This year I had a very special start to my summer holidays. From the 20th to the 25th of July, I travelled with my dance teacher, Usha Raghavan, and six of her students (along with their guardians) on a temple tour around Tamil Nadu. We visited four temples: first, the beautiful Thillai Nataraja temple at Chidambaram, then the quietly resplendent Gangaikondacholapuram temple, the impressively grand Brihadeeswara temple at Tanjavur, and most significantly, the seat of dance, Thyagaraja Temple at Thiruvarur.
Teacher has organised trips like this before: taking her students from UK and Italy on a tour of temples which are associated with Bharatanatyam and sometimes even other dance forms. This trip, however, was different, in that the first week would be spent in Tamil Nadu, and the second would be touring dance performances in Sri Lanka. The India tour hence was incredibly busy, but also incredibly enriching. Though this was a tour of some of the most significant temples in Tamil Nadu’s history, it was not restricted to just that. We also visited some fantastic sites which offered us a wider understanding of the history and culture of Tamil Nadu and South India: the Dakshinachitra model heritage village in Mahabalipuram, a village in Tanjavur where the famed Tanjore sculptures and paintings are made, and even a veena-making shop.
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