Temple, Backwater & Palaces of South India
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Product Code : AGORA179
This our personal favourite Temple, Backwater & Palaces of South India itinerary has the ability to touch your soul and melt your heart. Explore the magnificent temple & see the largest & oldest active temples of Hindus in Thanjore, Trichy & Madurai of which some are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Walk in Colonial town of Chennai, Pondicherry, and Fort Kochi. Explore the picturesque Periyar National Park & learn about spice plantation. Cruise in enchanting backwater at Alleppey. Ride on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway and visit fort & palaces of Mysore and Bangaloe.
Day 1: Arrive Chennai
On arrival at Delhi airport assistance & transfer to hotel (check in/out time 12pm).
Later city tour of Chennai. Visit Fort St. George & St Mary`s Church inside the fort built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. Kapaleeshwarar Temple a holy shrine of Lord Shiva originally built by the mighty Pallavas and rebuilt in 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings. Vadapalani Murugan Temple one of the most frequented places of worship for Hindus in Chennai. Government Museum built in the Indo - Sarcenic style it houses a rich collection of works of Raja Ravi Varma. Dakshinachitra Museum, one of the living - history museums. Santhome Cathedral a historical and ancient pilgrim centre, which was built during the 14th to the 15th century AD by the then reigning Portuguese. Drive Pass Marina Beach a 13kms long natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Chennai - Mahabalipuram (120km) (B)
Drive to Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram the city of thousand temples. In Kanchipuam visit Kailasanathar temple 8th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ekambareswarar temple an ancient temple dedicated to Siva, 2500 year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yields different varieties of mangoes. Varadharaja temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Vaikundhaperumal temple dedicated to lord Vishnu & Kamakshiamman temple the ultimate form of Goddess Parvati.
Continue drive to Mahabalipuram check in at hotel. Later visit Monolithic Temples Five Rathas an excellent examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. Krishnas Butterball a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline. 7th century Cave Temples cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style. Shore Temple built with blocks of granite in 7th century during the rule of King Narsimha-Varman II Rajasimha the temple complex consisting of two Siva temples and a carving of Anantasayana Vishnu. The Arjuna`s Penance an enormous rock-cut relief, one of the largest in the whole world. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry (100km) (B)
Drive to Pondicherry check in at hitel. Later visit Aurovil an experimental community founded in 1968 by the spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa as a town where people from all over the world could live in harmony. Its focal point is the Matrimandir, a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs. Pondicherry Museum it houses a fantastic collection of bronze sculptures of god and goddess, a wide gathering of temple lamps, handicrafts and art. Drive pass or walk through stunning French Quarters, charming mustard streets, colonial villas and vibrant Tamil settlements. Besides a very picturesque view of the lovely alleys and narrow lanes, you can also marvel at the gorgeous architecture of the French colonial settlements which include French consulate, Raj Nivas, Government Square, Churches & French schools.
Evening free to relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Pondicherry - Thanjavur (185km) (B)
Drive to Thanjavur via visiting Nataraja Temple dedicated to the dancing posture of Lord Shiva at Chidambaram. Constructed during the 10th century when Chidambaram used to be the capital of the Chola dynasty, the architecture of temple represents the link between arts and spirituality.
Also visit The Great Living Chola Temples at Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The temple complex includes Nandi Mandapa, Alankar Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Mukha Mandapa and Ardha Mandapa. And Darasuram a storehouse of art and architecture with 85 feet high vimana. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deitys consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple. Arrive Thanjavur check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 5: Thanjavur - Trichy (60km) (B)
Visit Brihadeshwara Temple, built in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site. The shrine is a 216 feet structure, the sanctum is dotted with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods and the statue of Nandi the Bull welcomes at the entrance. Vijayanagar Fort built by Nayaks and partly by Maratha rulers during the early 1550 AD. Thanjavur Art Gallery, located in the Thanjavur Palace has an exquisite collection of ancient sculptures and coins. Saraswathi Mahal Library another section of the Palace where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts are preserved.
Drive to Trichy check in at hotel. Visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple the largest functional temple in the world. The temple complex along with the surrounding area covers a total area of 156 acres, there are 22 gopurams including India`s tallest 72 meters, 13 storey high. Many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and rulers from Vijayanagar. Rock Fort Temple the 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. Also visit Jambukeswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, it houses five concentric walls, and seven gopurams. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Trichy - Madurai (135km) (B)
Drive to Madurai check in at hotel.
Visit Meenakshi Temple one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th to 18th centuries. Apart from the estimated 33 million sculptures there, the temple is absolutely absorbing with the endless rounds of ceremonies, prostration of countless devotees and glittering market stalls. Thirumalai Nayakar Palace built in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, the palace depicts the perfect blend of Dravidian and Rajput styles. Also visit Alagar Koil, Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple & Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Madurai - Thekkady (B)
Drive to Thekkady via Ramakkalmedu one of the windiest places in Asia and being so, one can find here a wind farm generating electricity. Visit Frog Rock, Turtle Rock and the highest twin-statue in Kerala called Kuravan & Kurathi.
On arrival check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Thekkady (B)
Explore Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on a boat. The tropical evergreen and deciduous forests teeming with elephants, bison, sambar deer, wild dogs, jungle cats, tiger and wild boar along with various species of snake including cobras, vipers, kraits and many non-poisonous snakes is a wildlife lover`s dream. A variety of birds such as grey jungle fowl, Malabar grey hornbill, woodpeckers and bulbuls also have found a home in this sanctuary. Afterwards take a spice plantation tour to see crops of cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates etc. You could stop at the local market and pick some fragrant spices. Drive to Kumarakom check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Thekaddy - Alleppey (135km) (B,L,D)
Transfer to Alleppey boat jetty to board houseboat and sail through the tropical countryside enchanting backwaters. While sailing enjoy palm fringed narrow canals winding through the vast expanse of paddy fields and the neat tiny hamlets lined up along either side of the canals, the panoramic sights one can never forget. Pass through one of the few areas in the world where farming is done below sea level. Alleppey is referred as the Venice of the East, due to canals, backwaters, and lagoons. Boats are the main mode of transportation here, you can see Shikara boats, small motor boats, passenger boats, cargo boat, and houseboats. Evening enjoy sunset from the sun-deck of the houseboats. The Houseboats have generated electricity, sitting cum dining area, separate bedroom with attached English toilets, sun deck and fully loaded kitchen with a chef & driver. Overnight in houseboat.
Day 10: Alleppey - Cochin (60km) (B)
Drive to Cochin check in at hotel.
Visit Fort Cochin a charming seaside area known for its Dutch, Portuguese & British colonial architecture and elaborate bamboo fishing nets at Fort Kochi Beach. St. Francis Church was the original burial site of explorer Vasco da Gama. Upscale eateries and chic cafes serve Keralan specialties, and quaint shops sell cotton clothing and handmade souvenirs. Heritage buildings house contemporary art galleries. Also visit Jewish Synagogue & the Mattancherry Dutch`s Palace. In the evening enjoy Kathakali, a traditional dance form of Kerala with lavish costumes, exotic makeup, masks etc. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: Cochin - Ooty (280km) (B)
Drive to Ooty check in at hotel. Rest time to relax & explore the surrounding. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12: Ooty - Mysore (140km) (B)
Ooty is all-seasons hill resort and the queen of hill stations at an elevation of 7216 ft above sea-level. Surrounded by trees, central Ooty Lake is a huge artificial expanse of water with beautiful boats. Enjoy the town and visit the well-maintained botanical gardens, which have over 1,000 varieties of plants, shrubs and trees. Also take a ride on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway that winds its way down through spectacular scenery and breathtaking views to the nearby town of Coonoor. It was established in the early 19th century by the British now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Drive to Mysore check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Mysore (B)
City tour visit Mysore Palace built in the 1912 for the 24th Ruler of the Wodeyar Dynasty and is counted amongst one of the biggest palaces in the country. Chamundi Hills, site of the Chamundeswari Temple, one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas located on the eastern edge at the height of 1000ft. The temple also has statues of Nandi Bull and Mahishasura the demon. City Palace which was re-built by Henry Irwin during 1897 in an indo-saracenic style. The palace contains astonishing wall paintings, authentic stained glass work and ornamented doors. St. Philomena`s Church the second tallest church of Asia built in Neo-Gothic style of architecture.
Excursion to Chennakesava Temple an exemplary monument of Hoysala architecture consecrated in 1258 CE, a Vaishnav Hindu Temple dedicated to might and beauty of Lord Krishna. The Chennakesava temple is one of the 1500 Temples built by the Hoysala Empire kings in different parts of their kingdom, and is said to be the climax development in Hoysala temple style and yet is unique in many other ways. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Mysore - Bangalore (150km) (B)
Drive to Bangalore check in at hotel.
Visit Lal Bagh Garden which houses over 1800 species of flora including rare and enchanting collection of tropical plants, trees and herbs. Cubbon Park a landmark area located within the heart of the city. The Bangalore Fort a living testimony of the notorious struggle of the Mysore Empire against the mighty Britishers. Tippu`s Summer Palace the magnificent accommodation of the valiant ruler of Mysore Tipu Sultan. Bangalore Palace an epitome of great architecture and beauty a mixture of Tudor & Scottish Gothic architecture. The Bull Temple one of the oldest temples in the city. Also drive pass the Government buildings Vidhana Soudha & the Secretariat. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15: Bangalore - Departure (B)
Departure transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination.
Assistance on arrival at airport.
14 Nights accommodation in selected price category hotels.
Meal as per day plan (B- Breakfast, L- Lunch, D- Dinner)
Private air conditioned deluxe car for airport transfer, sightseeing and excursion as per program.
English speaking tour guide on sightseeing days (local guide in each city), as per program.
Monuments entrances and activities charges mentioned in the itinerary.
Bottled drinking water in car.
Hotels used or similar for 14 Nights accommodation
Chennai x 1 night
3* - Raj Park/ MGM East Woods
4* - The Raintree/ Accord Metropolitan
5* - ITC Grand Chola/ The Leela Palace
Mahabalipuram x 1 night
3* - INDeco Hotels/ Mamalla Beach Resort
4* - Ideal Beach Resort/ Confluence The Banquet & Resort
5* - Radisson BLU Resort Temple Bay/ Fisherman's Cove
Pondicherry x 1 night
3* - Shenbaga Hotel/ Annamalai International
4* - Le Pondy/ The Windflower Resort & Spa
5* - Palais De Mahe/ La Villa
Thnjore x 1 night
3* - Grand Gardenia/ Oriental Towers
4* - Sangam Hotels/ Ideal River View Resort
5* - Svatma
Trichy x 1 night
3* - Red Fox Hotel/ Grand Gardenia
4* & 5* - Sangam Hotels/ Ideal River View Resort
Madurai x 1 night
3* - Astoria by Sparsa/ Madurai’s Residency
4* - GRT Regency/ Fortune Pandiyan Hotel
5* - Heritage Madurai/ The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai
Pariyar (Thekkady) x 2 night
3* - Abad Green Forest/ Hotel Treetop
4* - The Elephant Court/ Cardamom County
5* - Spice village/ Cardamom County
Alleppey x 1 night
3* - Deluxe Houseboat (ATDC Houseboat/ Dream Boats)
4* - Premium Houseboat (Abad Premium Houseboats/ Rainbow Premium Houseboats)
5* - Luxury Houseboat (Xandari Riverscapes/ Lakes & Lagoons)
Cochin x 1 nights
3* - The Dune Hotel/ Abad Plaza
4* - Casino Hotel/ The Avenue Regent
5* - Xandari Harbour/ Le Meridien
Ooty x 1 nights
3* - Monarch Hotel/ Hotel Darshan
4* - Fortune Resort Sullivan Court/ Sinclairs Retreat
5* - Savoy - IHCL SeleQtions/ Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel
Mysore x 2 nights
3* - Southern Star/Sandesh The Prince
4* - Fortune Park JP Palace/ Grand Mercure
5* - Royal Orchid Brindavan Garden/The Windflower Resort & Spa
Bangalore x 1 nights
3* - Ramada/ The Rialto
4* - Fortune Select JP Cosmos/ Lemon Tree Premier Ulsoor Lake
5* - ITC Gardenia, a Luxury Collection/ ITC Windsor a Luxury Collection
Any flight tickets.
Camera charges at monuments.
Meals other than mentioned in day plan.
Expenses of personal nature like liquor, laundry, tips, telephone, fax, internet etc.
Gratuities & optional activities.
Anything not mentioned in inclusions.