South of the Indian peninsula, the eastern
Coromandel coast along the Bay of Bengal has retained the beauty and purity
of the ancient Dravidian culture which has been hardly touched by the Aryan
invasions of the North. Temples of Tamil Nadu were the fulcrum of society.
The art forms that have their origin in religious worship, continue to
colour daily life. The Malabar coast along the Arabian Sea is a tropical
paradise of undulating palms and sandy beaches, hill resorts, spectacular
temples, backwater cruises and friendly people.
Day 01 : Arrive Chennai (Previously known as Madras)
Arrive Chennai, the fourth largest city in India, located on the warm shores
of the Bay of Bengal. Modern Chennai traces its origins to 1639 AD, when the
British East India Company was first awarded a trading post and commenced
building Fort St. George, near the sleepy fishing village of Madras Patnam.
The rest of your day is at leisure to relax.
Day 02 : Chennai
Tour Chennai, featuring historic as well as contemporary places of
interest, such as Victoria Art Gallery, Bronze Gallery and Madras Museum.
Continue your drive though Egmore to George Town stopping at Fort St.
George, housing the State Parliament. Located within the ramparts of the
fort is St. Mary's Church, the oldest Anglican church in Asia, consecrated
in 1680 AD. The fort museum features relics of the raj. Drive along Marina
Beach, visiting San Thome Cathedral. Your final stop is colour Kapaleeswarar
Temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, where you have an opportunity to mingle with
the devotees and observe the various rituals of Hinduism.
Day 03 : Chennai - Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram Excursion
Full day Excursion to Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram. Kanchipuram (58 kms),
one of the seven secred cities of India, served as a capital for several
dynasties, most prominent among them being the Pallavas and the Cholas,
responsible for making the most spectacular temple city of India. Visit
three of the best temples - Kailasanatha & Ekambareshwara, dedicated to
Lord Shiva, and Vaikuntaperumal dedicated to lord Vishnu. Kanchipuramis also
renowned for its silk, a traditional cottage industry art that has been
handed down over the centuries from one generation to the next. Continue on
to the ancient Pallavan port of Mamallapuram. Later visit the seventh
century rock hewn monuments. The shore temple, the only surviving one of
seven, is a unique example of a temple built of rock quarried elsewhere and
carried to shore.
Day 04 : Chennai - Trichy
After a morning at leisure a short flight brings you to Tiruchirapalli,
better known as Trichy. Trichy has a long and checkered history predating
Christianity. Several dynasties including the Cholas, Pallavas and the
Pandyas reigned over this city in the agriculturally rich basin of the
Cauvery river, also known for their patronage of art and architecture, who
eventually ruled over Trichy during the 16th century, are responsible for
most of what is left standing today.
Day 05 : Trichy
the Srirangam temple complex today. Located on an island in the Cauvery
River, it is among the largest in India, covering an area of over 600 acres.
The temple is surrounded by seven concentric walls and has twenty-one
gopurams or temple towers, one of which is covered in gold. Sri
Jambukeshwara Temple, located across from Srirangam, is dedicated to Lord
Shiva and has five concentric walls and seven gopurams, Rock Fort Temple.
The views from the summit are spectacular. The afternoon is at your leisure.
Day 06 : Trichy - Tanjore - Madurai
Drive to Tanjore (55 kms/1 hr) the ancient capital of the Chola kings,
whose patronage and philanthropy rendered Tanjore a veritable haven for
artists, musician and craftsmen. The dome on the apex of the central tower,
206 feet tall, is a single piece of granite weighing an estimated 81 tons,
which was put in place using a ramp 3miles long, similar to the technique
used in building the pyramids of Egypt. Later drive to Madurai. which is
Day 07 : Madurai
Madurai is a bustling city packed with pilgrims, buisnessmen, bullock carts
and legions of rickshaw wallahs. It is southern India's oldest center of
pilgrimage and learning. Visit Shree Meenakashi temple, a riotously baroque
example of dravidian architecture. Tirumalai Nayak Palace, build in 1636 in
Indi-Saracenic style, and the Gandhi Museam, containing memorabilia of the
father of the nation. Continue to Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank. Built in 1646,
the tank is fed by underground channels from the Varigai River.
Day 08 : Madurai - Thekkady (Periyar)
Your exploration of South India continues as your drive to Thekkady (140
kms/31/2 hrs) located on the Tamil Nadu / Kerala border. This unique
wildlife sanctuary is about 300 square miles and centered around an
artificial lake fed by the Periyar river. Game viewing this afternoon is
onboard boats, which carry you along convoluted waterways and afford
sightings of elephant, bison, deer and occasionally, tiger. All manner of
flora and fauna flourish in this tropical habitat, making it one of the
premiere reserves of southern India.
Day 09 : Thekkady - Kumarakom
Venture on a game viewing boat cruise this morning, before continuing on to
Kumarakom. The state of Kerala, is known for its numerous canals and
waterways. Kumarakom (114 kms/3hrs) is a tiny settlement, nestled in the
backwaters of Kerala and evokes images of Kasmir, This part of Kerala offers
a variety of therapeutic massages, which are both relaxing and healing and
are indigenous to this region.
Day 10 : Kumarakom
Take a boat ride on the Vembanand Lake to the Kumarakom bird sanctuary. A
part of the forest was submerged in the lake, offering an irresistible
habitat to both migratory as well as local birds. Waterfowl, cormorants,
egrets and teals are seen in abundance. The afternoon is at leisure. Those
interested in Fishing can take advantage of the rich waters or a relaxing
massage is also a tempting option.
Day 11 : Kumarakom - Trivandrum (Kovalam)
Drive to Trivandrum (170 kms / 4 hrs), Kerala's capital city and principal
seaport. Known as the "city of the sacred snake". Thrivandrum is a
city built over seven luxuriously forested hills. A low skyline and red
tiled roofs lend a distinct character and ambiance to this most unusual
capital city. Check into your beach hotel.
Day 12 : Trivandrum (Kovalam)
The Trivandrum Museum is housed in an attractive building featuring a
collection of bronzes, historical and contemporary ornaments, temple carts,
ivory carvings and life-size figures of Kathakali dancers in full regalia.
The day is free to enjoy palm fringed Kovalam beach, one of the best of
Day 13 : Trivandrum Out
Morning at leisure. Later fly to onward destination with your international
flight. (hotel checkout at 12:00 hrs).