Fascinating South India Tour
Duration - 16 Days / 15 Nights
Destinations - Mumbai, Cochi , Kumarakom, Periyar, Madurai, Trichy, Tanjore, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, Chennai, Mysore, Bangalore , Mumbai
Day 1 : Mumbai - Cochin
Arrive at Mumbai early in the morning.
Proceed to a hotel close to the airport for breakfast and then take the morning flight to Cochin .
Arrive at Kochi ( Cochin ) and meet and assistance at the airport by our representative and transfer to your hotel.
The eventful history of this city began when a major flood in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi , till then a land locked region, turning it into one of the finest natural harbors in the world. Kochi thus became a haven for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became the first European town-ship in India when the Portuguese settled here in the 15th century.
The Dutch wrested Fort Kochi from the Portuguese in AD 1663 and later in the last phase of the colonial saga, the British took over, the town in 1795. During 1660's, Fort Kochi peaked in stature as a prime commercial centre and its fame spread far and wide - variously as a rich trade centre, a major military base, a vibrant cultural hub, a great ship building centre, a centre for Christianity and so on. Today, centuries later, the city is home to nearly thirteen communities.
In the early evening proceed for a private harbor cruise. Enjoy watching the dolphins, the fishing island and the Bolghatty Palace . Cruise till the mouth of the sea and enjoy the sunset.
Return to the hotel and enjoy a seafood dinner.
Overnight will be at Cochin.
Day 2 : Cochin
Breakfast will be at the hotel.
Proceed for a sight seeing tour of Cochin .
A few interesting sites included in the tour are the:
Chinese Fishing Nets: The Chinese fishing nets erected on teak wood and bamboo poles work on the principle of balance. Records say they were first set up here between AD 1350 and 1450. Vasco Da Gama Square , the narrow promenade that parallels the beach, is the best place to watch the nets being lowered and pulled out of the sea.
Jewish Synagogue: The Jewish community traces its history to nearly 2000 years ago. In 1948 the community numbered 2500 and today there are fewer that 30 people. The community is still centered round JEWTOWN where you will visit its crown Jewel, the Paradesi Synagogue. Built in 1568 and reconstructed after a Portugese bombardment in 1662, the synagogue is distinguished by its tile roof and bell tower. The small synagogue is also known for its hand-painted, willow-patterned, blue and white Chinese floor tiles, and the many brass and crystal lamps that hang from the ceiling. Later visit the interesting International Pepper Exchange, also located in Jewtown.
The Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Cruz Basilica, St. Francis Church, VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow etc. are also nice for sightseeing. Take a boat ride and visit BOLGATTY PALACE and VYPPIN ISLAND .
In the evening proceed for KATHAKALI DANCE PRESENTATION.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 3 : Cochin - Alleppey
By Road 60 km in 1 hr
House Boat Cruise
After breakfast proceed to Alleppey.
Alappuzha is famous for its boat races, houseboats, coir products, fish and lakes. Alappuzha remains prominent on the tourist trial of Kerala as one of the major centres for backwater boat trips. "Kuttanad" in Alappuzha is one of few places in the world where farming is done below sea level. Kuttanad is a land of lush paddy fields and is called the 'Rice Bowl' of Kerala. Kuttanad stretches for 75 Km sandwiched between the sea and the hills.
Check into a traditional houseboat of Kerala Style and go on a leisurely backwater cruise along the lake on a thatched houseboat.
The backwaters of Kerala are a unique product of Kerala and are found nowhere else in the world. Backwaters are a network of lakes, canals and estuaries and deltas of forty-four rivers that drain into the Arabian Sea . The backwaters of Kerala are a self supporting Eco-system teeming with aquatic life. The canals connect the villages together and are still used for local transport. Over 900 km of this labyrinthine water world is navigable.
The houseboat with all modern comforts lets you discover the countryside at your own pace. You will have lunch, dinner and breakfast in the Houseboat. A ride on the houseboat is a fabulous way to explore the fascinating beauty of the backwaters.
Lunch will be served on the boat freshly prepared by the crew.
In the evening the boat will anchor by the lush paddy fields and enjoy the tranquility of the water around.
Dinner would be laid out in the boat. Spend night on houseboat.
Day 4 Kumarakom - Periyar (THEKKADY):
By Road 130 km in 4 hr
Reach Kumarokom at noon . Visit the Bird Sanctuary. Proceed to Periyar.
Enjoy the scenic beauty & the marvelous waterfalls, high mountains with the low flying clouds passingby. Visit Tea Plantations and also see how tea is processed.
Check in at hotel on arrival. Periyar wildlife sanctuary is home to nomadic tribes of wild elephant, boar, deer, the great Indian tiger and more.
Evening go for boat cruise in the lake to watch wild animals.
Overnight stay will be at Periyar
Day 5 : Periyar
Enjoy breakfast at the resort.
Take a jungle trek in the morning with your guide. This is a very interesting trek and not very hard also.
Afternoon visit spice plantations like cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates etc. on your way back to the hotel, you could stop at the local market and pick up some fragrant spices.
Stay the night at Periyar.
Day 6 : Periyar - Madurai
By Road 180 km in 6 hr
Drive to Madurai after breakfast. Reach and transfer to hotel.
One of South India 's great temple towns, Madurai is synonymous with the celebrated Meenakshi Temple . Situated on the banks of river Vaigai, Madurai has a rich cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil era more than 2500 years old. Madurai was an important cultural and commercial centre even as early as 550 AD It was the Capital city for the great Pandyas kings.
Madurai 's Main attraction is the Famous Sri Meenakshi Amman temple a riotously baroque example of Dravidian architecture with Gopurams carved from top to bottom in a breathtaking profusion of multicolored images of Gods. Tamil & Greek documents record the existence of Madurai from the 4 th Century BC. The city was known to the Greeks through Magathenes who was their ambassador to the court of Chandraguptha Mauriya. This city was popular in trade especially in -spices. It was also the site the Sangam the academy of the Tamil Poets. And Madurai is the centre of all the cities and Madurai is famous for the cotton Sungudi Saris.
In the evening visit the great Meenakshi Temple dedicated to the consort of Lord Shiva. Later, visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace - A gracious building in the Indo saracenic style, famous for the Stucco work on its domes & arches. Also visit the Alagar Hills and Tirupara Kundran Rock temple. Afternoon will be free.
Overnight will be at Madurai.
Day 7 : Madurai - Trichy - Tanjore
By road 190 km in 6 hr.
Enjoy sightseeing in the morning.
Gandhi Museum : The Gandhi Memorial Museum is one of the distinct places to be visited in Madurai . This Museum is one of the rare living memorials of "The Father of India". The Museum is set in relaxing grounds and has a clear historical account of India 's struggle for Independence .
The Vishnu Temple : There is a Vishnu Shrine called Kudal Algar (Kudal is the former names this town) and it is said that Lord Vishnu came down to this place to give away Meenakshi to God Sundareshwara. The vimana or the tower of the god in the temple is of a very fine workmanship and is known as the Ashtanga Vimana. The Marriage of the Meenakshi is to have been celebrated on the day of Panguni Uttram generally occurring on the Full moon day of the month of Panguni (March - April). And is a very important Event in this place.
Thirumalai Nayak Palace : This Palace was built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian Architect. The building we see today was the main Palace where the King lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure. This palace consisted mainly of two parts, namely Swargavilasa and Rangavilasa. In these two parts, there are royal residence, theatre, shrine, apartments, armoury, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond and garden. King Thirumalai Nayak celebrated festivals like Sceptre festival, Navarathri, Chithirai festival, Masi festival and the Float festival. He conducted daily dance and music performances in the palace. This palace was destroyed by his grandson Chokkanatha Nayak and the valuables were transferred to other places. During the British rule, in 1822, Lord Napier made several renovation works. Then the palace was utilized to house some officials of the judiciary and district administration. After independence, this palace was declared as a national monument and is now under the care of the Tamilnadu Archaeological Department.
Drive to Tanjore and on your way stop at trichy.
Visit the ancient temples dedicated to Lord Ganapathi, 434 steps cut out into the rock side and interspersed with shrines, lead to the temple. Visit SRIRANGAM, a massive temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu sprawled on a Island in CAUVERY RIVER -which contains within its walls a Bazaar (TRADITIONAL MARKET OF INDIA) as well. Gaze up at the twenty-one magnificent towers of the temple surrounded by seven walls.
On arrival, transfer to hotel and relax.
Tanjore is also known as Thanjavur (The rice bowl of TAMIL NADU). Proceed for sight seeing of Tanjore. Visit the famous Chola Temple of Brihadeeshwara - A WORLD HERITAGE MONUMENT. Its bronze and handicrafts make Tanjore one of the highlights of the tour to South India . The majesty of the palaces and art gallery attached to the temple is really awe-inspiring.
It is also famous for the silk.
Overnight will be at Tanjore.
Day 8 : Tanjore - Pondicherry
By road 65 km in 1 hour
Proceed for a sight seeing of the city of Tanjore also known as Thanjavur.
See the beautiful Chola temple of Brihadeeshwara . The temple is capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite block weighing 80 tons which was taken to the top with the help of a 6 km long ramp- an old technique used by the Egyptians for building pyramids. You will also visit the Palace and its Art Gallery , which contains several granite and bronze statues of the Chola period.
After lunch at local restaurant, proceed to Pondicherry , which carries a strong whiff of the French presence in India . This erstwhile French colony on the East Coast of South India merged with the rest of the country in 1954.
Legend says that Pondicherry is the place where St.Agasthaya settled down.
Overnight will be at hotel.
Day 9 : Pondicherry
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.
Drive to visit Aurbindo Ashram, the city of dawn, 10 km north of Pondicherry . This ashram promotes Aurbindo's ideas in bringing about a synthesis of Yoga and modern science, so as to unite the spirit and matter. Enjoy the promenade and the city.
Overnight will be at hotel
Day 10 : Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram
By Road :100 km in 2 hours
After breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram.
Afternoon visit the city - built in 7th century, earlier called Mahabalipooram, this ancient Pallava port, is today the sight of several antique sculptural marvels. In this ancient seaside town shrines and huge sculptures cut-out of rocks more than 1200 years back during the reign of Pallava Kings in the region can be seen. The rock carvings depicting mythological episodes - of demons, Gods and animals in battle and others - are truly poems in stone. The only shore temple which remains here is the spectacular two - spired shrine, unique because it houses both Lord Shiva and the Lord Vishnu in its sanctum-sanctorum.
Overnight will be at the beach resort.
Day 11: Mahabalipuram - Kanchipuram - Chennai
By Road : 76 km in 2 hours
After breakfast drive to Kanchipuram - is the ancient capital of the Pallavas famous as a city of 1000 Temples and still has 124 shrines. The first temple dedicated to Shiva was built in the 7th and 8th century and has paintings on the walls. The important temples here are of Ekambaswara, Kailasanatha, Sri Kamakshi and Varadarajaswamy. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silks.
Arrive Chennai - the gatewayto southern India , established in 1639 by the East India Company, is one of the oldest cities of the country.
The first British Warehouse came up in 1639 when the British acquired the sandy beach from the local Nayaks on lease. It was called Madraspatinam then. Later by 1654, the Fort St. George was built. Still later the neighboring villages were included in the city which came either as grants or gifts. Triplicane was rented fromthe Sultan of Golconda in the year 1676. In 1744 Robert Clive worked as a writer fromthe Fort, later to become a military man of British Army. The Fort House, which housed the Governor and his council, were added in the 17th Century, the Assembly Hall in 1910 and the Secretariat in 1925.
All the neighboring areas were merged into the city now known as Madras or as Chennai as it is officially known. Until-Independence , Madras was the capital of what in British times was called the Madras Presidency, comprising nearly the whole of South India , including the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada speaking areas.
Check in at hotel and stay overnight.
Day 12 : Chennai
Proceed for city tour of Chennai in the morning after breakfast.
Santhome Cathedral : Built by Portuguese in the 14th and 15th century, this Cathedral is named after St. Thomas . Historically important, it is one of the pilgrimages for the Christian community.
Fort St. George, one the first few bastions built by the east India company, marks the beginning of Chennai as a modern city. It occupies a place of pride and prominence in Chennai. This bastion achieved its name from St. George, the patron saint of England . The state legislature and the secretariat are located in Fort St. George. It houses the St. Mary's church the oldest Anglican Church in India which was built in 1680 and the tombstones in its courtyard are the oldest British tombstones in India . The Fort Museum , once a building that housed Chennai's first lighthouse, first commercial bank and first 'club', is now a well-kept repository of tangible memories of early Madras .
Kapaleeswarar Temple Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kapaleeswarar temple has inscriptions from the 13th century A.D. The temple 'Gopuram' (tower) is in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture. The walls and pillars of temple have very delicate and intricate carvings which depict the scenes from Hindu mythology.
Overnight will be at Hotel.
Day 13: Chennai - Mysore
By deluxe train in 8hrs (0600/1300)
Take deluxe train to Mysore.
Breakfast will be served on the train.
Reach and proceed to the hotel.
The picturesque railway station of Mysore has repeatedly won awards by the Indian Railways for its extremely courteous and excellent service by the staff at the counters. Mysore is connected by broad-gauge rail to Bangalore and also has meter-gauge services to Chamarajanagar (south) and to Arasikere (north-west).
Mysore city was the capital of the old royal Mysore province. The word Mysore expands to "Mahishasurana Ooru" which means the town of Mahishasura. The story goes that the demon Mahishasura was killed by goddess Chamundeshwari atop the -Chamundi hill near Mysore, and hence the name. Ever since, the Mysore royal family has worshipped Chamundeshwari as the palace deity. Hills dedicated to her stand at the eastern end of Mysore town today.
To the people of India the word Mysore is synonymous with Sandalwood, silk and fine inlay-work using ivory. It is the home of incense sticks dipped in sandalwood oil perfume base and has two well known incense factories - the Aravinda Parimala and the Vasu and Cycle brand (together these two account for 70% of the incense stick export from India). Mysore is also the home of many well regarded musicians and artists. It is even today the hub of the tourist map of Karnataka. Nearby are several places of interest to visitors, some of these are Brindavan Gardens, Srirangapattana, Rangana Tittu bird sanctuary, Chamundi Hills, Nanjanagudu, Bandipur forest reserve, Shivanasamudra falls, and Talakaadu.
Enjoy sightseeing tour of the city.
Mysore Palace: The Maharaja's Palace is one of the important sights in Mysore. Built in Indo-Saracenic style with domes, turrets, arches and colonnades, the Palace is a treasure house of exquisite carvings and works of art from all over the world. Intricately carved doors open on to luxuriously furnished rooms. The majestic Durbar Hall has an ornate ceiling and many sculpted pillars. The magnificent jewel studded golden throne of the Wodeyars is displayed here during the Dasera festival. Illuminated on Sundays and public holidays, the palace presents a spectacle of breathtaking beauty.
Chamundi Hills: A well known 335 meters high landmark, Chamundi Hill can be reached by a 13 km road or by climbing up the 1,000 steps laid out by the Mysore Maharaja in the 17th century. Half-way up along the stone steps is Nandi, Lord Shiva's Bull, a majestic 4.8 meter monolith. At the top is the 12th century temple of Chamundeshwari, the patron goddess of the Wodeyars.Close to the temple is the gigantic statue of the demon Mahishasura. The summit offers a panoramic view of Mysore's lakes, parks and palaces.
Brindavan Gardens: Located at the KR Sagar Dam [Kannambadi], Brindavan Gardens is one of the best gardens in South India. Spread over an acre, Brindavan Gardens has since the 1960s provided the backdrop for many Indian films. Special attractions include the 'Dancing Fountains'. Timings: Monday-Friday: 6:30 PM - 7:25 PM and Saturday-Sunday: 6:30 PM - 8:25 PM
St. Philomena's Church: A beautiful Cathedral, reminiscent of medieval architectural style, is one of the largest churches in the country. Built in the gothic style, the Church is an imposing structure with stained glass windows and lofty towers.
The Art Gallery: The Jaganmohan Palace was converted into an art gallery in 1875 and exhibits paintings which date back to that period. The artists of that time used natural vegetable and mineral dyes. The famous traditional Mysore 'gold leaf ' paintings are also exhibited in the gallery, as are oil paintings of contemporary artist like Raja Ravi Varma and Svetoslav Roerich.
Overnight will be at Mysore.
Day 14: Mysore - Bangalore
By Road 150 km in 3 hours
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel.
Drive to Bangalore.
On your way you will visit the following places:
Daria Daulat Bagh: Tipu's Summer Palace, built in 1784, is located here. Made of teak, this Indo-Sarcenic structure has ornate and beautiful frescos. It is now a museum and tells eloquently of Tipu's valor and his losing
Fort: It is here that Tipu charged at the British soldiers with his legendary sword. An obelisk in the fort marks the place where he fell - betrayed by his own men. The fort holds within it, a mosque and the Ranganathaswamy Temple. Outside the fort is the Gumbaz, Tipus tomb with splendid
Reach Bangalore and check in at hotel.
A major industrial and commercial center, with scientific and research activity, Bangalore is multifaceted: modern marvels, historical monuments, bustling shopping plazas, a race course and golf courses. Called the Silicon Valley of India for its growing software industry, it is also known as the city of draught beer. Bangalore is capital of Karnataka which harbours a diversity of interests such as the ruins of Vijaynagar, sculptures of Belur and Halebid, mausoleum of Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur, golden sands of Karavalli, proud hills of Kodagu, forests of Bandipur, Nagarhole and Bannerghatta, and Chikmagalur with its mountains and coffee plantations, majestic Mysore and the worlds tallest freestanding monolith of Bahubali at Sravanabelagola.
In the evening visit a nice pub or explore the MG ROAD.
Overnight will be at Bangalore.
Day 15: Bangalore - Mumbai
Start sightseeing tour of the city after breakfast.
Vidhana Soubha: This splendid neo-Dravidian granite building that dominates the northern boundary of the Cubbon park, is the home of the State Legislature and the Secretariat. The massive sandalwood door of the Cabinet room is a spectacular feature of this imposing building. The Vidhana Soudha is bedecked in illuminated glory during special periods and is a sight worth
Cubbon Park: This wooded and beflowered park was laid out in the heart of the cantonment in 1864. Since then, fairy fountains, an august bandstand and a wealth of atatury have been added. But the most important aspect of Cubbon Park is -its newer buildings that have added beauty and cultural wealth. Lush green lawns, shady flowering trees, vibrant flower beds, make Cubbon Park an ideal place for morning joggers and alike.
Lal Bagh: Hyder Ali laid out this famous botanical garden and hisson added horticultural wealth to them by importing trees and plants from several countries. The garden today houses over 1000 species of flora which include rare and enchanting collection of tropical plants, trees and herbs. TheGlass House, modelled along London's Crystal Palace, is the center of attraction in this 2400-acre park. Bi-annual flower shows attracting participants from all over India is held in the Glass House.
Tipus Palace & Fort: The Bangalore Fort was built by Kempe Gowda and expanded by Tipu Sultan. Within its walls is the well preserved 16th century Ganapathi Temple.
The Bangalore Palace was built by a Wodeyar king in 1887. Inspired by the Windsor castle, this palace was built in the Tudor style, complete with Gothic windows, the foiled windows, battlements and turrets resembling the Daria Daulat Palace in Srirangapatanam, this summer palace has been constructed largely of wood and is famous for it's carving and paintings.
Take afternoon flight to Mumbai.
Reach and check in at hotel close to the airport.
Its young, its lively and a confluence of varied cultural currents and cross currents have given Mumbai a unique position of the most multi-ethnic city of India. The capital city of Maharashtra State formerly known as Bombay lies in the southwestern part of India and occupies a peninsular site originally composed of seven islets lying off the KONKAN COAST of western India. Oozing with the cocksure self-confidence of a maverick moneymaker and "Bindass" (carefree) attitude, Mumbai is also country's financial and commercial hub and has a principal port on the Arabian Sea. Yet, there's another face of Mumbai too that is of the most densely populated cities in the world. Mumbai is located on a site of ancient settlement and took its name from the local Goddess "Mumba" - a form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva, one of the principal Gods of Hinduism - whose temple once stood in what is now the southeastern section of the Mumbai city.
In the evening enjoy shopping and explore the JUHU BEACH.
Juhu is one of the largest and frequently visited beaches of India. Located 18-km north of the city centre, it's a beckoning beach on the shores of Arabian Sea and is one of the posh localities of Mumbai where one can find the bungalows of the famous film personalities. Many shootings are held here too.
Overnight will be at Mumbai.
Day 16: Mumbai - Home
Take early morning flight home with sweet memories of India.