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South India Extensive Tour

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December 14, 2017

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Places Covered:- Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Tanjore –
Trichy – Madurai- Kanyakumari – Kovalam

Day 01: Arrive Chennai

Welcome on your arrival and then assistance in transfer to hotel.

Day 02: Chennai Morning leave for city tour of Chennai

Chennai, the capital city, popularly regarded as the ‘Gateway to the South’ represents a culture that is distinctly different from that of northern India. The places of interest are Kalakshetra, a school of art and music that encourages exponents of Bharatnatyam, Carnatic music, traditional weaving and designing; Fort St. George- built in 1653 during British reign in India, now houses the Secretariat and Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu; St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in India with its premises; Sri Parthasarathy Temple- built by Pallavas in the 8th century AD; Kapaliswara Temple, Mylapore also an eighth century Pallava Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva; San Thomas Cathedral Basilica- rebuilt in 1606 as a cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica; and Theosophical Society- the world headquarters of the Theosophical Society formed to encourage the study of comparative religion philosophy and science. Stay overnight at hotel

Day 03: Chennai- Kanchipuram- Mahabalipuram- Chennai, 225 km

Morning proceed to Kanchipuram for a day excursion trip. Kanchipuram, 70 kms west of Mahabalipuram, is the city of thousand temples. One of the seven sacred cities of Hindus, it was the capital of the early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC. Kanchi was a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Apart from temples, this city is also famous for its silk weavers settled here some 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation.

Later you will proceed to Mahablipuram- the land of Pallavas. The Pallavas have created many marvelous monuments with sculptural panels, caves, Monolithic Rathas and Temples. Krishna Mandapam- has a big bas-relief, notable for its realistic representation. The world’s largest bas-relief measuring 27m x 9m, whale back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demi-gods, men, beasts, birds and representation of the entire creation. Shore Temple, one of the oldest in south dating back to 8th century AD is a good example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in Dravidian style. Return to Chennai for overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 04: Chennai- Pondicherry, 170 km

Leave for Pondicherry Afternoon sightseeing tour of Pondicherry Pondicherry- Although the French influence is gradually fading, Pondicherry retains a few Gallic accents. Pondicherry’s main attractions are the Rai Nivas, the Sacred Heart Church and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The ashram retreat was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo after whose death the spiritual authority passed to one of his disciples, a French woman known as the Mother. The Mother was also instrumental in founding the city of Dawn Auroville, 10 km from Pondicherry. Its original charter aimed at creating a city of the future where people from India and abroad could live and work together in a spiritual environment. Stay overnight at hotel in Pondicherry.

Day 05: Pondicherry-Tanjore, 175 km

Morning drive to Tanjore visiting en-route temple or Lord Natraja at Chidambram. On arrival, check-in at the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Tanjore. Tanjore- The home of Carnatic music, musical instruments, dance and traditional hadicrafts, Tanjore (Thanjavur) is famous for the Brahadeeswarar Temple. The temple constructed more than a thousand years ago by the Chola King Raja Rajan is an architect’s marvel. The Art Gallery and the Saraswathi Mahal Library are also well known places of interest.

Day 06: Tanjore- Trichy- Madurai, 201 km

Drive to Trichy and on arrival, visit Srirangam. 5 kms from Trichy, located in an island is Srirangam. Surrounded by the Kaveri water is a 600 acre island town enclosed within the seven walls on the gigantic Sri Ranganathaswami temple. There are no less than 22 gopurams, one of which is the tallest in India. The 72 m high 13 tiered gopuram dominates the landscape for miles around. The Rock Fort situated on the banks of the Kaveri river, Trichy’s most famed land mark is an 84 m high rock, one of the oldest in the world aprox.3,800 million years. The attraction is not for fort itself but the temple at the summit. 344 steps hewn out of rock lead to the top where are the inscriptions dating back to the 3rd century B.C. Later drive to Madurai and on arrival, check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay

Day 07: Madurai

Morning sightseeing tour of Madurai Madurai, known as Athens of the East, it is the second largest city on the banks of the River Vigai. The city believed to be more than 2500 years old. The city got its name from the drops of nectar (Mathuram) that fell from Shiva’s locs when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him. Madurai where the people wake up at the chant of hymns is proud of magnificent ‘The Meenakshi-Sundareswara Temple. Of its 12 gopurams, four of the tallest stand at the outer walls of the temple. The 48.8 m high southern gopuram is the most spectacular and have over 1500 sculptures. In the Ashta Shakti Mandapam inside the Meenakshi temple, the sculpted pillars tell the story of the beautiful princess of Madurai and her marriage to Lord Shiva. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 08: Madurai-Kanya Kumari-Kovalam, 352 km

Drive to Kanya Kumari, 5 hours. Afternoon visit Kanya Kumari. The southernmost end of Tamil Nadu, the land’s end of India or the point where the three seas meet – the Bay of Bengal, The Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Visit the Kumariamman temple dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanyakumari (Parvati) who stands guard over the country. The temple is built at the spot where the goddess is believed to have waited for her consort Lord Siva. Gandhi Memorial,

constructed at the spot where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were kept for public view in an urn before a portion was immersed into the three seas. Vivekanand Memorial built on the Vivekananda Rock where the great Philosopher guide Swami Vivekananda went into meditation that transformed him into one of the most charismatic spiritual leader of this

Later drive to Kovalam visiting en-route Drive to Kanya Kumari visiting enroute Padmanabhapuram, 45 km short. The capital of Travancore until 1333, Padmanabhapuram is known for its fort which encloses, among other buildings, a palace and a temple. The palace has some important art relics while the Ramaswamy temple has exquisitely carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana. On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Day 09: Kovalam Day at leisure

Day 10: Kovalam – Periyar, 250 km Morning drive to Periyar and on arrival, check-in at the hotel. Periyar, spread over an area of 777 sq km, this sanctuary has about 35 tigers and leopards. However, sighting a tiger in Periyar is a fortune for one out of thousand. The park encompasses a 26 sq km artificial lake and is the home of sambars, wild boars, elephants and antelopes which can be occasionally seen on the banks of the river during a boat cruise. Periyar, otherwise, blessed by Nature has enormous tea, coffee, pepper and cardamom plantations and is lush green. Afternoon boat cruise on Lake Periyar to view wildlife. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 11: Periyar-Kumarakom, 136 km

Drive to Kumarakom and embark on deluxe Houseboat for backwater cruise. Embark Kerala Houseboat “Kettuvalam” at Kumarakom. Head towards Munnattumugham village, thru interior backwaters. Continue to Champakulam, earlier named as Kalloorkad, the ancient trade centre of backwaters. Visit famous St, Marys Forance Church that is believed as blessed by Str. Francis in 42 AD. The murla paintings by vegetable oil is an exciting panoramic vision. Visit the famous Champakulam snake boat construction yard.
Night stay at Champakulam village.

Day 12: Arrive Alleppey/Cochin

After breakfast, leisurely cruise towards Alleppey finishing point jetty. Disembark at 0930 hours and drive to Cochin. Rest of the day free.

Day 13: Cochin

Morning sightseeing tour of Cochin. Cochin, Kerala’s commercial centre, it has a fine natural harbour. Cochin (Kochi) gateway for Kerala is famous for Mattanchery Palace, St. Francis Church, Wellington Island, Bolghatty Island, Chinese Fishing nets and Jewish Synagogue. Cruising on the back-waters provides glimpses of the rural life, fine view of the harbour and three islands. In the evening you will witness the Kathakali Dance Show in an auditorium. Stay overnight at hotel

Day 14: Cochin-Ooty drive, 280 km

On arrival, transfer to the hotel and then relax. Stay overnight at hotel

Day 15: Ooty

Sightseeing tour of Ooty and Conoor. Ooty, an integral part of the great plateau occupying the junction of the Eastern and Western Ghats. Located at 2240m above sea level, Ooty is the headquarters of the Nilgris district. Apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like confiers, eucalyptus, pine and the wattle dot the hillside in Ooty and its environ. The places of interest in Ooty include Botanical Gardens where “summer Festival” is held each during the month of May: the artificial lake and Dodabetta Peak which is the highest point in the district at a height of 2623m.

17 km from Ooty is the first of these hills stations. Coonoor is a small town with an equable climate that has made it popular as hill resort. Tea and Tourism Festival is held here during Dec-Jan. the main attraction is the Sim’s Park, a small well maintained botanical garden that has several varieties of plants not to be found in other hill stations.

Day 16: Ooty-Mysore drive, 155 km

On arrival, check-in at the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Mysore. Mysore, 770 m above sea level, this imperial city was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyars. The legend takes its name from a famous demon called Mahishasur, a great warrior who ruled as a tyrant until he was killed by the goddess Chamundeshwari. Mysore as we see today is most famous for the imposing Royal Palace with a magnificent Durbar Hall, particularly splendid during the Dussehra Festival when the Maharaja’s jewellery, studded gold throne (weighing 200 kgs) is on display. Chamundeshwari temple perched on a hilltop is 2000 years old, Nandi Bull half way to the hill is a 4.8 metre monolith. 19 km north-west of Mysore is the KRS Dam and the ornamental Brindavan Gardens. The musical fountains and colourful lights transform this place into a fairly land in the evenings.

Day 17: Mysore

Morning visit Somnathpur temple. 45 km from Mysore, the temple, the temple built in 1268 AD is known for its Hoysala architecture. The temple is seated on a star shaped base, set on a chiseled plinth and guarded at intervals by miniature elephants. The temple wall depicts scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharta and Bhagvata. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 18: Mysore-Hassan drive, 150 km

On arrival, check-in at the hotel. Afternoon visit of Belur and Halebid. Belur temple took over 103 years to build and is a classic example of the Hoysala style of architecture. It rises like a wedding cake in stone, from a star shaped plinth, one of the hallmarks of Hoysala building design. From the base upwards, there is an extraordinary wealth of decorative detail; every available inch is crammed with intricate carvings. In one frieze, 650 elephants jostle one another in a continuous line. Many of

the figures of full blossomed women depicted at Belur are believed to be portraits of King Vishnuvardhana’s queen. Halebid – 16 km east of Belur and 27 km from Hassan, the Hoysaleswara Temple dating back to 12th century, is astounding for its wealth of sculptural detail. 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. The magnificent temple -dedicated to Lord Shiva guarded by a Nandi Bull was never completed despite 86 years of labour. In the inner sanctum, the star black lingam, the symbol of Shiva, is still worshipped. The carving at the door is ornate with small details.

Day 19: Hassan-Bangalore (194km drive) Bangalore- Mumbai (by air; 2 hours)

Drive to Bangalore visiting enroute Sravanbelgola. Said to be the world’s tallest monolithic statue rises 17 metre high of Bahubali (Gomateshvara). The statue was built in 981 AD by the sculptor Aristanmi and is most sacred to the Jain

Community. Arrive Bangalore, city sightseeing tour. Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka is one of the most important metropolis of India. It is a vital centre of science, aeronautics and electronics. Situated 1000 m above sea level, this garden city has pleasant weather round the year. The Lalbagh, one of the finest botanical Gardens of India, Cubbon Park laid in 1864 sprawling across 300 acres, Vidhana Soudha built in 1956 housing The State Legislature and Secretariat are the main attractions. Late evening transfer to airport for flight to Mumbai. On arrival, transfer to the hotel and then stay overmight

Day 20: Mumbai

Morning city sightseeing tour. Bombay – Political capital of Maharashtra and commercial capital of India, it has no recorded ancient past. Although Buddhist and Hindu dynasties ruled the region until around the 13th century, there were only scattered settlements on the island. The real development of Bombay commenced soon after under the East India Company. Gateway of India built to commemorate the royal visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1911, the Prince of Wales Museum housing collection of Indo Sarcenic architecture, Flora Fountain, Victoria Terminus, St. Thomas Cathedral, Crawford Market, Malabar Hill and the Hanging Gardens and Dhobi Ghat (Washermen’s village) are some of the attractions. Afternoon at leisure.

Mumbai Departure At late night you will be given assistance in transfer to airport on board for flight onward destination. Henceforth our services terminates