15
Days Popular South India Trip (I- 47)

Chennai - Kanchipuram - Tiruvanamalai - Gingee - Yercaud - Trichy - Kodaikanal - Madurai - Chettinad - Thanjavur - Pondicherry - Mahabalipuram - Chennai

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Day 01:- Arrive in Chennai

On arrival in Chennai, you will be transferred to your hotel. The name Chennai was derived from Chennaipattanam, built by the English in 1639. The earlier name of Chennai was a short from of Chennai pattinam a fishing village. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu and is the largest industrial and commercial center of South India and also an important centre for Carnatic music. The city is also famous for the Tamil movies and known as Tollywood. Chennai came into prominence because of the British who defended the town against several attacks from the French and converted it to a major naval port. Chennai has numerous places of interest and beautiful museums. Your holiday of South India starts from here. Overnight is in Chennai.

This morning you will be transferred from Chennai to Kanchipuram by road. Kanchipuram was the ancient capital of the Pallavas and was the town of 1000 temples. Kanchipuram sight-seeing takes you through some of the known temples such as Siva temple from the 7th century, Ekambareswara temple, Sri Kailasanathar Temple from the 8th century, the Sri Vardaraja Perumal Temple, the Sri Kamakshiamman Temple, etc. Kanchipuram is a paradise for the shoppers as it offers the world famous Kanchipuram silk and saris. After the visit of Kanchipuram, you will proceed to Tiruvannamalai. Overnight is in Tiruvannamalai.

Today you will have an excursion to Gingee. The Gingee Fort built by the Cholas in 13th century AD is also called as Jinji or Senchi. This Fort came under the control of Bijapur Sultanate of Vijayanagar In 1638, then for a short time under the control of the Marathas and then later under the Mughals. In 1750 the French took over the Fort and in 1762 the Fort changed over hand to the British. The forts called as the "most impregnable fortress in India" by the Marathas and the "Troy of the East" by the British. The Fort is on three hills - Krishnagiri, Rajagiri and Chandrayandurg forming a huge triangle with 25 meters thick walls. Overnight is in Tiruvannamalai.

This morning visit Tiruvannamalai. Tiruvannamalai is named after the deity Annamalaiyar in the Annamalaiyar Temple which is one of the largest temples in India. Out of the four gateway towers, the eastern tower, with 11 stories is one of the tallest temple towers in India. This temple is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, or five Shiva temples. Each is a manifestation of the elements - land, water, air, sky or fire. Here, Shiva is manifested as fire. The other cities are Chidambaram for sky, Sri Kalahasti for air, Thiruvanaikoil for water and Kanchipuram for land. Later drive to Yercaud. Overnight is in Yercaud.

This morning you will visit Yercaud, famous for its scenic beauty, natural charm and exotic flowers like sunflower, roses and dahlias. Yercaud is known as the Jewel of South & gets its name from the lake located at its center. The National Orchidarium and Botanical garden has about 3000 trees and 1800 shrubs. Coffee, oranges, bananas, pears and jackfruit grow here in abundance. The jungle around Yercaud has bison, deer, rabbits, foxes, mongoose, squirrels, etc. The Pagoda Point has a large temple. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight is in Trichy.

This morning you will drive to Tiruchirapalli also known as Trichy, located at the banks of Cauvery River and is the fourth largest city of Tamil Nadu. This afternoon you will be visiting the city which was the citadel for the Cholas and was developed by the Nayaks of Madurai and is an eminent city as it is known for its scholars of Tamil. One can feel the holiness of this city in every occasion that gets celebrated over here with great grandeur and pomp.

You will be visiting the Danish Church, Rock Fort a temple complex and a fort built on a rock with 434 steps to reach the temple of Lord Ganaesha and more for the temple of Lord Shiva. This fort complex had witnessed the fierce battles in between the Bijapur and Madurai Nayaks, Marathas and Carnatic forces. It has been said that this fort plays huge role at the time of Carnatic wars that helped in the foundation layout of British Empire. Overnight is in Tiruchirapalli.

This morning you will be transferred from Tiruchirapalli to Kodaikanal. Rest of the day is at leisure. Kodaikanal which means "The Gift of the Forest" is known as "Princess of Hill stations" and is in the Palani Hills of Western Ghats at a height of 2,133 meters. Kodaikanal Lake is a 5 kms circumference manmade lake where you could hire boats, horses and bicycles. Kodaikanal is famous for its meadows, grasslands, cascading streams, water falls and gardens. Pear, cypress, eucalyptus and acacia trees are plentiful. Kodaikanal has many religious places like Church of South India, St. Peters Church, La Salette, Lutheran Mission, Union Church, Durgai Amman Kovil, Kurinji Andavar Kovil, Mariamman Kovil, Ellis Villa, Munjikal, etc. Overnight is in Kodaikanal.

You have a full day at leisure for visiting Kodaikanal. Bryant Park is a beautiful botanical garden with a large species of trees, shrubs, cactuses and hundreds of varieties of roses. Shembaganur Museum of Natural History (closed on Tuesdays) offers a taxidermy collection of about 500 species of animals, birds and insects and a good collection of live exotic orchid species. Green Valley View offers you a beautiful view of the plains. Dolphin's Nose is a flat rock projecting over a 2000 meter chasm. Silver Cascade is a waterfall formed from the outflow of Kodaikanal Lake. Bear Shola Falls is a waterfall where you need to climb a bit. Pillar Rocks are three giant rock pillars which stand 122 meters high. Overnight is in Kodaikanal.

This morning you will be transferred by road from Kodaikanal to Madurai. Madurai is one of the oldest living cities in the world and the recorded history dates back to 3rd century BC. Madurai comes from the word Madhura which means sweetness. The people of Madurai celebrate many festivals and one of the important festivals is the annual 10 days Chittirai festival. Rani Mangamma's palace has been converted into Gandhi Memorial Museum and houses the blood-stained garment worn by Mahatma Gandhi when he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse. Mahatma Gandhi had adopted the loin cloth as his mode of dress after seeing agricultural laborers in Madurai wearing it. Meenakshi Temple is in the list of nominees of the "New Seven Wonders of the World".

The afternoon tour of Madurai includes Meenakshi Temple, Tirumala Nayak Palace, Alagar Hills and Tirupara Kundran Rock temple. The Meenakshi Temple complex is one of the largest and oldest in India. The temple was built 2000 years ago and was expanded by Thirumalai Nayak. This is a temple of Lord Siva and his wife Meenakshi. The temple has a Hall of Thousand Pillars with every pillar showing life like features. The outermost corridors have musical pillars of stones which when tapped, produce different musical notes. Thirumalai Nayak Palace was built in 1636 by the king Thirumalai Nayak and is famous for its domes and arches. Overnight is in Madurai.

This morning you will be transferred from Madurai to the Chettinad region with numerous villages. You will have free time to visit the Chettinad villages. Chettinad is quite famous for its cuisine which is very spicy and aromatic. The Chettinad mansions with wide courtyards and spacious rooms were built with marble and teak. The furnishings were imported from East Asian countries and Europe. marble was from Italy, teak from Burma crystals from Europe and mirrors from Belgium. The wood- and stone-work was inspired by the great houses in France and other European countries. Visit the Vairavan Kovil, Karpaga Vinayakar, Kundrakudi Murugan, Kandanur Sivan and other temples. Overnight is in Chettinad.

This morning you will drive to Thanjavur also known as Tanjore. Thanjavur was the capital of the Chola dynasty. Tanjore is famous for the Tanjore paintings and Bharatanatyam a form of classical dance which originated from this land. The Brihadeeswara Shiva Temple which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by King Raja Raja Chola in the 11th century AD. The temple is capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite block weighing 80 tons which was taken to the top with the help of a 6 km long ramp, an old technique used by the Egyptians for building pyramids. The walls are covered with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods. The other places of interest are the Thanjavur Maratha Palace constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur, the Saraswati Mahal Library with more than 30,000 manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper and the Raja Raja Chola art gallery with a huge collection of stone and bronze idols dating back from the 9th to the 12th centuries. Overnight is in Thanjavur.

This morning you will drive to Puducherry also known as Pondicherry or Pondy. You have time at leisure for visiting this beautiful city with a colonial influence. Puducherry was acquired by the French in 1674 and has colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues. The systematic well planned French style avenues gives a look of the colonial ambiance. Puducherry has a number of well preserved heritage buildings and monuments. Promenade Beach, Paradise Beach, Auroville Beach and Serenity Beach are the well known beaches of Puducherry. Overnight is in Puducherry.

This morning you will be visiting Pondicherry which traces its origin to the revered sage Saint Agasthya. Puducherry is divided into the French Quarters "Ville Blanche" and the Indian quarter "Ville Noire". Some of the streets still have their French names. In the French Quarters, it is common to see French style villas and colonial style buildings. Sri Aurobindo Ashram is globally quite popular. Auroville is a universal town where people from all nationalities live together in harmony and peace. The Lord Ganesha Sri Manakula Vinayagar Temple is a quite visited Hindu Temple. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight is in Puducherry.

Today morning you will drive to Mamallapuram also known as Mahabalipuram or Mamallapattana. This is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historic town and seaport. It was also known by the ancient mariners as the city of "Seven Pagodas". Out of the Seven Pagodas, only the Shore Temple survives. Mahabalipuram was a bustling seaport and the traders went to countries of South East Asia from here. It was an important port for the Pallavas and most of the monuments portray events from the Mahabharata and date back from the 7th to the 9th century. In an ancient text, this place was noted as Sea Mountain where ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking laden with goods.

Your afternoon tour of Mahabalipuram takes you through the cave temples and mandapams cut in the rocks showing depiction of incidents from Hindu legends, epics and mythology. The temples were built during the rule of Narasimhavarman and Rajasimhavarman. The city was mostly developed by Narasimhavarman. The bas relief Arjuna's Penance with life size images carved on the rock wall is the largest Bas-relief in the world. The five chariots are carved out of a single rock. The twin structure of the Shore Temple is one of the oldest in South India and is worth visiting. The Shore Temple built from dressed stone has bas reliefs, one 100 ft long and 45 ft. high, carved out of granite. Overnight is in Mahabalipuram.

Mahabalipuram to Chennai airport by road and departure(58 kms).
This morning you will drive to Chennai airport in time for your connecting flight. End of Our Services.