India is a vast country, it is not called Indian subcontinent for no reason. From snow covered beautiful Himalayan peak to gushing seawater of coast to the sand dunes, which shift to Thar (Rajasthan). India has got everything for any tourist to see. But there is a whole different part of India if you decide to venture into it, the part which has traditional old temples and buildings, a different dialect, a different culture, environment and a whole new India inside India. Yes, here is the reference it to the beautiful and charismatic southern India. Here, you bring to you 17 day tour description for South India and its important places, day by day.
Destinations Covered: Chennai – Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram – Pondicherry – Tanjore – Madurai – Periyar – Cochin – Bangalore – Mysore – Bangalore
Depart from your country and reach your destination that is Chennai through a connecting flight from either Mumbai or Chennai.
Depending on scheduling of flight you will arrive at Chennai, the gateway to south India and capital of state of Tamil Nadu. You will either reach slightly late on 2nd day of tour or little early of 3rd, relax and get comfortable because Chennai has loads to offer. Being one of the biggest cities of India and also home to many great personalities including A.R. Rehman (remember Slumdog Millionaire?)
Exploring more of Chennai
Orientation briefing by your tour guide after breakfast, and then off you go to Chennai tour, the busting economical and commerce zone for East India Company in 1639; perfectly positioned between 3 rivers and Bay of Bengal.
Chennai has variety of places that one can see and visit. To take a dip in the vast European history of Chennai you will take a walk in Georgetown and Mypalore, and visit St. Thomas Basilica, a church atop St. Thomas Mount, where we’ll take in panoramic views of the city. Also you will visit the place where Marco Polo vested, final resting place of Saint Thomas “Santhome Church”.
Mahabalipuram and Kanchpuram time
One of the most beautiful and architecturally rich cities of India, Mahabalipuram houses many temples with mesmerizing beauty, design and structure. You will visit, The Decent of Ganga, world’s largest bas-relief in stone. In sculpture everything seems to be moving to the center of the stone. You will also see penance of Arjuna, depicting scenes from epic poem Mahabharat. Later, you will have time to walk around on your own to see local artisans creating rock sculptures, just as they have since centuries. After lunch you will visit the ‘city of 1000 temples’ that is kanchipuram. You will see ancient rock cut temples like Kailashnath temple and the Ekambareswarar Temple, a gathering place for worshippers dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
After breakfast you will head to the beautiful city of Pondicherry, which was once occupied by French, and you can see the French culture and its effect of life and styling of architecture. You will reach by afternoon and after a quick lunch, you will explore the city with our tour guide, in conjunction with a rickshaw ride in the French Quarter. Later in the evening you can have a stroll to Goubert Salai (Beach Road), and choose restaurant of your choice for dinner.
TanjoreVisit, Chidambaram and Kumbakonam
You depart for Tanjore after breakfast, stopping on the way at Chidambaram, an important site of pilgrimage for Shaivites and Vishnaivites and a local village knowing more about the art of mat weaving. You venture to Kumbakonam, which is located still farther south in Tamil Nadu and is bordered by two rivers. You will reach Tanjore late in evening, relax and enjoy the lunch and dinner.
explore Tanjore – discover Tanjore artisans – orphanage visit
After breakfast you will have an exploration trip to Tanjore, you will visit Brihadisvara temple, passing through gopurams – the two temple gates that guard the UNESCO World Heritage Site temples at Tanjore. There is a beautiful temple dedicated to lord Shiva, tradition of Chola kingdom. You’ll discover two of these important arts—first, on a visit to a bronze school and casting center, you’ll find out how the ancient craft is practiced today. You will also give a visit to the artist who make traditional Indian instrument called veena
travel to Madrurai
This morning you will continue to Madurai, the second biggest city in the state of Tamil Nadu. An important place for Hindu pilgrimage, the temples draw a stream of worshippers to puja. The city has been the cultural hub for over 2,500 years making it one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the entire subcontinent—and also one of the most culturally diverse. You will feel pulse of originality of the Indian culture. You will make many visits to the beautiful temples- such as like lotus petals around Sundareswarar Meenakshi, the glorious fortress-like temple in the center of the city.
After lunch you will continue your journey to Madurai, arriving in the evening.
visit to Sri Meenakshi Temple – Explore Thirumalal Naicker Palace – witness night ceremony
After breakfast you visit Meenakshi temple and have a look at Gopurams in broad daylight. Next in list will be Thirumalai Naicker Palace, a stunning fusion of diverse architectural influences, including Italian, Dravidian and Islamic. You will have lunch on your own and later in the evening you will take an auto rickshaw ride back to Sri Meenakshi temple to witness beautiful and mesmerizing night ceremony. Though non Hindu are not allowed to enter where idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati is kept, you can witness it from short distance.
transfer to periyar – spice plantation
After breakfast you will venture into the scenic beauty of Periyar in Thekkady, set high in the rugged mountains in the state of Kerala. Kerala is one of the most beautiful and prolific states of South India. On the way, you will make few stops. One to local brick factory, one for lunch on your own and another for grape plantation. After check in, you will go to explore local spice plantation of pepper plant and cocoa plant. You will enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Periyar wide life sanctuary – optional cooking demonstration and elephant ride – rubber plantation
South India houses an extra ordinary variety of flora and fauna. The variety of wild life and plants and flowers is amazing. So when you come to south and do not pay a visit to beautiful nature it is down absolutely wrong. Here you will visit a popular wide life sanctuary, set high in Cardamom Hills so as to have a taste of biological diversity of Southern India.
There is option of having a home demonstration of Indian cooked food and an encounter with majestic elephant and a 15 minute long elephant ride. Later on at the rubber plantation you will learn about how the material is produced and everything related to it
transfer to Cochin – Cochin backwater cruise
You will begin your journey to Cochin, the cosmopolitan “Queen of the Arabian Sea,” with its fine natural harbor. You will meet local people working at a tea plantation. From here on you will be heading to backwater, a circuit of interconnected lagoons, lakes, and canals. This water way is a unique ecosystem, lushly overgrown and labyrinthine. You will have your trip on Kettuvellam (houseboat). While cruising through backwater of Alleppey, known as “God’s own country” for its serene natural beauty you will have your lunch. You will check in to hotel and you will have dinner on your own.
After breakfast you will explore city of Cochin properly. You will see the cultural blend of Dutch, Portugal, French, and English here due to resultant of spice trade. We’ll also visit the Freedom Fighters’ Jail and St. Francis Church, burial place of Vasco da Gama. You will pay a visit to Fort Kochi.
explore Cochin, Kerala cruise and Kathakali dance performance
You go through the beauty of Jewish street, which was once thecenter of spice trade and now houses many spice shops which sell cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cloves and cumin. Try to decipher the love stories depicted in the hand-painted Cantonese tiles decorating the floor at the Pardesi Synagogue, which was founded in 1568.
Then comes the turn of well known Mattancherry Palace aka Dutch palace, which has tilted roof and white washed walls. Enjoy your time and explore the vibrant neighborhood. . Tonight, enjoy the intoxicating hues of a South Indian sunset over dinner on your own and then an exclusive kathakali performance just for you.
Fly to Bangalore – overland to Mysore
Today you will have to undertake a long journey so you start early. You take a flight to Bangalore. After arriving there you make scenic journey to Mysore by car or coach. This is the agricultural India you will be travelling through. You will see coconut zip, ox drawn carriages. You stop for lunch, arrive at the hotel, check in and then visit a temple dedicated to Nandi, scared bull of Lord Shiva before dinner on your own.
You travel to Somnathpur temple outside Mysore, a well preserved and remarkable example of Hoysala architecture. For lunch you will go to a distinctly European restaurant in Lalitha Mahal. After that you can have a stroll around the beautiful city and discover things, bath in the aroma and have fun at the local market. In evening you will go to the ornate, pink marble-domed Mysore Palace, the former residence of the royal family. There you will observe and know about various artifacts made of ivory, gold and wooden frames.
Tonight you gather for farewell dinner with your fellow travelers at hotel.
backs to Bangalore and return to onward destination
After breakfast you travel to the Indian Silicon Valley that is Bangalore. En route you’ll stop in the town of Srirangapatna, which was briefly a political capital under the reign of the Tipu Sultan – “Tiger of Mysore. You will pay a visit to rare Islamic monument the mausoleum of the Sultan in mainly a Hindu region. After you check-in at the hotel you will have lunch on your own, relax and then move on to your further destination.