Go sightseeing throughout South India for 15 Days and 14 Nights. On your journey you will explore the city of Chennai, the Shore temple, Kanchipuram also known as the Golden City of a Thousand Temples, the Rock Fort, Brihadeshwara Temple and more.
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Day 1: Arrive in Chennai
Upon arrival at Chennai in the evening, you are received by our representative and escorted to the hotel. You are welcomed in the hotel in a Traditional Indian style on arrival and check into the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 2: Chennai
After breakfast you have the morning at leisure to get accustomed to the new time zone.
In the afternoon leave for sightseeing of Chennai. The city served as the economic and political capital of the East India Company from the 17th century onwards. Among the highlights of the city is Fort St George that marks the beginning of Chennai as an important centre for trade. Within the fort is St Mary’s Church, the first English church in India and the oldest British building to survive. We will spend sometime in the Mylapore temple area to visit the 16th century Kapleeswarar temple and the fruit and flower market. We also visit to the Government Museum and Art Gallery, to see the art and bronze gallery, (closed on Fridays and public holidays). Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 3: Chennai – Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) (70 Kms / 2 Hrs)
After a leisurely breakfast we drive to Mamallapuram. It is known for its seventh century rock-hewn monuments.
In the afternoon we will visit Shore temple, a World Heritage Monument is the only surviving one of seven. It is a unique example of a temple built of rock quarried elsewhere and carried to shore. The best-known of the rock carvings is the immense bas-relief which is sculpted in fascinating detail on a huge whaleback-shaped rock, depicts the descent of the Ganges to the earth, the penance of Arjuna and myriad characters from the Mahabharata.
We also visit the Five Rathas, set of monolithic rock temples located on a sandy compound are the perfect examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. The Rathas have an association to the great epic Mahabharata which describes the heroes of Mahabharata with their wife Draupadi which is termed as Pancha Pandava Raths. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 4: Mamallapuram – Kanchipuram – Mamallapuram
In the morning after breakfast, we leave for an excursion to Kanchipuram, one of Hinduism’s seven most sacred cities. This “Golden City of a Thousand Temples” dates back to the early Cholas in the 7th century AD. Only around 70 temples of the original 1000 old temples are still intact and the most famous of them is the Kailasanatha Temple built with sandstone in the early seventh century AD.
Kanchipuram is also known for its silk weaving and a visit to the nearby villages to see the craftsmen at work on their looms is a rewarding experience.
Later return to Mamallapuram and have rest of the day at leisure. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 5: Mamallapuram – Puducherry (125 Kms / 2.5 Hrs)
This morning we drive to Puducherry, the state in which the French held their only colony in south Asia and where we can still experience the Parisian influence in both buildings and lifestyles. En route stop to visit Auroville and guided visit of the Matrimandir, an experimental community developed in the 1960’s and Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community guided by the founder (Sri Aurobindo) and his associate, the Mother.
In the afternoon, we drive past Raj Nivas. Visit the Romain Rolland Library and the Pondicherry museum (closed on Monday). We will also visit a paper factory.
Finally enjoy a leisurely walk in the French Quarter of old Puducherry. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 6: Puducherry – Thanjavur (184 Kms / 4 Hrs)
Today after breakfast we drive Thanjavur (Tanjore) en route stop to visit Gangaikondacholapuram. (we reach in time to see the Morning Prayer ceremony at the temple at 11AM) It is architectural work of genius. In the early 11th century, the temple got built by Rajendra Chola, who was the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola. According to legends, King Rajendra Chola on one of his expeditions, brought the water from the Ganges in a golden pot and consecrated the reservoir ‘Ponneri or Cholaganga’. That’s the reason behind the name “Ganagai kondan” meaning the one who brought the Ganges. The temple was erected to extol the accomplishments of a combatant king. Gangaikondacholapuram is a tribute to the architects and artisans, who created this spectacular testament.
Next in our program is the visit of Darasuram Temple, A ‘Sculptor’s dream in stone’, musical pillars, mandapam in the shape of a chariot, a wealth of sculpture and painting are synonymous with Airavateshvara Temple. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is a well-preserved example of 12th century Chola architecture.
After the visit, we continue drive to Thanjavur. Check-in at the hotel upon arrival. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 7: Thanjavur – Trichy – Thanjavur (60 Kms / 1.5 Hrs)
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we take a drive to Trichy; first we visit Amma Mandapam (Cauvery River) where every morning 7 AM to 11 AM people come perform 1st death anniversary rituals.
Later we visit Srirangam, the abode of the Supreme Lord, Sri Ranganatha, and the reclining form of Lord Vishnu, is situated in an island surrounded by the revered river Cauvery. Lush green mango groves, banana gardens, Coconut groves add color to the island. Srirangam is the foremost among the eight shrines of Lord Vishnu. It is one of the most important among the 108 pilgrim centres in the whole of India. The shrine has glorious spiritual and cultural heritage and is held in great reverence by all Hindus. The entire complex is full of architectural marvel.
We continue our visit to 83 metres high Rock Fort. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3.800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. The sheer abruptness of its rise is a thrill in itself, but the actual centre of attraction is not the fort itself, of which very little remains, but the temple at the summit.
At top of the rock you will visit the ancient temples dedicated to Lord Ganapathi, 434 steps cut out into the rock side and interspersed with shrines, lead to the temple, yet another flight leads to the temple of Lord Shiva. Visit Tayumanasvami Temple (from outside only, foreign tourists are not allowed inside the temple), dedicated to Shiva, which has golden Vimana & a Lingam which have beautifully carved pillars & panels. The ascent is climaxed by magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River.
After the visit, we drive to Thanjavur. Here first we visit Brihadeshwara Temple, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, built in the 10th century by Chola king Rajaraja 1 is a classic example of Chola architecture. The inner sanctum and gopuram of the temple was constructed in 12years from a single piece of granite weighing around 80 tonnes. The Raja Museum and the Art gallery with a large collection of Chola sculptures in bronze and granite is a must visit for artifact lovers. The Sarawati Mahal library contains over 40,000 rare books and palm leaf inscriptions in Indian and European languages. Overnight is at the hotel.
Day 8: Thanjavur – Chettinad – Madurai (180 Kms / 5 Hrs)
In the morning after breakfast we drive to Madurai en route stop at Chettinad to visit some of the fine Mansions, built on a rectangular, traversal plot that stretches across two streets with the front door opening into the first street and the back into the second. Looking in from the main threshold, your eye travels in a straight line across a series of inner courtyards, each a diminishing rectangle of light, leading out to the back door.
Lunch today will be served in an authentic style on a banana leaf at the The Bangala Hotel. After lunch, we drive to Madurai. Check in at the hotel upon arrival.
After early dinner, we leave for Meenakshi Temple to witness the daily prayer ceremony when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bed chamber of Parvati. The procession is accompanied by prayer and temple music. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 9: Madurai
Morning after breakfast we leave for city sightseeing tour of Madurai. We start with the tour with the visit of Tirumala Nayak Palace — a gracious building in the Indo-Saracenic style, famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches.
From here you enjoy a Rickshaw Ride through the busy markets of Madurai, pass through the fruits and vegetable markets. Next we visit Meenakshi Temple, an enormous temple complex dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati or Meenakshi. The temple with its majestic stonewalls and 12 towers known as ‘Gopurams’ rising out of the swarming streets of the city center were built in the 17th century by Nayak rulers. The high point of the Meenakshi temple is Hall of a “Thousand Pillars”, built in the 16th century; every pillar sculptured in Dravidian architecture. Not to be missed here are ‘Musical Pillars’. Each pillar when struck produces a different musical note.
Later in the afternoon after lunch we drive to visit Weavers Village. This story goes back to 800 years ago, when artisans of Saurashtra migrated to Madurai region of Tamil Nadu in late 16th century. The artistic traditions of Saurashtrain artisans flourished under the patronage of Nayak Kingdom and the migratory artisans created their space and place in the Kingdom.
This confluence of two distinct local cultures gave a new meaning and identity to many craft practices. Saurashtrain artisans carried the age old technique of resist dying and weaving methods from their ancestors. This tradition followed for several hundred years and was passed on from one generation to another generation. The resist textile methods such as tie and dye and batik are still practiced in Madurai, although, the number of artisans has reduced drastically in past few decades because of the socio-economic condition of weavers. The tie-dye technique travelled from west to south; however nobody knows how the name changed to Sungdi from Bandhini.
Return to the hotel for overnight.
Day 10: Madurai – Periyar (160 Kms / 4 Hrs)
Check out from the hotel after the breakfast and drive to Periyar. Check-in at the hotel upon arrival.
After the lunch in the afternoon, explore spice plantations at Periyar by 4×4 jeep. This exotic land reminds of a colorful impressionistic painting stirred to life as if by a miracle. Thekkady’s fantabulous landscape is diffused with exotic spice plantations, green carpets of endless tea gardens and lush tropical forests. Garbed in vibrant hues and bountiful gifts of nature, Thekkady offers a perfect romantic escapade into the soothing laps of Mother Nature. We return to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 11: Periyar – Alappuzha (150 Kms / 4 Hrs) – Kumarakom (By houseboat)
After breakfast at the hotel, you will drive to Alappuzha and board the houseboat and sail though backwaters towards Alappuzha for an overnight backwater cruise. The boat cruise takes you to small islets and you get glimpses of village at the best of its serenity and innocence. Watch village girls picking mussels or laundering clothes or pots on the small ponds in front of their house, while men folk are busy plucking coconuts, dates from the trees. Watch the village folk make the golden fiber called coir from coconut husk and transform it into various coir products. Rustling coconut groves abound. So stop over to drink calm fresh coconut water from the kernel and watch the toddy-taper tap at work. You can see birds like kingfishers, pheasants, cormorants, drogues, wood pecker, Bee-eater and kite. Freshly cooked lunch will be served on the houseboat.
Cruise will culminate at Kumarakom, where you will deboard and check-in to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 12: Kumarakom
Relax and unwind in the pristine surroundings of exotic countryside landscape of Kumarakom. Enjoy afternoon cruise on Vembanad Lake with lunch on traditional houseboat (by your own). Vembanad Lake is the largest lake in Kerala. It is India’s longest lake too as the vast expanse of water runs from Kochi in north to Alappuzha in south. It invites migratory birds from all parts of the world. Pathiramanal is one of the islands in Vembanad Lake. Pathiramanal means the ‘sand of night’. The 10 acre island houses an aquarium and a zoo. Some of the exotic types of migratory birds can be seen here. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 13: Kumarakom – Kochi (60 Kms / 1.5 Hrs)
Check out from the hotel after breakfast and drive to Kochi. Check-in at the hotel upon arrival and have time at leisure till afternoon.
In the afternoon enjoy an introduction to Keralan Syrian Christian cuisine followed by lunch at the residence of Nimmy Paul. Nimmy is a cookery instructor with more than 10 years’ experience, teaching traditional Kerala cuisine to visiting travelers. Overnight stay is at the hotel.
Day 14: Kochi
After breakfast at the hotel leave for a guided tour of Kochi city. We visit St. Francis Church which is considered the first European Church in India, built in 1562 by St. Francis; this is India’s oldest European-built church. Continue on to Mattancherry Dutch Palace (closed on Friday & Public holiday), a double-storied palace. The most important feature of Mattancherry Palace is the murals in the bedchambers, which depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata. These murals are some of the most beautiful and extensive, one of the wonders of India. Proceed to the Jewish Synagogue (closed on Saturdays), which was constructed in 1568 and is the oldest in commonwealth. While driving along the coastline, at the Harbour’s mouth, one can also view the unique and still-in-use “Chinese Fishing Nets” which were introduced by the Chinese traders in the 14th Century. The tour ends in the Fort Kochi area where you can walk through the historical Dutch and Portuguese buildings. Some parts of this nearly 500-year-old Fort are still amazingly well preserved.
In the evening you will witness Kathakali Dance Show, India’s most spectacular Dance Drama based on stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The dancers are elaborately made up with paint and masks, accompanied with drummers and musicians. We reach the theatre early to get a chance to see the dancers getting ready for the show and their faces being painted. We return to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 15: Kochi – Journey Home
After breakfast check out from the hotel and drive to Kochi airport to board your flight back home.
- Assistance on arrival/departure at the airport by our office representative
- 14 night’s accommodation on sharing Twin room on bed & breakfast basis at all places
- Arrival/Departure transfers, sightseeing, excursion as per program using Air Condition Transportation
- Entrance Fee for visit as per program
- Rickshaw ride in Madurai to explore local Bazaars
- 1 Lunch at the The Bangala Hotel in Chettinad
- Evening Aarti Ceremony at Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
- Plantation tour by Jeep in Periyar
- Lunch at Spice Farm in Periyar
- Day Cruise with lunch on the backwaters in Alleppey
- Dinner with Indian Family “Nimmy Paul” in Kochi
- Kathakali Dance Show in Kochi
- English Speaking local guide as per the visits of the program
- Indian Government service tax (GST)
Rates do not include:
- Any airfare, airport taxes
- Any other expenses incurred due to unforeseen & unavoidable circumstances
- Expenses of personal nature like telephone bills, laundry, drinks, tips, etc