Spectacular South India

Chennai - Mamallapuram - Puducherry - Thanjavur - Chettinad - Madurai - Munnar - Alappuzha - Cochin

14 Days/13 Nights


Day 1 Arrive Chennai, India

Day 1 Arrive Chennai - Mamallapuram (60 Km / 1 Hour) Arrive at Chennai Airport, meet & greet services at the airport and transfer to your hotel in Mamallapuram. Afternoon proceed for a half-day sightseeing tour of Mamallapuram. Mamallapuram, with its picturesque location on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon is a happy combination of history, charming beaches, hassle-free tourism, and, fabulous fish and lobster. Established in the 7th century CE by the mighty Pallava dynasty King Narasimha Varman I, Mamallapuram, with its striking temple architecture and colossal sculptures carved out of rock, is every bit worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Overnight in Mamallapuram.


Day 2 Chennai

Day 2 Mamallapuram – Puducherry (100 Km / 2 Hours) After breakfast, drive to Puducherry. Attractively set on the Bay of Bengal with delightful unspoilt beaches, this surprising town is a throwback to an era when it was a French enclave; today it carries its richly Franco-Tamil heritage with pride. Those used to seeing British colonial architecture will enjoy the Gallic imprint with a profusion of Catholic churches and distinctly French buildings; and excellent French restaurants. Enroute visit Auroville. Discover the harmonious community of Auroville, inspired by The Mother as a place where people can come together – regardless of nationality, belief or colour – to live a meaningful life. Experimental buildings, combining Western and Indian elements, are located along narrow rural roads, shaded by lush greenery. Auroville sustains itself through agriculture, handicrafts, and alternative technology. Visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for most of their lives. The Puducherry Museum is home to some of the most exquisite architecture and sculpture. Puducherry also has a charming beach alongside a promenade and historical monuments. Later, check in at hotel. Overnight in Puducherry.


Day 3 Excursion to Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram , ex-Chennai

Day 3 Puducherry - Thanjavur (180 Km / 3 Hours) After breakfast, transfer to Thanjavur. Enroute visit Chidambaram and Gangaikondacholapuram. Chidambaram greets us with a beautiful temple, dedicated to Lord Nataraja – the manifestation of Siva as the Cosmic Dancer. This is also one of the few temples in India where Siva and Vishnu are enshrined under one roof. The Gangaikondacholapuram Temple is a spectacular work of architecture. The remarkable Temple, along with the Brihadeeswara and Darasuram temples of Thanjavur, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue your drive to Thanjavur. Thanjavur, the biggest town of the fertile Cauvery Delta – known as the ‘granary of the South’ – was once the ancient capital of the mighty Chola dynasty, which ruled large parts of South India between the 9th and 13th centuries CE. Temple architecture was redefined during their rule, and a new paradigm of Dravidian architecture was set. Thanjavur is synonymous with the three splendid Chola era temple complexes – Brihadeeswara, Darasuram, and Gangaikondacholapuram – devoted to Siva. All three are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel. Overnight in Thanjavur.


Day 4 Trichy / Thanjavur

Day 4 Thanjavur After breakfast, proceed on a sightseeing tour of Thanjavur. The 11th century Big Temple or the Brihadeeswara Temple in the heart of town has, for centuries, attracted fascinated artists, curious historians, sociologists, and travellers who have delighted in its wealth of sculptures, calligraphy, frescoes, and over a hundred inscriptions on the walls. The structure is unparalleled in terms of grandeur, scale, and detailing. This artistic tradition was righteously carried forward by the Nayak and Maratha kings, and one can get a glimpse of it in monuments such as the Serfoji Mahal Library and Thanjavur Palace. Overnight in Thanjavur.


Day 5 Thanjavur

Day 5 Thanjavur - Chettinadu (100 Km / 2 Hours) After breakfast, check out and drive to Chettinadu. Chettinadu is home to the Nattukottai Chettiars, a prominent and prosperous business community of Tamil Nadu. The region is famed for its flavour-rich cuisine, sprawling ancestral heritage mansions, and unique temples. Elegant and spacious, a classic Chettinadu mansion would take years to build; and typically has stunning courtyards, halls, corridors, pillars, and rooms that are quiet, cool, and lavishly embellished with materials such as Burmese teak wood, Italian marble, and English steel. Check into a heritage home stay at Chettinadu and sample the local fare for lunch. Later, enjoy a bullock cart ride through the village, visit temples, shop for antiques at Karaikudi, and visit the Chettinadu Palace. Overnight in Chettinadu.


Day 7 Madurai

Day 6 Chettindad - Madurai (90 Km / 2 Hours) After breakfast, drive to Madurai. One of the oldest cities in India, Madurai has been continuously inhabited since at least the 3rd century BCE and is located on the banks of the River Vaigai. On arrival, check into the hotel. Afternoon, go on a sightseeing tour of Madurai. Madurai is most famous for the Meenakshi Temple, with its towering gopurams and rare sculptures. Some of the other major attractions in the city are the Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam, Thirumalai Naicker Palace, Koodal Azhagar Temple, and the Gandhi Museum. Evening, visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple and attend the Pooja ceremony. Overnight in Madurai.


Day 7 Madurai

Day 7 Madurai-Munnar (165 Km / 4 Hours) Check out and drive to Munnar. Surrounded by lush green-carpeted tea and coffee plantations, Munnar is a picturesque hill station situated in the eastern part of Kerala. Munnar is situated near Anaimudi, the highest peak in the Western Ghats, and lies at the confluence of three mountain streams — Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, and Kudala. With its beautiful landscapes, pleasant weather, and air fragrant with tea leaves, Munnar is one of the most sought-after destinations in South India. Also the reason why the British always retreated here when the heat and humidity were at their peak in other parts of Kerala. Every twelve years, the endless rolling hills of Munnar burst into a sea of blue as they are carpeted with tiny blue flowers. For it is the time the Neelakurinji, a flower with 40 odd varieties, blossoms in all its grandeur. This rare natural phenomenon draws travellers from all over the world and is spectacular to witness. Check in at hotel upon arrival. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight in Munnar.


Day 8 Periyar

Day 8 Munnar Early morning, go on a birding expedition at Pampadum Shola. Considering the ecological, faunal, floral, geographical, and zoological significance of Pampadum Shola, the Government of Kerala declared it a National Park in December 2003. The Park is located in the Western Ghats, near Top Station, about 35 km from Munnar town. The months from April to September are pleasant and it is the most popular time for tourism in this area. The terrain is undulating with hillocks of varying heights. The altitudes range between 1600-2400 m. The forest is seen as a continuous patch from 1600 m up to 2000 m, above which grasslands prevails with small forest patches distributed among them. The National Park offers a wide range of habitat types to the flora and fauna here. Post lunch, go on an organic spice plantation walk and also enjoy some birding. The guided Spice Plantation Trail shows you around the plantations near Ecotones, a solid 3-hour walk over hillocks and glens. Find out about the local spices cultivated by the people of Muduvankudi – from the earthly turmeric to the spicy and pungent Bird’s Eye Chilli or kanthari. Learn about how farmers grow black gold – pepper. The cardamom plantations transport you to a different world, with the lush emerald stalks and giant tree canopies. As you walk, look out for the multi-hued bird life all around you! From the ravishing ruby-throated bulbul and chattering Malabar hornbills to the metallic blue Malabar Whistling Thrush – these forest birds are sure to leave you enthralled. Overnight in Munnar.


Day 9 Kumarakom

Day 9 Munnar-Thattekkad (80 Km / 4 Hours) Drive to Thattekad, a lowland forest with several types of eco-systems – riverine, grasslands, evergreen, scrub, dry deciduous, lowland forest – making it one of the best birding destinations in India. This is also home to most of the endemics of the Western Ghats. The Thattekad Bird Sanctuary was established and conceptualised by the renowned ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali. The Bombay Natural History Society has identified 253 species in Thattekkad. The Sanctuary, set in a peninsular land of 25 sq. km, is covered with deciduous forests and plantations of rosewood, teak etc. Check into your accommodation upon arrival. Evening proceed for birding. Overnight in Thattekad.


Day 10 Kumarakom

Day 10 Thattekkad Full day birding at Thattekkad. Situated on the banks of the Periyar, the longest river in Kerala, the Thattekkad Bird sanctuary is home to rare species of birds such as the Indian Petta, Large-billed Leaf-warbler, Cormorants, Frogmouths, Yellow-browed Bulbuls, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Darters etc .Even though this place is famous for birds on a lucky day one can find different kinds of animals too including the leopard, porcupine , deer, cobra, and even elephants. Wild flowers, and different plantations including teak, rosewood, and mahagony are also abundant here . The River Periyar has various species of fish too. Overnight in Thattekad.


Day 11 Kumarakom / Kochi

Day 11 Thattekkad-Alappuzha (120 Km / 3 Hours) Breakfast at hotel. At noon, board a kettuvallom (traditional rice barge turned houseboat) to experience an unforgettable overnight cruise through the tranquil backwaters unique to Kerala. You will have a private houseboat that travels until sunset when it then anchors for the night, at Alappuzha. Your houseboat has a private balcony with comfortable chairs. The rooms are well furnished with attached bathrooms and air conditioning which functions during sleeping hours. It also has a fully equipped kitchen and an experienced cook to prepare authentic Kerala cuisine with seafood specialties and fresh vegetables. This is your chance to pick up some fabulous cooking tips! The waterways of Kerala play a major role in the economy of the state as they link remote villages and islands with the mainland. It is an incredibly different experience to cruise in the backwaters in country boats, absorbing the beauty of Kerala's villages. Today one of the major tourist attractions in Kerala, the kettuvalloms ferried rice and spices in olden times. The houseboats are uniquely designed using local materials like bamboo poles, coconut fibre ropes, bamboo mats, carpets etc. and are a fabulous way to explore the fascinating beauty of the backwaters. Their languid grace and quaint design only enhance your cruise experience in the shimmering blue waters. Lunch, evening tea with snacks, and dinner served on board. Overnight on the houseboat.


Day 12 Kochi

Day 12 Alappuzha-Kochi (100 Km / 2 ½ Hours) After breakfast, disembark houseboat and drive to Kochi. Upon arrival, check in at hotel. Afternoon, proceed on a sightseeing tour of Kochi, the financial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala. The Dutch Palace at Mattancherry is renowned for its wall murals depicting scenes from the Indian epic Ramayana. The Jewish Synagogue is at the heart of what is locally called Jew Town. The St Francis Church is the oldest European church in India. The Santa Cruz Basilica was originally built in 1557 by the Portuguese. The Chinese fishing nets are huge cantilevered fishing nets believed to have been introduced to Kochi by the Chinese trade. Evening witness Kathakali, the ancient dance-drama form of Kerala, at a local theatre. Centuries old, Kathakali stands out for its colourful, elaborate costumes, head dresses, face masks, and vividly painted faces. It is one of the major classical dances of India. Overnight in Kochi.


Day 13 Kochi, depart

Day 13 Kochi-Muziris Tour Muziris welcomes you to the cape of trade culture left behind by our ancestors from around the world. Reputed to be the ancient world's greatest trading centre in the East, this legendary seaport traded in everything from spices to precious stones with the Greeks, Romans, and the rest of the world. The Muziris Heritage Project intends to conserve and showcase the culture of 3000 years or more for posterity. Muziris was the doorway to India for varied cultures and races such as the Arabs, Chinese, Jews, Romans, Portuguese, Dutch, and British.... r> The Muziris Heritage Site is an outstanding example of buildings, archaeological sites, and landscape; and it illustrates a significant stage in the human history of Kerala. This historic region stands testimony to an exceptional cultural tradition; of which monumental structures also occupy a significant place. The built heritage of Muziris is extensive and there are a few notable buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries scattered around this heritage site; but mostly in Chennamangalam and Kodungalloor. The surviving elements of Muziris comprise not only buildings but also the markets, streets and footways, bridges, and cemeteries. The natural environment is integral to the Muziris Heritage Site. The networks of waterways have influenced and inspired the architecture and growth of the built heritage. On the tour, you will see: the first Bagavathy Temple in India, first Christian church in India, excavation site, Paliam Naalukettu, Paravoor Synagogue, and Siva Temple (2000 years old). Later, enjoy a backwater cruise and lunch. Return to your hotel in Kochi. Overnight in Kochi.


Day 13 Kochi, depart

Day 14 Cochin Departure You will be dropped at Cochin airport on time for return journey.


NOTE:

Not included is travel insurance, tips and any expense of personal nature Extensions ● Beach stay at the end of tour at Marari ● Backwater resort stay at Kumarakom ● Ayurveda experience

PACKAGE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Highlights Explore the historical monuments of South India
  • Admire the marvellous temple architecture of Tamil Nadu
  • Experience the beach of Mamallapuram
  • Village experience
  • Munnar tea plantation, tea factory, and wildlife sanctuary visit
  • Bird watching
  • Backwater cruise and stay on traditional rice boat
  • Muziris archaeological sights

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