Starting out at Chennai, the itinerary journeys through the two southern states of Tamil Nadu & Kerala to take you to some of the most well-known places. It would not be far from the truth to assert that vast diversity that is South India cannot be encapsulated in one itinerary. However, at risk of leavening out cities and sites that are in no way secondary, we have attempted to capture the flavour of region as a curtain raiser that will tease & tantalize you into returning to uncover the details.
- Travel in comfort with knowledgeable guides All transfers, excursions and sightseeing tours will be by air-conditioned car with services of an English speaking guide
- Visit memorable lovations and monuments Enjoy visits to a Spice Plantation and visit many fantastic monuments including Thirumalai Nayak Palace in Madurai
- Enjoy various activites During your tour in wonderful India you will have a chance to enjoy various activities including a boat ride at Periyer National Park
The tour starts in Chennai and finishes in Cochin and comprises 08 nights and 09 days
- Chennai: St. Fort George and Museum.San Thomas Church and Kapaleeshwara Temple
- Mahbalipuram: Shore Temple & Dakshina Chitra
- Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Sacred Heart Church
- Tanjore: Sri Brahadeeswara temple, Tanjore Art Gallery
- Madurai: Meenakshi Temple and Thirumalai Nayak Palace
- Thekkady: Visit to Spice Plantation, Common boat ride at Periyer National Park
- Cochin: St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Synagogue, Dutch Palace and Kathkali Dance
Day 1 - Arrival in Mumbai
You will arrive at Mumbai’s International Airport where as you will be in transit co connect flight for Chennai
Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection, a representative will meet you as you EXIT the ARRIVALS TERMINAL building after which you would be transferred to your hotel.
Upon arrival at the hotel, proceed for check-in at the hotel.
The East India Company established its presence in southern India on the Bay of Bengal in 1639 with the establishment of Fort St. George. The city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras, grew up around the fort area. It now serves as the capital of Tamil Nadu and is the fourth largest city in India, with over six million inhabitants. It sprawls over a large area yet, in spite of recent industrial growth, seems less congested than other large Indian cities. Its role as a trade centre is furthered by rail, road, and air connections in addition to its seaport. It presents both modern and traditional charm, its many British influences juxtaposed with Tamil-Hindu traditions.
Afternoon start your half day tour of the city by visiting - Start with the visit to Fort St. George (closed on Fridays & Public Holidays), which is presently, is being used by the Tamil Nadu Government. Within the compound is a museum holding many remembrances of the East India Company and the British period. From the British hold of centre, you will proceed to Mylapore, which was inhabited in the 16th century by the Portuguese; visit the San Thome Church, named for the Christian disciple (“Doubting Thomas”) who lived and taught here in the first century. Also visit Kapaleeswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva; it dates back to the 13th century CE and is the biggest temple in Chennai. Drive past the famous Marina Beach; it is the second longest beach in the world, stretching for several kilometers.
Stay overnight in Chennai.
Day 2 - Chennai to Pondicherry
This morning we will drive you to Pondicherry stopping enroute at Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuran
Upon arrival in Kanchipuram straightaway proceed for sightseeing of Kailasanatha Temple having a four-storied tower and octagonal shikhara, it is a commendable piece of creativity. Now proceed to one of the Handloom Workshops in the city producing the world–renowned hand woven silk sarees. Most of the city's workforce is involved in this weaving industry.
Thereafter continue your drive to Mamallapuram Enroute visit Shore Temple & Dakshina Chitra.
The Shore Temple: Though known as the land of Seven Pagodasm, there is only one remaining today. The five-storied Shore Temple on the sea beach was built by the Pallava King Raja Singha at the end of seventh century in pure Dravidian sculpture. This temple was the last work of Pallava dynasty. Guarding the temple is Lion-King Nandi or the row of Oxens. Recently, Shore Temple complex has been enlisted in the recorded history of World Heritage. This is one of the oldest temples in South India
Continue your drive to Pondicherry and check-in at the hotel.
Pondicherry, a former French colony, presents an unusual combination of European culture and Indian traditions. It became a part of India in 1954, but traces of its history as a French colony still remain in its churches, cuisine, grid-pattern streets and some colonial buildings. An added attraction is the town of Auroville, an oasis of peace and enlightenment.
Spend the rest of the evening at leisure. Stay overnight in Pondicherry.
Day 3 – Pondicherry to Tanjore
Today morning after breakfast, enjoy the half day city tour of Pondicherry visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram founded by the philosopher-saint Sri Aurobindo in 1926 to put into practice his ideals of a peaceful community. Its spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science. It is also his final resting place. Also visit the Pondicherry museum, which has sculptures, archaeological finds, and memorabilia of the French colonists. See the Sacred Heart Church with its Gothic architecture and stained glass windows. Also visit Pondicherry Museum and Sacred Heart Church.
Later drive for Tanjore Enroute visit Gangaikonda Cholapuram
In the early 11th century, the temple got built by Rajendra Chola, who was the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola. The voluptuous temple stands next to the famous Brihadisvara temple at Tanjore. Gangaikonda Cholapuram is regarded as the reproduction of Brihadisvara Temple that was built by Rajaraja Chola, father of Rajendra Chola. Gangai Konda Cholapuram was erected to outshine the temple made by the father. The temple is renowned for having the biggest Shivalingam in the Southern part of India.
Upon arrival in Tanjore, check-in at the hotel.
About a thousand years ago, Tanjore, or Thanjavur was the capital of the powerful Chola dynasty. Today, it is the little town set amidst the lush green rice fields of the Cauvery delta. Magnificent temples still bear witness to the splendour of Chola architecture. Upon arrival, proceed for check-in at your hotel.
Spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
Travelling Distance approx. 130 Kms – Driving Time approx. 03 hours
Day 4 – Tanjore to Madurai via Trichy
Today morning after breakfast, enjoy the half day sightseeing of Tanjore - visit the famous Brihadisvara Temple also known as the “Big Temple” that was built between 985 and 1012 AD by Rajaraja I and is a World Heritage monument. It is a magnificent structure with a 14 story high vimana, a towered sanctuary that houses the main deity. A dome carved from an 80-ton single block of granite tops the vimana. An enormous Nandi bull, the traditional vehicle for Shiva guards the entrance to the main sanctuary. According to legend, the Nandi Bull grew every year until it was threatening to overwhelm the temple. Ultimately a nail was driven into its back to prevent its growth. Built mainly of granite, the temple has superb inscriptions and sculptures of Shiva, his consort Durga and Vishnu. On three sides of the sanctuary are huge sculptures of Shiva in three forms: Nataraja the dancer with 10 arms; Shiva seated with a sword and a trident; and Shiva bearing a spear. There are also 81 carvings showing the various poses of the classical Bharat Natyam poses, which is the first record of any classical dance form in this manner.
Later drive to Madurai visiting Trichy Enroute.
Mentioned by Ptolemy in the 2nd century BC, Tiruchirapalli or Trichy as it is commonly referred to was built mainly by the Nayaka kings who saw the advantage of its strategic position at the head of the delta of the Cauvery river. Its name is traced to a story about a demon Trisiras who terrorized man and gods until he was overpowered by Shiva at Tiruchi.
All the temples here are built along the Rock Fort, which stands on an 84m high rock. As you climb up the 437 rock cut temples to the Vinayaka Temple, you pass the original 11th century defense line and the remains of a 1000-pillared hall. Further up is a hundred pillar hall and at the end of the last flight is the Tayumanasvami Temple dedicated to Shiva, which has a golden vimana, which houses the main deity. There are also beautifully carved pillar and panels.
Upon arrival in Madurai, check-in at the hotel.
Most cities in India have a legend surrounding its origins. Madurai is no exception, and the story tells how Shiva looked down on this city and drops of nectar fell from his locks and so it was named Madurai, or city of nectar. Ancient Madurai was a center of Tamil culture, famous for its writers and poets and the history goes back to the 6th century BC when it traded with Greece and Rome. The Nayakas laid out the old town in the pattern of a lotus with narrow streets surrounding the Minakshi Temple at the center.
Spend the evening at leisure. Stay overnight in Madurai.
Day 5 - Madurai
Today visit the magnificent Minakshi Temple that is an outstanding structure dedicated to Minakshi the “fish eyed goddess” and the consort of Shiva who also has a temple dedicated to him. Since Minakshi is the presiding deity, the daily ceremonies are first performed at her shrine. This is a living temple and each shrine has priests performing rituals in front of them and there is also a temple elephant. The temple is entered through massive gopurams or gateways profusely covered in very colorful carvings, which are believed to be an encyclopaedia of Indian dance poses. The mandapas surrounding the main shrine have exquisitely carved pillars and panels. Of note is the panel showing the marriage between Shiva and Minakshi and another showing Shiva in 24 forms.
Also visit the elegant Thirumalai Nayaka Palace that was built in 1636 in the Indo Mughal style, its 15 domes and arches are adorned with stuccowork. Its Celestial Pavilion, an arcaded octagonal structure, is curiously constructed in brick and mortar without supporting rafters.
The original complex had an armory, a theatre, royal quarters and a shrine. Only a quarter remains since Thirumalai’s grandson removed sections to build another palace in Tiruchirapalli.
Late evening revisit the Temple to attend the night ceremony at the temple. This is a ceremony that takes place every evening when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bedchamber of Parvati. The procession is accompanied by religious prayer and temple music.
Day 6 – Madurai to Thekkady
Today morning after breakfast drive to Thekkady & check-in at the hotel.
Periyar forest of Thekkady is well known for wild life sanctuary, situated on the banks of Periyar Lake and also known for diversity of wildlife and scenic beauty, which attracts visitors from all over the world. It is situated on the high ranges of the Western Ghats which is covered by dense evergreen forests and savannah grass land. The Periyar wild life sanctuary offers a fairy good chance to seeing the herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques & Nilgiri langurs in its natural habitat.
In the afternoon proceed for common boat ride at the Lake Periyar. The Periyar Tiger Reserve and National Park - Established in 1934 as the Nelliampatty Sanctuary, the park was enlarged in 1950 and is India's southernmost tiger reserve. The lake covers some 10 sq. miles and most of the sanctuary is undulating. Since boat travel is the only means of transport in the park, large areas can be covered in a short time. Among the game found here are gaur (the largest of the world's wild oxen), elephant, wild pig, sambar, barking deer, mouse deer, the rare and endangered lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri langur, the common langur and the bonnet macaque, porcupine, Malabar squirrel, wild dog and tiger.
Stay overnight in Thekkady
Day 7 – Thekkady – Cochin
In the morning proceed for a guided walk through spice plantation to see the cultivation of cardamom, pepper, vanilla and coffee.
Later drive to Cochin, for check-in at hotel.
Cochin (Kochi) is spread across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the Backwaters. The city was founded in 1341 when a flood created a natural safe port which became the principal harbour for Malabar Coast’s spice trade.
Spend the evening is at leisure. Stay overnight in Cochin.
Day 8 – Cochin
Today morning after breakfast, enjoy the half day sightseeing of Cochin.
You will first proceed to visit the oldest Jewish Synagogue in India, built in 1568; it was destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt by the Dutch a century later. From Jewish Synagogue you will visit Chinese fishing nets. The cantilevered fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour mouth. Chinese traders are believed to have originally introduced them in the 14th century although, today parts of the nets are known by Portuguese names. You will then visit St. Francis Church, originally named after Santo Antonio and dedicated to him as the Patron Saint of Portugal, St. Francis Church is the first church to have been in the new European influenced tradition.. You will also be visiting The Dutch Palace (Closed on Friday) at Mattancherry, which was built in 1555 and its coronation hall and murals at Ramayana are noteworthy features.
In the evening witness a classical Indian dance show - Kathakali. Kathakali (Katha means story and Kali means play) is the classical dance drama of Kerala, which dates from the 17th century and is rooted in Hindu mythology. It has a unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. Kathakali is a traditional ritualistic art forms used for centuries to preserve the stories of Vedas. Elaborate costumes and gesture makes the Kathakali dancers something special to be hold.
Stay overnight in Cochin.
Day 9 - Departure Cochin
In time a representative will meet you and assist you to transfer from the hotel to the airport for your flight back home.
Luxury Sights and Sounds of the South
- Day 1Arrival in Mumbai
- Day 2Chennai to Pondicherry
- Day 3Pondicherry to Tanjore
- Day 4Tanjore to Madurai Via Trichy
- Day 5Madurai
- Day 6Madurai to Thekkady
- Day 7Thekkady to Cochin
- Day 8Cochin
- Day 9Departure Cochin
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