Getting There & Away -- Trichy is the major hub in the area and you can fly into Trichy airport from major southern cities (including Chennai or Trivandrum and Kozhikode, in Kerala). Trichy airport is 8km (5 miles) from the city. Chennai is 7 hours away by road; slightly quicker by train -- several daily trains then also connect Trichy with Madurai. From Pondicherry, the fastest way to get to Trichy is by hired car; it's a good 3-hour drive. Alternatively, you can travel by bus, or via train from Villapuram. Thanjavur lies 50km (31 miles) east of Trichy; either hire a car or travel by separate train for the 1-hour journey.
The Chettinad region is connected by road and train. It lies about 1 1/2 hours from Thanjavore (2 hr. by car from Trichy), and 2 hours from Madurai, making it an ideal overnight stop between Thanjavore and Madurai.
Visitor Information -- Government of Tamil Nadu Tourism Department (1 Williams Rd., Cantonment [Trichy]; tel. 0431/246-0136; Mon-Fri 10am-5:45pm) can supply you with information, maps, and brochures. Thanjavur's tourist office (Hotel Tamil Nadu Complex Jawan Bhavan; tel. 04362/230-984; Mon-Fri 10am-5:45pm) provides good information on local sights and can help you with transport. Your best source of local information in Chettinad region is your host.
Getting Around -- This is definitely one area where it is worthwhile to hire a car and driver. If you've arrived in Trichy by train or plane, do this through your hotel or the tourist information center. You can manage to see Srirangam and Brihadeshvara Temple in a single, exhausting day, leaving for Madurai or Chettinad region the following day.