Best of South India

(0)
from/per person USD 5,200
  • South India

Destination

Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicheery – Thanjayuvr – Trichy – Madurai – Periyar – Allepey – Cochin

Trip Highlights

South India, almost not having come in contact by invasions throughout its history, has its heritage more intact than any other regions of the country. This land of temples, of having beautiful natural scenery, of architectural marvels, palm-fringed beaches and backwater cruises come let us enjoy a bit of everything!

Highlights:

Chennai: St. George Fort, Parthasarthi Temple, Kapaleeswarar Temple,
Kanchipuram: Kailasanatha Temple, The Sri Ekambarnathar Temple, Dakshinchitra
Mahabalipuram: Arjuna’S Penance, The Shore Temple,
Pondicheery: Auroville Ashram,
Thanjore: The Brihadeeswara Temple,
Chidambaram: The Nataraja Temple, The Palace, Rock Fort Temple, The Jambukeshwara Temple
Madurai: Meenakshi Temple
Kumarakom: Enchanting Villages Of God’S Own Country
Allepey: Houseboat
Cochin: St. Francis Church, Kathakali Dance Performacne


Day Wise Plan

Day 01 : Arrive Chennai TBA

Welcome to India – a country where hospitality is a way of life; to a culture steeped in tradition, a land where history lives in music and dance. You will be received at the airport in a traditional manner and transfer to the hotel.

Overnight in Chennai.

Day 02 Chennai / Mahabalipuram Surface (68 Kms – 02 Hrs)

Today after breakfast you will be taken for sightseeing of Chennai.

Chennai is also famous for Beaches & Temples The Marina beach, stretched over an area of 13 kms, is the second longest beach in Asia. Presently used as the state secretariat, the St. George Fort.One of the many old temples of Chennai is the Parthasarthi Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. visit. Kapaleeswarar Temple, the oldest temple of Chennai, is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Later we proceed to Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram

En route visit the city of Kanchipuram covering Kailasanatha Temple (Dedicated to Siva, Kailasanatha is one of the earliest temples. It was built by the Pallava king, Rayasimha, in the late 7th century, though its front was added later by his son, King Varman III. It is the only temple at Kanchi which isn’t cluttered with the more recent additions of the Cholas and Vijayanagar rulers, and so reflects the freshness and simplicity of early Dravidian architecture) and The Sri Ekambarnathar Temple (It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the largest temples in Kanchipuram, covering nine hectares. Its 59 m high gopuram and massive outer stone wall were constructed in 1509 by Krishna Devaraja of the Vijayananagar Empire, though construction was originally started by the Pallavas and the temple was later extended by the Cholas. Inside are five separates enclosures and a 1000- pillared hall. The temple’s name is said to be a modified form of Eka Amra Nathar — the Lord of the Mango tree. and in one of the enclosure is a very old mango tree with four branches representing the four Vedas. The fruit of each of the four branches is said to have a different taste, and a plaque nearby claims that the tree is 3500 years old).

Post lunch drive down to Dakshinchitra (Roughly translated in this context, means ‘Picture of South India’. It is a depiction of the way of life prevalent in South India. A trip down Dakshinachitra takes you back to traditional home architecture from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Started with the objective to revive, preserve and promote the arts and crafts of South India, it also serves as heritage education for visitors from outside South India and also for children who have never had the opportunity to experience their culture).

Arrive Mahabalipuram in the evening and check-in at your hotel.

Overnight in Mahabalipuram.

Day 03 : Mahabalipuram/Pondicheery Surface (100 Kms – 03 Hrs)

Morning after breakfast you will proceed for a sightseeing of Mahabalipuram. pay a visit to Arjuna’s Penance carved in relief on the face of a huge rock, Arjuna’s Penance is the mythical story of the River Ganges issuing from its source high in the Himalaya. The Shore Temple this beautiful and romantic temple, ravaged by wind and sea, represents the final phase of Pallavas art and was built in the late 7th century during the reign of Rajasimha. It is believed that at one point in time there were seven such temples, six of them were victims to the natural elements of erosion. The most unique feature of the temple is that it houses shrines to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu), Krishna Mandapam there are eight mandapams ( shallow, rock-cut halls ) scattered over the main hill.

Post sightseeing drive down to Pondicherry (Pondicherry was a French colony at one time but in 1954 it was restored to India by the French. Neat & charming, Pondicherry has a beautiful beach & a refreshing sea).

Arrive and check-in at your hotel.

Afternoon to explore Pondicherry. On the eastern side of Indian peninsula, Pondicherry is a seaside resort. But at the same time it differs very much from a typical beach resort. Tourist attractions in Pondicherry lie in its ambiance. Old French style buildings, churches and museums, tree-lined boulevards along the seashore would remind you of a bygone era. The laid back township, pristine beach and the palm trees swaying in breeze bring a slice of serenity. The only sound you can hear is the waves crashing against the rocks and the chirping of the birds. But to cap it all, the Auroville Ashram is the biggest of all tourist attractions in Pondicherry.

Overnight stay Pondicherry.

Day 04 : Pondicheery/Thanjore Surface (153 Kms –04-05 Hrs)

Morning after breakfast visit Pondicherry. The places of attraction are Sri Aurobindo Ashram where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for the most parts of their lives, attracts tourists to this little city, The Pondicherry Museum is home to some of the most exquisite collections on architecture and sculpture. Another interesting site in Pondicherry could be the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pondicherry also has a pleasant beach alongside promenade and historical monuments.

Later in the afternoon we drive down to Thanjore.
En route visit Chidambaram covering The Nataraja Temple located in center of the town, it is one of the most ancient temples of Tamil Nadu. The top roof of the sanctum is covered with gold plates and strings. The presiding deity of the temple is representative of air, one of the five elements of the universe, and is known as ‘Akasa Lingam’. There is a shrine known as Chitrakootam dedicated to lord Govindarajan adjacent to the Nataraja shrine. There are five halls in the temples – Nritha Sabha is the Hall of Immortal Dance. This sabha has fifty pillars depicting dancing figures. Here, the stone pulsates with rhythm and life. Deva sabha is the hall of festivals and meeting place of the administrators. The Raja sabha is the 1000 pillars-hall measuring 103 meters and 58 meters wide where the Pandya, the Cholas and others celebrated their victories and The Kali Temple.

Arrive Thanjavur in the afternoon and check-in at the hotel for overnight stay.

Day 05 : Thanjore/Trichy/Madurai Surface (195 Kms 05-06 Hrs)
Morning after breakfast you will proceed for a tour of Thanjore City.

Pay a visit to The Brihadeeswara Temple (The Brihadeeswara Temple is the main attraction of Tanjore. The massive temple built by Rajaraja Chola reflects the Cholas’ contribution to the development of arts in this area. It is also regarded as the Chola dynasty’s finest contribution to the Dravidian temple architecture. Listed as a World Heritage site, the temple is visited by a large number of people for the regular worship here. The temple is characterised by its unique structure. Unlike the usual South Indian temples, the Brihadeeswara temple has a soaring vimana and a stunted gopuram. It was constructed from a single piece of granite weighing an estimated 80 tonnes and the dome was hauled into place along a 4-km earthwork ramp in a manner similar to the Egyptian pyramids.

A huge Nandi, about 6 m long and 3.7 m high, faces the inner sanctum. The statue of Nandi was created from a single rock piece and weighs 25 tonnes. It is in fact one of the largest statues of Nandi bulls in India) and The Palace (The Palace of Tanjore also makes an important tourist destination. The royal Palace near the massive Brihadeeswara temple is characterized by its vast corridors, large halls, shady courtyards and observation and arsenal towers. Built by the Nayaks in the mid-16th century, the Palace was completed by the Marathas. The Durbar Hall of the palace still retains the grandeur of the bygone era. The palace also functions as a Royal Museum housing a diverse collection of royal remnants, compilations of the early 19th century, the king’s slippers, head dresses and hunting tools).

Post sightseeing drive down to Madurai while visiting Trichy en route.
Pay a visit to The spectacular Rock Fort Temple (The landmark of the city, is on the shores of the Kaveri. It is perched on a massive rocky outcrop at an altitude of 83 m above sea level. The Thayumanaswamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva (the destroyer in the Hindu trinity), is situated halfway to the top. It has a 100-pillar hall and a Vimana covered with gold. On the southern face of the rock are several beautifully carved rock-cut cave temples of the Pallava period), The Jambukeshwara Temple (Dedicated to Lord Shiva, is situated just 2 km east of Srirangam and houses five concentric walls and seven gopurams. Legend has it that an elephant once worshipped the Lord under the holy Jambu tree, and hence the name Jambukeshwara. The principal deity is the Shiva lingam, almost submerged in water, which flows from the subterranean spring in the sanctum sanctorum.

Arrive Madurai in the afternoon and check-in at the hotel for overnight stay.

Day 06 : Madurai

Morning after breakfast, we will take you for a city tour of Madurai covering Meenakshi Temple This temple is the city’s main attraction. This temple is nearly 2000 years old placed in the heart of the old town – a splendid example of Dravidian architecture. The Potrama Raikulam or the Golden Lotus Tank is the place where the Tamil literacy society, called Sangam used to meet to decide the merits of the work presented to them. The temple museum has 985 richly carved pillars and each one surpasses the other in beauty) and Tirumalay Nayak Mahal (This Indo-Saracenic building was constructed in 1523 and was originally four times large are Today).

then back to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 07 : Madurai / Periyar Surface (135 Kms – 4 Hrs)

Morning after breakfast proceed to Periyaar. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Upon arrival check into your hotel. Rest of the time at leisure.

Evening back to the hotel for overnight stay.

Day 08 : In Periyar

Early morning enjoy the boat cruise on Lake Periyar and if you are lucky you could come across a herd of wild elephants or wild boars. Later visits small spice plantation, where we will learn about the many uses of the spices, both in medicine and local cuisine.

Afternoon relax in the hotel or enjoy Ayurvedic massage or learn to cook the Keralite delicacies from the master chef at the hotel.

Overnight stay Periyar.

Day 09 : Periyar /Kumarakom Surface (118Kms – 3 Hrs )

Morning after breakfast, drive down to Kumarakom (Kumarakom is one of the most enchanting villages of God’s Own Country, situated on the banks of the Vembanad Lake. This beautiful hamlet is a pleasing world, wrapped in quaint charm all its own. With soothing backwaters, thick mangrove forests, green paddy fields and ripe coconut groves as its accessories. The land of lakes, canals and paddy fields, Kumarakom transports you to sheer ecstasy).

Rest of the time at leisure. Overnight at your hotel.

Day 10 : Kumarakom/Allepey Surface (45 Kms – 1.30 Hrs )

Today morning drive to Alleppey, Upon arrival check into Houseboat for an Overnight stay The sweeping network of canals honey-combing the town of Alleppey (Alappuzha) has earned for the place its sobriquet – “The Venice of the East”. Small, low-slung country boats are the taxis of this waterland. It is a heart warming sight to see them carry a motley assemblage of cycles, goats, fisher women with cane baskets, school children, toddy-tappers with their knives and pots, duennas in white and gold earings , Syrain Christian priest and the bare-chested boatman apiece.

Overnight at your house Boat.

Day 11 : Allepey / Cochin Surface (70 Kms – 1½ Hrs )

Today morning after breakfast disembark & continue with drive to Cochin.

Check in hotel.

Later we visiting the Dutch palace, the Jewish synagogue, St. Francis church. Also view the Chinese fishing nets. Relax in the afternoon. Later in the evening proceed to the auditorium to witness the famous classical dance performance of “Kathakalli”. “Kathakali” dance which tells stories from the ancient Hindu epics – Ramayana and Mahabarata. Performances begin with the application of elaborate makeup which is based in traditional Ayurvedic principles.

Overnight at the hotel. (Jewish synagogue is closed on every FriDay, SaturDay and Public holiDays)

Day 12 : Cochin Departure TBA

Today we transfer to airport to board the flight to onward destination.


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