Getting into Coimbatore from Bengaluru is a breezy drive, courtesy the great highway roads. And on a recent holiday I discovered some of its many layers that straddle everything from history, culture, spirituality, and more.
Since I was staying on Avinashi Road, my first stop was the GeeDee Car Museum that I had spotted as I had seen a car perched on a height outside the museum that was a clear showstopper. After paying the entrance fee, I take a small flight of stairs to reach the basement and I am quite blown away seeing the immaculately maintained array of cars here. The collection of cars belongs to GD Naidu, a well-known industrialist from the region whose passion was automobiles. Impressed by the engineering finesses of German automakers, he would also take classes on the workmanship involved in cars.
Apart from admiring the cars, the museum is a place that allows you to understand the technology and the people behind the vehicles. The cars here have been carefully restored and you can see that when you are here. The cars are clearly categorised so you have sections for Unique Cars, British Cars, German Cars, French Cars, American Cars, Japanese Cars, Spanish Cars, and Indian Cars. There are detailed infographics on each car as well. When here, do not miss the Benz Motorwagen said to be the first ever car in the world and the Ford-T, the first mass produced car in the early 1990s. I also suggest you get your dose of history at the small Government Museum that has a collection of ancient stone sculptures, old coins from different countries, wood and bamboo articles used by tribals, zoological specimens, palm leaf manuscripts and ancient burial earthen pots.
Find your inner peace
If you are looking for some 'me time', I suggest you head to the Isha Foundation at Velliangiri Foothills, which is on the outskirts of the city. A space that is meant to explore the ancient science of yoga in a holistic sense, this is open for all and is founded by Sadhguru—Jaggi Vasudev—often called a modern-day spiritual Guru, whose teachings are not tied to any specific religion. The centre offers yoga programs for inner transformation and is also involved in a host of social, environmental, and educational projects. Their customized system of yoga, called Isha Yoga, is aimed at physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. You can also shop at the in-house store for books, clothes and other accessories.
Coimbatore is home to many ancient temples whose architecture is intricate and worth seeing. The Arulmigu Patteeswarar Swamy Temple for instance is not just very old but also a historical landmark that dates to the Chola dynasty. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, there are gigantic pillars carved with manifestations of gods and goddesses that are a sight to behold. The Arulmigu Avinashi Lingeshwarar temple is another old temple that hosts the annual Panguni Uthiram festival in April every year. Do not miss the imposing 100 feet, seven storied temple tower that is sculpted with beautiful figures when you are here. I also recommend a stop at the Palamalai Ranganathar Temple located on a hillock that has a water tank, whose holy waters are believed to cure people of health issues. You can round off your visit with a stop at the Arulmigu Koniamman Temple dedicated to Koni Amman, a Goddess meant to be the harbinger of good health and wealth.
One of the best ways to discover the local arts, textiles and crafts is to shop at the local markets. The Town Hall market, the largest, has a range of apparel, footwear, books, furniture, electronics, and more. Stop at the local vegetable market, the largest wholesale market in Coimbatore. A morning pitstop at the flower market is highly recommended as you can see a great variety of local flowers and it is guaranteed to give you a colourful start to the day. If you are looking for the famed handloom cotton saris of the region, a stop at Oppanakara Street and Cross Cut Road is the best. However, you must be prepared to brave the crowds. Brookefields Mall and Fun Republic Mall are the new age shopping centres to check out.
The city is a potpourri of cuisines and to try a traditional breakfast stop at Sree Annapoorna that has several branches across the city where crispy masala dosas, fluffy idlis, and strong filter coffee are a must. Shree Anandhaas is a great place to try a traditional vegetarian thaali where you can also buy sweets and savories as a food souvenir. Cream Centre that serves Italian, Chinese, Mexican and North-Indian food and Haribhavanam that serves local Kongunad specialties are other must try eateries. Bird on Tree, one of the most Instagram-able restaurants has a rooftop dining space and offers a fine selection of European and North Indian fare.