11
Days Trip of South India (I-54)

Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Puducherry - Thanjavur - Tiruchirapalli - Madurai - Periyar - Alappuzha(Alleppey) - Cochin

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Day 01:- Arrive Chennai and drive directly to Mamallapuram.

On arrival in Chennai, you will be transferred directly to your hotel in 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 morning 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. After the visit of Mamallapuram, you will be transferred from Mamallapuram to Puducherry. Overnight is in Puducherry.

Puducherry is also known as Pondicherry or Pondy. Puducherry is 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, 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.

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. After the visit of Puducherry, you will be transferred by road to Thanjavur. Overnight is in Thanjavur.

Thanjavur also known as Tanjore was the capital of the Chola dynasty and is famous for the Tanjore paintings and Bharatanatyam the famous form of classical dance has 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. After the visit of Thanjavur, you will be transferred to Tiruchirapalli by road. Overnight is in Tiruchirapalli.

Tiruchirapalli shortly referred as Trichy is located at the banks of Cauvery River and is the fourth largest city of Tamil Nadu. This city 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 very occasion that get celebrated over here with great grandeur and pomp. The morning tour will take you to 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. After the tour of Trichy, you will be transferred by road to Madurai. Overnight is in Madurai.

Madurai is one of the oldest living cities in the world and the recorded history dates back to 3rd century BC. The entire morning is for a tour of Madurai. Madurai sight-seeing 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 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. Afternoon is free in Madurai the temple town. Overnight in Madurai.

In the morning, you are transferred from Madurai to Periyar National Park also called 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.

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 Keralas 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 on the deck. The food is cooked on board by staff. Overnight is on board the houseboat.

Today you will be driven from Alappuzha to Kochi. Kochi earlier known as Cochin is referred as the Queen of Arabian Sea. Kochi has remained the popular centre in across the world for the trade of spices for number of centuries. The name of the city comes from Malayalam term Kochazhi that actually means small lagoon. Kochi was put on the world map by Vasco-de-Gama. The Arabs, Portuguese, British, Dutch, all have left their impression on the history of Kochi. After Mumbai, Kochi is probably the second most important city on the west coast of India. In the evening, you could enjoy a Kathakali dance show. Overnight is in Kochi.

During the morning city tour of Kochi, you will be taken to some of the renowned spots of Kochi that will include the Portuguese churches, mosques and temples along with the Jewish synagogue. You will be taken to watch the Chinese style fishing nets which are mostly seen in Kerala. It holds around 10m of height and consists of cantilever along with an outstretched net that is suspended in the sea and one huge stone suspended on other end with ropes for the counterweights. Every installation of this fishing-net gets operated by group of six fishermen. You have a free time in the afternoon. Optionally you could visit the other popular destinations of Kochi like Kochi Fort, Hill Palace, Marine Drive, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi International Marina, Cherai Beach, etc. Overnight is in Kochi.

You will be transferred to Kochi airport in time for your return/onward flight.
END OF YOUR TAMILNADU KERALA HOLIDAY PACKAGE.