Charms of South India
The Splendors of South India tour can be best defined through mesmerizing hill stations, big temples, lush green forests and best beaches. These four naturally occurring and diverse terrains make up the Southern India. South India is famous for its vibrant culture, delectable food, among other man made marvels. The delicate, intrinsic and detailed architecture are unparallel and cannot be found anywhere else. This tour gives you the right time and destination to enjoy the best of the heritage and tradition of the land. With multiple religion and customs, you can always expect to enjoy a unique celebration, interesting ritual and impeccable hospitality.
|InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort
|Indeco Hotel Swamimalai
|The Elephant Court
|Rainbow Cruises Deluxe Houseboat
|Le Meridien Kochi
B&B:Bed and Breakfast
FB:Full Board – Dinner, Bed, Breakfast and Lunch
Arrive Chennai. On arrival, you will be greeted and assisted by our representative and transferred to Mahabalipuram. On arrival in hotel, check in (Rooms will be available from 1200 hrs)
After breakfast enjoy the sightseeing of Mahabalipuram, which includes the following-
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 panel depicts animal animals, deities and other semi-divine creatures, fable from the Panchatantra, and Arjuna doing a penance to obtain a boon from Siva.
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. This temple has three shrines; one dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the other two to Lord Shiva. The frothy waves form a striking backdrop to the temple, protected by rows of rock-carved bulls. The most unique feature of the temple is that it houses shrines to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
Mandapams - There are eight mandapams (shallow, rock-cut halls) scattered over the main hill, two of which have been left unfinished. They are mainly of interest for their internal figure sculptures. One of the earliest rock-cut temples is the Krishna Mandapam. It features carvings of a pastoral scene showing Krishna lifting up the Govardhana Mountain to protect his kinsfolk from the wrath of Indra. On the hill rests a dangerously balanced boulder named Krishna's Butterball after his legendary affinity for fresh butter.
Five Rathas - These are the architectural prototypes of all Dravidian temples, demonstrating the imposing gopurams and Vimanas; multi pillared halls and sculptured walls, which dominate the landscape of Tamil Nadu.
After early breakfast drive to Kumbakonam enroute visit Pondicherry and Chidabaram.
Pondicherry, a former French colony, presents an unusual combination of European culture and Indian traditions. Its history can be traced back to Agastya, the revered sage of the south who built his hermitage here in 1500 BC. SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM - The foundation of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry is credited to Sri Aurobindo way back in November 1926. Initially the Ashram comprised of only 24 disciples. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry has come a long way from its initial days of inception. It now features among the major places of tourist interest in Pondicherry.
Later drive to Chidambaram and visit The Nataraja Temple, located in centre of the town. It is one of the most ancient temples of Tamil Nadu. The top roof of the sanctrum sanctorum 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 are five halls in the temples - Nritha Sabha is the Hall of Immortal Dance. 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.
After visit drive to Kumbakonam. Kumbakonam is one of the oldest towns in Tamilnadu and is famous for its Mahamaham festival celebrated once in 12 years in the Mahamaham tank. In the 7th Century it was the Capital of Chola Kings. It is called the 'Temple Town' of South India and is picturesquely located amidst the two rivers, Cauvery & Arasalar. On arrival in Kumbakonam, transferred to hotel.
After breakfast visit Darasuram. 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. Darasuram is an ancient town about 380 kms south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu and also boasts a silk weaving centre. The original name of Darasuram was Rajarajapuram, which later got corrupted into Darasuram.
Later enjoy Bullock cart in Kumbakonam village. Evening free at leisure.
After breakfast drive to Chettinad enroute visit Brihadeshwara Temple at Tanjore- Built by Chola king in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in world heritage. On the top of the apex of 63 metres high, a dome is said to be constructed from a single piece of granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones. The dome was hauled into place along a 6 km earthwork ramp in a manner similar to the one used by the Egyptian Pyramids. The temple has been the sense of continuous worship for over thousand years. Only Hindus are allowed inside. IMP: Brihadeshwara Temple remains closed from 1200 to 1600 hrs.
After visit, drive to Chettinad. Chettinad gets its name from the Chettiars, a powerful and prosperous business community whose influence is clearly discernible in the region's culture, crafts and cuisine. The old wealth of the Chettiars can still be seen in the large number of elaborate 19th century mansions they built in a mix of Indian and European styles. Apart from being renowned for its spicy and aromatic cuisine, Chettinad is famous for its crafts, such as the Athangudi handmade tiles and the Chettinad handloom saris.
On arrival in Chettinad, transferred to hotel. The Chettinadu Court has activities designed taking into the fact that you arrive from noisier towns.
After breakfast enjoy sightseeing in Chettinad.
Chettinad Palace: Located in the Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu, the majestic architecture of Chettinad Palace is a beautiful example of the indigenous Chettinad architecture. Adorned with embellishments from all over the world, this mighty edifice dates back to the year 1912. The construction style of the palace also reflects some European influence, which only adds to the regal beauty of the palace. The establishment was built under the guidance of Dr Annamalai Chettiyar, founder of the Indian Bank and the Annamalai University.
Pillaiyarpatti: Named after the Elephant God - Lord Ganesha, the small town of Pillaiyarpatti is famous for the Pillaiyarpatti Karpaga Vinayakar Temple dedicated to the Hindu deity of knowledge and wisdom. In Tamil, Pillaiyar refers to Ganesha. The ancient rock-cut temple is a majestic testament to early Pandyan architecture, and the temple is said to have undergone three stages of growth throughout its history. The town is situated 70 kilometres north-east of Madurai, close to the heritage town of Karaikudi on the state highway 35. The temple building is mainly for its masterful sculpture work, elegant temple complex and a well-adorned shrine, and has fascinated hundreds of thousands of tourists and pilgrims since centuries. With detailed carvings adorning the exterior of the structure, the Pillaiyarpatti Temple makes up for an enchanting view.
Evening enjoy Chettinad Cuisine – Chettinad is well known for its mansions and culinary delicacies. Renowned for aromatic spices and roasted ground masalas the sumptuous authentic Chettinad cuisine tastes best when served on a banana leaf and eaten with your fingers. We will arrange cooking demo with dinner in the hotel.
After breakfast drive to Madurai. On arrival transfer to hotel.
Later visit Meenakshi Temple - This temple is nearly 2000 years old placed in the heart of the old town - a splendid example of Dravidian architecture. The present temple was designed in 1560 by Vishwanatha Nayak and subsequently built during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak. There are four entrances to the temple with an area of six hectares. Each of its 12 towers has the height of 45 to 50 meters. he 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. IMP: Meenakshi Temple remains closed from 1200 hrs till 1530 hrs. Also enjoy Rickshaw ride in vegetable market.
In the evening, attend the evening ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple known as 'Bedtime of the God'. A colourful procession, in which the image of Shiva is carried accompanied by musicians, temple singers and priests from his shrine. Enroute Shiva visits the other deities before entering Parvati's (Meenakshi) temple to sleep with her for the night. This ceremony is worth witnessing.
After breakfast drive to Periyar (Thekkady) . On arrival transferred to hotel. After some rest, visit a Spice Plantation. You will walk through the aromatic spice gardens where the air is laden with the fragrance of nature's bounty. Spices can be defined as “aromatic substances of vegetable origin, used for Flavoring food or as a preservative." Many spices are also known to have medicinal value, for instance turmeric is a known anti-oxidant and curry leaf can control and prevent diabetes.
Drive to Alleppey jetty and embark the houseboat. Experiences begins with a trip through the canals and backwaters which will mesmerize passengers while they discover the traditional beauty and culture of Alappuzha. One will see fine and virgin ravines and rivulets, virgin landscapes, long stretches of winding canals and waterways dotted by tiny hamlets and lush green paddy fields manned by scarecrows and unimaginable village life.
After breakfast drive to Cochin and visit Kumbalanghi village.
Kumbalanghi is a lush green village of Cochin. It is declared as the first model fisheries and tourism village of India which has its own tradition and culture. Most of the villagers are engaged in agriculture and fishing.
After visit drive to Cochin. Cochin has been variously hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea, Venice of Orient, etc. Some choose to call it simply a museum city for its rich past and colorful present. On arrival transfer to the hotel. In the evening enthrall yourself with a special presentation of the colorfully costumed Kathakali Dance Drama in a local theatre. Kathakali is a traditional dance form of Kerala and the impressive facial expressions, hand gestures and dance moves will leave one spellbound.
DAY 11 : END OF ITINERARY
Room will be available till 100 hrs.
Check out and get transferred to the airport to connect onward flight.