uses around 140-150 tonnes of fuel, or 30 to 50 gallons per mile. Like vehicle travel, hitting higher speeds increases drag which results in more fuel usage. Generally speaking, the majority of cruise ships find that 21-24 knots to be the most efficient speed.

Eco-friendly technology

The world is becoming increasingly knowledgeable about eco-friendly technology and the appropriate solutions for minimising carbon footprints. Accordingly, the cruise sector has taken some important steps to maximise efficiency and slash CO2 emissions wherever possible. New legislation coming into force in 2020 will require cruise ships to reduce their sulphur emissions from 3.5% to 0.5%, with several companies already complying through the use of scrubber technology, which uses seawater to wash exhausts. Other methods that cruise ships are using to become more eco-friendly include:

  • Plugging ships into electrical power sources when in port rather than leaving their motors idling.
  • Implementing construction features such as energy efficient LED lighting, twilight sensors, augmented heat recirculation and eco-friendly air cooling systems that maximise fuel efficiency.
  • Silicon coatings applied to ships’ hulls to help reduce friction as they plough through bodies of water. Celebrity Eclipse employs this method, reportedly reducing friction by 5%.
  • Employing solar panelling to certain areas of the ship. For example, Celebrity’s Solstice Class of ships have a field of solar panels over its enclosed Aquaspa pool area that helps to reduce electricity usage and lessens the demands on its engines.
  • The use of exhaust gas economisers that employ waste heat from the ship’s engines to produce steam, and in turn, reduce energy. On ships such as Queen Mary 2, this can be used to heat accommodation, do the ship’s laundry, and heat fuel amongst other things. #innlive