UC Davis Summer Abroad


Status: Not Offered in 2018

Palaces of the Gods—South India

On Location


Students will stay in shared rooms in air-conditioned hotels.

UC Davis reserves the right to change the accommodation location. Should this be necessary, we will arrange comparable lodging. Please note that elevators, air conditioners and other modern conveniences may not be available in all locations.


Students will share a welcome dinner and farewell meal. While in Pondicherry, students will find a wide variety of options including French-Tamil fusion food. A hot fresh vegetarian meal costs about $2 USD. Restaurants are frequently located in beautifully restored heritage buildings, and prices for a full buffet at a five-star hotel on the coast begin at less than $10 per person. Most hotels will include breakfast.

Excursions and Day Trips

We will visit a number of the most important temple sites in Tamil Nadu. Many of these are places of active worship.

Field-trips are organized for the weekends. Sites included are:

Mamallapuram (Day Trip)

Chidambaram, Cirkali and Swamimalai (Weekend Trip)

The Tanjavur Great Temple, Gangaikondacholapuram, Trichy, Tiruvarur, Darasuram, the world famous Tanjavur bronze museum, Tanjavur palace and darbar hall, and the great Sarasvati Mahal Library with its impressive collection of ancient palm-leaf manuscripts. (Weekend Trip)

Auroville (Day Trip)

Other possible sites are: Tiruvaiyaru, Tranquebar, Panamalai, Pudukottai and/or Sittanavasal.

We will be accompanied on our weekend field-trips by Sikkil Gurucharan, one of the finest young South Indian classical musicians. He will discuss the relationship between music, image and ritual traditions in South India, by singing songs in the South India classical style at each temple site that we visit. In this manner, the beautiful poetry that you study in class and see depicted on temple walls, will be brought alive through the vibrant musical traditions of South India.

Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UC Davis Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UC Davis Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible.  However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Davis. All participants must download and review the following information prior to departure. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.

Study Abroad General Risk Advisory

Program Specific Risk Advisories (PDF)

About India

Pondicherry, a city of over 200,000 residents, is situated on the Bay of Bengal. Known for its beaches, templesmusuems, and festivals, Pondicherry ("Puducherry") is a unique city, where French colonial heritage mixes with Tamil culture and the contemporary spiritual beliefs of many varied groups. Learn more about the history and geography of Pondicherry here. (Pondicherry is also one of the settings in Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, which is currently being made into a movie directed by Ang Lee!)

India in the News

BBC News

A taste for India in world cinema- 10/10/11

India's passion for traditional tea in a clay cup

News from The Hindu, India's National Newspaper:

Filmmaker Ang Lee sings Puducherry's praises

"Where hundred million suns rise..." -1000 years and counting: The Big Temple

Written in stone - Big Temple's inscriptions reveal a King's passion

Thanjavur, Ariyalur boast of world heritage monuments

A Movement for History

Dance, music hold students spell-bound at festival of peace

Vishnu statue unearthed

 The charisma of composers

 When the West moves Eastwards

Crest of Success

Memories of Madras - Shades of a bygone era

The Poetry Of

Restoring Lost Glory

Strokes of Compassion

Connecting with the Romans

Gunning for the first place

Currency: INR, Indian Rupee

Language Spoken: The primary languages include Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam; many residents also speak English and/or French.

Weather and Climate

August will be warm and humid with occasional rain showers. View the current weather in Pondicherry here.

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