Vanakkam” and hello from Ampersand’s marketing manager, Sacha, and India sales consultant, Catriona! We hope you enjoy this photo tour of the first 3 days of our research tour of balmy South India. We flew into Chennai and have travelled to Mahabalipuram and down the coast to the picture postcard town of Pondicherry. Keep your eyes on this blog and Facebook – we have got another 13 days out here and will be updating you with our discoveries, photos and videos.

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San Thome Basilica, Chennai

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Trademark Leela glitz and glamour at the newly opened Leela Palace Chennai

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Beautiful bedrooms at the Leela Palace Chennai

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Dreamy beach panoramas from the Leela Palace Chennai

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The swimming pool at the Leela Palace Chennai

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Taj Fisherman’s Cove hotel

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Morning beach walk at Taj Fisherman’s Cove

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The welcoming port city of Mahabalipuram, famous for its carved granite temples

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A stone wall carving at Mahabalipuram portraying a classic pastoral scene

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The Five Rathas of Mahabalipuram. (Click here to view a video of local school kids coming over to say hello)

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The famous Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram

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Maison Perumal hotel in Pondicherry is a serene haven from which to sight-see

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Drenched in Franco-Tamil heritage, the riad-style courtyard layout of Maison Perumal keeps it cool and quiet

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Natural hues and chic furnishings at Maison Perumal

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Fresh and tasty fish curry at Maison Perumal

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The brand new Palais de Mahe, the second CGH Earth property in Pondicherry, along with Maison Perumal

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Lovely light-filled lobby at Palais de Mahe

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Late afternoon stroll along Pondicherry promenade

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Vibrant stalls pop up along Pondicherry beach

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Pondicherry beach fruit cart

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Pondicherry snacks

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Pondicherry

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Faded seaside charm in Pondicherry

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Mahatma Gandhi statue at the heart of the Pondicherry promenade

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We were totally enchanted by the colours and French colonial architecture of Pondicherry

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Pondicherry is a very laid-back and safe town to stroll for hours through sun-dappled streets shaded by big trees

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Nuns walking through Pondicherry

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At the Manakula Vinayagar Temple in Pondicherry, the resident elephant, Lakshmi welcomes you with a blessing (in return for a little snack and some rupees)

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Flower and necklace stall outside the Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Pondicherry

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Is this France or India, you ask? Le Foyer du Soldat in Pondicherry is a legion hall for Indian soldiers who served in French wars

Next stops on the tour: Tanjore, Trichy and Chettinad

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