Known as Manchester of South India, Coimbatore is the hub of textile and engineering industries. Located in the foot hills of Nilgiris, Coimbatore boasts of tranquil beauty, shrines and temples
After a visit to Ooty, where we finished our work earlier than expected, we landed in Coimbatore with two days to spare. We were assigned a guide by our friendly host. Although I had seen the city earlier I went along with the rest of the group.
To most, Coimbatore is hardly the place for a holiday. The city is associated with textiles and automobiles—an industrial hub. It is often referred to as the Manchester of South India. However, there is plenty in and around the city to make it an interesting travel destination.
Our guide led us first to the GD Naidu Museum. He explained that it was named after a legendary technocrat of the city. He earned the repute with his many inventions in the fields of automobiles, engineering and agriculture. Locals refer to him as the Edison of India.
The museum is, predictably, full of science-related exhibits and traces the history of the industrialisation of Coimbatore.
We next made our way to the well-maintained Kasthuri Sreenivasan Art Gallery and Textile Museum. There are beautiful traditional Indian art as well as contemporary paintings. all aesthetically displayed.
Textile technology and its history are presented as are antique sarees and rare costumes from older times.
The evening took us first to the Eachanari Vinayagar temple. Next was a Shiva temple – the centuries-old Perur Pateeswarar temple famed for its architectural beauty and superb statues and carved pillars.
The highlight is the Kanaka Sabha meaning golden court or hall with its imposing Nataraja statue blessing two sages. We took pictures of the soaring gopuram packed with countless intricate figures.
The temple was built by the Chola kings. We had no time for the Konaiamman temple of the Goddess Durga/Parashakti. It is said that Coimbatore derived its name from the temple's name.
The hilltop Marudhamalai temple draws the devout in large numbers and is worth a visit for its architectural beauty even if you are not a believer.
Dinner was when we were taken by our guide to places, which served local specialities. As a vegetarian, I went for the virundhu sappadu. The rest feasted mutton kolambu, nattu kozhi, pepper chicken, karandi omelette, kaalaan, and biriyani.
We were urged to drink not mineral water but the Siruvani water. This is the city’s water supply and locals say it is the world’s second-tastiest water after that from the Nile river.
The next morning, we left for the Gass Forest Museum including the well-known Fischer Herbarium. The museum showcases many species of rare and endangered plants and animal fossils too.
The people in the group with very young children in tow preferred, during this time to visit the waterparks and amusement parks in and around the city. And also to check out the VOC Park and the Zoo.
Here is a Government Museum, it is a small place but worth your time. Here you will find a collection of old coins from various countries, tribal articles of wood and bamboo, an interesting collection of old coins from around the world, zoological specimens, and archaeological findings from the region. The evolution of the Tamil script is described in another section.
The late afternoon was time for shopping which went on till we had to leave for dinner and shopping. The city has innumerable textile showrooms.
There is a vast variety to choose – from traditional to contemporary style clothes, daily wear to wedding wear. For sarees, there is a wide range of Kanjeevarams and Coimbatore cotton and silks.
Town Hall area, RS Puram, Cross Cut Road, and Raja Street are among the best places for buying clothes in the city. As are Big Bazaar Street, Oppanakara Street and Sukravar Pettai.
On the third day, we extended our visit on our host's suggestion and broke up into groups and each made excursions to one or two of these places around the city—Monkey Falls, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Kovai Kutralam Falls, Bhavani Sagar Dam, Top Slip, Siruvani Waterfalls and Dhyanalingam. We noticed the many cotton fields around the city on our drives to and fro.