|2016 - Jaipur, Delhi, Jabalpur, Ambikapur, Katni, Allahabad, Lucknow, Rishikesh |
|Dear Indiamikers, |
Sorry, I am a little late: I arrived in India the 13 th February 2016 and came back the 11 th of May. I will write in bold the informations I think they will be useful to the travellers (I don't receive any money for advertising). Sorry for the quality of the photos. You will find some links to some useful and sometimes beautiful web sites.
Sorry for my poor English, too.
Three bad events during my three months stay (it is not a lot).
1. The worst for me was my problem with the company Finnair (at the end of this compte-rendu). Since 1994 I travelled 21 times to India (and I went to USA, Peru, Brasil...too). I got sometimes some problems. Like this never .
2. The worst for my wife (it was horrible for me too) : these guys in the train (Ambikapur Katni) staring at her continually like a good piece of cake (or meat for the non veg).
3. Lucknow: too much traffic jam and pollution, some very tough rickshaw-vale (I discover today there is a metro in Lucknow...! not very convenient for who wants to go to touristic places. ); a lot of young childrens begging around the touristic places (starving, jumping on the food we gave them, you don't feel very comfortable when you give 1800 rps for a room...). Very sad when we know how this city is important in the History of India. I will tell you later that everything is not so grey in Lucknow, you can visit nice places, you can find good hotels, a very good restaurant...and a lot of very nice people too.
I have to precise I know (a little) Hindi, I can have a talk asking for a discount in Hindi, the hotel manager is not affraid cause nobody is speaking good English or French in his hotel. The "non-westerner" hotels are always happy to welcome us. So we have a big choice of accommodations.
----13 th and 14 th February
I was in the Hotel Kabli (73, Masjid Road - Jangpura extension, ~1400 rps). This is my favorite place since some times. Nice people and very helpful (...my Finnair-vala problem). Hi Ramu! I know I can trust them and they know they can trust me. I will go back, sure.
----15 th February till 11 th of March
I joigned a group of german students (Heidelberg University) in a class of Hindi in Jaipur. We stayed in Sumer Niwas Guesthouse in front of Peelwa Garden, Adarsh Nagar (there). I asked to be alone in a room on the top (the others shared, two or three in the same room). I don't know exactly the price because a part of it was included in the price of the Hindi spring classe. I had a good contact with the owner. Mohan who was taking care of us was a good cook and a perfect rickshaw-vala.
Sometimes, early in the morning you can see a very big family, around 30 peacocks, on the terrasses and corridors of the hotel beside the Sumer Niwas. Fabulous!
You can meet monkeys in the stairs too. So don't climb too fast. Don't talk, don't smile, don't show you teeth (but your fist when there is no other option)!
Usually we had the breakfast there. The food was well prepared but not often Indian because some of my young friends were fond of French fries and a lot of other western "things". So it is difficult to say more.
We discovered a very good place in Jaipur : the in the Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg. Modern, clean, a lot of nice paintings, a good south Indian food for a fair price . Don't miss it !
I love the other Indian Coffee House in Mirza Ismail Road (Near Ajmeri Gate, New Colony), very old fashion but I like that too. Niro's (80, Ashok Nagar, Mirza Ismail Road) offers a very good food but you will not eat here for the same budget.
I had some problems with an Airtel shop (was not really an Airtel Shop). Hopefully I stayed enough time to solve this problem. I kept the dongle and now I went down from Windows 10 to Windows 7 cause the drivers are not ready for Windows 10. I have to say bravo to the company (firstname.lastname@example.org) who answered very quickly, clearly and honestly to my question about the 3G dongle ZTE MF70. And when I wrote - I thank you for this quick and clear answer - They answered : Should you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact ZT. Great!
2- The 12 th of March I went to Delhi where I met my wife (She will go back to France the 18 th of April).
She was happy to go back to Jangpura, to have a walk in Bhogal market, to meet again my ex-landlord (so nice people) in the Optical Center (behind Eros cinema), new glasses for her, to eat paratha for the breakfast (she loves)... We had a beautiful room in the Beaufort Inn (more expensive than the Kabli hotel (~3000 rps), always when I am with her). The people there are very gentle (I think to Anil). The traffic is noisy but you don't open the windows when it is a little hot. Perfect.
We enjoyed a diner in the Barbeque Nation (below Eros cinema). Still great (my advice : don't put the red wine ice cold: you "break" it, around 11° it's ok).
Nice visits to Agrassen ki Baoli
...to Lodhi garden
...and to Habitat Center (for the lunch), near the Alliance française where I worked during 7 months in 2012, souvenirs, souvenirs), a small walk to Khan market, shopping in Bhogal... Three days perfect.
March 16 th, Wednesday - 5:30 pm we are leaving to Jabalpur (a little stop on the way to Ambikapur).
March 17 th, Thursday - ~8:25 am we arrive. The three hotels we selected are full. We will try the Midtown (Opp. Bank Of India, Russel Chowk, Napier Town). The bedroom is quiet, on the backside, and clean (7000 rps for three nights). The breakfast is very good. We will have lunch in the Arihant Palace. Good veg food, good and friendly service. Definitly we will love this town! A little nap, a scrabble and out again for...diner. We are French, we love good food and when we are in India especially veg. Attached to the Midtown we have the Aroma. Bingo, still good veg food. Incredible.
March 18 th, Friday - Super breakfast (different than yesterday). Today, a little walk to Gole Bazar (~2,5 km), we will visit the Shaheed Smarak. The director will open all the doors for us (He will not accept anything, no gift, no money (he will give to each of us a small botte of water, a chai with biscuits and some mini flacon of medecin for digestion!). Here you will see a lot of good portraits of the great people who helped to recover Indian svatantrata (freedom). The main room, dance and drama with beautiful coupole, walls nicely paint, no pillars. The floor was from high quality but like everything here it needs to be repaired and we understand there is a problem of money. This is a great place, so try to help if you can! Look here, so beautiful! He asks us to try two restaurants, the Yellow chilly and the Olive. We try the Olive and it was a good idea, again (maybe we are lucky, the chef is doing his best for the westerners?). The afternoon we look hard for a taxi to go to Marbel Rock tomorrow. We have a contact with Meraz Travel. When we arrive at the agency it is closed. It is more than 6 pm. We give a call, a young guy come on a bike, tell us it ok for tomorrow, 1.250 rps (a little expensive maybe?). My wife is anxious, she does not trust him... Back home I recceive a mail from the agency, smile is back, it looks more professionnal. We keep the Aroma for diner. Good and friendly service.
March 19 th, Saturday - We don't speak of this new breakfast, hum...so good! 9 am the taxi is there, the driver looks professionnal. My wife feels more comfortable. We start the visit in Bhedaghat having a look to the Dhuandhar Falls (mist above the water, duandh = fog, mist, haze (Wikipedia : जिसका जल सफेद धुएं के समान उड़ने लगता है। इसी कारण इसे 'धुंआधार' कहते हैं)).
Only Indian people there, a lot of smiles, a lot of colors (saris are drying under the sun everywhere). Some are coming back from the Kumbh mela in Ujjain (souvenir, souvenir, Sagar hotel in front the railway station, Joshi Ji...). A lot of them want a photo with my wife. I have to pass the time so I take a photo of them taking photo of my wife.
After this nice time we go to Marbel Rocks.
50 rps each we go for a little trip on a boat with other tourists, Indian family. Don't miss that, so beautiful colors on the rocks, even before noon (sure it would be better at sunset), nice birds too.
We leave at 2 pm going to have the lunch (I never forget the food!) in the Yellow Chili. The food is excellent, the service could be more friendly. Now we have to go back to the hotel, a little nap before packing cause we are leaving tomorrow, and then...diner in the Aroma still good.
March 20 th 2:15 pm, Sunday - We are in the train, going to Ambikapur. Even without reservation a lot of people try to appropriate a seat, but they give it back to the owner without too much problems. An hour before arrival, we are reading a book peacefully, very few people are there (kuch hamsafar (I am thinking to Pakeeza...)), a woman is shouting behind us, a man pulls the alarm chain, the train stops. The young woman siting with an older one near the door, crying, explains to the TC that suddenly a guy behind her snatched her purse and jumped outside of the train. Unbelievable, when the speed is not far from 50 km/h! Everybody starts to talk with everybody. Next station, the TC go out with the young victim on the platform to fill a form. Nice little and clean station...Are Bhagwan this is Ambikapur! Somebody offers a lift, rickshaw-vale are very interesting by us, but we are waiting a friend. He is late (the train is in advance, yes, believe me!). We are alone outside (two or three rickshaw-vale full of hope are looking to there prey...), this is the night, a car arrive with four happy friends, they offer flowers to each of us, we go to the center of Ambikapur.
We will spend four exceptionnal days there, this is Holi and the welcome is so warm!
I will not talk about this time, this is private. As usual my friends were very nice with me. My first Holi in India, this is something... Thank you.
I don't want to forget what are doing some people near Darima (Airport) in Shiksha KuTeer (शिक्षा कुटीर (Their Facebook page)) helping little girls and boys to get good knowledges. This is important, precious.
And I don't forget too the artists in the small village of Sompur. Try to go there, nice people, good folk artists.
Natural colors during Holi in Sompur
Painting with details in relief
March 25 th, Friday - We don't hear the alarm clock, 5:30 am, we have to pack in 20 mn... When we arrive with our friend in the railway station three others friends joign us for the farewell. I will come back alone the 20 th of April.
We have a reserved sit. A group of guys arrive, looking for sits, a lot are empty, when they see us (more probably my wife) they "jump" on the sits just near us on the other side of the corridor. It will be the hell for my wife : impossible for her to rise the eyes, the guys are staring to her like they stare usually to a giraffe in the zoo. Very hard and long time for her.
More and more people climb in the train. At the beginning we were two on our bench, after we were three, before Katni we are four and, sometimes, five. Around 1 pm we arrive in Katni. The manager of the Hotel Shri Madhuvan Palace (Besides Union bank and Indian Coffee House, nh7 Bargavan, Katni) is waiting us with a car. Thanks to a friend of Ambikapur we got a reservation there. This is a basic hotel. We get a room on the third floor (if we consider the ground one as the first floor). We have mosquito nets on the windows, we can have a look to a kind of wasteland from there. It could be cleaner but for the price, 1400 rps with the breakfast it is ok. People are nice, this is important. The restaurant on the second floor serves an honnest food. Rest.
March 26 th, Saturday - Why are you going to Katni? There is nothing to do there! I add except meeting people, real people of the real India, and this is important, isn't it?
So, after a good breakfast (for the food Jabalpur will remain the best place) we are going to the market. Mahaul kitna mazedar hai! (the atmosphere is so pleasant!).
So we walk and walk and we ask to some old people where to eat: Yog! Ok, we go to Yog (don't ask me where it is), a kind of small vegeterian dhaba (little restaurant). We have a look, some people are eating there, the four or five tables look almost full, a good reason to think it's an healthy food. And this is an healthy thali (meal). We love this kind of places. Now we decide to go to the fruit market.
A man ask us to enter with him in a building. His office, real estate, is on the second floor. He and his collegue offer us a chai with some biscuits. After this we go outside and we find a juice center. Fresh press ananas juice, very good.
For the diner an Indian couple, nice friends, come to fetch us in our hotel and we go together in their car to the Radhika restaurant. Nice diner, good food, good service. I guess our guest is well known in this restaurant, it could explain the quality of the service. Nice diner with nice people. Next day his wife will send a gift for my wife to the hotel...
March 27 th, Sunday - Thunderstorm, rain, cold... Coffee and shoping in the City Mall near Katni Junction (a kettle, coffee...). We go back to the hotel, beer (don't ask...) and pakora, nap, sewing... a lazy day for lazy lizards.
March 28 th, Monday - today we'll give a visit to Peer Baba and to Hanuman. The temple is in front of the mosque on the other side of the road. A kind of unity in the diversity. And calm.
We have our lunch in hotel Pankaj near the Katni junction. Ok. go back to the hotel for packing. Because...
March 29 th, Tuesday - ...I know what we are doing in Katni! We thought it will tough to go direct from Ambikapur to Allahabad, so we decided to take a rest in the middle. Our train (in 2d AC) will start at 10:10 am. We have a good contact with the family in front of us (Maman, Papa, the daughter (~14 years old) and the young son (6)). Just before the arrival the woman gives her phone number to my wife. She explains us how to call OLA for taxis. We discover we can go by electric risckshaw, so we are choosing one to go to the UR hotel (not far from the station).
We choose a room on the top floor. Tiny, cosy, clean. Outside there is a terrasse with a lot of plants and flowers and strange animals made from wood.
It does not happen often, I did not find a way to install my mosquito net (with the plant we were a little affraid by insects and spiders).
March 30 th, Wednesday - Good sleep. I am not happy cause the young man who is bringing the two bottles of mineral water does not wait after knocking at the door (I know, meri galti thi (it was my fault) I have to close the door!) ; then I discover half of the electric plugs are not working; after the dinner I have to discuss toughly with the rickshaw-vala who is asking too much to go to Khusro Bagh, this day does not "smile".
No, Amir Khusro (sometimes Khusrau or Khusrow) is not Khusro Mirza (sometimes Khusru).
Amir Khusro, born in 1253 was a Sufi musician and a great poet (writing in Persian, primilarly, and in Hindavi (~Hindustani, Dehlvi or Rekhta)). If you visit Delhi don't miss the visit to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, especially Thursday at the sunset for the Qawwali session (it is great). Amir Khusro is resting there near his spiritual father, Hazrat Khwaja Syed Nizamuddin Auliya. You can have a look there and there.
Khusro Mirza is the man who is sleeping in the Khusro bagh beside his mother, Shah Begum (Manbhawati Bai or Rajkumari Man Bai) and his sister, Nithar Begum.
Kushro Mirza, born in 1587, was Jahangir's eldest son (well known as Salim in the superb movie Mughal-E-Azam). Maybe be you know Khurram, Jahangir's third son (born from Taj Bibi Bilqis Makani Begum Sahiba in 1592)? No? But you know Shah Jahan (Khurram as Emperor), sure, who loved so much his wife he built a nice mausoleum in Agra? No? The Taj Mahal? Okaaaaay.
The gardens are incredibly peaceful (especially at sunset, people says). Evidently the gardens are famous for their guavas. If you get up on the wrong foot, like me, go there. And idea that will change your life (not mine cause I had a problem with my 3G dongle (Idea!) some years ago, lol).
I will not talk more: let's have a look to this superb site, the Khusro Bagh Project. Splendid.
We were not allowed to enter in the mausolums (nevertheless we had a very good time there) but thanks to you Mister Michael Brand, on your site we can.
Happy is not enough, we decided to go for a nice lunch in the Hotel Kanha Shyam. Perfect. Then little nap, scrabble and bier on the terrasse. Diner in the UR, everything is ready for a good night.
March 31 th, Thursday - Today we are going to Anand Bhavan.
I started writing this travel journal, late, but the 14 th of November...). When you give a visit to the Nehru family, to the birth place of the independant and modern India your day is "full". You don't remember what you had for breakfast, lunch or diner, you think only to what happended there and around. By now it looks like everybody is "pro" Nehru, but when you talk with some Indians you discover that some people try to disconsider him badly. Sad.
Well, go to Anand Bhavan! It is a nice place, beautiful house full of Indian History.
We will have lunch in the Indian Coffee House near the UR hotel. We love Indian Coffee House...
April 1st, Friday - We wanted to go to the Triveni Sangam. For Hindu people this is the confluence, in Prayag (the holy name of Allahabad), of the Yamuna, the Ganga and the invisible Saraswati. This a sacred place for the Maha Kumbh Mela (every 12 years). This Triveni Sangam is very well known too for the immersion of the ashes of several great Indian people.
Alas, maybe we are tired, maybe it is too hot, today we decide to stay around our hotel. We will keep this visit for a next trip. Sure Allabad, we will come back to visit you cause we loved you.
We will go for shopping (stationnery, grocery, almond, water...). We give a visit to Airtel (50 m walk from the UR hotel toward East). And what the people of Delhi and Ambikapur did not succed to do for my wife's sim card this young woman has done it. They were very helpfull for me too. Great job.
We go back to the Indian Coffee House. We want to try the part reserved for the families. Not very nice, we go back with the vakil (the lawyers who are speaking very loudly sometimes, they have a job...)
April 2 nd, Saturday - Awake at 4:45 am, Allahabad Lucknow today. We decide to hire two pedal risckshaw to go to the railway station. We are in AC, we are tired, we will sleep till the arrival. We hire a prepaid risckshaw for 65 rps and decide to try first Ganga Maiya and, if we are not happy, to follow Vonkla's advice in Sky high and Armarpeet. And Ganga Maiya is really a very good surprise. 1874 rps per night, very clean, nice decoration, fridge in the big bedroom.
Minus : we have not the light of the day. In exchange it is so calm (traffic jam in Lucknow is a nightmare). Till now, everything is perfect in Lucknow.
Shower, new clothes, good breakfast, we are ready for a little walk till Hazratganj (~2 km north-north-east). After the Vibhan Sabha (on you right), when VS Marg becomes Ashok Marg, you turn left in Mahatma Gandhi Marg: this is on your right. We will find a lot of modern and rich shops but we meet very poor people too. My wife buy some street foods for a young boy who jump on it. Sure he was nearly dying from starvation. We had not seen that since a long time.
April 3 rd, Sunday - Today we will visit the Residency which was built around 1790 to served as the residence for the British Resident General. During the first war for independance (1857-1859), the Residency was sieged during four and half months. Today it is a peaceful wide place with a lot of ruins inside. You can see the impact of the bullets in the walls. Death and blood for everybody.
Again I had an argument with an agressif pedal rickshaw-vala, but an electric and pacific one accepts to go to the Ganga Maiya for 100 rps. Somebody cleaned the room: spotless! Biere, scrabble, and a search for an hotel in our next destination, Rishikesh.
Good news, I discover I am officially retired, my first (tiny) pension arrived today on my account.
April 4 th, Monday - Imambara Bara
The weather is hot, maybe humid, tired by the pollution and the continuous talks with the rickshaw-vale, is it a good reason to be so lazy? We will spend a couple of hours in the garden of the Imabara (We will have to go back another year to Lucknow). We had a very good time there.
You can have a much better look on these sites, Imambara_Bara1, Imambara_Bara2, Imambara_Bara3 and there for the Chota (small) Imabara.
April 5 th, Tuesday - Good and long night. Today we are French, we think very good food. A little walk, 1 km west-east, in the direction of the Vidhan Sabha (but don't go till this building). On your left you will pass the State Bank ATM, the Gyan Vaishnav hotel and Mata Mandir (temple): B.N. road is the next road on the left. On the right side of this road, after 200 m, you will find the Dastarkhwan. This is very very great!
We had to respect the food but we kept two three hours for the visit of La Martinière College
The Student club looks a little more modern.
On this subject Wikipedia is much more better than I am. You can read the incredible story of Claude Martin, a French guy born in a simple family, who decided to serve in the French army in India, then in English army (I read somewhere the wages were better, so...) and succeed to amass a big stack of money. He was soldier, architect, self-surgeon (is it a legend?), businessman, financier, educationist...
To go there you will find a rickshaw for 100 rps, no less cause it is very difficult for them to find a client for the return (except if you ask him to wait). This is a superb place. I let you discover it. For the return we walked back till the main cross-road and there we found a risckshaw.
April 6 th, Wednesday - Awake at 5:30 cause the train will start at 7 am. When we arrive in Haridwar a taxi sent by our hotel, Yog Vashisht hotel, is waiting for us.
The Yog Vashisht hotel is there: on the second photo - Across Ganga again -, on the opposite bank, behind on the right of Parmath Niketan Ashram (two roofs in green color). We got a discount because we will stay 10 days there. We got a big room on the fourth floor (ground-floor is the first...). Fridge (but no beer inside!), wide view on Vanaprastha Ashram (no, I feel still a "Grihastha") and the moutains.
Across Ganga again
A friend is coming for diner
If you can't afford this very good hotel (very good service by friendly people) try the restaurant... This is really good. And if you can't afford this restaurant you can go to the Vanprastha Ashram for cheap and healthy food (I will go back).
A yoga teacher is coming to the hotel in the morning (I did not practice in the last 50 years...). So we will enjoy yoga with Vikas everyday 90 minutes for 200 rps each. And around 4:30 5 pm we will meet Vimal in Vanprastha. We will pratice (free) a kind of stretching for old people on the grass under the sun. Good experiences when you discover yoga. Now we are practicing Iyengar yoga in Paris 3 hours weekly. Many thanks to Vikas and Vimal.
We will spend ten healthy days in Rishikesh. Beside yoga the main activities will be walking and talking.
My wife is going back to Paris the 18 th of April. I have a good reason to give her company till Delhi: the Barbeque Nation and the red wine...
After, I will go back to Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh). I will not talk about my life there and about the life of the people who welcame me in this town. Nice time.
============================== ==== Finnair, a deep sense of humour
An arrival around 5 am after such a a long flight you are busy and a little tired (a little more when you are 65). So you fetch a trolley, you wait for your backpack. You put it like this on the trolley and you go and meet the driver sent by the hotel. The driver takes the bag in the same way you put it on the trolley and puts it down in the bottom of the car. He says something like - Your bag is wet - but you don't realize, you are dreaming...the bed... And when you arrive in the hotel you realize: on the other side the bag is broken, not only the bag... Too late. The bag itself is valuable because it is waterproof.
But you decide to take some photos with your phone. Maybe you will find the time to claim...
My bag outside
My bag inside (no more waterproof)
I have more photos (and surrealistic mails too).
Two months later you contact Finnair sending them a lot of informations (I was busy, I had to upload the photos on a web site...). After some talks, always very polite, explaining clearly the situation (I have a file...) they offer something, I put the google translation - As a reward, I offer you an electronic purchase voucher in the amount of 100 euros. This voucher can be used for future bookings on the Finnair website and is not personal. -. When you realize how stressful it was, the price of my spoiled belongings (a box was broken, the clothes and the books were completly wet because they were crashed in the snow in Helsinki airport (and you understand how hard and long it was crushed when you realize the padlock was new)...
This is not the end of this funny story! When I came back in Paris, my backpack was not there at the arrival!!!!! (I got it the next day). After that you don't want to travel again with Finnair. The voucher is not personal but it is difficult to find such a great ennemy to give it to him...So I did not accept this so fair offer.
|September 2015 in Tamil Nadu |
We are a French couple (60 and 65). We spent four weeks in Tamil Nadu in September 2015. We were in Puducherry, Gingee, Tiruvannamalai, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli, Erode, Dindigul and Chennai. We were sleeping in good hotels or guesthouses, no five stars except Taj Coromandel for the last night in Chennai. I give below my classification (my wife is more or less ok with me) except for the Taj which was more than perfect (when you pay a lot you ask the perfection). I let you search on Internet or in guidebook the adresses of some hotels.
We were lucky, no hotel below 65%. But we were ready to pay 3000 rps a night (always fighting for a discount).
The rank is sometimes difficult to explain. This is a question of feeling, too. And of nationality: we love french (and indian and...) food but our Indian guests miss the spices and the mirch of the Indian food (and they are so polite they will never tell us, they are ready to die of starvation)... You can be lucky, this is a good day for your waiter, you make an effort to speak in Tamil (with a mixture of English and, worst in Tamil Nadu, of Hindi) an the people appreciate it.
100% The Kohinnor hotel in Erode (http://www.kohinoorhotelserode.com/gallery.html). Difficult to find such a team: everybody, the simple worker, the cook, the manager, was always ready to give the best service. Even the taxi driver called by the hotel was perfect. The restaurants are serving a good food and a very nice breakfast.
98% Tanjore homestay (email@example.com) : we were like in a family. The guesthouse is near the temple in a quiet residential location. Raja was not there but Usha gave us company during our visit (we found her again in Tiruchirapalli. She gave usvery good informations). The top was the food: Mani et Shanti are very great cooks and prepare a very healthy vegetarian food (nice breakfasts in the garden). Raja (I have been told he is speaking French and he is a famous guide) and Usha (speaks English) have another guesthouse in Tiruchirapalli (Srirangam firstname.lastname@example.org ou email@example.com) at 10 mn by walk from the big temple.
97% Les Hibiscus. Beautiful house, a lot of charm, artistic decor, fabulous breakfast... Mr Bascarane and his team give you a warm welcome, are helpful and always smiling.
95% The DoubleDutch Resort near Athoor village (not far from Dindigul). I don't know why I don't give 100. I think it is because we are not people of the countryside.
92% The Krishna Inn in Tiruchirapalli near the bus stand. We betrayed Usha (from the Tanjore homestay) who has a guesthouse near the big temple.
89% Hotel Nala Residency in Tiruvannamalai. The two women in the recepetion are very helpful. The restaurant serves a good food. The taxi going to Villipuram was perfect.
85% The Parsons Court in Dindigul. No soul. For politicians and business men.
65% The Shivan hotel in Gingee. I have been told there is no good hotel in Gingee. This one is ok (the men in the reception are helpful (not easy when you are not used to foreigners...)). The taxi they called for us was very bad and expensive. The food in the restaurants (vegetarian and non veg) is ok too.
The best restaurants (Top is Tanjore homestay (vegetarian)). We do love the Indian vegetarian food (less non veg).
Dindigul : Sree Baalaaji Bhavan near the bus stand (vegetarian). Smiling service and very good food.
The Vasantha Bhavan restaurant near the bus stand in Tiruchirapalli
Thanjavur: the two restaurants (veg and non veg) in the Gnanam hotel.
The "best people" you meet in the street. More the town is small more gentle are the people? Maybe.
The best bars
Erode: you go outside the Kohinoor hotel (Erode), you take the other side of the road on your left. After 250 m you will find a bar on your right (95%). Erode people in the street are very nice.
Dindigul: the bar of the Parsons Court (92%).
An excellent guide (Usha from the Tanjore homestay was a good companion and gave us good advices in Thanjavur and in Tiruchirapalli)
In Gingee (in the fort which is on the left of the road coming from Gingee): a man retreated of the Indian army who has a very deep knowledge especially about the "Vijayanagar" Empire history (my luck, I am able to chek this, cause I study this five years ago). If my memory is not too bad his name is Tirumalai.
Nice places to visit
In Thanjavur : The Saraswathi Mahal Library
Gingee : the forts.
In Thanjavur : The big temple
The ghats in Tiruchirapalli (with Usha)
A good taxi driver
In Tiruvannamalai. Called by the Hotel Nala Residency. I did not write the name. My wife was so happy she gave him 250rps tip.
A very bad taxi driver
In Gingee. Called by the Shivan Hotel. Expensive, talking to the mobile when driving on a very dirty road...a very bad experience.
The worst souvenir
Outside of the big temple in Tiruvannamalai. A team of women beggars who are walking just near you and shouting in your hears during 150 / 200 meters, each with a small baby in their arms. We decided to have a chai in a kind of cafe-terrass hoping to find some relief and they did not stop. Nobody helped us.. Only for this I would recommand to the tourists don't go there.
It is a pity: this temple (and the others lingams around the city) is very nice.