Signature South India

Chennai - Thanjavur - Madurai - Periyar - Kumarakom - Kochi

12 Nights/13 Days


Day 1 Arrive Chennai, India

Arrive in Chennai, set on the Bay of Bengal on India’s southeast coast, where you are met and privately transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Chennai.


Day 2 Chennai

After a relaxed morning, set out with your private guide on a city tour of Chennai, beginning at Fort St. George. Built in 1640, the fort was the first bastion of the British East India Company in southern India; today, it houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu. See St. Mary's Church, consecrated in 1680 and one of the oldest British buildings in India. Next, explore the National Art Gallery whose exhibits feature all major South Indian periods, including the Chola, Vijayanagar, Hoysala and Chalukya. Stop at the peaceful Portuguese-built Santhome Cathedral, named after St. Thomas the Apostle, whose tomb is said to be beneath the basilica. A historical pilgrimage center built in Gothic style, it’s cool white spire rises 155 feet above the bustling city. Continue to Kapaleeswara, an ancient Shiva Temple and the biggest in Chennai, noted for its beautifully carved gopuram (monumental tower). Luxeprience: You will take a heritage walk through the area including the four narrow Mada streets which circle the temple. Built by the Pallava kings in the 8th century, it is a striking example of Dravidian architecture and the oldest temple in Chennai. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple boasts stunning sculptures and inscriptions dating back to 1250 A. D. Non-Hindus and foreigners are restricted to enter the main sanctum of the temple. Overnight in Chennai.


Day 3 Excursion to Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram , ex-Chennai

After breakfast, journey overland to visit Kanchipuram, one of Hinduism’s seven most sacred cities and home to over 100 temples, most of which are dedicated to Lords Shiva and Vishnu. Kanchipuram is also world-renowned for its hand-woven silk saris, regarded for their color and sheen. Enjoy a lunch of southern Indian delicacies before proceeding to the coastal town of Mahabalipuram to see its Group of Monuments designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, stop to admire Bhagiratha’s Penance, a bas-relief sculpted over enormous rocks that depicts life-size figures of animals, gods and saints, all watching the holy Ganges River flow from the Himalaya. Nearby, see its shallow mandapas (pillared halls), sculpted out of the rocky hillside and portraying stories of Indian mythology. Finally, stop at the Shore Temple, surrounded by gardens designed according to ancient texts. Return to Chennai and the evening is at leisure. Overnight in Chennai.


Day 4 Trichy / Thanjavur

Fly to Trichy and proceed to a local restaurant for lunch. Join your private guide for a tour of this thriving riverfront city in the heart of Tamil Nadu. Visit Srirangam, famous for its massive Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, which has 49 separate shrines dedicated to Vishnu and is so large that it feels like its own city. You also get to see the Rock Fort Temple, a spectacular monument that sits on a massive rocky boulder that looms high above the old city. After sightseeing, continue driving to Thanjavur, former capital of the Chola dynast...


Day 5 Thanjavur

The Cholas were great temple builders and Thanjavur bears witness to this with its 74 temples. Today, after breakfast, you visit its most famous, the Brihadeeswarar Temple, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later, stop by an art gallery to view its extraordinary collection of antique bronze statues. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure. Luxeprience: Tonight, for dinner, is a special Maratha cuisine that took pride of place in the Royal kitchens of the Thanjavur Marathas. The recipes in the Thanjavur region have a distinct flavour of native spices and ingredients that were introduced in this region for the first time when the Maratha warriors started to settle here. Overnight in Thanjavur.


Day 7 Madurai

This morning join your private guide for an early morning walking tour of Madurai. Discover equal parts legend and history as you wander through this ancient Tamil capital.  Luxeprience: The walking tour is also designed to showcase the best of the city’s food culture and the stops are hand-selected places ranging from street-food selling vendors, roadside eateries and sit-in restaurants. Your guide will be a food enthusiast and local of the city. Rest assured that the quality and safety of each place has been carefully vetted and the breakfast treats delicious. Return to your hotel to freshen up before leaving again for tour of Madurai’s great 17th-century Meenakshi Amman Temple. The largest temple complex in southern India and as significant to the region’s architectural legacy as the Taj Mahal is to northern India, this 15-acre complex, with its thousand-pillared hall and hundreds of gopurams (ornamental towers), is a joyful homage to Shiva and the triple-breasted goddess, Meenakshi. Spend time exploring the markets surrounding the Meenakshi temple. The area is a like a huge open-air department store, each street dedicated to one particular item – stationery, flowers and fruits, vessels, items used in worship etc. There is even one lane dedicated to bananas – South India boasts over 50 varieties! Overnight in Madurai.


Day 7 Madurai

This morning join your private guide for an early morning walking tour of Madurai. Discover equal parts legend and history as you wander through this ancient Tamil capital.  Luxeprience: The walking tour is also designed to showcase the best of the city’s food culture and the stops are hand-selected places ranging from street-food selling vendors, roadside eateries and sit-in restaurants. Your guide will be a food enthusiast and local of the city. Rest assured that the quality and safety of each place has been carefully vetted and the breakfast treats delicious. Return to your hotel to freshen up before leaving again for tour of Madurai’s great 17th-century Meenakshi Amman Temple. The largest temple complex in southern India and as significant to the region’s architectural legacy as the Taj Mahal is to northern India, this 15-acre complex, with its thousand-pillared hall and hundreds of gopurams (ornamental towers), is a joyful homage to Shiva and the triple-breasted goddess, Meenakshi. Spend time exploring the markets surrounding the Meenakshi temple. The area is a like a huge open-air department store, each street dedicated to one particular item – stationery, flowers and fruits, vessels, items used in worship etc. There is even one lane dedicated to bananas – South India boasts over 50 varieties! Overnight in Madurai.


Day 8 Periyar

After breakfast, travel overland into the state of Kerala to Periyar, checking into your accommodation on arrival. Your journey takes you to the Western Ghats, a lush mountain range that rises parallel to India’s Arabian Sea coast. Later, visit a local spice plantation where you enjoy the sights and smells of fresh spices and learn about their cultivation process. Luxeprience: Later this evening, witness a famous martial art form of Kerala "Kalaripayattu" in a centre. Kalarippayattu is a Dravidian martial art from Kerala. Possibly one of the oldest fighting systems in existence, it is practiced in Kerala and contiguous parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as well as north-eastern Sri Lanka and among the Malayalee community of Malaysia. It includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods. Overnight in Periyar.


Day 9 Kumarakom

After a leisurely breakfast, descend a dramatic escarpment as you journey overland to the village of Kumarakom. Stop en-route for lunch at a local restaurant in Kanjirappally, considered the entrance to Kerala’s hill country. Upon arrival, check in to your beautiful lakefront hotel. Overnight in Kumarakom.


Day 10 Kumarakom

Enjoy a relaxing morning at leisure. This afternoon, take a boat ride to a spice plantation. In this region, known for producing Indian spices, including cardamom and pepper, a tour of a spice plantation is an incredible sensory experience. Explore the plantation’s aromatic pathways before sitting down to a delicious lunch, joined by the family who owns the plantation. Overnight in Kumarakom.


Day 11 Kumarakom / Kochi

After a morning at leisure, board a traditional houseboat for a day cruise on the beautiful backwaters of Kerala. Glide through canals and lagoons shaded by coconut palms and pass sleepy rural villages. You are treated to a lunch of local specialties as you cruise. Disembark this evening and journey overland to Kochi, where you check in at your hotel. Overnight in Kochi.


Day 12 Kochi

Spend the day exploring the tropical coastal city of Kochi, where you discover an intriguing mix of cultural influences. Visit one of the oldest Jewish synagogues in India, decorated with blue ceramic Chinese tiles and surrounded by an aromatic spice market. See the story of Ramayana depicted in the wonderful murals at charming Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace) and visit St. Francis Church, both of which were erected by the Portuguese in the 16th century. At the entrance of Kochi harbor, see the cantilevered fishing nets brought from southern China by traders — a testament to the centuries-old link between these regions. Tonight, visit the local theater for a private performance by the extravagantly costumed Kathakali dancers. Overnight in Kochi.


Day 13 Kochi, depart

The morning is at leisure. Your escort and vehicle are at your disposal. Later, depending on the time of your international flight you are assisted with your transfer to the airport for your homebound journey.


NOTE:

Not included is travel insurance, tips and any expense of personal nature Extensions Relax on the beach in Kovalam or Goa Visit to Mumbai

PACKAGE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Visit Mahabalipuram to see its extraordinary seventh-century temples and carvings
  • Witness the evening procession of the Shiva idol at Madurai's colorful Meenakshi Temple
  • Embark on an idyllic cruise through the tranquil backwaters of Kerala on a traditional houseboat
  • Enjoy a dramatic performance by the Kathakali theater dancers
  • Explore religiously and architecturally diverse Kochi
  • Eat a traditional southern Indian lunch with a local family at a Kerala spice plantation

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