“ SOUTH INDIA PROGRAM”

 

 

Day 1                    Arrive Chennai  - Chennai / Covelong (40 Kms. / 1 Hrs)

Meeting assistance on arrival and drive to Covelong .

Check-in at Hotel TAJ FISHERMAN’S COVE

Overnight at hotel.

Day 2                    Covelong / Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram  / Covelong (150 Kms. / 4 Hrs.)

After breakfast, day excursion to visit Kanchpuram and Mahabalipuram

Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar TempleKanchipuram Kailasanatha Temple,Kanchipuram, the Golden City of a thousand temples, and one of the seven sacred cities of India, is 70 km from Madras. It was, successively, the capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Rayas of Vijayanagar. During the 6th and 7th centuries, the Pallavas built some of the best temples in the city. The city was also a great seat of learning. Sri Sankaracharya, Appar, Siruthonder, and the great Budddhist Bhikku lived, and worked here. Today, it is known not only for its temples, but also for its hand-woven silk fabrics. The main attractions of the city are the Sakkiswarar Temple; built by the Cholas.This temple is located near the Kamakshi Amman Temple.Vaikuntha Perumal Temple, an important Vishnu temple built by the Pallava King Nandivarman Pallavamalla, in the 7th century AD. Numerous inscriptions are found in the temple, relating to the wars between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas. Kailasanatha Temple, built by Rajasimha and his son Mahendra the 3rd, in the 8th centuryAD. Ekambareswarar Temple, another ancient temple, renovated by the Pallavas, the Cholas, and the Vijayanagar kings. The 57 metre high Rajagopuram, is one of the tallest towers in South India.
Lunch at Restaurant in Kanchipuram

Mahabalipuram Arjuna's Penance 1Mahabalipuram Five Rathas,Mahabalipuram, An ancient coastal port South of Madras, here you will see many sculptures and temples of typical South India architectural designs. Caves , There are nine rock cut temples. The Mahishasuramardhini cave, depicting the goddess fighting a demon on one side and Lord Vishnu's cosmic sleep on the other, is a particularly remarkable one. Arjuna's Penance, This is the world's largest bas relief measuring 27m X 9m. This huge whale-backed rock contains figures of
gods, demigods, men, beasts, birds and almost all of the entire creation. And, this is easily the pride of Mamallapuram. The Five Rathas, There are the five monolithic temples, each created in a different style. They are also known as the Pancha Pandava Rathas - and four out of the five rathas are supposed to have been carved out of a single rock. The Shore Temple, This is one of the oldest temples. Unique about this temple is the fact that it houses shrines for both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. This belongs to the early 8th century AD and it is a classic example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in pure Dravidian style.


Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 3                    Mahabalipuram / Pondicherry (120 Kms. / 3 Hrs)

After breakfast, drive to Pondicherry, on arrival check in at VILLA SHANTI .
Pondicherry Aurobindo ashramAfternoon visit Pondicherry City and Auroville : Sri Aurobindo Ashram - see the marble 'Samadhi' where Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's remains are kept.  Ecole Francaise d' Extreme Orient and The French Institute. Sacred Heart Church : There are several large churches and cathedrals around the town, including the striking brown and white sacred Heart Church on South Boulevard. Nearby are the peaceful, extensive Botanical Gardens, opened in 1740. Bharathi and Bharathidasan Memorial Museums : The houses of two great Tamil poets have been converted into the museums.


Overnight at hotel.

Day 4                    Pondicherry / Chidambaram/ Swamimalai (145 Kms./ 4-5 Hrs.)

Chidambaram Natraj TempleAfter breakfast, drive to Swamimalai, en-route visiting Chidambaram: Chidambaram is one of the most ancient and most celebrated beautiful temples of shrines in India. It is of great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. Chidambaram is associated with Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose (the Cosmic Dance of bliss) in the cosmic golden hall and the hall of consciousness (Chit Sabha). The word "Koyil" or temple in the Tamil Saivaite tradition refers to none other than the Chidambaram Nataraja temple. Chidambaram is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the five elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram).

After visit continue your drive to Swamimalai, on arrival check in at Hotel Indeco Swamimalai.

http://www.templesoftamilnadu.com/images/swamimalai.jpgAfternoon visit Swamimalai : Swamimalai temple is placed near Kumbakonam. The place is famous for its shrine of Subramanian placed on a hillock. It is considered as fourth of the six sacred places of Lord Subramanian.The legend of the temple goes that when Siva forgot the Pranava Mantra due to a curse from Bhrigumuni, he approached his son Subramanian to teach him. Lord Siva stood with folded hands before his son with great veneration and learnt the Mantras again and this incident is supposed to have happened here. Thus this place came to be known as Swamimalai. Subramanian is placed on the Hillock and Siva below the mound. There are three Gopurams and three prakarams here. One of the kings Varaguna Pandya is supposed to have halted in Swami Malai on his way for a pilgrimage and installed Lord Sundareswar (Siva) and Meenakshi (Devi) here. A temple was constructed here by the king. Some of the features of the temple include the sixty steps that have to be ascended to reach the hill and the presence of Indira’s white elephant in front t of the Subramanian.


Overnight at hotel.

Day 5                    Swamimalai / Tanjore / Trichy / Madurai ( 240 Kms. / 6 Hrs

After breakfast, drive to Madurai, enroute visiting Tanjore and Trichy- Srirangam

Tanjore Brihadeshwara Temple,Tanjore PalaceTanjore, also called Thanjavur, is a famous temple town, located at 55 kilometers from Trichy.Known for a fascinatingly rich cultural heritage, the ancient capital of the Cholas, Thanjavur is dotted with as many as 74 temples and rightly so it's one of the biggest temple towns of south India. The famous Brihadeshwara Temple is the most important and scared temple in Tanjore. The temple 10th century Brihadeshwara Temple - dedicated to Lord Shiva with a huge Shiva Lingam and a stone sculpture of the Nandi Bull. The Temple has been included in the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Monuments. The 14th century Tanjore Palace & Art Gallery is another major attraction of Tanjore. Tanjore Palace. It was partly built by the Nayakas and partly by Marathas. It is a huge monument comprising of spacious halls, wide corridors, sheltered courtyards and soaring towers. It houses many other structures within its premises Art Gallery - The Art Gallery is another place that should not be missed while at Tanjore. It has a collection of around 250 Chola bronze statues and 150 stone statues dating back to the 9th and 12th century and belonging to the many groups like the Bhairava, Umasahita Shiva, Kali and Rama Lakshmana.

Lunch at Hotel Or Restaurant in Trichy

Srirangam, Sri RanganathaswamiTrichy Rock fort templeTrichy and Srirangam :Trichy  Situated on the banks of river Cauvery, Rock Fort, which is situated in the center of the city on top of an 83 m high rock, housing the famous Vinayakar Temple. The Sri Ranganathaswami Temple, considered as the largest temple complex in the country, is another most important tourist attraction of Trichy. you can also visit the 19th century St John's Church, Jambukeshwara Temple, Natarwala Dargah - dedicated to a popular 17th century Muslim saint Natar Shah, Srirangam : Srirangam (Sri Rangam) is located 2 km north of Tiruchirappalli.  The main deity is Lord Ranganatha, or Lord Vishnu, reclining on Sesa Naga. This temple is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu (Swayam Vyakta Ksetras). It is also considered the most important of the 108 main Vishnu temples (Divya Desams). This temple is a highly recommended place to visit. It was sung about by all the Alwars (the Tamil Vaishnava saints),

After visit drive to Madurai, on arrival check in at Heritage Madurai. 


Overnight at hotel.

Day 6                    Madurai

Madurai, Tirumalai Nayak PalaceMadurai Tirumalai Nayak Palace,After breakfast, visit Madurai City : Madurai is over 2500 years old and is the second largest city of Tamil Nadu - Ancient seat of learning. The city is planned in the shape of a lotus. Palace of Nayak Tirumalai - depicting influence of Mughal art on traditional Hindu art - the beginning of the Indo-saracenic or Indo-mauresque style. Gandhi Museum : This museum is located in the Tamukkam Palace of Rani Mangammal of the Nayak Dynasty. Earlier, the place used to be the official residence of the district collectors of Madurai. It was in 1955 that the building and the 12 acre land were given to Gandhi Smarak Nidhi by the then Tamil Nadu Government. The museum has a noteworthy collection of remarkable paintings, sculptures, articles and Khadi crafts. Koodal Azhaar Temple, Among the most ancient temples in Madurai Koodal Azhagar temple stands high. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. You could see him in various postures sitting, standing, reclining one over the other. Apart from that there are intricate woodcarvings, one of them depicting Lord Rama's coronation. Pazhamudhirsolai -Located on a picturesque wooded hill, Pazhamudhirsolai is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya

Madurai Meenakshi TempleAfternoon visit Meenakshi Temple : One of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage, the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar temple is located at the heart of the city and is the hub of the religious and cultural life of the city. Thousands of Pilgrims visit the Meenakshi Temple everyday. The soaring high gopurams of the temple stand as landmarks of the city. The gopurams are adorned by colourful icons of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The temple has four entrances and occupies an area of around six hectors. The Parvati sanctum is not accessible to men-Hindus. The museum called the Temple Art Gallery is located within the complex containing stone and brass images.

Evening witness puja ceremony at Shree Meenakshi Temple. 


Overnight at hotel.

Day 7                    Madurai / Periyar (160 Kms. / 4 Hrs)

After breakfast, drive to Periyar, on arrival check in at Hotel Cardamom County

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2024/2078423648_1ab98cef46_o.jpghttp://www.periyarfoundation.org/eco-tourism/fullsize/Nature_Walk_fs.jpgAfternoon proceed to Nature Walk and Spice Plantation at Periyar: Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, This is an interpretive programme offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. The Nature walk is the right programme to feel nature, hear her whispers and smell her flowers. Born and brought up right in the lap of forests, the guides are well familiar with the forest life. The guest will be taken through selected nature trails. The program is also ideal for bird enthusiasts as it starts early morning and Evening.


Overnight at hotel.

Day 8                    Periyar / Alleppey (150 Kms. / 4 Hrs)
                             Alleppey / backwater Cruise / Kumarakom( 02 /03 Hrs)

                                         Kumarakom / Cochin (85 Kms. / 2 Hrs)

backwaterAfter breakfast, drive to Alleppey , on arrival Lunch at Alleppey
After lunch board on Backwater Cruise from Alleppey to Alleppey: The site Kerala Backwaters offers to take you on an exciting backwater cruise to Kumarakom in Kerala. A backwater cruise is the perfect way to enjoy your holidays to Kerala, as you can laze in the sun, go boating on the lovely Kerala backwaters or enjoy fishing on the tranquil waters. Backwater cruises on the traditional Kerala kettuvalloms on the glittering Kerala backwaters.Kumarakom was but a traditional Kerala fishing village that was later developed into the perfect holiday destination. In fact a lot of tourists visit this perfectly picturesque region with its natural greenery and relaxed atmosphere. In fact when you are on a leisure cruise on one of these backwaters you come in close contact with the way of life in the rice bowl of Kerala, India i.e. the Kuttanad region. The reflections of the crooked palm trees on the calm backwaters create a dream vision for you during your backwater cruise to Kerala,

De-board at Kumarakom and drive to Cochin , on arrival check in at HOTEL ARCHES

Overnight at hotel.

Day 9                    Cochin 

Cochin St Cochin After breakfast, visit Cochin: - Also known as "Queen of Arabian Sea" due to its natural harbour being one of the finest.  The Chinese fishing nets synagogue, Dutch palaces, Portuguese architecture and British influences, all blending harmoniously with the basic Kerala heritage testify that the rulers of Cochin traded goods as well as knowledge with the visitors from Far off lands.Chinese Fishing Nets ,The chinese fishing nets found here are the only ones of its kind in India. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. Fort Kochi beach ,A walk along the beach, particularly at sunset with the chinese fishing nets and sailing ships in the background, is just fantastic. Many European style bungalows can be seen along the shoreline.
Cochin Jewish Synagogue St. Francis Church ,St. Francis Church is the oldest church built by European in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portugese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. CochinDutch Palace Later his remains were taken back to Portugal, the exact place where he was buried has been marked out inside the church, making its a very auspicious place for the Christians. Dutch Palace,The Dutch Palace was originally built by the Portugese in 17th century. The Dutch modified it and presented to the Raja of Kochi. Coronation of many Rajas of Kochi were held here. The place has a fine collection of mural paintings the scenes from the Hindu epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana.

Cochin Kathakali dance Show1Evening witness Kathakali Dance Show :  As its name implies is a story play.  This is a form of Dance drama is over 400 years old.  Dancers in enormous skirts, glittering crowns and painted faces enact ancient legends.  A performance seen by the light of tall brass lamps is an unforgettable experience.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 10                  Cochin / Guruvayoor / Calicut ( 225 Kms. / 6 Hrs

After early breakfast, drive to Calicut, enroute visiting Guryvayoor Temple - Devoted to Lord Krishna, and thus also known as the Sri Krishna Temple, the temple dates back to the 16th century and owes its creation and name to Guru (the preceptor of gods) and Vayu (the god of winds). The Guryvayoor Temple is also known as 'Dwaraka of the South' because it is believed that Vasudev and Devaki at Dwaraka, Gujurat, worshiped the Sri Krishna idol. The rectangular shrine with exquisite and detailed murals on the walls is host to a number of Hindu marriages and important family ceremonies. Though a Hindu-only temple, Guryvayoor Temple is open to all castes owing to the rebellion by the lower castes that wanted to have a right to enter the temple premises without any interference or questioning.
(NON HINDUS ARE NOT ALLOWED INSIDE THE TEMPLE)
After visit drive to Calicut, on arrival check in at The Gateway Hotel

Afternoon free for beach / independent activities.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 11                  Calicut / Mysore ( 215 Kms. / 5-  6 Hrs)

After early breakfast, drive to Mysore, The drive past from picturesque mountains and country side will keep you refreshed while travelling.

Upon arrival check in at Windflower Resort & Spa

Afternoon free for independent activities.


Overnight at hotel.

Day 12                  Mysore

After breakfast, morning excursion to visit Srirangapatnam  Tipu Sultan's  Fort and PalaceSrirangapatanam: The imposing Srirangapatnam Fort was built in 1454 and is one of the island's most prominent sights. Surrounded by a double wall, and partly encircled by a moat, the citadel features turreted parapets, dungeons, guardrooms, the grand Mysore and Elephant entrance gates and a bridge, which is still in use. Nearby is Daria Daulat Bagh, an exquisite garden within which sits Tipu's summer palace. Beautiful murals depicting scenes from Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan's various battles cover this highly ornate building; a small museum showcasing memorabilia belonging to the great rulers is also located here. The palace is a European-style church, which was built by a French missionary. The fort is also home to the Jumma Masjid, which was constructed by Tipu and has two soaring minarets, as well as the Sri Ranganatha Temple, a 10th century structure constructed in the Hoysala and Vijayanagar style of architecture. This massive shrine houses a giant image of Lord Vishnu, and has pillared halls and an open courtyard. Just outside the fort is Gumbaz, a beautiful tomb, with striking ebony doors inlaid with ivory, which houses the mortal remains of Hyder Ali, his wife and Tipu Sultan. 

Mysore palace0Mysore StAfternoon visit Mysore: This salubrious and charming city lies 770-m above sea level is an easy-going city famous for it's silk and is also a thriving sandalwood and incense centre. The city is steeped in history. The Mysore Palace, built in Indo - Saracenic style is one of the largest and most brilliant palaces in India. It's a kaleidoscope of stained glass, mirrors, gilt and colours. There are beautiful carved wooden doors, mosaic floors, as well as exquisite paintings. Halfway up the Chamundi Hill is the Nandi Bull, a 4.8 m monolith. It was carved out of solid rock and is one of the largest in India. Hordes of pilgrims come here throughout the year. Right on top, is the 2000-year-old Chamundeswari Temple. The temple provides atypical festive atmosphere without overwhelming religious overtures. St. Philomena's church: Built as a miniature reproduction of the Cologne Cathedral in 1930s, this is the largest church in Southern India. The church has white washed walls, high vaulted Gothic ceilings and color stained glass representations of different aspects from the life of Jesus. Devaraj Market - Mysore's landmark, the over a century-old Devaraja Market. The market is the most popular attraction among tourists. The much-photographed piles of colours used for decorating idols, the banana halls, the wonderful array of vegetables and above all the flowers make it one of India's most attractive markets. You can buy jasmine marigolds by the pound and trays full of roses. The garland makers will string flowers while you wait.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 13                  Mysore / Chikmangalur (160 Kms. / 4  Hrs)

After breakfast, drive to Hassan, on arrival check in at The Gateway Hotel

Afternoon  excursion to visit Belur and Halebid  (70 Kms around)
Belur Chennakeswara TempleBelur: 30km from Hassan, Belur is a tourist attraction with its exquisite temples. Located on the banks of river Yagachi, the Chennakeswara Temple is one of the finest examples of Hoysala architecture. It took 103 years to complete and you can see why when you see it. The facade of the temple is filled with intricate sculptures friezes with no portion kept blank. The interior of the temple is even better and contains many exquisite panels and richly carved pillars. The Veeranarayana Temple and other smaller shrines are also worth visiting.
Halebid
Halebid: 14km from Belur and 39km from Hassan, the Hoysaleswara Temple of Halebidu is a wealth of sculptural details. The walls of the temple are covered with an endless variety of gods, goddesses, animals, birds and dancing girls giving importance to the minutest details. Yet no two facets of the temple are the same. Two massive monolithic bulls guard the temple. Despite 86 years of hard work, the temple is not completed.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 14                  Chikmagalur / Sravanbelagola / Bangalore( 225 Kms. / 5 Hrs)

Shravanabelagola bahubali Statue

After early breakfast, drive to Bangalore, enroute visiting Shravanbelagola. , in Karnataka, is the oldest and most important pilgrimage centre for Jains. Here is the site of the huge 17m high naked statue of Bahubali (Gomateswara), said to be the world’s tallest monolithic statue. It overlooks the small town of  Shravanabelagola from the top of the rocky,hill known as Indragiri. Its simplicity and serenity is in complete contrast to the complexity and energy of the sculptural work at the temples of Belur and Halebid. The word Shravanabelagola means the Monk of the White Pond. one of the tallest and most graceful statues in the world, is situated in this small town atop the Indragiri hills. The colossal monolithic statue is 58 ft high, naked, with 26 ft wide shoulders, 10-ft of its feet. Starkingly simple, the beautifully chiseled features of this statue embody serenity. Nearly 1,800 years old, the statue which is reached by climbing 700 steps carved in the steep granite slope, is symbolic of the renunciation of worldly possessions. It was sculpted by Aristanemi in 981 AD and Chamundaraya,  a general and minister of the Ganga King Rachamatta installed it  in 983 AD. 

After visit drive to Bangalore, on arrival check in at Hotel Regallis

Bangalore Government MuseumBangalore Vidhan SoudhaAfternoon, orientation tour of Bangalore City : city has a number of tourist places. Apart from the numerous gardens, it also has some historical sites and other places of interest. The Vidhan Soudha or the State Secretariat, built in 1954, is the main attraction of this city. It is a marvel of modern architecture and is a fine amalgamation of traditional Dravidian and modern styles. The Government Museum of Bangalore (one of India's oldest museums Closed on Monday) and the Visvesvaraya Technological and Industrial Museum are important museums within the city. The 18th-century Tipu Sultan's Fort and Bangalore Palace is other important places of interest to the traveler. The 16th-century, Dravidian-styled temple dedicated to Nandi the Bull is an important place of worship.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 15                  Departure from Bangalore / USA

Early morning in time transfer to international airport for flight back home.

Tour Ends but Memories Remains – Always