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South India Temples Tour

Tour Duration :

23 Nights / 24 Days

Destinations Covered : Bangalore - Mysore - Ooty - Cochin - Trivandrum - Kanyakumari - Madurai - Trichy - Pondichery - Mahabalipuram - Chennai
Tour Details
Day 1 – : Arrive – Chennai

On arrival meet and transfer to hotel. This afternoon visit Fort St George the focal point of Chennai City and a fine example of 17th Century British military architecture. Within the fort is the State Legislative Hall, with its fine woodwork and paving, as well as St Mary’s Church, completed in 1680, the first English church in India and the oldest British building to survive. Also of interest is the National Art Gallery and Museum which is home to many paintings, sculptures and miniatures. Afterwards continue on to the Basilica of San Thome, said to be built over the tomb of apostle St Thomas Didymus, and the Kapaleeswarar Temple, a 16th Century Siva temple with a 40m gopuram.

Overnight at the Hotel.

Day 2 : Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram

After breakfast drive inland to Kanchipuram, the ‘golden city of a thousand temples’. One of Hinduism’s seven most sacred cities, with the temples dating from the early Cholas in the 2nd Century, Kanchipuram is a pilgrimage centre as well as being known as a centre for learning, culture and philosophy. The Ekambaresvara Temple with its 540 pillars, Kailasanatha Temple dedicated to Shiva and considered the most beautiful in the town and the Vaikuntha Perumal Temple are all fascinating and well worth visiting. On completion drive to Mahablipuram. On arrival check into the hotel.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 : Mahabalipuram

Visit to Mahabalipuram, one of India’s most visited historical sites, which occupies a stunning position on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon. Named after the Pallava ruler King Narasimhavarman I, who held the title of ‘Mamalla’, or great wrestler, he proceeded to make the port famous in the 7th Century and was largely responsible for the temples seen today. These Mandapas, caves excavated out of the rocky hillside, are remarkable and provide space for intricately carved sculptures illustrating tales from mythology and highlighting the development of the Dravidian temple style with the Varaha Mandapa, Krishna Mandapa and Kotikal Mandapa wonderful examples of this. Most intriguing however is the Shore Temple, a World Heritage Site comprising of monolithic temples each carved from a single granite boulder standing on the seashore. In the village there is also a huge frieze, known as Arjuna’s Penance, which is cut on to a flat granite rock-face and depicts realistic life-size figures of animals, gods and saints.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4 : Mahabalipuram – Pondichery

Today drive to Pondicherry, a former French colony. On arrival check into the hotel.

Afternoon visit the Aurobindo Ashram which forms the focal point of the town and also visit the nearby futuristic own of Auroville designed by the French architect Roger Anger. You may also wish to visit the Church of Our Lady of the Angels. Built in 1865, this attractive church is home to a rare oil painting of Our Lady of the Assumption, a gift from the French Emperor, Napoleon III.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5 : Pondichery - Tanjore

Morning drive to Tanjore, enroute visit to Kumbakonam and Chidambaram. Tanjore is a pretty town and home to one of the most impressive monuments of South India – the Brihadisvara Temple. Originally the capital of the Chola Empire, Tanjore latterly came under the control of the local Nayaka and Maratha rulers, however, it was the Chola Kings that built the majority of town’s 93 temples. Renowned as great patrons of the arts the Cholas readily donated large sums of money to the construction of temples in the hope of spiritual gain and as a result have left an impressive legacy through their benefaction. The Brihadisvara Temple is a fine example of this patronage and was constructed between 1003 and 1010 AD by the Chola King Rajaraja I. The main structure of the temple has a 62m high vimana – the tallest in India – and a dome carved from an 80-ton block of granite whilst inside there are delicate carvings and many fresco paintings. Outside there is an attractive garden and a few well-lit sanctuaries that are also well worth exploring. On arrival check into the hotel.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 : Tanjore - Trichy

This morning drive to Trichy which, is dominated by the Rock Fort Temple. Also visit Srirangam, a temple complex spread over an island in the Cauvery River, the Sri Ranganathasvami Temple dedicated to Vishnu is one of the biggest temples in India.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7 : Trichy – Madurai

Morning drive to Madurai, which has been a centre of learning, and pilgrimage for many centuries. On arrival check into the hotel.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 8 : Madurai

The ancient city of Madurai situated on the banks of the Vaigai River is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu and has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for many centuries. One of the main centres of Tamil culture the main attraction of this crowded but vibrant pilgrimage centre is the temple and bazaar complex found right in the heart of the city. More than 2500 years old, Madurai is believed to have been founded by the Pandyan King Kulasekara in the 6th Century BC and there is even evidence to suggest trade with both Ancient Greece and Rome. Famous for its poets and writers Madurai subsequently grew under the guidance of the Vijayanagar kings and it was through their patronage that the architectural heritage of the town, as it is witnessed today, was preserved and expanded. Full day explore the city and Meenakshi Temple.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 9 : Madurai – Periyar

Depart this morning with your driver for the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in the Cardamom Hills situated on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Periyar was established in 1934 and is one of the largest sanctuaries in India. The 21 mile long lake is artificial, built by the British in 1895 for irrigation purposes. The scenery shapes and colours often remind people of the Scottish Highlands. Viewing is by boat at sunset (please remember to take your own binoculars).

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 : Periyar – Kothamangalam

Morning spice plantation tour. Afternoon drive to Kothamangalam to stay with Mundkal family. Explore the area with the concerned person.

Overnight at Mundkal Homestay
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11 : Kothamangalam

Full day explore the Plantations and also visit to Kodanadu Elephant Camp.

Overnight at Mundkal Homestay
Meals: Breakfast,. Lunch & Dinner

Day 12 : Kothmangalam – Alleppy

Morning drive to Alleppy and board houseboat. Houseboat, are simply furnished and consist of a thatch-covered lounge and dining area, one or two double bedrooms with mosquito nets and attached bathrooms with a toilet, wash basin and a hand held cold water shower. Thatched awnings on both sides of the boat allow the breeze and views to flow in. Meals are cooked on board and the boat is staffed with a captain, a deck hand and a cook. Spend the remainder of day cruising on the backwaters of Kerala.

Overnight at the Houseboat
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 13 : Alleppy – Cochin

Morning disembark from the Houseboat and drive to Cochin, is one of India’s most interesting towns, a principle port and the centre of the spice trade on the Malabar Coast. Still largely comprising of low picturesque buildings the islands that make up Kochi are rich in history and retain a relaxed and quiet atmosphere. The first European settlement in India, Kochi was founded by Vasco da Gama in 1502; however it was the British who influenced this colourful city the most with it being under direct British political control from 1795 up until India’s independence. On arrival check into the hotel.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 14 : Cochin

Today explore Fort Kochi starting with a guided tour by car of this historic area. Visit St Francis Church the oldest European church in India before walking down to the waterfront to witness the fascinating Chinese fishing nets and peruse the market stalls. Afterwards, return to your car to visit Mattancherry Palace, the nearby merchant houses and a fine synagogue (closed Saturday). Mattancherry Palace (closed Friday) was built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to the Raja of Kochi in exchange for trading rights and today houses exhibits of clothes, weapons and furniture as well as having numerous remarkable murals painted on the wooden walls. Continue to the synagogue, adorned with beautiful Cantonese ceramic tiles, before stepping out and exploring the local streets which still teem with traders who sell varieties of rice, ginger, garlic, chilli and antiques from street side warehouses.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 15 : Cochin – ooty

Today drive to Ooty. Popularly known as the ‘Queen of the Blue Mountains’ along with its nearby neighbours Coonoor and Kotagiri, Ooty was developed as a hill station by the British and is famous for its pine and eucalyptus forests as well as its coffee and tea plantations. Nestling in the Nilgiri Hills at an altitude of 7,500 feet, Ooty was expanded by the Collector of Coimbatore, John Sullivan, in 1819 when he built a house and soon grew in popularity with the British who superimposed their lifestyle from home on the hill station.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 16 : Ooty

Day at leisure. (Car at disposal to explore the hill station)

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 17 : Ooty – Masinaguri - Bandipur

Morning drive to Bandipur National park. On arrival check into the resort. Evening visit to park by jeep.

Overnight at the Tuskar Trails.
Meals: Brakfast & Dinner

Day 18 : Bandipur

Full day explore the park and stay free.

Overnight at the Tuskar Trails
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 19 : Massinagudi – Mysore

Morning drive to Myosre. On arrival check into Geetanjali Farms. Mysore is a charming and relaxed city surrounded almost entirely by fertile farmland and tree clad hills. Until independence Mysore was the seat of the Maharajas of Mysore, a princely state covering about a third of present day Karnataka. The city is noted for its sandalwood carvings, incense, silk weaving and for its coffee

Overnight at the hotel
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 20 : Mysore

Tour of Mysore and the surrounding area. Places of interest include the colourful vegetable and flower markets in Mysore, Chamundi Hill to view the Chamundeswari Temple and the famous Nandi Bull. The City Palace was re-built by Henry Irwin in 1897 after the original wooden palace was destroyed in a fire. It is one of the largest palaces in the country and is Indo-Saracenic in style with domes, arches and colonnades of carved pillars. Drive outside of the city to see the Sri Chamundeswari Temple at Somnathpur, built around 1260 AD by the Hoysala Kings. The walls of this temple are covered with stone animal sculptures - it has been said that this is one of the most beautiful and interesting buildings in India.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 21 : Mysore – Hassan

Morning drive to Hassan. On arrival check into the hotel.

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 22 : Hassan – Belur – Halebid – Hassan

Full day excursion to Belur and halebid. Belur : This quaint hamlet - 38 kilometers from Hasan - is located on the banks of the river Yagachi. It was once the capital of the Hoysala empire, today made unforgettable for its exquisite temples. The Chennakeshava Temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. It took 103 years to complete and you can see why. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures and friezes with no portion left blank. Elephants, episodes from the epics, sensuous dancers... they are all there - awe-inspiring in their intricate workmanship. Inside are hand-lathe-turned filigreed pillars. The Veeranarayana Temple and the smaller shrines are well worth a visit.

Halebid is 27 kilometers northwest of Hasan and 17 kilometers east of Belur. The temples of Halebid - like those of Belur - bear mute testimony to the rich, cultural heritage of Karnataka. The Hoysaleswara Temple, dating back to the 12th century, is astounding for its wealth of sculptural details. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of gods and goddesses, animals, birds and dancing girls. Yet no two facets of the temple are the same. This magnificent temple - guarded by a Nandi Bull - was never completed, despite 86 years of labor. The Jain basadis nearby are equally rich in sculptural detail

Overnight at the Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Day 23 : Hassan – Bangalore

Morning drive to Banglalore en-route visit to Sravanbalgola 51 Kilometers southeast of Hasan this one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. Here is the 17meter high monolith of Lord Bahubali - the world's tallest monolithic statue. Thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the mahamastakabhisheka - spectacular ceremony held once in 12 years, when the 1000 - year - old statue is anointed with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. On arrival in Banglaore check into the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel
Meals: Breakast

Day 24 : Bangalore – out

Check out 12 Noon. Departure transfer to airport for flight back home,

Meals: Breakfast

End of your memorable trip.

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