Chennai – Mahabalipuram- Tanjore -Trichy- Karaikudi -Madurai –Periyar- Alleppey- Cochin

SOUTH INDIA IS WHERE the great Dravidian kingdoms were established, and anyone interested in ancient history and grand temples must visit Tamil Nadu or Karnataka. Nothing can really prepare a visitor for the temples, where images of the quiet bustle of the vast halls, the huge gopurams completely covered by colored sculptures of gods and goddesses, the sight of bare feet walking across cool slabs, the heady smell of incense and the chime of the temple bell rung by priests and the faithful leave entrancing impressions. Enjoy the lush, green tropical landscapes of coconut groves, paddy fields and placid backwaters that make up the Kerala coastline.

Upon arrival, you will be met and greeted with a traditional welcome. Chennai, the gateway to South India is often called the ‘Cultural Capital of India’ for its deep-rooted traditions and age-old heritage. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning tour of Chennai city includes visit to Kalakshetra or the Temple of Art, the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, an ancient temple dating back 300 years and the Basilica of San Thome, which houses the grave of St. Thomas the Apostle. Also, visit the Government Museum and National Gallery . Travel by road to Mahabalipuram visiting en route the Kanchipuram temples, considered as one of seven sacred cities of Hindus. Transfer to the Hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning explore Mahabalipuram's monolithic shrines and rock-cut cave temples. Also, visit the cultural centers of Cholamandal Artists Village and DakshinaChitra, centre for local arts and crafts. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning travel by road to Tanjore visiting en route the temple towns of Chidambaram, a Dravidian temple complex of Nataraja, the dancing Shiva and Gangakodaicholapuram, adorned with intricate carvings. Continue on your drive to Darasuram, famous for ancient temples of great architectural merit. The Airavateswara Temple is the most important of them all. Transfer to Hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning tour of the Brihadeeswara Temple the crowning glory of Chola temple architecture followed by a visit to the Thanjavur Palace a vast building of masonry with huge corridors and spacious halls, two palace towers, the armory and the observation towers are visible from all parts of the city. In the afternoon, visit the Swami Malai to see bronze casting. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning drive to Tiruchirappalli, universally known as Trichy, situated on the banks of river Cauvery. Tour of the Srirangam Temple, which has 22 gopurams, out of which one is the tallest in India. Continue on your drive to Karaikudi, home of the Nattukottai Chettiars, a prosperous banking community. Transfer to the Hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning explore some Chettinad mansions, the village shanty, watch sari weaving and the local craftsmen making the famous Chettinad tile. Enjoy a cooking demonstration and special Chettinad lunch. Afternoon drive to Madurai, famous for the awe-inspiring Sri Meenakshi Temple complex. Transfer to the Hotel. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning tour of Meenakshi Temple, one of the highlights of the temple being the ‘Hall of Thousand Pillars’. The hall has 985 pillars with a number of ornate and bold sculptures. Viewed from any angle, these pillars appear to be in a straight line, an architectural marvel indeed. Later, tour of the Thirumalai Nayak Palace. Later in the day, explore the exotic bazaars of Madurai and witness the evening prayer ceremonies at the Meenakshi Temple. Overnight at the Hotel

Breakfast. Morning drive to Periyar National Park, originally the hunting grounds of the Maharajah of Travancore. Enjoy a boat ride on Lake Periyar from where you can view animals coming to drink at the water's edge. Visit a spice garden to learn about the various locally grown spices. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning drive to Alleppey visiting en route a rubber plantation. Alleppey is famous for the pristine backwaters, a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Malabar Coast. Embark your journey on a traditional houseboat called Kettuvallam (Kettuvallam "kettu" means "to tie" and “vallam” means boat). Cruise on the backwaters will give you the pleasure of observing the local way of life. Travel along the “water highways” to see one of the few areas in the world where farming is done below sea level. Lunch, Dinner and overnight on the Houseboat.

Breakfast. Morning, continue cruise on the backwaters. Visit a spice farm to learn about the spices and enjoy a home cooked lunch. Afternoon, a short drive to Cochin. Cochin has been luring wanderers and traders for over 600 years and remains a living homage to its varied colonial past. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English country village grafted on to the tropical Malabar Coast. Evening, witness the colorful ‘Kathakali’ dance performance. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning visit the Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays and Saturdays), constructed in 1568, walk through the Jew Town Road and visit the Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays). Later, visit the St. Francis church, India’s first European Church and see the Chinese fishing nets in operation. Afternoon enjoy a Heritage Walk through Fort Cochin area and later, enjoy a demonstration of ‘Kalaripayattu’, local martial arts. Enjoy a special treat, meet a local family and participate in a culinary experience at their home followed by dinner. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

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