Temples & Backwater Tour of South India
In this, Temples & Backwater Tour of south India will visit the two-state of India. Tamil Nadu is famous for its exquisite temples of which some are UNESCO World Heritage sites. See the largest & oldest active temples of Hindus in Thanjavur, Trichy & Madurai. Explore Tea – growing region of Munnar & picturesque Periyar National Park. Learn about spice plantation & cruise along backwaters, before ending the tour at the world-famous Kovalam beach.
Day 1: Arrive in Chennai
On arrival at Chennai airport assistance & transfer to hotel (check-in/out time 12pm). Visit Fort St. George & St Mary`s Church inside the fort built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. Kapaleeshwarar Temple a holy shrine of Lord Shiva originally built by the mighty Pallavas and rebuilt in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings. Vadapalani Murugan Temple one of the most frequented places of worship for Hindus in Chennai. Government Museum built in the Indo-Saracenic style houses a rich collection of works of Raja Ravi Varma. Dakshinachitra Museum, one of the living-history museums. Santhome Cathedral a historical and ancient pilgrim center, which was built during the 14th to the 15th century AD by the then reigning Portuguese. Drive Pass Marina Beach a 13kms long natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Chennai – Mahabalipuram (120km) (B)
Drive to Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram the city of thousand temples. In Kanchipuram visit Kailasanathar temple 8th-century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ekambareswarar temple an ancient temple dedicated to Siva, 2500 year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yields different varieties of mangoes. Varadharaja temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Vaikundhaperumal temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu & Kamakshiamman temple the ultimate form of Goddess Parvati.
Continue drive to Mahabalipuram check in at hotel. Later visit Monolithic Temples Five Rathas excellent examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. Krishnas Butterball a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline. 7th century Cave Temples cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style. 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 Arjuna`s Penance an enormous rock-cut relief, one of the largest in the whole world. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (120km) (B)
Drive to Pondicherry check-in at the hotel. Visit Auroville an experimental community 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. Pondicherry Museum houses a fantastic collection of bronze sculptures of god and goddess, a wide gathering of temple lamps, handicrafts, and art. Drive and pass or walk through stunning French Quarters, charming mustard streets, colonial villas, and vibrant Tamil settlements. Besides a very picturesque view of the lovely alleys and narrow lanes, you can also marvel at the gorgeous architecture of the French colonial settlements which include the French consulate, Raj Nivas, Government Square, Churches & French schools. An evening to relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Pondicherry – Thanjavur (180km) (B)
Drive to Thanjavur via visiting Nataraja Temple dedicated to the dancing posture of Lord Shiva at Chidambaram. Constructed during the 10th century when Chidambaram used to be the capital of the Chola dynasty, the architecture of the temple represents the link between arts and spirituality. Also, visit The Great Living Chola Temples at Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The temple complex includes Nandi Mandapa, Alankar Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Mukha Mandapa and Ardha Mandapa. And Darasuram a storehouse of art and architecture with 85 feet high vimana. 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. Arrive Thanjavur check-in & overnight at hotel.
Day 5: Thanjavur – Trichy (60km) (B)
Visit Brihadeshwara Temple, built in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site. The shrine is a 216 feet structure, the sanctum is dotted with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods, and the statue of Nandi the Bull welcomes at the entrance. Vijayanagar Fort built by Nayaks and partly by Maratha rulers during the early 1550 AD. Thanjavur Art Gallery, located in the Thanjavur Palace has an exquisite collection of ancient sculptures and coins. Saraswathi Mahal Library another section of the Palace where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts are preserved. Continue to drive to Trichy check-in at the hotel. Visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple the largest functional temple in the world. The temple complex along with the surrounding area covers a total area of 156 acres, 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. Rock Fort Temple the 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. Also, visit Jambukeswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, it houses five concentric walls and seven gopurams. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Trichy – Madurai (135km) (B)
Drive to Madurai check-in at the hotel. Later visit Meenakshi Temple one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th to 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. Thirumalai Nayakar Palace built in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, the palace depicts the perfect blend of Dravidian and Rajput styles. Also visit Alagar Koil, Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple & Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Madurai – Munnar (160km) (B)
Drive to Munnar, check-in at the hotel. During the British rule in India, Munnar was the summer resort of the Government officials. The natural beauty, calmness, and mild cold climate throughout the year make it the favorite tourist place. The tea estates, hills, lakes, and forests inside the Munnar range expose its beauty. Later tea estate visit and tea tasting. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Munnar (B)
Visit Pothamedu which offers an excellent view of the tea, coffee, and cardamom plantations in Munnar. Mattupetty dam and its reservoir, a concrete gravity dam built between the hill ranges for water storage for hydroelectric projects. Rajamala a hill station in Eravikulam National Park a natural habitat of the Niligiri tahr 2695 Mts above sea level. Half the world`s population of the rare mountain goat or tahr which is fast becoming extinct is now found here. Mattupedi Dairy Farm, famous for the Indo-Swiss Farm, a highly specialized dairy farm that comes under Indo-Swiss Livestock Project. Echo Point, go there and scream as loud as you can and wait for a minute to hear your echo back! Also, visit the Tea Museum to know more about the century-old culture a lively glimpse of how the tea culture flourished across South India. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Munnar – Thekkady (110km) (B)
Drive to Thekkady via Ramakkalmedu one of the windiest places in Asia and being so, one can find here a wind farm generating electricity. Visit Frog Rock, Turtle Rock, and the highest twin-statue in Kerala called Kuravan & Kurathi. Evening watch Kalaripayattu (Martial Arts for self-defense) & Kathakali Dance show performance. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10: Thekkady (B)
Visit Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on a boat. The tropical evergreen and deciduous forests teeming with elephants, bison, sambar deer, wild dogs, jungle cats, tiger, and wild boar along with various species of snake including cobras, vipers, kraits, and many non-poisonous snakes is a wildlife lover`s dream. A variety of birds such as grey jungle fowl, Malabar grey hornbill, woodpeckers, and bulbuls also have found a home in this sanctuary. Afterward take a spice plantation tour to see crops of cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates, etc. You could stop at the local market and pick some fragrant spices. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: Thekaddy – Alleppey (135km) (B,L,D)
Transfer to Alleppey boat jetty to board the houseboat and sail through the tropical countryside enchanting backwaters. While sailing enjoys palm fringed narrow canals winding through the vast expanse of paddy fields and the neat tiny hamlets lined up along either side of the canals, the panoramic sights one can never forget. Pass through one of the few areas in the world where farming is done below sea level. Alleppey is referred to as the Venice of the East, due to canals, backwaters, and lagoons. Boats are the main mode of transportation here, you can see Shikara boats, small motorboats, passenger boats, cargo boats, and houseboats. Evening enjoys the sunset from the sun-deck of the houseboats. The Houseboats have generated electricity, sitting cum dining area, separate bedroom with attached English toilets, sun deck and fully loaded kitchen with a chef & driver. Overnight in houseboat.
Day 12: Alleppey – Cochin (60km) (B)
Drive to Cochin check-in at the hotel. City tour of Cochin the lovely seaside city flanked by the Western Ghats on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. You will find here a unique mix and match of traditional as well Western architecture and lifestyle. Visit Fort Cochin a charming seaside area known for its Dutch, Portuguese & British colonial architecture and elaborate bamboo fishing nets at Fort Kochi Beach. St. Francis Church was the original burial site of explorer Vasco da Gama. Upscale eateries and chic cafes serve Keralan specialties, and quaint shops sell cotton clothing and handmade souvenirs. Heritage buildings house contemporary art galleries. Also, visit Jewish Synagogue & the Mattancherry Dutch Palace. In the evening enjoy Kathakali, a traditional dance form of Kerala with lavish costumes, exotic makeup, masks, etc. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Cochin – Kovalam (beach) (200km) (B)
Drive to Kovalam check-in at the hotel. Rest day free and easy for personal activities & relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Kovalam (B)
City tour of Trivandrum. Visit Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple embellished in gold-plated covering, the temple sanctum is opened only to Hindus. Attukal Temple, rich in cultural heritage and adorned by impeccable Tamil architecture. The city has a rich tradition of nurturing art and culture since ancient times, witness same by visiting Museums. Napier Museum, renowned for its fine collection of sculptures, paintings, and musical instruments. Kuthira Malika built-in 1840 is an iconic monument that gives you a curious insight into the glorious history of Kerala. The museum houses artifacts like the ethnic jewelry that was once worn by the queens, wooden paintings and carvings, armory, and idols made of the purest metal. Sri Chitra Art Gallery a perfect place for art lovers housing some of the famous work of Raja Ravi Verma and art objects belonging to the Mughals, Rajputs, and Tanjore art schools. Drive through famous beaches which include Shankumugham Beach, Kovalam Beach, Vizhinjam Beach & Light House Beach Road. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15: Kovalam – Departure (B)
As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination.
Tour Details: Temples & Backwater Tour of South India
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