Mystical South India

Duration: 17 Nights / 18 Days

Destination Covered: Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Tanjore – Chettinad – Madurai – Thekkady – Kumarakom – Alleppey – Kovalam – Cochin

Day To Day Itinerary

Day 01:    Arrive Chennai
Traditional welcome by our executive on your arrival at Chennai airport followed by transfer to the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel in Chennai.

Day 02:    In Chennai
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning enjoy a half day guided tour of Chennai.

Chennai is the cultural centre of South India. Capital of the modern state of Tamil Nadu, it is the fourth largest city in India as well as the heart of the South Indian film industry.

Begin your tour by visiting Fort St. George. Built around 1653 by the British, it occupies a place of pride and prominence in Chennai. The State Legislature and the Secretariat are located inside this fort. Visit the Fort Museum which hosts a fascinating collection of memorabilia from the days of the British Raj.

The tour ends at Kapaleeswarar Temple, an ancient Siva temple in Mylapore constructed in pure Dravidian style (Please note: Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple premises).

Overnight at the hotel in Chennai.

Day 03: Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram
This morning drive to the impressive temple town of Kanchipuram. Known as the Golden City of a Thousand Temples, it is one of the oldest towns in India and is famous for both its temples and hand-woven silks. The prominent temples of Kanchipuram include Ekambareshwar and Kamakshi.

Late afternoon, drive to Mahabalipuram. Cave temples, rock temples, “chariot” temples, and 7th and 8th century reliefs are carved into the golden stone of the Coromandel Coast have made Mahabalipuram an astonishing UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On arrival, check-in at your hotel.

Overnight at the hotel in Mahabalipuram.

Day 04:    Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
This morning, visit the Mahabalipuram temple complex. A small seaside village, it was once the main port of the Pallava Dynasty between the 5th and 9th centuries. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Mahabalipuram boasts some of India’s most sublime rock-cut art.

Later, drive to Pondicherry. The French ruled this area for 300 years, and today, Pondicherry stands as a living monument of French culture in India. Being a small and quiet enclave of Tamil Nadu, it has imbibed the Tamilian culture.

Upon arrival, check-in to your hotel. Rest of the day free.
Overnight at the hotel in Pondicherry.

Day 05:    Pondicherry
After breakfast enjoy a sightseeing tour of Pondicherry. Begin your tour with a visit to Aurobindo Ashram. Although the Ashram is secluded from the world it forms a vibrant centre of life in a modern urban setting. Continue to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, noted for its Gothic architecture and stained glass panels which depict the entire life of Jesus Christ. Enjoy a walking tour in the old streets. The area retains the French influence with even a few Gallic accents.

Later visit Auroville or the ‘City of Dawn’ which was conceived as a place of research into the ideal of human unity by the Mother, the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo.

Enjoy a Rickshaw Ride through the Old French Quarter.
Overnight at the hotel in Pondicherry.

Day 06:    Pondicherry – Tanjore
This morning drive to Tanjore.

En route visit the 9th century Shiva Temple at Chidambaram. Chidambaram is one of the most ancient and celebrated shrines in India. Also visit Gangaikondacholapuram and Darsuram Temples at Kumbakonam, famous for their Chola architectural style.

Arrive in Tanjore by late afternoon and check-in to your hotel.

Located on the eastern coast of central Tamil Nadu, Tanjore has the distinction of having been the capital of the Cholas, one of the greatest dynasties of the South. Tanjore bears witness to this, being dotted with no fewer than 74 temples, the most famous of which is the Brihadeshwara temple, a World Heritage monument.

Overnight at the hotel in Tanjore.

Day 07:    Tanjore – Trichy – Chettinad
Morning after breakfast enjoy a sightseeing tour of Tanjore visitng the Sri Brihadeshwara Temple built by the great Chola king, Raja I in the 10th century. This World Heritage temple is an outstanding example of Chola architecture. Continue to Tanjore Palace, a vast structure built partly by the Nayaks and partly by the Marathas around 1550 AD.

Later continue the drive to Trichy. Trichy is a blend of history, a pilgrim site and a thriving commercial city. Situated on the banks of the Cauvery River, it was a Chola citadel during the Sangam Age and was also briefly ruled by the Pallavas and the Pandyas. Visit Trichy’s main attraction, the Rock Fort Temple. The fort is the centre of the city and is a remarkable structure that dominates the landscape.

Continue to Srirangam, famous for the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple which is one of the largest temple complexes in India.

And after visiting Trichy we drive further to Chettinad, famous for its fortress-like homes and temples that are architectural marvels. On reaching, check in to your hotel.

Overnight at the hotel in Chettinad.

Day 08:    Chettinad – Madurai
Morning enjoy an orientation tour of the city. Visit Chettinadu Mansion a 100-year-old architectural marvel situated in a quaint little village called Kanadukathan. Following your mansion tour, visit the Antiques Street.

In the afternoon drive to Madurai, tucked snugly into the banks of the sacred Vaigai River. Madurai is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu and is a destination for thousands of pilgrims.

Upon arrival, check-in to your hotel.
Overnight at the hotel in Madurai.

Day 09:    In Madurai
After breakfast we leave for the tour of Madurai city visiting Thirumalai Nayak Mahal. The palace was built in 1636 by Thirumalai Nayakar. A classic example of the Indo-Saracenic style, the piece de resistance of this Mahal is its carved dome outsoars without the support of girders or rafters. The stucco work on its domes and arches is remarkable. The gigantic pillars and structures represent the amazing architectural mastery of Nayak Kings. The courtyard and the dancing hall are being the center of attractions. There are around 248 pillars of each 58 feet tall and 5 feet diameter. Furniture and utensils used by the kings have been exhibited inside the palace.

Madurai is one of the oldest cities of southern India. It has been a center of pilgrimage, for centuries. The Meenakshi temple, the main architectural attraction here, is an excellent example of Dravidian architecture, with gopurams or multi pillared halls, covered from top to bottom, in a profusion of multicolored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. Evening we will witness Bed Chamber Ceremony at Meenakshi temple.

Overnight at the hotel in Madurai.

Day 10:    Madurai – Thekkady
After breakfast at hotel check out and drive to Thekkady. On reaching Thekkady check in to your hotel and relax.

Later in the afternoon proceed for a Spice Plantation Tour. At the hotel you can also enjoy a screening of wildlife movie in the evening.

Overnight at the hotel in Thekkady.

Day 11:    Thekkady – Kumarakom [Surface: 130 kms / 3-4 hrs]
Morning visit the Periyar National Park for viewing the wildlife.

Periyar: The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is more popluar as a tiger reserve. A boat ride on the splendid Periyar lake is the best way to experience the sanctuary. The Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the few places where the chances are pretty high that you will spot an elephant in the wild at close quarters and from the safe confines of a boat. Not just elephant and tiger, but if it’s your lucky day, gaur, masher, otter and other wildlife.
[Boat ride subject to operation]

Later in the afternoon we depart for Kumarakom. On reaching Kumarakom check in to your hotel.
You can swim, go boating or opt for a rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage (at an extra cost).

Kumarakom: An unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with white lilies. Situated on the Vembanad Lake, in this small water world you’ll come across plenty of traditional country crafts, boats and canoes which will take you into the heart of the scenic lake. The resorts nearby offer comfortable accommodation and exclusive leisure options like an Ayurvedic massage, yoga, meditation, boating, angling and swimming.

Overnight at the hotel in Kumarakom.

Day 12:    Kumarakom – Alleppey
Breakfast at the hotel. Around noon you will be transferred to the houseboat boarding lounge where you board into a traditional Kerala Style boat to begin the journey in the boat, through the tropical countryside enchanting backwaters of Alleppey for which Kerala is very famous, while sailing enjoy palm fringed narrow canals winding through the vast expanse of paddy fields and the neat tiny hamlets lined up along either side of the canals are panoramic sights one can never forget. Evening enjoy sunset from the sun-deck of the houseboat. A ride on the houseboat is a fabulous way to explore the fascinating beauty of the backwaters.

Overnight on the Houseboat.

Day 13:    Alleppey – Kovalam
Morning after breakfast disembark from the houseboat at Alleppey and drive to Kovalam beach which is rich with palm trees. The journey through the tropical landscape of Kerala gives a good idea of people living in here. Kovalam beach is one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in India. On arrival Kovalam check in to hotel.

Overnight at the hotel in Kovalam.

Day 14-15: In Kovalam
Breakfast will be at hotel. Enjoy and relax at the beach resort.

Overnight at the hotel in Kovalam.

Day 16:    Kovalam – Cochin
Breakfast at the hotel.

Afternoon drive to Cochin and on reaching there check into your hotel. Balance of the day will be free.

Overnight at the hotel in Cochin.

Day 17:    Cochin
Morning after breakfast proceed for your sightseeing tour of Cochin, now called ‘Kochi’ is the commercial hub of Kerala and a town of great historical importance. It has one of the finest natural harbors and is called the “Queen of the Arabian Sea”. We visit The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry is renowned for its wall murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana. The Jewish Synagogue at the heart of what is locally called the Jew Town. The St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India. The Santa Cruz Basilica originally built in 1557 by the Portuguese. The Chinese fishing nets are huge cantilevered fishing nets believed to have brought to Kochi by Chinese traders.

In the evening we take you enjoy a traditional Kathakali Dance presentation.
Overnight at the hotel in Cochin.

Day 18:    Cochin [Depart]
In time transfer to Cochin airport to connect your flight back home.

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