Golden Triangle & South India Temples
Experience a taste of India on this outstanding tour of the country’s most fabled sights. Explore the Golden Triangle that combines the country’s capital city Delhi to the wondrous sites of the Mughal capital of Agra, the legendary Fatehpur Sikri, and the Pink City of Jaipur. Then fly to South India colonial port city Chennai. Explore the city and advance to visit Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram & Pondicherry. Continue to visit UNESCO WHS of the Great Living Chola Temples at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Darasuram & Tanjore. See some largest active temples in India at Trichy and Madurai.
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🏁 Tour Itinerary: Golden Triangle & South India Temples
Day 1: Arrive in Delhi
On arrival at Delhi airport assistance and transfer to hotel (hotel check-in/ out time 1200hrs afternoon early check-in subject to room availability). Rest time free and easy to relax and personal activities. You can opt to go out for dinner with your driver. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: The Royal Plaza or similar.
Day 2: Delhi (B)
Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Delhi. Visit the landmark of Old Delhi which includes Red Fort the residence of the Mughal emperor for nearly 200 years until 1857. Jama Masjid one of the largest mosques in the world, built by Shah Jahan. Cycle Rickshaw ride in Chandni chowk & Khari Baoli Spice Market a busy shopping area with markets full of spices, dried fruit, silver jewelry, and vivid saris, while the narrow side streets are crowded with tiny shops selling essential oils, stationery, and traditional Indian sweets. Raj Gath the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi where he was cremated after his assassination.
In New Delhi visit Humayun Tomb the first garden-tomb in the Indian subcontinent and an early example of Mughal architecture commissioned by Humayun’s first wife Empress Bega Begum in 1569-70. Qutab Minar a 73-meters tall minaret that forms part of the Qutb complex fine examples of Afghan architecture. Lotus Temple a Baháʼí House of Worship notable for its flowerlike shape open to all, regardless of religion. Drive through VVIP areas passing President House, Parliament & India Gate, etc.
Rest time free and easy to relax and personal activities. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: The Royal Plaza or similar.
Day 3: Delhi – Agra (B)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Agra check-in at the hotel.
Later city tour of Agra. Visit Taj Mahal an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the bank of the Yamuna river commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. Agra Fort the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. Itmad-ud-Daula Tomb a Mughal mausoleum commissioned by Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Radisson Hotel or similar.
Day 4: Agra – Jaipur (B)
Breakfast at hotel drives to Jaipur via visiting Fatehpur Sikri & Abhaneri.
Fatehpur Sikri founded in 1569 by Mughal emperor Akbar and abandoned after 15 yrs due to scarcity of water. Predominately, a red sandstone construction sprawling over a huge area, the architectural style is very much in tune with the emperor’s dream & partakes of both Hindu & Muslim styles. See the graceful buildings including Diwan-E-Khas hall, Jodha Bais Palace, Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal & Buland Darwaza.
Further, drive and visit Abhaneri a small village popular for the amazing Chand Baoris (step wells) and Harshat Mata Temple. Chand Baori is one of India’s deepest and largest step wells. The huge tank with delicate carvings is certainly delightful to the eyes. Continue to drive to Jaipur check-in at the hotel. In the evening explores the pink city and visit the colorful bazaars. You can visit the Albert Hall Museum. The museum displays a wide range of metal objects, wood crafts, carpets, stone and metal sculptures, arms and weapons, natural stones, and ivory goods. It also houses a large collection of miniatures from Bundi, Kota, Kishangarh, Udaipur, and Jaipur schools of art. As per your interest wrap up your day by watching a Bollywood movie at the opulent Rajmandir Cinema. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Holiday Inn City Centre or similar.
Day 5: Jaipur (B)
Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Jaipur. Jaipur holds the distinction of being the first planned city of India. Established in 1727 by Jai Singh II, the king of Amber when he shifted his capital from Amber to the new city because of the rapidly-growing population and increasing water scarcity. Noted architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya used the established principles of Vastu Shastra to build the city. In 1876, the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur and the entire Jaipur city was painted in pink the symbolic colors of hospitality to welcome him. The pink that colors the city makes for a marvelous spectacle to behold. Jaipur rises up majestically against the backdrop of the forts Nahargarh, Jaigarh, and Garh Ganesh Temple.
In the morning visit, Amber Fort followed by Jaigarh Fort & Sisodia Rani Garden. Afternoon city tour visits City Palace, Observatory & Hawa Mahal. Further, explore the local market the famous bazaars of Pink City. In the evening attend Aarti Ceremony at Birla temple. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Holiday Inn City Centre or similar.
Day 6: Jaipur – Chennai (B)
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight for Chennai. On arrival at Chennai airport assistance and transfer to hotel.
Later city tour of Chennai. Visit Fort St. George & Museum – Fort St. George is located on the banks of the Bay of Bengal. It was built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. It is a military architecture marvel, which was erected as a trading post and later evolved to be the origin of the modern Indian Army. Kapaleeshwarar Temple – Semmozhi Poonga is a beautifully landscaped botanical garden in Chennai which is set up by the horticulture department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Apart from some common plants and trees, the garden houses some really rare types of plants and medicinal herbs. There is also an artificial pond in the garden and ducks which makes it an enjoyable place for the children as well. Dakshina Chitra – DakshinaChitra is a living-history museum in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, dedicated to South Indian heritage and culture. Opened to the public on 14 December 1996, the museum was founded and is being managed by the Madras Craft Foundation. Arulmigu Sri Parthasarathy Temple – The Parthasarathy Temple is an 8th-century Hindu Vaishnavite temple dedicated to the Lord Vishnu, located at Thiruvallikeni, Chennai, India. An evening to walk on Marina beach. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: The Raintree or similar.
✈️ Domestic flight from Jaipur to Chennai is not included.
Day 7: Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram (B)
Breakfast at the hotel drives to Mahabalipuram via visiting Kanchipuram – the City of Thousand Temples and The Silk City.
Visit Kailasanathar temple – the 8th-century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is noted for its architecture and sculptures. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine as a compound wall. Sandstone was used in the construction of this temple. Ekambareswarar temple – another ancient temple of the city dedicated to Siva. The 2500-year-old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yields different varieties of mangoes. Varadharaja temple – dedicated to Lord Vishnu, noted for its wonderful sculptures. This is one of the 108 sacred Shri Vaishnavite temples. Vaikundhaperumal temple – dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is also one of the 108 Divyadesams. Kamakshi Amman temple – dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi the presiding deity, one of the holy Sakthi worship places in India. It is closely associated with Sri Adi Sankaracharya.
Optionally visit Handloom industry – famous for handloom Silk Sarees the main profession of people in Kanchipuram.
Continue to drive to Mahabalipuram check-in at the hotel.
Later visit Monolithic Temples – locally known as Rathas. They were executed by chiseling out the exterior face of the boulder. Work started from top to bottom. The pyramidal vimana with Sikhara at the top is an important feature of this style. There a total number of 8 monolithic temples found in Mamallapuram. The five ratios in one place, Ganesha Ratha, Valayankuttai Ratha & Pidari Rathas. Shore Temple – built with blocks of granite in the 7th century during the rule of King Narsimha-Varman II Rajasimha the temple complex consisting of two Siva temples and a carving of Anantasayana Vishnu. The temple facing east is entered by a small gopura. It is one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. Cave Temples – cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style of the Pallava period in the 7th century. Remnants seen in the caves also indicate that they were plastered and painted when built. Many of the caves of the Pallava period have remained incomplete. The procedure in creating these caves involved the creation of a smooth rock face, then cutting columns through the polished rock faces of the required size, and then carving bas-reliefs on the walls of the cave. Krishna’s Butterball – a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline.
Rest time free & easy to relax. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Ideal Beach Resort or similar.
Day 8: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (B)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Pondicherry check-in at the hotel.
Later visit Aurovil – an experimental community in southern India. It was founded in 1968 by the spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa as a town where people from all over the world could live in harmony. Its focal point is the Matrimandir, a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs. Auroville Botanical Gardens protects the region’s tropical dry evergreen forest. Auroville Beach is a long sandy stretch with gentle surf. Sri Aurobindo – established in 1926 by Shree Aurobindo and ‘The Mother’. Together they explored the possibilities of yoga and meditation as a path to salvation. At the ashram, residents continue to practice their teachings. Pondicherry Museum – an art and history museum especially noted for its collection of fine lost-wax bronzes from the period of the Chola Empire. The Museum’s collection includes 81 Chola bronze sculptures, ranking as one of the largest collections of Chola bronzes.
French Colony – Pondicherry has some of the finest examples of old French culture with a hint of Tamil influence in its visual aesthetics. In this tour, you will catch sight of some of the unique and old infrastructures. Observe and get inspired by the architectural beauty of the French part of the town while enjoying a cup of coffee and some deserts along the way. As part of the package, customize your walk with your guide to cover the visit to the French consulate, French Institute, Raj Nivas, Bharati Park (Aayi Monument), Government Square, Beaches, Monuments, Churches, French schools.
An evening to relax on the beach. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Le Pondy or similar.
Day 9: Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Gangaikonda Cholapuram – Darasuram – Tanjore (B)
Breakfast at the hotel, drive to Tanjore. Enroute visit Chidambaram Nataraja Temple which is dedicated to the Nataraja or the dancing posture of Lord Shiva. This temple is located in the heart of the town and has undergone numerous renovations under the reign of Chola and Pallava kings. In 1213 AD, Aragalur Udaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan rebuilt some of the parts of this temple. The Nataraja Temple is known for its attractive gopurams, carvings, five mandapams, and inscriptions. Built during the 10th century by Chola Kings, this temple is known for its huge walls, four tall Shikharas in four directions, and a big Sivagangai tank. The four tall Shikharas are decorated with 108 carved dance postures of Natya Shastra.
Further, drive & visit Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple – built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The original courtyard is two squares stacked next to each other, all mandapas, the upapitham, the shrine plans, the garbha griha (sanctum) and the tower elements are all square-shaped and incorporate circles and principles of geometric symmetry. The structural elements resemble the big Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur. Both include a courtyard entered through multiple gateways and a relatively small gopuram (tower). Inside are shrines, most of which are aligned on an east-west axis; a few are perpendicular. The temple complex includes Nandi Mandapa, Alankar Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Mukha Mandapa, and Ardha Mandapa. Some of these were added and restored by Hindu kingdoms after the 14th century or by British Indian art conservation officials in the 19th century. There is an image of a seated Nandi bull in the courtyard, aligned axially 200 m (660 ft) facing the sanctum. There are five shrines around the sanctum and a Lion well, which was added during the 19th century. The temple site has a monolithic representation of Navagrahas, the nine planetary deities.
Continue drive & visit Darasuram Temple – a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deity’s consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple.
Continue to drive to Tanjore check-in at the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Sangam Hotels or similar.
Day 10: Tanjore – Trichy (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort – built by the great Chola king in the 10th century. It is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. On the top of the apex of 63 meters high dome is said to be constructed from a single piece of granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones. Thanjavur Palace & Museum – the palace near the temple is a vast building of masonry built by the Nayakas around 1550 and partly by the Maratha. The palace houses an art gallery, a library, and a hall of music. The art gallery occupies the Nayak Durbar Hall. It has a superb collection of Chola bronze statues from the 9th to 12th centuries. The Saraswati Mahal Library is next door to the gallery. Art Gallery – in the Palace there are a number of granite and bronze statues of the Chola period. Saraswathi Mahal Library – another section of the Palace is the library where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in India and European languages are preserved.
After sightseeing drive to Trichy check-in at the hotel. Rest time free and easy to relax. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: Sangam Hotels or similar.
Day 11: Trichy – Madurai (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. Visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple – there are 22 gopurams including India’s tallest (72 meters, 13 stories high). Many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas, and rulers from Vijayanagar. Ivory sculptures of Lord Vishnu in various poses and the images of Nayak Kings with consorts donated by Nayak kings who ruled Madurai during the 17th century are available here.
Rock Fort Temple: The 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the otherwise flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3.800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. At the top of the rock is the Uchipillaiyar Koil, a temple dedicated to Lord Vinayaka from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Tiruchirappalli. A flight of steps leads to the Mathrubutheswarar of Thayumanaswami temple, dedicated to Lord Siva where the lingam is a projection of the rock itself. Below the Siva temple are the two Pallava cave temples that have beautiful sculptures of the 6th and 7th centuries. At the foot of the Rock Fort are a tank and a pavilion which are used during the float festival of the temples. The Rock fort Hillock is said to be 230 crore years old. The materials like Quartz used in glassmaking and felspar used in ceramic are found in this Rock formation.
Tiruvanaikkaval – the Jambukeshwara temple, here is dedicated to Shiva, and it houses five concentric walls and seven gopurams. Once an elephant worshipped Lord Shiva under the holy Jambu tree and hence the name Jambukeshwar.
After sightseeing drive to Madurai check-in at the hotel.
Later city tour visit the Meenakshi Sundareshwar – one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Apart from the estimated 33 million sculptures there, the temple is absolutely absorbing with the endless rounds of ceremonies, prostration of countless devotees, and glittering market stalls. Later visit Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple, Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. Also, visit the Tirumal Nayak’s Palace; a highly decorative monument. Its enormous roofed arcade supported by 48 – foot high stone pillar still stands. In the evening visit the famous Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple to attend the Aarti (Prayers) witnessing interesting rituals and ceremonies. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: GRT Regency or similar.
Day 12: Madurai – Delhi (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for Delhi. On arrival at Delhi airport assistance and transfer to hotel. Rest time free and easy to relax and visit the place of your interest with your driver. Overnight at the hotel.
🏚️ Hotel Option: The Royal Plaza or similar.
✈️ Domestic flight from Madurai to Delhi is not included.
Day 13: Delhi – Departure (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination.
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