Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Tanjore – Rameshwaram – Madurai – Kanyakumari (12 nights and 13days)
Embellished with endless array of magnificent temples with lofty towers, Tamil Nadu is reffered as ‘Land of Temples’. These temples are the excellent repository of Dravidain culture and perfect testimony of unique art forms that evolved over several centuries. Several ancient rulers of the state has patronized these temples during their respective reigns and constructed them with brick and mortar.
Day 01 :
Arrive Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamilnadu and the gateway to South India. Chennai promises to entice tourists from all over the world with its beauty and culture. There is a fine array of temples and churches which besides being known for their religious significance are also great examples of architecture and craftsmanship. The beaches of Chennai are perhaps one of the main highlights of the Chennai tours. Chennai tourism is also characterized with shopping destinations, where you could buy anything from silk saris, gold and silver jewellery to pieces of art. Chennai is known to be the connoisseur of art and hence there are several art festivals held showcasing the talent of great personalities. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Overnight stay in Chennai.
Day 02 :
Today after breakfast, leave for a half-day city tour covering The Parthasarathy Temple, considered to be the oldest temple in Chennai. The temple derived its name from the pond in front of the temple. It was originally built by the Pallavas and its architecture is a combination of several temple building styles. There are inscriptions of the Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar kingdom on the temple structure. Later proceed to visit the St. George Fort, which is the first British fort in India built in 1639. It now houses a museum with artifacts from India’s colonial period. Thereafter visit the San Thome Basilica, designed in Neo-Gothic style, favoured by British architects in the late 19th century. Evening visit the Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world filled with statues of remembrance from our Tamil culture to our great leaders. Overnight stay in Chennai.
Day 03 :
This early morning proceed for a full day excursion to Tirupati (155kms / 3hrs one way) a pilgrimage city located in the vicinity of the Tirumala temple. Visit the holy temple which is reportedly the richest and the most visited place of worship in the world. Tirumala is a first most divine pilgrim center of Hindu/Vedha Religion, popularly known as Sri Venkateswara Temple - which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Return back to Chennai. Overnight stay in Chennai.
Day 04 :
Today morning, after breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram (55kms / 1.5hrs), located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, along the Indian eastern coast, which is known for its rocks carvings and monolithic sculptures, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture of the temples, was inspired by the Pallava Art. Mahabalipuram contains nearly forty monuments of different types including an "open air bas relief" which is the largest in the world. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Evening proceed for a half-day tour of Mahabalipuram, covering Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) - five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. An interesting aspect of the rathas is that, despite their sizes they are not assembled — each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone. The Shore Temple - a structural temple reconstructed stone by stone from the sea after being washed away in a cyclone. Varaha Cave Temple is a small monolithic rock-cut temple with a mandapam dating from the 7th century. The Pallava doorkeepers in front of mandapa are two pillars and two semi-columns that have horned lions carved into the bases. Arjuna's Penance, measuring 96 feet (29 m) long by 43 feet (13 m) high, it is a giant open-air relief carved of a monolithic rock. Krishna's Butterball is a giant natural rock perched on a hillside, seemingly in defiance of all laws of physics. Overnight stay in Mahabalipuram.
Day 05 :
This day after breakfast, proceed to Kanchipuram (65kms / 1.5hrs), one of the seven most holy places for Hindus in India, is also known as the "Silk City" due to the hand-woven Silk fabrics and sarees. Kanchipuram was the historical capital of the Pallavas during the 7th - 9th centuries. Kanchipuram has several medieval temples with spectacular architecture, namely Kanchi Kamakshi temple – abode of Kamakshi (Goddess Parvathi) - consort of Lord Shiva. Ekambaranatha Temple that represents the earth form of the five form-element abodes of Lord Shiva. Vaikunta Perumal temple has beautiful pillared corridors around the sanctum. One of the most ancient temples with 3 tier Sannathi cum Gopuram. Varadaraja Perumal Temple where the gopuram is particularly impressive when viewed across the lush green fields from the road leading from Kanchipuram. Evening at leisure to enjoy the wonderful beaches of Mahabalipuram. Overnight stay in Mahabalipuram.
Day 06 :
Today after breakfast, proceed to Pondicherry (100kms / 2hrs), is a quiet little town on the southern coast. It was a former colony of The French. The unmistakable French connection, the tree lined boulevards, the quaint colonial heritage buildings, the spiritual scene, the endless stretches of unspoilt virgin beaches, backwater, provide a heady mix that draw travelers from near and far. Recently the name was changed to Puducherry. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Evening stroll around the 1.5km long promenade, running along the beach and the pride of Pondicherry. On the sea front are several land marks namely, the War memorial cold and dispassionate throbbing the memory of last dreams, the statue of Joan of Arc blazing an inspiration, the heritage town hall, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi standing tall, Dupleix statue, old light house, the remains of the old pier, the old customs house, speak the splendor of the by gone era. Overnight stay in Pondicherry.
Day 07 :
This morning after breakfast, proceed for a half-day tour. Visit Auroville, located 12kms from Pondicherry is meant to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which has been acclaimed as "an outstanding and original architectural achievement". It was conceived by Mirra Alfassa (fondly called "The Mother") as "a symbol of the Divine's answer to man's inspiration for perfection". Thereafter visit the Aurobindo Ashram, founded by Sri Aurobindo Ghose who was an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. This Ashram is a large institution in the downtown area of Pondicherry. It provides many charitable benefits to the area, including free medical facilities and a publishing house. Overnight stay in Pondicherry.
Day 08 :
This day after breakfast, drive to Thanjavur (170kms / 4hrs), an important agricultural center located at the heart of the region, is known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu”. Thanjavur is one of the oldest cities in India and important center of South Indian art and architecture. It is also the home of the Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Later proceed for a half-day tour of the city. Visit the Brahadeeswara temple, also known as the Big Temple was built by Rajaraja Chola. The temple is enclosed in two courts, surmounted by a lofty tower and including the exquisitely decorated shrine of Murugan. Later visit the Vijayanagara fort, which contains a palace that was expanded by the Maratha king Serfoji II with an armoury, a Bell Tower and the Saraswathi Mahal Library, which contains over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts. Overnight stay in Thanjavur.
Day 09 :
Today morning after breakfast, proceed to Rameshwaram (167kms / 4hrs), popularly referred to as 'Benaras of the South', is one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages. This is the place from where Lord Rama built a bridge Ram Setu (also known as Adam's Bridge) across the sea to Lanka to rescue his consort Sita from her abductor Ravana. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Later visit The Ramanatha Swamy Temple - a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture, it has the largest temple corridor in India. The main attraction of the temple are the twenty-two wells of it. Surprising but true that the water of each well tastes different from that of the other. It is also believed that the waters of the well have curative properties. Later visit Agnitriham Temple - devotees normally bath at the holy spot before proceeding to the Ramanatha Swamy Temple. Thereafter visit the Ramjharoka Temple, where the imprint of Lord Rama's feet is placed on a chakra. The chakra has been kept at the highest point of Rameshwara, which is at a distance of 5 kms from Rameshwaram town. Being the highest point of Rameshwaram, a magnificent view of the blue ocean waters below is available from the place. Then drive to Dhanushkodi located 18kms from Rameshwaram, it is the southern tip of the island. The two seas otherwise known as Ratnakaran and Mahodadhi with their confluence is shaped like a bow while the strip of land resemble an arrow poised for release. Devout Hindus consider the Adi Sethu or the arrowhead, a sacred place to perform religious rites. It is also place worth visiting for its scenic beauty and bird life. Overnight stay in Rameshwaram.
Day 10 :
This morning, after breakfast drive to Madurai (172kms / 4hrs), home to the Meenakshi Temple, it is also known as the Temple City of India. One can find temples in almost every street in Madurai. It is one of the oldest cities of India and was ruled by Pandya kings over most of its history. The city is famous for its rich heritage and promoting Tamil language through "Sangams". Arrive and transfer to hotel. Later, visit the famous Meenakshi temple, which stands today as one of India's greatest cultural and architectural landmarks. It was originally built by the early Pandya King Kulasekara and is one of the greatest Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu. The complex houses 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities, that are elaborately sculptured and painted. Thereafter visit the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal palace complex which was constructed in the Indo-Saracen style by Thirumalai Nayakar in 1636. It is a national monument and has the royal residences, theater, shrines, apartments, armory, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, pond and garden. The ceilings are decorated with large paintings showing Shaivite and Vaishnavite themes. Overnight stay in Madurai.
Day 11 :
Today morning, after breakfast proceed to Kanyakumari (250kms / 5hrs), referred to as Cape Comorin, is the southernmost tip of South India. Kanyakumari takes its name from the Kumari Amman or Kanyakumari Temple, situated in the town, on the sea-shore, the very confluence of the three water-bodies - the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Overnight stay in Kanyakumari.
Day 12 :
This morning, after breakfast visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, a sacred monument built on a rock in the middle of the sea. This is the place where the great spiritual teacher Swami Vivekananda attained enlightenment. Also visit the Kumari Amman or the Kanyakumari Temple, located on the shore, is a Shakti Peetha dedicated to a manifestation of Parvati, the virgin goddess who did penance to obtain Lord Shiva's hand in marriage. Evening enjoy the beach of Kanyakumari, one of the few places wherein one can view both sun-rise and sun-set. Overnight stay in Kanyakumari.
Day 13 :
This day, after breakfast drive to Trivandrum (87kms/ 2hrs) and transfer to airport to board flight for your onward destination with “Enchanting & Spiritiual” memories of South India.