Southern Splendor TOUR

Day 01: Arrive Chennai

Meet on arrival at Airport and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 02: Chennai

After breakfast full day city tour of Chennai. Chennai, the capital city, popularly regarded as the 'Gateway to the South' represents a culture that is distinctly different from that of northern India. The places of interest are Kalakshetra, a school of art and music that encourages exponents of Bharatnatyam, Carnatic music, traditional weaving and designing; Fort St. George built in 1653 during British reign in India, now houses the Secretariat and Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu; St. Mary's Church, the oldest Anglican Church in India with its premises; Sri Parthasarathy Temple built by the Pallavas in the 8th century AD; Kapaliswara Temple, Mylapore also an eighth century Pallava Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva; San Thomas Cathedral Basilica rebuilt in 1606 as a cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica; and Theosophical Society - the world headquarters of the Theosophical Society formed to encourage the study of comparative religion philosophy and science. Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 03: Chennai - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram

After breakfast drive to Kanchipuram, 70 kms west of Mahabalipuram which is a city of thousand temples. One of the seven sacred cities of Hindus, it was the capital of the early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC. Kanchi was a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Apart from temples, the city is also famous for its silk weavers, who settled here some 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation.

Later on we shall proceed to Mahablipuram, driving south of Chennai on the coast which is the ancient port of Pallavas. The pallavas have created many marvelous monuments with sculptural panels, caves, Monolithic Rathas and Temples. Krishna Mandapam has a big bas relief, notable for its realistic representation. The world's largest bas relief measuring 27m x 9m, whale back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demi-gods, men beasts, birds and representation of the entire creation. Shore Temple, one of the oldest in south dating back to 8th century AD is a good example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in Dravidian style. The Five Rathas are a group of five monolithic temples, each created in different style.

Later Check in at the hotel. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 04: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry

After breakfast drive to Pondicherry. In the afternoon city tour of Pondicherry. Although the French influence is gradually fading, Pondicherry retains a few Gallic accents. Pondicherry's main sights are the Rai Nivas, the Sacred Heart Church and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The ashram retreat was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo after whose death the spiritual authority passed to one of his disciples, a French woman known as the Mother. The Mother was also instrumental in founding the city of Dawn Auroville, 10 km from Pondicherry. Its original charter aimed at creating a city of the future where people from India and abroad could live and work together in a spiritual environment. Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 05: Pondicherry - Thanjavur

After breakfast drive to Thanjavur visiting en-route the temple or Lord Natraja at Chidambram. On arrival, check-in at the hotel. In the afternoon, city tour of Thanjavur. The home of Carnatic music, musical instruments, dance and traditional handicrafts, Thanjavur is famous for the Brahadeeswarar Temple. The temple constructed more than a thousand years ago by the Chola King Raja Rajan is an architect's marvel. The Art Gallery and the Saraswathi Mahal Library are also well known places of interest. Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 06: Thanjavur - Trichy- Madurai

After breakfast drive to Trichy and on arrival, visit Srirangam, which is an island, 5 kms from Trichy. Surrounded by the Kaveri water is a 600 acres island town enclosed within the seven walls on the gigantic Sri Ranganathaswami temple. There are no less than 22 gopurams, one of which is the tallest in India. The 72 m high 13 tiered gopuram dominates the landscape for miles around.

The Rock Fort situated on the banks of the Kaveri River, Trichy's most famed land mark is an 84 m high rock, one of the oldest in the world aprox. 3,800 million years. The attraction is not for fort itself but the temple at the summit. 344 steps hewn out of rock lead to the top where are the inscriptions dating back to the 3rd century B.C. Later drive to Madurai and on arrival, check-in at the hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 07: Madurai

After breakfast, full day temple tour of Madurai. Madurai, known as Athens of the East, is the second largest city on the banks of the River Vigai. The city is believed to be more than 2500 years old. The city got its name from the drops of nectar (Mathuram) that fell from Shiva's lochs when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him. Madurai where the people wake up at the chant of hymns is proud of the magnificent Meenakshi-Sundareswara Temple. Of its 12 gopurams, four of the tallest stand at the outer walls of the temple. The 48.8 m high southern gopuram is the most spectacular and have over 1500 sculptures. In the Ashta Shakti Mandapam inside the Meenakshi temple, the sculpted pillars tell the story of the beautiful princess of Madurai and her marriage to Lord Shiva.

Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 08: Madurai - Rameshwaram

Early morning drive to Rameshwaram, the most sacred pilgrimage destinations of India. No pilgrimage is over without taking a trip to this holy island of Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram, as it is said, is the place where Lord Rama offered thanks to Lord Shiva in return for his support in defeating King Ravana. This makes Rameshwaram an important pilgrimage destination for devotees of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Situated in the Ramanathpuram of Tamil Nadu, Rameshwaram is home to some of the most fascinating temples in entire India. This island in the Gulf of Mannar is connected to the mainland at Mandapam by Indira Gandhi Bridge. Completed in the year 1988, this was considered as an engineering marvel, a feat unparalleled at that time.

On arrival check in at the guest house, after fresh-n-up full day temple tour including Ramanathaswamy, this magnificent temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas situated in different parts of India. Ramanathaswamy Temple also has its name in history books as it has the largest hallway anywhere in India. The construction of Ramanathaswamy Temple which was started in the 12th century was contributed to by many rulers. During its construction period, many dynasties came and fell and each of them put their input into the temple. The list of unique features in its construction seems to be endless. There is this huge hallway that is of approximately 1220 meters in length. Throughout the length of the hall, there are brilliantly carved pillars, the alignment of which will leave you totally mesmerized. The 54 meter tall Gopuram has become the symbol of divinity in the heart of many pilgrims; such is the beauty and presence of it.

Day 09: Rameshwaram - Kanyakumari

An early morning drive to Kanyakumari. On arrival check in at the hotel. In the evening visit to Murugan Kundram hillock for sun set. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 10: Kanyakumari - Kovalam

Morning after breakfast go for sightseeing. Kanya Kumari is the southernmost end of Tamil Nadu, the land's end of India or the point where the three seas meet - the Bay of Bengal, The Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Later visit Kumariamman temple dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanyakumari (Parvati) who stands guard over the country. The temple is built at the spot where the goddess is believed to have waited for her consort Lord Siva. Gandhi Memorial, constructed at the spot where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were kept for public view in an urn before a portion was immersed into the three seas. Vivekananda Memorial built on the Vivekananda Rock where the great Philosopher guide Swami Vivekananda went into meditation that transformed him into one of the most charismatic spiritual leader.

Later in the afternoon drive to Kovalam, visiting en-route Padmanabhapuram (Trivandrum). The capital of Travancore until 1333, Padmanabhapuram is known for its fort which encloses, among other buildings, a palace and a temple. The palace has some important art relics while the Ramaswamy temple has exquisitely carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana.

On arrival check in at the hotel. rest of the day free at leisure. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 11: Kovalam

Day free at leisure. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 12: Kovalam - Prriyar

After breakfast drive to Periyar. On arrival, check-in at the hotel. Periyar, spread over an area of 777 sq km, has about 35 tigers and leopards. However, sighting a tiger in Periyar is a fortune for one out of thousand. The park encompasses a 26 sq km artificial lake and is the home of sambars, wild boars, elephants and antelopes which can be occasionally seen on the banks of the river during a boat cruise. Periyar, otherwise, blessed by Nature has enormous tea, coffee, pepper and cardamom plantations and is lush green. In the afternoon we shall take a boat cruise on Lake Periyar to view wildlife.

Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 13: Periyar - Alleppey

Morning after breakfast drive to Alleppey and embark on deluxe Houseboat for backwater cruise. Overnight stay in houseboat.

Day 14: Alleppey - Cochin

After breakfast, we shall take a leisurely cruise towards finishing point jetty. Disembark at 09:30 hours and drive to Cochin. On arrival check in at the hotel. Evening free at leisure. Overnight at hotel.

Day 15: Cochin

fter breakfast city tour of Cochin.

Cochin, Kerala's commercial centre, has a fine natural harbor. Cochin is famous for Mattanchery Palace, St. Francis Church, Wellington Island, Bolghatty Island, Chinese Fishing nets and Jewish Synagogue. Cruising on the back-waters provides glimpses of the rural life, fine view of the harbor and three islands. Evening show witness the Kathakali Dance Show in an auditorium. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 16: Cochin- Coimbatore - Ooty

Morning transfer to the railway station to board the train for Coimbatore. Upon arrival at Coimbatore railway station meet with our representative and drive to Ooty. On arrival transfer to the hotel. overnight stay at hotel.

Day 17: Ooty

After breakfast sightseeing tour of Ooty and Conoor. Ooty is an integral part of the great plateau occupying the junction of the Eastern and Western Ghats. Located at 2240 m above sea level, Ooty is the headquarters of the Nilgris district. Apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like conifers, eucalyptus, pine and the wattle dot the hillside in Ooty and its environ. The places of interest in Ooty include Botanical Gardens where "summer Festival" is held each during the month of May: the artificial lake and Dodabetta Peak which is the highest point in the district at a height of 2623m. 17 km from Ooty is the first of these hills stations. Coonoor is a small town with an equable climate that has made it popular as hill resort. Tea and Tourism Festival is held here during Dec-Jan. the main attraction is the Sim's Park, a small well maintained botanical garden that has several varieties of plants not to be found in other hill stations.

Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 18: Ooty - Mysore

After breakfast drive to Mysore. On arrival check in at the hotel.

After fresh-n-up sightseeing tour of Mysore. Mysore, 770 m above sea level, is the imperial city which was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyars. The legend takes its name from a famous demon called Mahishasur, a great warrior who ruled as a tyrant until he was killed by the goddess Chamundeshwari. Mysore as we see today is most famous for the imposing Royal Palace with a magnificent Durbar Hall, particularly splendid during the Dussehra Festival when the Maharaja's jewelry, studded gold throne (weighing 200 kgs) is on display. Chamundeshwari temple perched on a hilltop is 2000 years old, Nandi Bull half way to the hill is a 4.8 meter monolith. 19 km north-west of Mysore is the KRS Dam and the ornamental Brindavan Gardens. The musical fountains and colorful lights transform this place into a fairly land in the evenings. Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 19: Mysore

After breakfast visit Somnathpur temple. 45 km from Mysore, the temple was built in 1268 AD and is known for its Hoysala architecture. The temple is seated on a star shaped base, set on a chiseled plinth and guarded at intervals by miniature elephants. The temple wall depicts scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvata. Afternoon back to hotel for leisure. Overnight at hotel.

DAY 20: Mysore - Hassan

After breakfast drive to Hassan. On arrival, transfer to hotel. In the afternoon visit Belur and Halebid. Belur temple took over 103 years to build and is a classic example of the Hoysala style of architecture. It rises like a wedding cake in stone, from a star shaped plinth, one of the hallmarks of Hoysala building design. From the base upwards, there is an extraordinary wealth of decorative detail; every available inch is crammed with intricate carvings. In one frieze, 650 elephants jostle one another in a continuous line. Many of the figures of full blossomed women depicted at Belur are believed to be portraits of King Vishnuvardhana's queen.

Halebid is 16 km east of Belur and 27 km from Hassan. The Hoysaleswara Temple dating back to 12th century is astounding for its wealth of sculptural detail. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of gods and goddesses, animals, birds and dancing girls. Yet no two facets of the temple are the same. The magnificent temple -dedicated to Lord Shiva guarded by a Nandi Bull was never completed despite 86 years of labor. In the inner sanctum, the star black lingam, the symbol of Shiva, is still worshipped. The carving at the door is ornate with small details.

Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 21: Hassan - Bangalore

After breakfast drive to Bangalore visiting en route Sravanbelgola which is said to be the world's tallest monolithic statue raises 17 meter high of Bahubali (Gomateshvara). The statue was built in 981 AD by the sculptor Aristanmi and is most sacred to the Jain Community.

Further continue drive to Bangalore. On arrival check in at the hotel.

After fresh-n-up City sightseeing tour of Bangalore. Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka is one of the most important metropolises of India. It is a vital centre of science, aeronautics and electronics. Situated 1000 m above sea level, this garden city has pleasant weather round the year. The Lalbagh, one of the finest botanical Gardens of India, Cubbon Park laid in 1864 sprawling across 300 acres, Vidhana Soudha built in 1956 housing The State Legislature and Secretariat are the main attractions.

Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 22: Bangalore - Departure

Transfer to the airport to on time to board the flight for onward destination.

Tour and Services Ends.