Chennai to Cochin Temple & Backwater
Arrive in Chennai & explore the colonial town, fort & churches. Then proceed to Mahabalipuram known for its temples and monuments built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries via Kanchipuram the city of thousands of temples. Walk in the street of the French colony in Pondicherry and then proceed to visit The Great Living Chola Temples at Darasuram Temple 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., Gangaikonda Cholapuram & Thanjavur. Then visit the two largest and active temples in India at Trichy & Madurai. Enter in the lush green Kerala hill Munnar a Tea Estate then to Alleppey a Backwater resort. Tour will end in Cochin the coastal gateway city connected with international flights.
Day 1: Arrive in Chennai
On arrival at Delhi airport assistance & transfer to hotel (check-in/out time 12 pm). Later city tour of Chennai. 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 (120kms) (B)
Drive to Mahabalipuram via visiting Kanchipuram an ancient city famous as the city of thousands of temples. Arrive 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 (120kms) (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 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 (180kms) (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.
Next drive to Gangaikonda Cholapuram 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 Temple 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 – Chettinad (140kms) (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.
Later 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. Arrive Chettinad check-in & overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Chettinad – Madurai (90kms)
Visit 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. 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 (160kms) (B)
Drive to Munnar check-in at the hotel. Later 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 the hotel.
Day 8: Munnar – Alleppey (165kms) (B)
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 9: Alleppey – Cochin (60kms) (B)
Disembark from the houseboat and drive to Cochin check-in at the hotel. Later 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`s Palace. In the evening enjoy Kathakali, a traditional dance form of Kerala with lavish costumes, exotic makeup, masks, etc. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10: Cochin – Departure (B)
As per flight schedule Departure transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination.
Specification: Chennai to Cochin Temple & Backwater
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