things to do in kanchipuram

The Best Things to do in Kanchipuram

Destination Kanchipuram. Where we arrive in the heat of the day when everything is closed.  And there’s no room at the inn.  It’s the continuation of the temple trail. Our 9:35am bus from Tiruvannamalai will have us arriving by 1pm for 63 INR each.

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Kanchipuram and the Pallava Dynasty

Kanchipuram was the capital of the Pallava dynasty between the 6th and 8th centuries.  We’ll get to see more of the remnants of that era when we visit Mammalapuram in a few days. Kanchipuram is famed for its silk saris and of course it’s temples.  Temples open from 6am until noon and then again at 4pm for another four hours.

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It’s fate that we arrive at around 1pm. There are no rooms available at the first three places to stay that we find.  So we make the decision that we’ll leave the bags somewhere, while we take a look around.  If we feel the need to stay longer, we’ll make more of an effort to find somewhere to stay later.

An enterprising hotel clerk makes 50 INR for looking after our bags for a few hours, although passing him the money is done under the table away from his boss.  Baksheesh is alive and well here.

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We take a quick skip around town, in a slow “heat of the day” sort of a way.  As the temples are closed we just take a look at the outside of temples.  Then we drink coffee at possibly the dirtiest Indian Coffee House we’ve seen and decide to pass on further investigation of Kanchipuram.

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The Indian Coffee House, Kanchipuram

The Indian Coffee House is a cooperative run by its workers and owners.  There are many of them throughout India.  Some are great, like the one in Gwalior, some are good, like Alleppy and this one in Kanchipuram is disgusting.  It’s dirty, with little on the menu and it’s a struggle to bring myself to even drink the coffee.

Kanchipuram

If you do visit Kanchipuram, it’s best to plan ahead.  Sort out your route and DON’T arrive over the afternoon when all the temples are closed.  This is a great Kanchipuram Temple Route and agenda from TripAdvisor.

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Kanchipuram to Chennai

Retrieving our bags we head back to the bus station, and take the local bus to Chennai.  This happens after a couple of false starts, even getting onto one bus going in the opposite direction. Bus stations here are something of a frenzy.  There are few signs, even fewer that appear accurate and there are no timetables that I can discern.  It’s hard to figure out who to ask for information as there appears to be little recognizable uniform wearing. When we do ask, there’s a random wave that indicates our required location could be anywhere within a 180 degree arc.  And, of course, the ubiquitous Indian Head Wobble.

In India, Buy a Local SIM Card

When we arrived in India, one of the reasons for trudging to Ernakulam from Kochi on those sinkworthy ferries was to buy an Indian SIM card.  We will be in the country for up to 6 months and based on the state of the internet access in the first place we stayed we figured it was worth the 649 INR (US$10.22, GBP 6.64) that it would cost us for 3GB of 3G access each month. So, we became Vodafone India customers after filling in an archaic paper form that required me to detail not just the name of my husband but also my long deceased father.

Nevertheless its invaluable now and lets us search for and book accommodation in Chennai as well as figure out how we will get there from the bus station where we *think* that this bus will drop us off. It’s coming up to 4pm when we finally board the bus, paying 100 INR each (US$1.57, GBP 1.02) for the journey.

Two hours later, the sun is setting over the slums at 6pm as we arrive in Chennai.  We head for the Theagarayar Nagar (or T Nagar) neighborhood, our home for the next few days.

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