Top 9 Sites from the Rickshaw Challenge Classic Run

From temples to hidden beaches, while the GamingZion Rickshaw Challenge Classic Run 2015 might not have followed the classic tourist route, but we have seen some amazing sites along the way, either from the backseat of a rickshaw or on our stops along the way. We drove deep into the heart of Tamil Nadu, which is one of India’s lesser visited regions with virtually no tourist infrastructure, and found some pretty amazing places on the way.
1. Brihadishwara Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadishwara Temple, Thanjavur on New Year's Eve.
Brihadishwara Temple, Thanjavur on New Year’s Eve.

Capturing a palate of tawny browns and yellows, walking barefoot across this Ancient Living Chola Temple was a highlight of the trip. Over 1000 years old, pilgrims from all across India come to this vast temple complex to pay homage to the Hindu gods, from girls dressed up in scarlet saris marching in a precession for New Year’s purification to animated children begging us to photograph them, the life in the temple is as stunning as its towering pyramid-shaped gopurams detailed with elaborate stucco sculptures.
2. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai on New Year Day.
Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai on New Year Day.

Most of us might have been recovering from a heavy New Year’s Party the night before, but the brilliant colours of Madurai’s 6 hectare temple was worth getting out of bed for. With 12 tall gopurams lined with gods, goddesses, demons, saints, and heroes in a rainbow of colours, the temple is a Technicolor Hindu dream. While non-Hindus were not allowed inside the heart of the temple, we could still stroll down the brilliantly coloured colonnades, watching the devout queue up in lines to enter the holiest part of the Meenakshi Amman Temple.
3. The Monuments of Mahabalipuram

"Descent into the Ganges" in Mahabalipuram.
“Descent into the Ganges” in Mahabalipuram.

Even though this seaside town was a victim of the Tsunami ten years ago in 2004, and many of the temples in the town were damaged, there is still plenty to see in this ancient port city dating back to the Pallava kingdom. The Shore Temple is still a spectacular site, and as been reconstructed since the Tsunami damage, sporting elegant carvings and spectacular position on the shoreline. Nearby, the Five Rathas, temples carved out of the bulging boulders, were still just as spectacular in the pouring rain of the cyclone that hit us, where local visitors huddled under the rock cut colonnades. The huge relief carving representing the “Descent into the Ganges” is one of India’s artistic masterpieces, with intricately carved characters like the cat doing penance.
4. The Beach at Kanyakumari
Sunrise over Cape Comorin.
Sunrise over Cape Comorin.

Kanyakumari, known also as Cape Comorin, marks mainland India’s most southerly point, and is also the point where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal meet. The most beautiful time to head down to Kanyakumari beach is at sundown and sunrise. Locals flock to the beach both at sunrise and sunset, some even camping on the beach to be there on time in the morning. It’s a spectacular sight to watch the sun move across the coastline, watching the colours change on the huge colossus paying tribute to Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar.
5. Manimuthar Falls, Western Ghats
Manimuthar Falls
Manimuthar Falls

Close to Kanyakumari is a natural gem we had to visit as one of our challenges. Getting into Manimuthar Falls means driving up to a gate, where you pay a small 15 rupee fee before we had to drive down a very bumpy road to the falls. Although leaving any belongings behind in the rickshaw was dangerous due to kleptomaniac monkeys, it was worth it to go down and paddle in the cool waters of the falls. Local boys come here to bathe and cool off on the hot day.
6. French Quarter, Pondicherry
The French Quarter in Pondicherry.
The French Quarter in Pondicherry.

Tucked behind the seafront and a stone’s throw away from the statue of Gandhi. The winding streets, brightly coloured buildings and wrought iron balconies recall Pondicherry’s French colonial history, while intermixing it with Indian vibrancy. The crumbling and damaged Hôtel de Ville on the seafront is worth a look in through the bars, and also checking out the Notre Dame des Agnes church.
7. The Seashore temple of Muruga Perumal at Tiruchendur
Tiruchendur Temple
The Seashore temple of Muruga Perumal at Tiruchendur Temple

Backing onto a stretch of sandy beach hugging the Gulf of Mannar, the temple at Tiruchendur towers above in brilliant white stone. Even though it doesn’t even make an entrance in the Lonely Planet guide to South India, this temple to the Hindu deity Lord Muruga, the peacock god, is one of India’s largest temple complex by area and also one of the most visited by Hindu devotees.
8. The Hidden Beach Town of Manapad
Manapad Beach.
Manapad Beach.

One of the hidden treasures we discovered on the Rickshaw Challenge Classic Run is the coastal village of Manapad. A surreal step into Europe, this former Portuguese colony is all about little tight winding streets with brightly coloured façades and tall church spires. Fishing boats lie on the sandy flats of the long lagoon, as locals go down to bathe in the waters. On the top, the Holy Cross Church crowns the town from above in brilliant white. But even though it might look like a Portuguese fishing village, the curious locals surrounded our rickshaws, fascinated with Westerners in this tiny village that elsewhere would have been a touristic mecca.
9. The Temples of Kumbakonam
Kumbeshwara Temple in Kumbakonam.
Kumbeshwara Temple in Kumbakonam.

On first impressions, this town between Pondicherry and Thanjavur seems like any ordinary junction town, but upon close inspection, the rows of fortunetellers and the colourful gopurams peering above indicate there is more to Kumbakonam than meets the eye. The Kumeshwara Temple dates back to the 17th century, and supposedly was made by Lord Shiva itself. The temple opens up into a beautiful pond, where women in red saris take themselves in for a purifying bathe. There are 2 UNESCO World Heritage Chola Temples here, and the Mahamaham Tank, surrounded by 17 pavilions is one of the most sacred sites in the area.

Are you crazy enough to come along for the ride? Then join us on the next Rickshaw Challenge. Then get a team together and lets see you at the starting line! If you want to join us in spirit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Instagram to keep up with our latest antics.


Mumbai Xpress

Deccan Odyssey

Malabar Rampage

Classic Run

Tamilnadu Run

Follow us on Facebook