Sprawling along the western shore of Great Salt Lake, Thiruporur is a panchayat town on Tamil Nadu’s Bay of Bengal coast. It centres around the Hindu temple of Thiruporur Kandaswamy and is on the doorstep of an important wildlife breeding centre and several UNESCO World Heritage-listed monuments.
Things to do
Marvel at the Dravidian-style architecture of the Thiruporur Kandaswamy temple, which is believed to have been established in the 10th century and rebuilt 700 years later. In addition to its five-tiered gopuram tower, it features a granite-built sanctum where an image of the Hindu god of water is housed. Coincide your visit with one of the four daily rituals or attend the annual Vaikasi Visakam festival held in honour of Lord Muruga.
Reptile enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology, which was created to save three of India’s endangered crocodile species. Get up close to marsh crocodiles, saltwater crocodiles and gharials while exploring the centre’s coastal dune forest, which is also home to free-roaming lizards, frogs and more than 60 species of birds.
Also near Thiruporur is the Tiger Cave, a rock-hewn Hindu temple complex that forms part of the UNESCO-listed Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram. It’s thought to have been constructed by the Pallavas in the 8th century, with elaborately carved tiger heads decorating the cave’s mouth. Further south lies the awe-inspiring Descent of the Ganges, a huge open-air rock relief that’s carved into two monolithic rock boulders.
Thiruporur is around one hour’s drive from Chennai and Chennai International Airport, with regular buses connecting from the Tamil Nadu capital. Rickshaws are the main means of getting around Thiruporur, although the town centre is compact enough to explore on foot.