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The most iconic temple towns of Tamil Nadu plus a taste of Kerala. Explore the massive temples in Madurai, Trichy, Thanjavur, Chidambaram and Mahabalipuram. Then crown your adventure enjoying the nature and culture of Kerala's hotspots.
Arrival at Mahabalipuram and overnight at the hotel.
Enjoy a cultural tour to the temple-dotted beaches and lanes of Mahabalipuram with an excursion to nearby Kanchipuram, one of the seven holy cities for Hindus.
We will start with a visit to the UNESCO-listed Shore Temple and the Five Rathas temple complex. Carved in the 7th century from one single rock, these masterpieces feature some of the most detailed stonework in South India. Dubbed as "India's stone-carving capital", the sculpturing artistry in Mahabalipuram has endured into our days, with a large number of its inhabitants working in the hand-made production of thousands of stone sculptures.
After visiting Mahabalipuram continue to the bustling Kanchipuram, a major pilgrimage center and South India's silk capital. Temples to visit include the Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Kailasanathar Temple and Ekambareshwara Temple, which stands among the most important temples built for the god Shiva.
|Mahabalipuram → Kanchipuram||26 km||45min|
Today we will start our temple journey across South India driving to the city of Thanjavur with an en-route in Chidambaram. Here we will have our first look at dravidian temple architecture, characterized by its massive gopuram towers covered with human-sized sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses that serve as the gateways to the temple. We will have ample time to explore Chidambaram's jewel, the 10th-century Nataraja Temple, one of the five holy temples of Shiva.
We will then continue our drive to Thanjavur. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel.
|Mahabalipuram → Thanjavur||250 km||6h|
After breakfast, we will make our city tour of Thanjavur. The undisputed highlight of this city is the Brihadeeshwara Temple, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. We will devote plenty of time to exploring the shrines and halls of this massive orange-hued temple which was one of the first built with granite.
Erected in 1010AD, this temple is the master work of the Chola Empire which ruled South India for many centuries. It was built for Lord Shiva with the main temple dedicated to him and a handful of smaller shrines for worship of other gods, with the one of Nandi being of particular interest.
The tour continues to Chettinad with an en-route visit of Tiruchirappalli, or most easily known as Trichy. Our visit starts with the distinct Rock Fort Temple built on top of a small slope. Follow the lines of devoted pilgrims up the stairs that lead to the three shrines dedicated to the elephant-headed Ganesh and take in the sweeping panoramas of the city from the top of the hill.
Next stop is the Sri Ranganataswamy Temple, a "city within a city" whose 50 shrines, 21 gopuram towers and 39 pavilions make it the world's largest active Hindu temple. After completing our visit we will continue to the serene Chettinad, a former merchant town famous for its lavish mansions.
Rest of the day at leisure to relax and soak in the nostalgic atmosphere of Chettinad.
|Thanjavur → Trichy||60 km||1h 30min|
|Trichy → Chettinad||140 km||3h|
After breakfast, have a half day sightseeing of Chettinad and immerse in its rich history which has been recognized as a Living Heritage by the UNESCO. We will spend the day exploring the mansions of the Chettiar, wealthy merchants who rose in prominence in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These opulent homes are a synthesis of Art Deco, Victorian and Indian architecture and often use a sophisticated range of materials, from Burmese teak and Venice glass to Japanese tiles and European ironwork.
We will complete our tour with a visit to Chettinad Museum which houses an exceptional collection of jewellery, clothing and other artifacts of the time.
We will make the short drive west to the temple city of Madurai, whose mighty Meenakshi Temple is one of the major highlights of any South Indian trip. Built in the 14th century, Meenakshi Temple represents the quintessential Tamil temple in all its glory. It is known for its towering gopurams draped by thousands of statues of multi-armed gods in bright colors and its immense courtyards. Walk among the flocks of pilgrims who come to witness the sacred effigy of the goddess Meenakshi and wander around its gargantuan corridors marked by immense stone pillars and hundreds of stalls selling flowers and religious items.
We will continue our city tour with visits to the Teppakulam Temple and Nayak Palace before returning in the evening to Meenakshi Temple for the ceremony of darshan and the nighlty processions of Hindu priests carrying an image of Shiva.
|Chettinad → Madurai||93 km||2h|
This day we will leave Tamil Nadu behind and drive to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, in the state of Kerala. Located in the lush hills of Thekkady, Periyar is South India's most popular nature reserve and is home to bisons, antelopes, samber, wild boars, monkeys, a wide variety of birds and most specially, elephants.
In the afternoon we will have a nature walk in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, which offers excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife species within the park. The program is offered between 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm and lasts about 3 hours. (Provided by Park Authority, you may have to share this activity with other people.)
|Madurai → Periyar||130 km||3h|
Kerala is known as "India's spice garden" and today we will go on a special spice plantation tour where we will learn how pepper, cardamom, nutmeg and many other spices are locally grown. Then we will continue our drive to Kumarakom. On arrival, check in at the hotel and rest of the day at leisure.
|Periyar → Kumarakom||200 km||6h|
Today we will relax at the resort for the rest of the day and indulge in one of its Ayurvedic treatments (not included). Regarded as the ancient traditional medicine in Hinduism, Ayurveda looks at the nurturing of body and mind to achieve good health. Choose from a range of therapies including rejuvenation, stress management, spine care and body purification programmes, as well as traditional massage or yoga and meditation techniques.
After breakfast we will drive to Cochin. The rest of the day will be at leisure for you to explore the rich heritage of this picturesque city.
The very heart of spice trade, Cochin established as one of the most cosmopolitan Indian cities many centuries ago. Its contact with Arab, Jewish, Chinese and South East Asian merchants and the later occupation by the Portuguese and the Dutch left a unique mark in this tropical enclave.
|Kumarakom → Cochin||60 km||1h 30min|
This day we will enjoy of a half-day city tour of Cochin. We will explore all the colonial sites in the city which tell the story of days gone by, including the Dutch Palace at Mattancherry, the Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilica. We will also drive past the iconic Chinese fishing nets which are believed to have been brought to Kochi by Chinese traders.
In the evening you will attend a fascinating Kathakali performance. This complex combination of dance and drama is one of the most captivating forms of art in South India, where actors dressed in elaborate costumes and colorful make-up narrate religious legends and folk tales.
After breakfast, you will be provided assisted departure transfer to the airport to connect the flight for on wards destination.
|Prices per person||2 pax|
Double Sharing Basis
|15 Apr 2018 - 14 Apr 2019||$1312|
The folders with the stamps, printed stationery, post cards and the beautiful gifts were unexpected and outstanding. The gifts at every stop were a delight!!! We will treasure each of them. Thank you for the time and effort involved. The staff has been excellent, could not have asked for better. We were so well taken care of, we always felt watched over, and so comfortable wherever we went. Thank you so much.
We had the best trip ever. We have traveled for 45 years around the globe but I think that we were most taken by India. the guides you selected were wonderful, knowledgeable and easy to understand and the driver made us feel safe and for that we are most appreciative.
I would like to thank you and your team for a great job organizing our trip to India! We will highly recommend you guys!