Known as the Manchester of South India for its textile industry – may not seem hip on the surface, but if you give it a little time you will find it’s cut from a different cloth. The city is brilliantly located – on the way to scenic hill stations like Ooty and Coonoor—friendly enough and very liveable, with an unhurried pace. There are a number of tourist places near Coimbatore that you can visit on your trip. Drop by soon before the rest of the country cottons on. The city is cool from September to March, and pleasantly warm during the rest of the year. Because of its location – it’s quite close to Ooty and Kodaikanal—it has brilliant weather for most of the year. Coimbatore airport is conveniently located about 13 km from the center of the city.
Coimbatore’s biggest draw is its splendid flower market at RS Puram. Flood the senses with irresistible blooms, by the bucketful, with flowers that range from the everyday to the exotic. It’s absolutely chaotic, but then the beauty of the flowers calms you down. Head there at 6am when the vendors begin trickling in, and don’t forget to take a bag of rose buds back home.
Next on the tourist circuit is Kari Motor Speedway: This racing circuit plays host to the National Championship races for a range of vehicles, from go-karts to motorcycle road racing and even formula racing events. Did you expect anything else in Narain Karthikeyan’s home town!
In the mood for some art of the silent kind? Check out paintings, installations and photographs at Contemplate Art Gallery, an initiative that incubates and supports up-and-coming artists and hosts exhibitions by them.
When you’re done take a walk back in time: Visit the Gass Forest Museum, off Cowley Brown Road. Housed in an imposing British-era limestone building, it displays—in an oddly interesting way—a number of intriguing exhibits to catch your eye: including a rare collections of endangered stuffed animals and birds, tribal clothes, animal skins and skeletons including a 456-year-old cross section of a teak tree weighing 1.75 tonnes.
Among Coimbatore’s tourist places, you can visit famous temples that date back to 1500AD, to immerse in the local culture of the destination.
It’s often a worry when you visit a small city off the tourist circuit. Where do you go for dinner? Are there any interesting places for a night out or will you have to order in? Not so in Coimbatore. The dining options in the city are authentic and interesting to the out-of-towner. Make sure you drink ‘Siruvani water’ (from the Siruvani River) rather than generic bottled water. For the most part, it travels without any interference from human habitation, making it pure and unpolluted.
The city is a haven for textile lovers. While label junkies may hit a brick wall, you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for an exquisite saree or some metres of pure silk.
The average Coimbatorean may be a picture of calm—undoubtedly because of his visits to the transcendental Isha Yoga Center—but he does indulge in a nocturnal activity or two. One of them is dining in a natural cave at Kurumba Village Resort, an hour or so via the Nilgiri mountain railway, in Conoor. Eerie but this is as close to wild dining as you can get. The adventurist should check into Camp Splendour near Udumalpet and sign up for a visit to the crocodile farm, a spot of hot-air ballooning, try coracle rafting or experience a dinner with friends around a campfire. Air guitar not included.
|Avinashi Road, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641014||CJB|