Glimpses Of South India
DAY 1- MELBOURNE / CHENNAI
Your incredible journey of discovery of South India begins today as you board your flight from Australia to India, via your transit city and arriving the same day in Chennai in the evening or night.
We will meet and greet you on arrival, assist you at the airport and you will be transferred by car to your hotel in Chennai for check-in and your first overnight stay in Chennai.
DAY 02- CHENNAI
To give you a chance to unwind after your flight, we will start the day with a late breakfast at thehotel, after which you will be treated to a memorable sightseeing tour of Chennai - the first major settlement established by the British and then the only major Western settlement in India, Chennai formerly known as Madras laid the foundation on which modern India has grown. Though it might not have the eminence today of the other three metropolitan cities, this city is very humble and quietly holds onto its tradition remaining deeply conservative. This trip includes a visit to the old part of the town, a drive along Marina Beach with its heritage colonial buildings lined up on the other side; visit Fort St. George, St. Thomas Cathedral, St. Mary’s church and Kapaleeshwar temple.
At the end of this first day of exploring Chennai’s heritage, you will return to your hotel to relax and then dine at the Rain Tree Restaurant – the oldest restaurant in Chennai.
DAY 03- CHENNAI / MAHABALIPURAM / PONDICHERY
Breakfast at the hotel will be followed by an early departure at 7.00am to Mahabalipuram - the second capital and sea port of the Pallava dynasty, famous for its ancient rock carvings. This world heritage site remains a renowned centre for stone carving as you can see and hear the constant tapping of hammer against chisel by the artisans.
On arrival, the architecturals delights you will visit are:
Five Rathas - A fine example of rock cut temple architecture, these temples resemble chariots and had been hidden in the sand until 200 years ago;
Shore Temple – A small and romantic temple facing the sea, though weathered by the wind and the sea a remarkable amount of temple carving still remains inside the shrines and this temple represents the final phase of Pallava art;
Penance of Bhagirath - The most convincing and unpretentious rock carvings in India, this huge rock depicts animals, deities and other semi divine creatures.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant after which we depart for Pondicherry - the former French colony settled in the early 18th century is now a Union territory of India – with its seafront promenade, wide boulevards, enduring pockets of French culture and architecture, retaining a mildly Gallic air super imposed on a typical Indian background reminds one of the colonial days.
On arriving at Pondicherry, you will check into your hotel.
In the evening we will proceed on a walking / cycle rickshaw tour of this once French settlement, visit Aurbindo Ashram and later take a leisurely and rejuvenating stroll along the beach promenade.
Overnight stay will be your hotel in Pondicherry.
DAY 04– PONDICHERRY / KUMBAKONAM
While this is a long day it is also a very interesting day filled with different levels of discovery. We will leave early at around 7.00am and travel from Pondicherry to Chidambaram. A local temple guide will take us along the temple dedicated to the dancing pose of Lord Shiva.
Later we will drive to Kumbakonam after visiting Darasuram - a superb example of Dravidian and late Chola architecture, this temple is fronted by columns with unique miniature sculptures. Stories from the Hindu epics are also depicted along the temple.
On arriving at Kumbakonam you will check in at your hotel.
After lunch you will get a glimpse of village life as we visit nearby villages and the temple located near your hotel.
Overnight stay will be at your hotel in Kumbakonam.
DAY 05– KUMBAKONAM / TRICHY / TANJORE
After a refreshing breakfast at the hotel, this morning we will drive along the oldest road in South India along the banks of river Kaveri and arrive at Srirangam. Here a local guide will enlighten you about the age-old rituals performed along the banks of river Kaveri.
This will be followed by a visit another architectural wonder - the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple complex - many dynasties have had a hand in its construction and the work still continues in this 60 hectares temple complex with its seven concentric walled sections and 21 gopurams and considered to be the largest temple in India.
After tickling your taste buds with lunch at a local authentic restaurant we will drive to Tanjore and on arriving at your hotel in Tanjore you will check in and get a chance to relax a bit.
In the evening, a visit to the bronze collections at the Tanjore Palace complex awaits you followed by an entertaining classical dance performance and then dinner.
Overnight stay will be at your hotel in Tanjore.
DAY 06– TANJORE / CHETTINADU / MADURAI
You will check out of your hotel after breakfast and we will start the day with a visit to the Brihadeeshwara temple- also called “The Big Temple” – this world heritage listed temple is an architectural marvel and crowning glory of Chola temple architecture. Created from a single rock, a 25 ton statue of bull stands in from of the sanctum. You will have the opportunity to explore the architectural marvel of this temple with a local guide.
Your journey then continues to Chettinadu – a sleepy little village with a huge palatial house.
We will visit and have lunch at one of the mansions now converted into a hotel.
We then set out to Madurai - an animated city packed with pilgrims and one of the cities in the world which has retained its name for a very long time. The city revolves around Meenakshi Amman temple. It has been a textile centre from way back and was also the setting of Mahatma Gandhi’s decision to wear only home spun cloth to revolt against the imported textiles from Great Britain. The origin of the city is traced backed to 4th century BC and was also the home of the Sangam i.e. the seat of Tamil poets.
Your overnight stay will be at your hotel in Madurai.
DAY 07- MADURAI / MUNNAR
After breakfast at the hotel, a local guide will take you around Madurai where you will visit Meenakshi Amman temple - set in an area of 6 hectares, built around 2000 years ago, with intricately carved temples towers, this temple is a spectacular example of Dravidian architecture. The temple has 12 highly decorative towers which are adorned with carvingsof celestial and animal figures. Inside the temple long corridors lead towards gold topped sanctums of deities. The strange custom of this temple is to honour the goddess first.This will be followed by a visit to Palace Tirumalai Nayak - an example of Indo-Saracenic style.
We now leave the spectacular architectural state of Tamil Nadu and embark on a discovery of the state of Kerala.
With a packed lunch as we leave for Munnar - known as the high range of the kingdom of Travancore is set with a backdrop of rolling mountain scenery, craggy peaks, manicured tea estates and crisp mountain air. It is the commercial centre of some of the worlds’ highest tea growing estates - on the way we will visit lush tea plantations.
On arrival at Munnar you will check in at the hotel for an overnight in Munnar.
DAY 08– MUNNAR
Breakfast at the hotel will be followed by a memorable “Tea” discovery day. This starts with a morning trek along a tea plantation while viewing the plantations workers plucking tea leaves and transporting them to the factory. Our local guide will explain to you about the work and life of the plantation workers and will also give you first-hand information on the tea estates.
We will have lunch at the Manager’s Bungalow – a colonial Heritage Bungalow. After lunch we will visit the factories to see how the tea leaves are processed into different categories of teas. For all the tea-lovers, this day give a valuable insight into your much loved beverage.
On return to your hotel, you will have another relaxing overnight stay in Munnar.
DAY 09– MUNNAR / PERIYAR
After breakfast at your hotel in Munnar, we will depart for Periyar where on arrival, you will check into your hotel, where you can relax and prepare for an exciting day ahead.
In the afternoon we will embark on a guided informative plantation tour around the aromatic spice gardens which will give you the opportunity enhance your journey of discovery and knowledge. A memorable visit to an elephant camp after this will take place.Entertainment for the evening will be provided by a visit to a performance of ancient Kerala martial arts. Kerala cuisine is unique among Indian cuisines and this evening you will add to your culinary skills by learning how this cuisine is prepared.
Your overnight stay will be at your hotel in Periyar.
DAY 10– PERIYAR / ALLEPEY
Breakfast at the hotel will be followed by a downhill drive to Allepey – “The Venice of the East”.
We will check in on board a house boat and enjoy a relaxing scenic lunch.
You will have a chance to soak in the beauty of the passing landscape and rejuvenate as we cruise along the backwaters till evening after which the house boat will be anchored.
Dinner will be cooked and served on board the house boat.
Your overnight stay this night will be on board the house boat.
DAY 11– ALLEPEY / COCHIN
Breakfast for a change will be on board the house boat after which you check out and we the drive to Cochin, on arrival you will check in at the hotel at Cochin.
In the afternoon we will drive to Fort Cochin - Kochi has been luring wanderers and traders for over 600 years and remains a living homage to its varied colonial past – giant fishing nets influenced by Chinese, a 16th century synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses built a millennia ago and the crumbling residuum of the British Raj. The result is an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and the English country village grafted on to the coast of the Arabian Sea.
This is followed by a visit to the Dutch Palace – with its astonishingly well preserved murals, coronation called with portraits of Maharajas, impressive collection of palanquins, bejewelled outfits and splendid carved ceiling, the palace is originally built by Portuguese became to be known as the Dutch Palace after it was renovated by the Dutch.
We will also spend some time walking along Jew Town – it was once a bustling port area and now a centre of spice trade with biting aromas of ginger, cardamom and cloves.
In the evening, prepare to be dazzled by a Kathakali dance programme at the theatre, followed by a tantalising Gala Sea food dinner at a local restaurant in Fort Cochin.
Your overnight stay will be at your hotel in Cochin.
DAY 12- COCHIN
Breakfast will be provided at the hotel.
The day is free. For those who are interested to visit Fort Kochi for the second time, we will can make necessary arrangements.
At 6.30pm you will transported from your hotel at Cochin to the airport for your departure from India.
DAY 13- COCHIN / AUSTRALIA
You will transit at your midway destination before you head home after your amazing journey of discovery of South India.
Participants who have more days to spend can visit Bangalore / Mysore / Hassan on a short extension tour or visit the golden triangle. Write to us for further information.