Duration: 12 nights - 13 days
Locations: Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Tanjore - Madurai - Periyar- Cochin - Goa - Mumbai
|Chennai||Fort St. George, San Thome Cathedral & the GovernmentMuseum|
|Mahabalipuram||Shore Temple, Arjuna's Penance & Five Rathas|
|Trichy||Srirangam Temple & Rockfort|
|Periyar||Wildlife Sanctuary, Boat Cruise Optional Spice plantation tour|
|Cochin||Kathakali, St. Francis Church, Dutch Palace (Built by Portuguese), Jew Town, Jewish Synagogue, spice market & Chinese fishing nets Optional Boat Cruise|
|Goa||Beaches Optional Basilica of Bom Jesus dedicated to Infant Jesus, Church of Se Cathedral, Church of St. Francis of Assisi & Lady of Rosary Church.|
Day 01 : Arrive Chennai
Arrive Chennai, after a traditional 'Swagat' (Welcome) our representative would assist you at the airport & to our hotel for check in. Chennai (formerly known as Madras), isknown for its cultural heritage & temple architecture. The region was served as an important administrative, military, & economic centre dating back to the 1st century. The first Westerners were Portuguese, who arrived in the year 1522 & built a port. It then passed on to the Dutch in 1612. In 1639 the British East India Company established a fort & trading post & since then this coastal centre of trade has drawn traffic from all over the world. Overnight Hotel - Chennai (B)
Day 02 : Chennai - Mahabalipuram (70 km - 02 hr)
Today we take a tour of Chennai, visiting Fort St. George, the first bastion of British power in India & built in the year 1640 AD by the British East India Company. Within the Fort we visit St. Mary's Church, built in the year 1680 & oldest Protestant Church in the East. Fort Museum has 10 galleries & displays armory, old uniforms, crockery & silverware, coins, palanquins, paintings, letters, old prints, etc. San Thome Cathedral, built in 1504, is said to house the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have visited Madras (Chennai) sometime during 52 AD.
National Art Gallery, established in the year 1857, is undoubtedly one of the country's finest museums. It has sections devoted to geology, archaeology, anthropology, botany, zoology, sculpture & numismatics. Government Museum has a fine archaeological section representing all the major South Indian periods including Chola, Vijaynagar, Hoysala & Chaulakya. The bronze gallery has a superb collection of Chola art especially the bronze statue of Ardhanareeswara, the androgynous incarnation of Shiva. Its most prized possessions are the relics from 2nd century AD Buddhist site of Amaravathi & the prehistoric antiques of South India.
Later we drive to Mahabalipuram, town of temples, sand & sea. It is world renowned for its beautiful Shore Temple & other temples. It was once the main port & naval base of the great Pallava kingdom & was later made the capital of this dynasty. Most of the temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva & Vishnu. These structures were built by three successive Pallava Kings, between 630 A.D & 728 A.D, who developed the Dravidian style of temple architecture within the short span of a hundred years. The monuments are mostly rock-cut & monolithic, constitute the early stages of Dravidian architecture, wherein Buddhist elements of design are prominently visible. It is known especially for its rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries) & giant open-air bas-reliefs & hasbeen classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight Hotel - Mahabalipuram (B)
Day 03 : Mahabalipuram - Excursion to Kanchipuram (70 km - 02 hr)
Half Day Tour Today we take a guided tour of Mahabalipuram, visiting Shore Temple, one of the oldest temples in South India. It belongs to the 8th Century AD. Designed to catch the first rays of the rising sun & to illuminate the waters after dark, the temple ended up with an unusual lay-out. Arjuna's Penance, world's largest bas-relief. This huge whale-back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demigods, men, beasts, & birds & in fact can be said to represent creation itself. Next we visit Rathas, monolithic temples fashioned as chariots. They remain an architectural mystery as each is apparently a faithful reproduction of a structure built of wood. In fact, even the grain of the timber beams & rafters has been simulated in stone. Of the eight Rathas, five have been named for the Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic Mahabharata.
Excursion to Kanchipuram Later we take a day excursion to Kanchipuram, is one of the seven holy cities in the country. It was a city of learning for both Tamil & Sanskrit, & was believed to be visited by Hsuan Tsang. In ancient times it was called Kachi. Once had over a thousand temples & today there are more than a hundred extant. It is also known for its temples & silk sarees. We visit Kailasanatha Temple, built in 8th Century AD. It is built in the typical Pallava style, with a pyramidal tower. The temple is famous for exquisite carvings & attracts devotees & tourists alike. Fresco style paintings adorn the inner walls of the temple.
Next we visit Ekambaranatha, ancient temple dedicated to lord Shiva. The 57 metres high Raj Gopuram is one of the tallest towers in South India. The 3000 year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yielding different variety of mangoes. Later we also visit Kamakshi Amman, built in 12th century AD, as an important Shakthisthalam, known as Parabrahmaroonpini. Overnight Hotel - Mahabalipuram (B)
Day 04 : Mahabalipuram - Tanjore (300 km - 06 hr)
Today we drive to Tanjore, flourished during the rule of the Nayaks & Mahrattas. It has been the treasure house of art for centuries. It is called the Rice Bowl of Tamilnadu. Thanjavur is well-known throughout the world for its exquisite handicrafts like the Art Plate, pithwork, bronze icons, Thanjavur paintings & the classical South Indian musical instruments.
Later we visit Brihadeshwara temple, also known as Big Temple, built by Rajaraja Chola I was completed around 1010 CE. This 10th century CE temple, one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is a brilliant example of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. The beautiful Chola Fresco paintings on the inner walls of the temple are no way less than Ajanta paintings. Overnight Hotel - Tanjore (B)
Day 05 : Tanjore - Madurai via Trichy (200 km - 04 hr)
Today we leave for Madurai, rich cultural heritage passed for more than 2500 years old & has been an important commercial centre as early as 550 AD. It is the oldest city in Tamilnadu & was originally known as Kadambavanam or the forest of Kadamba.
En route Trichy En route we stop at Trichy, which has very historic temples & monuments. It was an important town in the days of the later Cholas, Nayaks as well as during the early days of the British East India Company. We start with Srirangam Temple, surrounded by the waters of the River Kaveri on one side & its tributary Kollidam on the other. It is a 600-acre island-town enclosed within the seven walls of the gigantic Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.
Later we visit Rockfort most famed landmark is an 83 m high rock which is the only outcrop in the otherwise flat land of the city. The most amazing fact about the rock is that it is one of the oldest in the world approximately 3,800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland & older than the Himalayas. Overnight Hotel - Madurai(B)
Day 06 : Madurai - Periyar (136 km - 03 hr)
Half Day Tour Today we visit to Meenakshi Sundareshwar, first built 2000 years ago & was substantially expanded between the years (1623-55 AD). A striking feature of the temple is the astonishing structure known as Ayiramkaal mandapam or Hall of a thousand pillars in the outermost corridor.
Later we drive to Periyar, Set on an attractive lakeside, it is South India's most popular Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a place to cruise on the lake & gives an opportunity to see wildlife. It is home to tigers, leopards, elephants, bison, antelopes, sambhar, wild boar, monkey, a wide variety of birds. Next we explore the sanctuary to experience the beauty & ecological pattern. Option Tour - Spice Plantation Overnight Hotel - Periyar (B)
Day 07 : Periyar - Cochin (190 km - 04 hr)
At sun rise we take a boat ride to viewwildlife in the sanctuary on Lake Periyar. After two hours of wildlife viewing we get back to the hotel for breakfast.
Later drive to Cochinalways had a very popular & historical sea trade connection with Middle East, Mediterranean Europe & Dutch. It has one of the finest natural harbours on the Arabian coastline. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the buildings & structures representing different regions of the world.
Later we attend Kerala's most popular classical dance performance, Kathakali by local artist. Overnight Hotel - Cochin (B)
Day 08 : Cochin
Today we take a tour of Cochin, visiting St. Francis' Church, built in the year 1503 by Portuguese Francisan Friars & known to be the oldest European church in India. It was restored in the year 1779 by the protestant Dutch, converted to an Anglican Church by the British in 1795. Vasco da Gama's remains were buried here in 1524 & later moved to Lisbon, Portugal. We also visit Dutch Palace, originally built by the Portuguese. Later in 17th century they modified it & presented it to the Raja (King) of Kochi (Cochin). The Palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting scenes from Hindu epics, Mahabharata & Ramayana.
Later we visit Jew Town, synagogue, built in the year 1568, is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles & Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. Also visit the spice market, where the air is filled with the pungent smell of spices & history that brought the world to its doorstep. Chinese fishing nets, (Cheenavala) are distinctly unique to Cochin. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here. Optional- Boat Cruise Overnight Hotel - Cochin (B)
Day 09 : Cochin - Goa (By Flight)
Today, we take a flight to Goa, once a part of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BC. From 580-750 AD the Chalukyas of Badami had their sway over Goa. It is also known for its world heritage architecture including the Bom Jesus Basilica. Goa also has rich flora & fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which are classified as a biodiversity hotspot rather an absolute paradise on earth. Overnight Hotel - Goa (B)
Day 10 : Goa
Day at leisure OR Today you may take an Optional tour of Goa, Visiting old Goa Churches; Basilica of Boom Jesus, built in 16th century dedicated to Infant Jesus is the most popular & famous of all churches in Goa. The mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, kept in a silver casket, are enshrined here. Sri Mangueas Temple, surrounded by rolling green hills & dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the most important of all temples in Goa & is located at Priol in Ponda Taluka. Dona Paula, a village named after Dona Paula de Menezes, the wife of a noble man Antonio de Souto Maior, who died as a young woman in 1682. Miramar Beach, an urban beach where the Mandovi River meets the Arabian Sea, a point that offers the best location to watch enchanting sunsets Overnight Hotel - Goa (B)
Day 11 & Day 12 : Goa
Day at Leisure, enjoying the golden beaches, luxurious casinos & flowing spirits in Goa. Overnight Hotel - Goa (B)
Day 13 : Goa - Mumbai (By Flight)
Depart Mumbai - Next Destination.
Tour concludes. We thanks you for your patronage and ensures a punctual transfer to the Railway Station / Airport for your onward travel.
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