16
Days Southern India Tour (I - 45 )

Chennai- Kanchipuram- Mahabalipuram- Tiruvannamalai- Yercaud- Trichy- Thanjavur- Madurai  Munnar- Kumarakom- Alleppey- Cochin- Calicut- Mysore- Bangalore

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HIGHLIGHTS-

Day 01:- Arrive in Chennai. Drive to Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram (141 kms).

On you arrival in Chennai, you will drive directly to Mahabalipuram visiting Kanchipuram enroute. Kanchipuram was the ancient capital of the Pallavas and was the town of a 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 Mahabalipuram. Overnight is in Mahabalipuram.

Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historic town and seaport. It was an important port for the Pallavas and most of the monuments date back from the 7th to the 9th century. This morning's visit 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 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. Later you will drive to Tiruvannamalai. 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 water. 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 known as the as Jewel of the 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 Shevaroy Temple atop a hill is a narrow dark cave having the God Servarayan and the Goddess Kaveri. The Pagoda Point has a large temple. Later you will drive to Tiruchirapalli also known as Trichy. Overnight is in Trichy.

Tiruchirapalli shortly referred as Trichy is located at the banks of Cauvery River and is the fourth largest city of Tamil Nadu. This morning 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 very occasion that get 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. Later drive to Thanjavur also known as Tanjore. Overnight is in Thanjavur.

This morning you will visit 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. After Tanjore sight-seeing, you will be transferred to Madurai by road. Overnight in Madurai.

Madurai is one of the oldest living cities in the world and the recoded 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.

Later you will drive to 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 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 will be transferred to Alappuzha which was earlier known as Alleppey. This picturesque town also known as Venice of the East 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. Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight is in Alleppey.

The coastal town of Alleppey on the Arabian Sea has numerous canals that meander through the town. Alappuzha is a very important destination for tourist 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 on the deck. The food is cooked on board by staff. Overnight is on board the houseboat.

This morning you will drive to Kochi which was earlier known as Cochin. Rest of the day is at leisure to discover the city. 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. 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. 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. In the evening, you could also enjoy a Kathakali dance show. Overnight is in Kochi.

Today you will be transferred by road from Kochi to Kozhikode. Kozhikode earlier known as Calicut means "fortified palace" and was called the "City of Spices" as it was a major trading point for spices like black pepper, cardamom, etc. Calicut was a famous cotton-weaving center and gave its name to the Calico cloth. In 1948 the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed arrived in Calicut and opened a trade route between Europe and India. Kozhikode is known for its historic temples and churches. Your tour of Kozhikode will take you to Kappad where Vasco da Gama set foot in India, Pazhassirajah Museum, with paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Dolphin's Point and the Science Planetarium. Overnight is in Kozhikode.

This morning you will drive to Mysore also known as Mysooru. Mysore is known as the city of palaces and quite famous for its Dussehra festival, was the capita of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom. Mysore was ruled by the Wadiyars excepting for some time in the 18th century when Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan ruled this place. The Wadiyars were great patrons of art and culture which benefitted the cultural growth of the city, due to which Mysore is called the Cultural capital of Karnataka. The 10 days Dussehra festival is world famous and receives thousand of visitors.

The afternoon city tour of Mysore will take you to the Mysore palace that was originally built by the Maharaja of Mysore in the year 1911-1912. The palace is of harmonious synthesis of the Hindu and Saracenic styles of architecture having archways, domes, turrets, colonnades and sculptures. Visit the art gallery. Drive to the Chamundi hill to visit the Chamundeshwari Temple. From the hill itself you will get a panoramic view of the city of Mysore. On your way back to Mysore, visit the Nandi bull. Afternoon is free in Mysore or, you could visit the Krishnarajasagar dam and the Brindavan Gardens. Mysore is a good place for buying the famous "Mysore silk". Overnight is in Mysore. Overnight is in Mysore.

This morning you will drive to Bengaluru also known as Bangalore. The afternoon tour will take you to the important places of interest in Bangalore. The tourist spots in Bangalore are Lal Bagh, Maharaja's Palace, etc. You will also include the various temples in the Bangalore sight-seeing. Bangalore the Silicon Valley of India is known as the "Garden City of India". The Lal Bagh started by Hyder Ali and finished by his son Tipu Sultan has India's largest collection of tropical plants - over a 1000 species of flora and also trees over 100 years old. The construction of the Bangalore Palace was started in 1862 and completed in 1944 and looks similar to the Windsor Castle in England. Drive past different Government buildings. Overnight is in Bengaluru.

This morning you will be transferred to the airport in time for your return/onward flight.
End of your South India Holiday Tour.