Kanchipuram, in the state of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most sacred cities in southern India and the second holiest after Varanasi. Also known as “The City of Thousand Temples”, Kanchipuram is an important holy pilgrimage for Hindus. People travel from far and wide to admire the magnificent stone cravings, chariot processions and shrines.
Hey there, daydreamer! Need a well-deserved break from work altogether? Check out our collection of adventurous, small group getaways – in all-time favourite and further-flung destinations. Packed with authentic local experiences, unforgettable activities and one-off accommodations, they’re a world away from the everyday.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
One of Shiva’s five main shrines, the Ekambareswarar Temple is spread over 10 hectares, making it the largest place of worship in the city. Its original structure was built by the Pallava Dynasty in the sixth century and underwent major changes under the rule of Tanjore Nayaks. During this period, the gopuram – a gatehouse tower which stands at 59 metres and is one of the tallest in the state – was constructed. The Ekambareswarar Temple plays hosts to the most important religious festival in Kanchipuram – a 10-day extravaganza known as Panguni Brahmotsavam that takes place from March to April.
Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple
While Ekambareswarar Temple is the largest shrine in Kanchipuram, Kailasanathar Temple is the oldest. Dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, it’s one of the earliest examples of Pallava architecture. The temple’s sanctum sanctorum contains a unique 16-sided shivalinga (a symbol representing Lord Shiva) carved out of black granite. However, the structure’s most striking attribute is its sub-shrines, with numerous pillars decorated with sculptures or reliefs of minor deities.
Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple
As the primary site of worship for the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt (an influential religious institution), Kamakshi Amman Temple is the one structure most associated with Kanchipuram’s religious heritage. Although details of the temple’s construction are unknown, the original structure is thought to have been built by the Pallava kings. The temple’s history is rich with myths and legends, often associated with Adi Shankara, the patron saint of the Kamakoti Mutt. The temple’s annual chariot festival is conducted with great fanfare during the Tamil month of Masi (between February and March) and includes the centuries-old custom of a ther-vizha (chariot festival). The temple is also surrounded by some of the most vibrant street markets in Kanchipuram, which sell everything from street food to clothing.
For a double-strength dose of remarkable Indian architecture, you need look no further than our epic 10-day tour of Rajasthan. From riding bikes through the old centre of New Delhi, to visiting the jaw-dropping Taj Mahal and Jaipur’s Amber Fort, this is truly a trip of a lifetime.
Varadaraja Perumal Temple
Varadaraja Perumal Temple is the preferred temple in Kanchipuram for followers of Vaishnavism. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams, which are the most sacred Vaishnavite shrines spread across the country, said to have been visited by the 12 Alwars. It features over 350 inscriptions attributed to nearly all major dynasties of South India. The temple’s most striking architectural feature is the famous “100-pillared hall”, which has sculptures and relief structures depicting several important Hindu gods.
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple
This relatively small temple takes its name from Vamana, the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Like Varadaraja Perumal, this temple too is one of the 108 Divya Desams. It features a traditional Dravidian style of architecture and is mentioned in popular Tamil literary works dating back to the sixth century. The temple hosts nearly a dozen annual festivals and is popular for its annual Brahmotsavam and ther-vizha.
The most important temple for followers of Jainism in Kanchipuram is Trilokyanatha Temple, built during the Pallava Dynasty. It is one of the few Jain temples that feature a predominantly Dravidian style of architecture, and is well known for its exquisite wall paintings and inscriptions that depict the life of Hindu god Krishna, as well as other important Jain deities.
If it’s an authentic Indian experience you’re after, our nine-day tour of Kerala should satisfy your appetite for adventure. You’ll start in Fort Kochi, before climbing into tea-covered hills of Kumarakom for trekking and cruising the serene backwaters, with a spa visit to sweeten the deal.
Chitragupta Swamy Temple
This temple is dedicated to Chitragupta, a minor deity and the assistant (or accountant) of Yama, the Hindu god of death. It is one of the few major temples in Kanchipuram whose construction is attributed to the Chola Dynasty. Although it is relatively small, it draws more tourists than many other major temples, due to the fact that it’s considered to be the place that Chitragupta uses to keep a watch on the good and bad deeds of man.
This seventh-century shrine is the smallest of the major temples of Kanchipuram, covering just 2290 sq m, but it is of immense importance both in historical and religious terms. It is dedicated to Sathyanatheswarar – a form of Lord Shiva – and follows the Shaiva tradition. The temple’s main gopuram is made up of three tiers, and features a sanctum sanctorum that contains a lingam made of granite. Sathyanatheswarar Temple is also one of the 275 important Shiva temples mentioned in the Tamil Shaivite canon.
The Ashtabujakaram Temple is a famous Vaishnavite place of worship in Kanchipuram. The temple’s current form is a mix of architectural styles, influenced by the Pallavas, Cholas and Vijayanagara Dynasties. Its most prominent feature is the temple pond located within its walls which is associated with the mythological tale of Gajendra Moksha. The most famous event associated with the temple is the 10-day celebration of Vaikunta Ekadasi, which falls in the month of December and is counted as an important festival for those who follow Vaishnavism.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.