Incredible Tour of South India
The private tour of south India will begin in Bangalore and include Vellore, Kanchipuram, Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Darasuram, Thanjavur, Trichy, Chettinad, Madurai, Hyderabad, Bidar, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Badami, Gadag, Lakkundi, Hampi, Hassan, Shravanabelagola & Mysore in its itinerary. You will visit a few active, few nonactive small to largest temple complexes in Tamilnadu before flying to Hyderabad an Imperial city of Nizams. Explore the Deccan region ruled by different dynasties and their landmarks left in their fort, palaces, tomb, and Temples.
Day 1: Arrive in Bangalore
On arrival at Bangalore airport assistance & transfer to hotel (check-in/out time 12 pm). Rest time free for personal activities. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Bangalore (B)
Visit Lal Bagh Garden which houses over 1800 species of flora including a rare and enchanting collection of tropical plants, trees, and herbs. Cubbon Park a landmark area located within the heart of the city. The Bangalore Fort a living testimony of the notorious struggle of the Mysore Empire against the mighty Britishers. Tippu`s Summer Palace the magnificent accommodation of the valiant ruler of Mysore Tipu Sultan. Bangalore Palace the epitome of great architecture and beauty a mixture of Tudor & Scottish Gothic architecture. The Bull Temple one of the oldest temples in the city. Also, drive and pass the Government buildings Vidhana Soudha & the Secretariat.
Day 3: Bangalore – Vellore (220km) (B)
Drive to Vellore check-in at the hotel. Visit Sri Lakshmi Narayani Golden Temple situated at the foot of a small range of green hills. This temple is gilded with 1500kg of pure gold, double the dome of the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Also, visit 16th-century Vellore Fort & Jalakandeswarar Temple inside the fort features many ornate sculptures.
Day 4: Vellore – Chennai (145km) (B)
Drive to Chennai via visiting Kanchipuram temples.
On arrival check-in at the hotel. 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-Sarcenic 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.
Day 5: Chennai – Pondicherry (160km) (B)
Drive to Pondicherry via Mahabalipuram. In Mahabalipuram 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.
Continue to drive to Pondichery check-in at the hotel. Later visit Aurovil 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 it 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 6: 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 the hotel.
Day 7: Thanjavur – Chettinad (140km) (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.|
Drive to Chettinad via visiting Trichy 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. Continue to drive to Chettinad, check-in & overnight at the hotel.
Day 8: Chettinad – Madurai (90km) (B)
Chettinad the region well known for its 19th-century mansions, whose wide courtyards and spacious rooms are embellished with marble and teak. Construction materials, decorative items, and furnishings were mostly imported from East Asian countries and Europe. The marble was brought from Italy, chandeliers, and teak from Burma, crockery from Indonesia, crystals from Europe, and wall-to-wall mirrors from Belgium. Many of these mansions were built using a type of limestone known as Karai. They were built by men who once traded in everything from salt to gems. But in the mid-20th century, most Chettiar families moved to cities. Their palatial homes were left in the custody of caretakers, who maintained them for those rare occasions, such as weddings or Pongal, the Tamil harvest festival, when the family came to visit. Drive to Madurai check-in at the hotel. Rest time free and easy to relax. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Madurai – Hyderabad (B)
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. Transfer to airport to board flight for Hyderabad. Arrival transfer to hotel check-in.
Day 10: Hyderabad (B)
City tour of Hyderabad, explore 400-year-old metropolitan city teeming with bustling bazaars & Muslim monuments. Visit Golconda Fort renowned for its diamond mines that have given the world-famous Kohinoor and Darya-i-Noor diamonds. The ancient fort complex of Golconda will charm you with its history, tinged with legends and anecdotes. Qutub Shahi Tombs a group of small and big mosques and tombs built by the rulers of the Qutub Shah dynasty on a raised platform and have a dome-shaped structure. Charminar built-in 1591 by Quli Qutub Shah is an identifying landmark of Hyderabad. It is also famous for the market that sprawls around it called Laad Bazaar. Salar Jung Museum (Friday closed) a treat for tourists famous for being the third-largest museum in the country, having the largest antique collection dating back to the first century. Chowmahalla Palace (Friday closed) the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizams entertained their official guests and royal visitors. Birla Mandir made of pure white Rajasthani marble the temple beauty leaves you awestruck. Also drive and pass Hussain Sagar Lake one of the largest man-made lakes renowned for its monolith of Lord Buddha placed right at the center of the lake. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: Hyderabad – Gulbarga (260km) (B)
Drive to Gulbarga via visiting Bidar Fort one of the magnificent forts rebuilt by Sultan Ahmed Shah Wali of Bahmani Dynasty, when his capital was moved from Gulbarga to Bidar in 1430 AD along with a number of Islamic monuments. The Bidar Fort is a specimen of Persian architecture, surrounded by three miles long walls and comprising 37 bastions, triple moat & seven gates. Bahmani Tombs the 12 tombs of Bahmani Sultans are huge structures with beautiful arches, niches, and lofty domes. The Rangeen Mahal built in the mid-16th century, the tile work, and the granite with mother-of-pearl inlay work are the exclusive features of the citadel walls. Narasimha Jhira a wonderful cave temple situated on the outskirts of Bidar town dedicated to the lion god Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Temple is known for its natural beauty and is considered to be very sacred. Arrive Gulbarga check-in at the hotel.
Day 12: Gulbarga – Bijapur (170km) (B)
Visit Gulbarga Fort a leftover of the Brahmani era, was originally built by Raja Gulch and. Later 15 towers were added by Allah-ud-din Bahmani in the existing structure of the fort. The fort contained 15 towers and 26 guns of which one was 8 meters long. Jama Masjid a 14th-century mosque in Fort complex which marks the establishment of the Bahmani Kingdom in the Deccan. Jama Masjid’s interior is similar to the Great Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. Sharana Basaveshwara Temple built in the twelfth century, this temple is a marvel of Hindu stone carvings. The pillars, walls, and towers of the site are covered with intricate carvings of Hindu gods, goddesses, demigods, damsels, animals, and events from local lore. Tomb of Sufi mystic Khwaja Bande Nawaz a unique confluence of religious diversity. The Persian, Indo-Saracenic and Arabic influences on the building are evident from the dome and towers that surround the tomb. Drive to Bijapur, check-in & overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Bijapur – Badami (120km) (B)
City tour of Bijapur. Visit The Bijapur Fort which has a plethora of historical monuments of architectural importance built during the rule of the Adil Shahi dynasty. The prominent attraction includes Asar Mahal built-in 1640 used to serve as a Hall of Justice, Bara Kaman the unfinished mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II, Gol Gumbaz the second largest dome in the world, Jama Masjid noted for graceful twin minarets, Malik-e-Maidan the biggest cannon ever made in the history of world & Mehtar Mahal built-in 1620 the most elegant structure within the fort & the Ibrahims Rouza built in the 15th century. Overnight at hotel. Drive to Badami check-in & overnight at the hotel.
Day 14: Badami (B)
Excursion to visit Aihole a historical site & home to over 125 beautiful Chalukyan temples and monuments from the 6th to 12th century. Few important monuments in Aihole include the Durga Temple, Lad Khan Temple, Ravanaphadi Cave Temples, Huchimalli Temple, Meganagudi Group Temple, Gowda Temple, and the Huchappayyagudi Temple amongst numerous others. And Pattadakal a treasure trove of Hindu and Jain temples complex built-in 7th and 8th century CE. The various temples that one must visit are Virupaksha Temple, Jain temple, Papanatha temple, Galaganath temple, and Sangameshwara temple. Also visit Badami Cave consist of four separate temples, each holding intricate carvings & depictions. Badami Fort perched on the top of a cliff accompanied by two Shivalaya complexes dating back to the 5th century & a watchtower atop the hill. And Agastya Lake surrounded by red sandstone temples. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15: Badami – Hampi (180km) (B)
Drive to Hampi. En-route visit Gadag a place of historical importance, famous for its ancient Hindu & Jain temples and medieval architecture. Constructed between the 10th to 12th CE by the Kings of the Chalukyan Empire, the Trikuteshewara Temple is famous for its style of architecture and the temple has three Shivalingas carved out of a single rock. And Lakkundi heaven of ancient temples ruins and step wells. It is a place of antiquarian interest with more than 50 ancient temples scattered all over the village, 101 stepped wells built during the rule of the Chalukyas, Seuna, Kalachuris, and Hoysalas. These temples are most famous for their ornate and elaborate furnishing. Arrive Hampi check-in & overnight at the hotel.
Day 16: Hampi (B)
City tour of Hampi a UNESCO World Heritage site dotted with numerous ruined temple complexes from the Vijayanagara Empire on the bank of the River Tungabhadra. Although the city was destroyed by marauding Moghul invaders in the 16th century, much of it remains today. The vast site of monuments and ruins is a mute witness to an ear of glories, triumphs, and tragedies. The ruins of Hampi are so majestic and imposing that they leave the visitor totally dumbfounded, awestruck, and humbled. Visit Hazara Rama Temple, Kings Balance, Mahanavami Dibba, Royal enclosures, Statue of Ugra Narasimha Temple, Virupaksha Temple, Vithala Temple Complex, Lotus Mahal & ASI Museum. Overnight at hotel.
Day 17: Hampi – Hassan (330km) (B)
Drive to Hassan en-route visit Belur, once the capital of the Hoysala Empire is known for its exquisite temples. The celebrated temple of Chennakeshava built by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 AD, is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. Everything is carved in black stone looking like metal. Kappe Chennigaraya Temple is another majestic 12th CE temple built next to a pond. The stone architecture has splendid carvings and bas-relief work. The Temple complex includes two ornate pillars, one of the Garuda built during the Vijaynagar period and one with a lamp built during the Hoysala period. Lakshmi temple, Sowmyanayaki temple & Ranganayaki temple are other temples in the same complex. In Halebedu visit the Hoysaleswara Temple built-in 12th CE surrounded by ponds, mandapas, and lakes. It is well known for the sculptures and architecture of the Hoysala period standing on a platform like a casket, richly endowed with the most finely detailed scrollwork in stone. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of gods and goddesses. Other temples in Halebedu are Kadareswara Temple, Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Ishvara Temple, Koravangala Temple, Lakshmi Devi temple & Hulikere Pond. Also, visit the Jain bastics. Drive to Hassan check-in at the hotel.
Day 18: Hassan – Mysore (140km) (B)
Drive to Mysore via visiting Shravanabelagola one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. Visit Vindhyagiri Hill where a 17m high naked Lord Bahubali (Gommateshwara) the world’s tallest monolithic statue, is placed. And Chandragiri Hill which is also a seat of several ancient Jain centers, much older than the Gommateshwara statue.
Arrive Mysore check-in at the hotel. City tour visits Mysore Palace built-in 1912 for the 24th Ruler of the Wodeyar Dynasty and is counted amongst one of the biggest palaces in the country. Chamundi Hills, site of the Chamundeswari Temple, one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas located on the eastern edge at the height of 1000ft. The temple also has statues of Nandi Bull and Mahishasura the demon. City Palace was re-built by Henry Irwin in 1897 in an indo-Saracenic style. The palace contains astonishing wall paintings, authentic stained glass work, and ornamented doors. St. Philomena`s Church the second tallest church of Asia built in the Neo-Gothic style of architecture. Jaganmohan Palace housed the royals before the construction of The Mysore palace, this structure displays various paintings of the past kings of Mysore and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
Day 19: Mysore – Bangalore (140km) (B)
Drive to Bangalore and drop off at to the airport to board a flight for onward destination.
Specification: Incredible Tour of South India
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