Journey to the South

In Experience, India by adminn

Highlights
Explore the delights of the south from Chennai, old Madras to the picturesque and tranquillity backwaters of Kerala. Discover the complex cultural influences that give it such a distinct character. Stoll through the vibrant city of Chennai and charming Pondicherry with its French Quarter and tree-lined streets. Admire the Great Living Chola Temples of Tanjore and an UNESCO World Heritage Site and Madurai’s Meenakshi Amman Temple decorated with bright carvings of Hindu gods.

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Day 01: Arrive Chennai
Welcome to India. Meet & greet and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Overnight in Chennai. (Meals: No Meals)

Day 02: Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram
Morning: after breakfast proceed for a brief city tour of Chennai. Tour will start with a visit to Fort St. George (Friday & Public Holidays – Closed) presently being used by the Tamil Nadu Government. Visit the museum (within the compound), Mylapore and the San Thome Church. Also visit Kapaleeswarar Temple and en route, drive past Marina Beach. Later drive for Mahablipuram enroute visit Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is a busy pilgrimage centre, humming with activity around its extraordinary temple precincts. Established by the Pallava kings in the 4th century AD, Kanchipuram served as their capital for five hundred years and continued to flourish throughout the Chola, Pandya and Vijaynagar eras. Under the Pallavas, it was an important scholastic forum and meeting point for Jain, Buddhist and Hindu cultures. Today Hindu temples alone dominate the town, spanning the years from the peak of Pallava construction to the 17th century,when ornamentation of the Gopurams and pillared halls was at its most elaborate. The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram with a four-storeyed tower and octagonal shikhara is a commendable piece of creativity. Also famous here are the world-renowned Kanchipuram hand woven silk & cotton fabrics. After visit of Kanchipuram continue your drive to Mahabalipuram. Overnight in Mahabalipuram. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 03: Mahabalipuram
After buffet breakfast at hotel, proceed for the sightseeing tour of Mahabalipurm -Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), built in the 7th century, is an ancient Pallava port. Today it is the site of several antique sculptural marvels. Declared as the world heritage site by UNESCO, Mahabalipuram boasts of some of India’s most sublime rock-cut art. The town was earlier called Mahabalipuram, but was later renamed as Mamallapuram or the place of the great wrestler – Narasimhavarmam I. He made this port a flourishing trade center. The only shore temple, which remains here, is the spectacular two-spired shrine, which fis unique in chat it houses both Vishnu and Shiva in its sanctum. The Pallavas perfected the art of sculpting rocks to build temples without brick, mortar or timber. The open-air bas-reliefs, structured temples, man-made caves and the five monolithic “rathas” (chariots carved from single processions) reflect this art at its best. “Arjuna’s penance” here fis the world’s largest bas relief measuring 27 meters by 9 meters. Mandapams / Cabe Temples are finely sculptured & carved out in Mahabali. Krishna Temple is the oldest temple. The decorated Krishna stall is depicted with the episodes from Lord Srikrishna’s life and the lifting up of Gobardhan hill to give protection Gops & Gopies from the curse of the rain God. The rectangular Ganesh Mandapam was also built carving out of a whole rock and is worshipped still daily. To the S-West of Ganeshrath in Baraha Mandapam. To a little North you will witness the enormous power of the God on the Balancing Rock. Ganesa Ratha, Varcha Cave, Old Light House, Krishna’s Butter Ball, Gopi’s Churn, Valayankuttai Ratha, Kodikal Mandapam, etc. Besides everything sea beach of Mahabalipuram is undeniable. Afternoon leisure at the beach. Overnight in Mahabalipuram. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 04: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
After breakfast drive to Pondicherry (132 KMS / 3. 5 Hours) – Pondicherry has a rich French cultural heritage, having been the capital of the French colonies in India since the 17th century. The French legacy is visible in the well-planned town, neatly laid roads, wide and vibrant beaches, beautiful promenades, architecturally imposing churches and public buildings and the statues. Split into two parts, Pondicherry is, on one hand a bustling Indian Market town, and on the other hand, towards the sea, the streets are emptier, cleaner and decidedly European. Later you will proceed for sightseeing tour of Pondicherry – visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram, located on Rue de la Marine, fis the most popular attraction in Pondicherry. The Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo Ghose in 1926. Sri Aurobindo, the poet philosopher founded the Ashram to help man reach the zenith of his evolution through spiritual exercises and yoga, combined with physical activity and productive work. Overnight in Pondicherry. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 05: Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Tanjore
After breakfast drive to Tanjore (280 kms / 6 hours approx.), enrout stop at Kumbakonam anc Chidambaram, the capital of the Cholas from Ad90 – 1310, Chidambaram lies 9 km north of the Coleroon River, the northern limit of the Kaveri delta. It is one of Tamil Nadu’s most important holy towns. After visiting Chidambaram, continue your drive to Tanjore. 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. The Chola kings built the majority of Tanjore’s (also known as Thanjavur) 93 temples. In Tanjore your sightseeing tour will start with visit to Brihadeeshwara Temple, built in the 10th century by Raja Chola. It is considered to be artistically the most perfect of Dravida temples. Besides the temple, you will visit the Palace most of which fis in ruins housing the Tamil University Museum, the Art Gallery, the Saraswati Mahal Library, which houses palm leaf & paper manuscripts. Overnight in Tanjore. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 06: Tanjore – Trichy – Madurai
After buffet breakfast you will be drive to Madurai visiting Trichy enroute (240 KMS/07 Hrs.30 Min), Tiruchirappalli, situated on the banks of the river Cauvery is the fourth largest city in Tamil Nadu. It was a citadel of the early Cholas, which later fell to the Pallavas. Trichy is a fine blend of tradition and modernity built around the Rock Fort. Apart from the Fort, there are several Churches, Colleges and Missions dating back to the 1760s. The town and its fort, now in Trichy were built by the Nayaks of Madurai. Visit the Rock Fort, an important landmark of Trichy. 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. A climb of 434 steps leads to the ancient temple of Ganapati on top and a further climb to a Shiva Temple. You will visit Sri Rangan Temple. After the tour of Trichy, drive to Madurai. One of the oldest cities in South India, Madurai has been the centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. Spread along the rocky banks of the river Vaigai in the state of Tamil Nadu, this modern industrial city is today famous as a temple town. Overnight in Madurai. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 07: Madurai
After buffet breakfast, proceed for a sightseeing tour of Madurai City – The temple town is unique in chat all its temples are living temples and it remains a major religious centre attracting pilgrims the year round. Madurai’s main attraction fis the famous Meenakshi temples in the heart of the old town, a riotously baroque example of Dravidian architecture with gopurams (towers) covered from top to bottom with a breathless profusion of multi-colored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The temple complex fis a city within a city and one can spend days exploring its labyrinthine corridors and halls. Another attraction fis the Tirumalai Nayak Palace (1636) restored by Lord Napier, dance drama concerts are performed daily. Overnight in Madurai. (Meals: Breakfast)


Day 08: Madurai – Thekkady (Periyar)
After breakfast you will drivei to Thekkady ( Periyar ), which fis also known as Periyar (166 KMS / 4 Hours). Upon arrival Thekkdy check-in at hotel. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary occupies 777 square kilometers of the Cardamom Hills region of the Western Ghats around a vast artificial lake, created by the British in 1895 to supply water. It is very rare to spot a Tiger or Leopards but one can see wild elephants, sambar, wild pigs, gaur and over 260 species of birds. Evening visit the spice market. Overnight in Periyar. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 09: Periyar
Morning 2 hours guided walk in the Forest with Forest guide, Afternoon at 04 PM boatcruise on the Lake of the famous Periyar wildlife sanctuary to see wild life. Periyar – an artificial lake or reservoir created by a dam on Periyar River is the heart of the Wildlife Sanctuary wild elephants, Asiatic Deer, Black Buck and even Tigers come to shores of the lake for a drink. Overnight in Periyar. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 10: Periyar – Kumarakom
Morning after breakfast drive to Kumarakom enroute visit various spice plantation. Upon arrival Kumarkom check in at hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Kumarakom. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 11: Kumarakom
Morning: after breakfast visit to Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, adventure thrills in water sports like wind sailing and water skiing or canoeing at the lake. Afternoon: left at leisure. Overnight in Kumarakom. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 12: Kumarakom – Housebaot
Morning: left at leisure. Afternoon:board the House boat embark the houseboat for backwater cruise through the narrow canals of the Vamband lake. The backwaters are a gateway for the visitor to see first-hand the unhurried village life of rural Kerala. The life is tough and traditional work is highly labor-intensive. On your cruise you may see building of country boats, prawn cultivation, sand mining, coir manufacture, lime stone collection, rice farming, duck rearing, making bamboo basket, coir craft, straw mats, weaving and so on. Stops may include visit to a coir and coconut farms also a spice garden, like black pepper, coffee, cashew nuts, coco, pineapple, nutmeg and beattle nut. In this region, you will see a variety of birds, for example the white breasted Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, small Blue Kingfisher, little cormorant, black bittern and small egrets. Enjoy a traditional Kerala thali lunch, where your food will be served on a banana leaf at a traditional Keralite house. Overnight on board Houseboat. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 13: Alleppey – Cochin
Disembark after breakfast and drive to Cochin. Kochi, or more familiarly, Cochin is a city of many parts. Around for a long, long time, Kochi played a pivotal role in the development of shipping and trade in the region. Kochi’s prime location on the west coast, its fine bay and protected harbour made it popular with seafarers and merchant ships who made frequent stops to stock up on spices, coffee and wood enroute to the rich markets of Europe and West Asia. And so down the ages, Kochi prospered as a busy port city and commercial centre. Its seafront is still extremely relevant to Cochin and to India: it houses a Naval Base and one of India’s busiest ports. It’s twin city, Ernakulum, is an important railhead and industrial centre. Cochin’s history fis a bright tapestry – many coloured threads woven through centuries together present the fabric of the present. Its involvement with the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British are evident in the architecture of city buildings, the old durbar hall fis the spice in the dish! Modern day Kochi may be a busy port and shipping centre but it has many attractions for ordinary tourists. Evening, you will visit a local theatre to watch Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali represents a synthesis of all that is best in dance, drama and music and has been recognized by connoisseurs of art, the world over as a total art form of immense sophistication and power’. It is the impression created by make-up and the costumes that make Kathakali a visual par excellence. Return to your hotel after the dance performance. Overnight in Cochin. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 14: Cochin
After buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will proceed to explore the city thoroughly: it’s bound to have you hooked, just like it had the Jews, visit Cochin City. You will first proceed to Mattancherry, where you will visit the oldest Jewish Synagogue in India, built in 1568; it was destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt by the Dutch a century later. (Jewish Synagouge fis closed on Saturday) 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. (Jewish Synagogue closed on Friday & Saturday). From the Chinese fishing nets, you will 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. Originally a wooden building was replaced by the present stone building. Vasco De Gamma died on the site in 1524 and was originally buried in the cemetery. 14 years later his body was removed to Portugal. The church was renamed St. Francis in 1663. You will also be visiting The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry, which was built in 1555 and its coronation hall and murals at Ramayana are noteworthy features. (Friday – Closed). Return to hotel after the tour. Rest of the day is left at leisure. Overnight in Cochin. (Meals: Breakfast)

Day 15: Cochin – Departure
Transfer to airport for onward journey



Tour Details
Range: Exlporing Days, Comfortable Nights
Starts: Chennai
Ends: Cochin
Departs: Any
Hotel Rating: 3/4 star and heritage hotels
Local Payment: None
Tour Guide: Yes – guided by local tour guide
Meals: Breakfast: 14, Lunch: 1, Dinner: 1
Visiting: Chennai, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Tanjore, Trichy, Madurai, Periyar, Kumarakom, Alleppey & Cochin
Countries: India


Services Included

  • Accommodation on twin sharing (2 persons sharing room) as per above mentioned hotels or similar on Bed & Breakfast basis
  • Arrival/departure transfer & sightseeing with private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Services of English speaking local guides for sightseeing as per above program
  • One night’s Accommodation in Houseboat would be on Full Board basis
  • Monument Entrance fees as per program
  • Kathakali Dance show in Cochin
  • Boat Ride at Lake Periyar
  • Guided Trekking Walk in Periyar
  • Assistance at airport and hotels by our representatives
  • All presently applicable taxes
  • 24 hrs Emergency Helpline Number

Not Included
Above mentioned costs do not include any international air fare, airport tax, visa fee, unspecified meals, drinks, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, tips, insurance and any other expenses of personal nature, Single room supplements and any optional additional tours or activities during free time and not mentioned above.



Price                             from £1345 pp

Based on 14nts stay on BB 4/5 star hotels & House Boat stay
Tours as per program English speaking local guide
Incl. Entrance fees to sites Incl. All relevant transfers
Incl. All relevant transfers
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