Today morning you will drive from Chennai to Mahabalipuram 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.
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.
This morning you will drive to Puducherry also known as Pondicherry or Pondy. Puducherry was acquired by the French in 1674 and has colonial buildings, churches, temples, and statues. The systematic well planned French style avenues, preserves and 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 afternoon 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. Overnight is in Puducherry.
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 the famous form of classical dance has originated from this land. Thanjavur is an important centre of religion, art, and architecture and most of the Chola temples are present here. Thanjavur is an important silk weaving centre and has a large number of silk weaving units. Tanjore is also famous for its bronze images, Hindu idols, musical instruments like veena, tambura, violin, etc. Thanjavur is known as the rice bowl of Tamilnadu. Overnight is in Thanjavur.
You will enjoy your morning tour of Thanjavur today. 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. After your visit of Thanjavur you will drive to Chettinad. Overnight is in Chettinad.
Your morning is at leisure in Chettinad region with numerous 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. After the visit of Chettinad, drive to Rameshwaram. Overnight is in Rameshwaram.
You have a free day to discover the holy city of Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram is one of the holiest places for Hindus and every pilgrim would like to visit this place at least once in their life time. The legend is that Lord Rama built a bridge here to cross the sea to Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from Ravana. The Ramanathaswamy Shiva Temple built from the 12th century AD by the Pandyans has the longest corridor amongst the Hindu temples and is one of the most important temples. This is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas where Shiva is worshipped as a Jyothirlinga. Out of the sixty-four Tirthas or water tanks in and around Rameshwaram, twenty-four are quite important. The Hindus believe that a bath in these tanks absolve a persons from sins. Overnight is in Rameshwaram.
This morning you will be transferred by road from Rameshwaram 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 by road from Madurai to the beautiful hill station of Munnar. Munnar which means three rivers derives its name from the Madhurapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundaly rivers; situated on the Kannan Devan Hills is a beautiful hill station, and was the summer resort of the British. Munnar is a popular honeymoon destination in Kerala and viewing the vast tea plantations in this area is a pleasure for the eyes. Anamudi, the highest peak in South India is here. Munnar is surrounded by different wild life sanctuaries which shelter the grizzled giant squirrel, elephant, gaur, Nilgiri langur, Sambar, etc. The neelakurinji is a blue flower which blooms once in 12 years is found in this region. Overnight is in Munnar.
You have an entire day free in Munnar. Or, optionally you could visit the nearby areas of Munnar. Atukkad Waterfalls which is a very beautiful waterfall set amidst in hills and jungles. Chithirapuram is known for its tea plantations. Floriculture Centre is a garden with different species of flower and herbal plants. Take a short elephant ride at the Elephant Arrival Spot. Top Station gives you spectacular views of the Western Ghats. At the Tata Tea Museum, you will be taken around to know how the tea is processed. Around Munnar, you could visit the numerous water falls and animal sanctuaries. Overnight is in Munnar.
This morning you drive from Munnar to Periyar National Park, also known as Thekkady. Periyar is famous as an Elephant and Tiger Reserve and shelters various animals like Bengal Tiger, Indian elephant, wild boar, sambar, tiger, leopard, wild dog, langur, monkeys, etc. It has an abundance of birds and plants. A boat ride in the Periyar Lake gives you the possibility of watching the different animals. The Park is surrounded by various plantation regions for coffee, tea, etc. and a visit to these plantations is a worth. If time permits, you could make a soft trek to the nearby areas. You have free time for selecting any of the above activities. Overnight is in Periyar.
This morning you will be transferred from Periyar to Alappuzha by road. Alappuzha earlier known as Alleppey is a picturesque town and is known as Venice of the East. The city is crisscrossed with canals and offers you backwaters, beaches, and lagoons. A cruise in the backwaters is an unforgettable experience. Every year, on the second Saturday of August the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held on the Punnamada Lake. Kuttanad with continuous paddy fields and lush green coconut palms is known as the rice bowl of Kerala. This is one of the few places in the world where rice is cultivated below sea level. Coir is the most important commodity manufactured in Alappuzha. Overnight is in Alleppey.
Alleppey on the Arabian Sea with numerous canals meandering through the town is a very important destination for tourists visiting Kerala. The Kerala backwaters are a network of large lakes linked by canals and fed by rivers. The backwaters are formed because of the waves and shore currents creating low barrier islands. Here you will board a houseboat in Kerala’s backwaters. The charm of staying a night in the houseboats known as kettuvallam in the backwaters is great. These boats were used to ferry the grain. Thatched roof covers provide protection from the sun and rain. The boats are like floating cottages with a sleeping area, toilets, dining area and a sit out area on the deck. The food is cooked on board by staff. Overnight is on board the houseboat.
You will be transferred to day from Alappuzha to Mararikulam by road. Mararikulam a beach village is known for its very beautiful beach known as Marari Beach or Mararikulam beach. It is one of the most beautiful beach destinations in India and was rated as one of the world’s top five hammock beach by National Geographic survey. Mararikulam the sleepy little village is about 11 kms from Alappuzha and is an idyllic location for a vacation. Overnight is in Mararikulam.
This morning you will be transferred from Mararikulam to Kochi airport to connect your flight.
End of your Tamilnadu Kerala tour package.