Chennai (Madras), the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu is a marvellous place to start your voyage of discovery. It is a town steeped in tradition though it was created by the British 350 years ago! So visit the Fort St. George, the St. Mary's Church, the splendid Marina Beach, the beautiful Kapaleeswarar Temple, the St. Thomas Mount, where St. Thomas the Apostle was martyred, the National Image Art Gallery, the San Thome Cathedral, the Parthasarathy Temple, Valluvar Kottam, Cholamandalam, the artist's village and Kalakshetra. Tamil Nadu has fascinating towns with magnificent temples - Kanchipuram, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, and Rameswaram. Mamallapuram close to Chennai, is a marvellous open air museum set along a fabulous beach with an array of sculptured edifices, cave temples and bas reliefs. Further down the coast, Pondicherry displays its French heritage in its seaside villas and the French names of its streets. Want a break from the heat? Not too far away are Ooty (Udhagamandalam) and Kodaikanal - picturesque hill towns. The splendid cities of Bangalore and Mysore reflect the royal heritage of Karnataka. Bangalore, the state capital is a lively cosmopolitan city noted for its fine climate and extensive gardens. Visit the exquisite Hoysala temples at Halebid and Belur not far from Bangalore. Mysore is another charming city with its beautiful palaces and royal traditions. Up on a hill overlooking the city is the temple to Chamundeswari, its patron goddess. Interesting trips around Mysore include the Brindavan Gardens, Srirangapatna, the Ranganathittoo Bird Sanctuary, the ornate Hoysala temple at Somnathpur and the Nagarhole National Park - all within easy reach of the city. Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh is exciting with its domes and minarets, palaces and colourful bazaars spilling over with silks, pearls, perfumes, antiques and glittering glass bangles. The imposing Char Minar and the Golconda Fort looming in the distance are two well known landmarks. Take time off to visit the unusual museum at Nagarjunakonda where an ancient Buddhist site has been relocated on an island in the reservoir of the Nagarjunakonda Dam. The state of Kerala along the west coast of the peninsula is a lush green escape with beautiful beaches, historic port towns and pretty retreats in the hills. Visit Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital. The Padmanabhaswamy Temple, the unusual Napier Museum and the Chitra Art Gallery are some of its attractions. The delightful beach resort at Kovalam and the famous Padmanabhapuram Palace are closeby. Explore the port town of Kochi. See the old Jewish Synagogue, the Mattancherry Palace, St. Francis Church - the oldest European church in the subcontinent and the Chinese fishing nets. Visit Kumarakom set in the scenic backwater country and drift along the serene waterways vaulted by coconut palms for a delightful break from routine. The coral islands of Lakshadweep are easily accessible from Kochi. Laze on its pristine beaches and go snorkelling in its crystal lagoons.