Start in Chennai (Madras) and end in Kochi (Cochin)! With the discovery tour Tamil Nadu and Kerala, you have a 11 day tour package taking you through Chennai (Madras), India and 13 other destinations in India. Tamil Nadu and Kerala includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
Once you arrive at Chennai Airport, you?ll be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in (preferably book a flight arriving at noon). Chennai (formerly Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu, is located along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, and was established after 1639 when the British East India Company founded a fortress and a port. It was developed around the fortress of St. George. Many buildings are still reminiscent of the Colonial kingdom. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this new location at leisure. Overnight in Chennai.Start point Upon arrival at Chennai International Airport you will be met in the arrival hall by a tour representative, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India 00:00 - 23:55
In and around KanchipuramStart the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave for an excursion to Kanchipuram, one of the seven sacred cities of ancient India and once the capital of the Pallava dynasty. The very high gopuram of the temples is visible from far away as if they were the peaks of a huge sacred forest. The Kailashnath, dedicated to Shiva, is one of the oldest sanctuaries of the Pallava dynasty in the country, dating back to the 8th century. In the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour that includes a visit to the Government Museum and National Art Gallery, the art and bronze gallery, and the famous 16th-century Kapaleeshwarar temple dedicated to Shiva, sacred to Tamil Shivaties. Non-Hindus are only allowed as far as the outer courtyard. Later, visit Santhome Cathedral, where St. Thomas, Apostle of Jesus Christ, lived and preached Christianity, and finish this tour by driving past Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world. Overnight in Chennai.
(155 km ? 3.5 hrs) Wake up to breakfast at the hotel, then leave Chennai and head to Pondicherry. On the way, visit the Hindu temples of Mahabalipuram, located on a stunning rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon. Built by the Pallava rulers in the 17th century, the complex comprises 14 cave-temples, nine monolithic ?rathas?, three stone temples and two bas-relief rock panels describing Arjunas penance when he prayed for the powers of Shiva, the largest bas-relief in the world. Particularly of interest is the shore temple built on the waters edge with an east-facing altar designed to catch the rising sun, recently listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. After the tour, continue to Pondicherry, now known as Puducherry, a spiritual seaside location. Its old French atmosphere remains visible in its well-kept gardens, magnificent churches, historical monuments, palaces and clean wide streets that still retain their French names. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and, in the afternoon, visit Aurobindo Ashram, an ashram for peace and harmonious living founded by saint-philosopher Sir Aurobindo. This is followed by a visit to the museum, Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus, then end your day with a transfer back to the hotel and the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Pondicherry.
In and around Kumbakonam, Chidambaram, DarasuramBreakfast at the hotel is followed by a drive to Kumbakonam. En route, stop at Chidambaram, an important pilgrimage centre for Shivaites (followers of the god Shiva) known for its famous Nataraja temple, an excellent example of the Dravidian architecture of Tamil Nadu. Then continue your drive to Gangaikonda Cholapuram, a Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva with an imposing gopuram that can be seen from kilometres afar. It is a replica of the Brihadeeswara temple in Thanjavur and was built to commemorate a victory over the kingdom near the Ganges River. Upon arrival at Kumbakonam, check-in at the hotel before visiting the temples of Darasuram and Airavatheeswarar, which was built by King Chola Rajarajan-II and is dedicated to Shiva. It is an excellent example of Chola architecture and a World Heritage site listed by UNESCO. This temple is important both from an artistic and architectural point of view. Afterwards, visit Kumbakonam, a busy place located along the Cauvery River; the Sarangapani temple, the biggest temple dedicated to the god Vishnu; and the Kumbeshwara temple, the greatest temple dedicated to Shiva. It is believed that every 12 years, the waters of the Ganges flow into the Mahamakham Tank (reservoir), an occasion celebrated with a festival.? Overnight in Kumbakonam.
In and around TanjoreBreakfast at the hotel is followed by a morning transfer to Tanjore, previously known as Thanjavur, the former capital of the Chola Empire from the 10th? to the 14th century AD. It was conquered by the kingdom of Vijaynagar and then passed into the hands of the Maratha before eventually becoming British. For many centuries it has been a renowned cultural, political, literary and religious center. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and, in the afternoon, enjoy a visit to the Brihadeeswara Temple. In front of the Sanctum is a Nandi (?bull?) preferred by the god Shiva. The corridors around the shrine have many sculptures and frescoes from the period of the kingdom of Chola that were discovered only recently. The palace and the remains of the fort surrounding temple number 6 are still visible. Members of the former royal family of Tanjore still occupy apartments on the inside, but the palace is now mainly used as an art gallery. Overnight in Tanjore.
In and around TrichyCharge your batteries with an early breakfast at the hotel before going out on an excursion that will take you to discover Trichy and Srirangam . Tiruchirappalli, universally known as Trichy or Tiruchi, is a lively city with a rich history and many ancient temples and shrines dedicated to Lord Ganapathi and Lord Shiva bound to amaze. 434 steps carved into rock interspersed with shrines lead to the temple of Ganapathi, while yet another flight leads to the temple of Lord Shiva. The ascent is rewarded with a magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River. Then continue your excursion and stop to visit Sri Ranganathaswamy, a massive Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, which contains a bazaar within its walls. Located on an island called Srirangam on the Cauvery River, it is set in a charming complex built in the 10th century. The temple is well preserved and has an area of over 60 hectares with seven concentric walls and 21 gopuram; it is one of the biggest temples in India. In the evening return to Tanjore. Overnight in Tanjore.
After breakfast, a morning transfer to Madurai awaits you. One of the oldest cities in South India, it has been a center of Hindu teaching and pilgrimage for centuries. Its history dates back to a time well before Christ. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and, in the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city of Madurai: see the Meenakshi temple, the Tirumalai Nayak Palace and the Gandhi Museum. In the evening, attend the Sri Meenakshi temple night ceremony for a moving spiritual experience. Overnight in Madurai.
After breakfast, depart to Periyar, where you?ll check-in at around noon. After lunch, prepare to discover this land of elephants, unending hills and spice-scented plantations. The flora and fauna of Periyar?s wildlife sanctuary are absolutely thrilling, and the Periyar Lake is a paradise for nature lovers, the greatest delight it offers being the herds of elephants that come down to play in its waters. Enjoy an afternoon boat ride on Periyar Lake and contemplate the wildlife (subject to water level). Keep an eye out for sambhar, bison, spotted deer, tigers, leopards, Malabar flying squirrels, stripe-necked mongooses and more. In the evening, watch a Kerala martial arts performance called Kalaripatitty at a theatre in Periyar. Known as the mother of all martial arts, Kalaripayattu originated in South India and is one of the oldest fighting systems in existence. It includes strikes, kicks, grappling, weaponry and healing methods. Return to the hotel for dinner. Overnight in Periyar.
After breakfast, drive to Alleppey (Alapuzha), where you get the chance to board a houseboat (Kettuvallom). Kettuvallams are huge, tapering barges traditionally used to collect rice and other goods across Kerala. They have a portion covered with bamboo and coir serving as a kitchen and restrooms for the crew. These boats are entirely built without the use of nails. Planks of jack wood are woven together with coir ropes and coated with a black resin made from boiled cashew kernels. Modern-day houseboats carry finished bedrooms, modern toilets, cozy living rooms, kitchens and even balconies where tourists can laze on cushions. Most of the boats are poled by local oarsmen, while some are powered by engines. Gliding on the serene backwaters, visitors can witness a side of Kerala unspoiled by time. Enjoy your day at leisure to better discover the activities of the locals and then spend the night aboard the houseboat.? Overnight on the houseboat.
After breakfast, disembark from the houseboat and transfer to Kochi, where you will check in to your new hotel. Kochi, which was formerly known as Cochin, is one of the most culturally diverse cities in India, with ancient Christian and Jewish communities as well as more traditional Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist ones. Its colonial past has also bequeathed a heritage that features Portuguese, Dutch and British culture and architecture. In the afternoon, explore the town?s historic districts. Our walking tour will take us to Mattancherry Palace, known locally as the Dutch Palace (Closed on Fridays); and to the Jew Town, where we can see the Pardesi Synagogue (Closed on Fridays & Saturdays); explore also the European-style streets and houses. In the evening, sit back and enjoy a Kathakali dance show ? a fascinating ancient form of dance typical of Kerala, which tells stories from the classic Hindu epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. The dancers tell the story through facial expressions and intricate gestures, with sudden jumps, rotations, and balances, each wearing a fantastic costume and performing elaborate tricks. Overnight in Kochi.
Enjoy one last breakfast at the hotel before hopping onto your transfer to Kochi Airport, where you?ll catch your flight to your next destination.End point At the agreed time, transfer from the hotel to the airport in Chennai., Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India