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South India - A Living Heritage

Total Days : 26 Days

Tour Destination : Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Darasuran, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Trichy, Madurai, Cardamom House, Periyar, Munnar, Alleppey, Houseboat, Kumarakom, Mararikulam, Cochin,Ooty

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Namaste! - We welcome you with folded hands

Day 01: Arrival / Chennai

Late night arrival, Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car.

Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you.

Welcome to India, or as we say ‘atithi devo bhava’ (the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!

Overnight at Radisson Blu, City Centre (Superior Room) (No Meals)

Day 02: Chennai

Today, we will proceed to the tour of one of India’s largest cities- Madras is the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The Tamillians are the proud inheritors of a rich cultural heritage, which is one of the main reasons for their beliefs of superiority over the hybridized culture of North India. Fort St. George (1653), built by the British, presently houses the State secretariat and the legislative assembly. The Fort has an interesting museum with fascinating collections of memorabilia from the early days of the British Raj. St. Mary’s Church (1678-80), was the first English church and the oldest surviving in India. The High court building, built of red sandstone hasimage not found an interesting archaeological section and a bronze gallery. The former has an interesting collection of all major and ancient south Indian dynasties. The bronze section has interesting collections of Chola (9th century) bronze art. The High Court, built in Indo-Sracenic style is supposed to be the largest judicial building in the world after the Court Of England. The Kapaleshwar temple is an ancient Shiva temple in typical Dravidian (south Indian) style. Near the temple, the San Thome Cathedral (originally built in 1504), is a Roman Catholic Church believed to have the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle.

Overnight at Radisson Blu, City Centre (Superior Room)

Day 03: Chennai / Mahabalipuram (70 Kms)

Morning we will drive to Mahabalipuram

Upon arrival check into your hotel Ideal Beach Resort

Rest of the day is at leisure for your independent activities

Overnight at Ideal Beach Resort (Garden Facing Room)

Day 04: Mahabalipuram

Today we will proceed on a tour of Mahabalipuram, which is famous for its shore temples. The sculpture here is particularly interesting because, instead of Gods & Goddesses, the sculpture shows scenes from contemporary day to day life - women milking cows, pompous dignitaries, young girls priming and posing in street corners or swinging their hips in artful come-ons. Mahabalipuram is an easy going village of essentially two streets and positioned at the foot of low lying boulder strewn hill where most of the fascinating temples and the rock cut carvings are to be found. It affords a wonderful combination of an excellent beach, good seafood and the fascinating remains of an ancient Indian Kingdom

Overnight at Ideal Beach Resort (Garden Facing Room)

Day 05: Mahabalipuram / Kanchipuram / Pondicherry (187 Kms) (03½ Hrs Drive)

Following a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Pondicherry, en route visit Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram is a Hindu Holy City and capital of the Pallava dynasty from the 7th to 9th centuries AD, is renowned for temples and silk, and you will see plenty of both. The temples range in date from the 8th to the 17th century. The latest building was impressive in its size, the height of its gopuram, the intricacy of its carvings and wealth of colour, but, the earliest temples, of golden sandstone, are more aesthetically pleasing, the only colour provided is by a flock of ring-necked parakeets.

Across the road is a workshop where men sit at a loom, weaving fabrics that you will recognize immediately as "Madras cotton". However, Silk-weaving takes place on a grander scale than the cotton-weaving in this town dotted with cottage workshops. You could visit a factory where all the processes of spinning, dyeing and weaving take place. Of special note would be exquisite wedding saris made to order - the silk is heavily interwoven with gold thread. The sari and blouse are woven together so as to ensure a perfect match.

From here we will continue our drive to Pondicherry

Upon arrival check in to Hotel Maison Perumal

Overnight at Hotel Maison Perumal (Standard Room)

Day 06: Pondicherry

After a leisurely breakfast, we will proceed on a tour of the city. More than anything else, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for the most parts of their lives, is a major attraction of this little city. The Pondicherry Museum is home to some of the most exquisite collections on architecture and sculpture. Pondicherry also has a pleasant beach alongside promenade and historical monuments. Some of the other interesting sites includes the Bharti and Bharthidasan Memorial museums and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The French, Britain's strongest rivals for the control of India, established their foothold here and only relinquished it in 1954. The town still has the feel of a French provincial town, with its librairie, epicerie, imposing Hotel de Ville, memorial to Franco-Indians killed in the Great War, and statue of Joan of Arc. The houses could be anywhere in southern France and bear the familiar white numbers on a blue ground. Street names, too, are shown in white on blue - rue St Louis, rue de la Caserne and so on. During a pleasant afternoon stroll you could hear French spoken frequently.

Overnight at Hotel Maison Perumal (Standard Room)

Day 07: Pondicherry / Chidambram / Kumbakonam / Darasuran / Thanjavur (190 Kms) (04 Hrs Drive)

Morning we will drive to Thanjavur enroute we will visit Chidambram, Darasuran, Kumbakonam.

Chidambram is in between two rivers in a 40 acres temple-complex, it is one of the oldest and magnificent temples of the South. Shiva Natrala or the Dancing Shiva stands in his cosmic dance pose in the golden rooted sanctorum. Flanking the temple are 108 sculptured illustrations of Bharat Natya Shashtra. In Akash Lingam hidden by a veil, lies the real secret of Chidambaram.

Later we will visit Kumbakonam, which is flooded with temples of large size. There are as many as sixty temples, in and around Kumbakonam within 40-km of radius. Of the many temples in Kumbakonam, the oldest Shaiva fane is the Adikumbeshwara and the oldest Vaishnava fane, the Sri Sarangapani.

Darasuram is a small town near Kumbakonam. It is known for the Airavateshwar Temple built by a Chola king in the 12th Century CE. This temple is a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple. From here we will continue our drive to Thanjavur,

Upon arrival, check in to hotel Ideal River View Resort

Overnight at Ideal River View Resort (River View Room)