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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Tales of gods, kings and daily life in Chennai’s oldest district

The Peacock Trail takes place in Mylapore, a neighbourhood that’s much older than the city itself…

By Lakshmi Shankar
Head of Operations and Storyteller at Storytrails

The Peacock Trail was the first tour that we designed in 2007 when Storytrails was launched. It takes place in Mylapore in the heart of Chennai, a neighbourhood that’s much older than the city itself. When the British arrived it was a village with pretty houses and ancient temples dating from the time when it was an important port for the Pallava empire, and today it’s a perfect place to show people something of the way of life in the city.

We are a bunch of people from different walks of life: writers, artists, musicians, corporate people, bankers, historians, all with a deep interest in the city and a passion to tell its stories, of which there are so many. A lot of them are connected to the Kapaleeswarar temple, where we start the trail. It’s a very famous temple of Shiva, the Hindu god, so we focus a bit on the architecture – on how it looks chaotic, but there’s actually a method to the madness of the entire structure. But we also tell stories about what happens inside a temple, from why everyone walks clockwise around it to why people smash coconuts here or ring a bell.

Afterwards, we wander through Mylapore’s tiny lanes, which are lined with small houses that were built almost 500 years ago. We talk about the history of those houses and the patterns drawn on the ground outside them and the evil eye that the owners hang outside. There’s a bazaar, and a huge temple tank built on land donated by the Muslim ruler at the time, which is a nice tale, and a house belonging to the family of a Brahmin priest, which has some fascinating features. And we finish in Sao Thome or Santhome, the old Portuguese settlement, at a beautiful church with some unusual decorations.

We work hard to make sure all our trails are immaculately researched and that we tell only the most interesting stories and, going by our positive reviews, our guests really appreciate that.

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Alfred & Lakshmi Shankar

Commerce graduate Lakshmi Shankar trained as a Montessori teacher before going on to work in the British Council in Delhi for four years as a storyteller in their library section. After moving to Chennai, she initially taught in a leading local school, but when Storytrails was founded she realised its ethos was so close to her heart that she joined the company at once.