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Day 1 : Arrive Chennai
Arrive in Chennai late evening and meet our representative at Airport, who will transfer you to your hotel. Capital of the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is one of the four major metropolitan cities in India. The city also has its share of forts and palaces reminding the tourists the glory of bygone eras.
Day 2 : To Kancheepuram & Mahabalipuram (140 kms)
Enjoy a tour of Chennai city this morning. Chennai was developed as a British trading post, and as such, most of its attractions have a distinct colonial influence. Stretched over an area of 13 km, MARINA BEACH is the second longest beach in the world. The ST. GEORGE FORT, built in 1653, is currently used as the state government/'s secretariat. SAN THOME Cathedral was built around 14th/15th century and is another colonial structure worth visiting. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the KAPALESHWAR TEMPLE is the oldest temple in Chennai. Then drive to KANCHIPURAM, the fabled city of a thousand temples. There are 650 stone inscriptions here belonging to different dynasties. The temples reflect the maturity and efflorescence of Pallava art and the ornate and often imposing embellishments were produced later by the Chola, Vijayanagar and Chalukyan kings. There is solemn grandeur, a grandiosity of vision and ornamental excess in the temples here. Continue to Mahabalipuram for overnight.
Day 3 : In Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram with its picturesque location on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon is a happy combination of history, good beaches, hassle-free tourism and fabulous fish and lobster. It is renowned for its series of charming RATHAS and the spectacular carved relief depicting ARJUNA'S PENANCE. The magnificent SHORE TEMPLE built by king Rajasimha in the seventh century houses the shrines of both Shiva and Vishnu while the Varaha Cave is a rock-cut mandapam with two incarnations of Vishnu-Varaha and Vamana-besides scenes of kings and queens. The KRISHNA MANADAPAM has a bas-relief of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan hill on his fingertips. Return to your hotel late in the afternoon for overnight stay.
Day 4 : To Pondicherry (140 kms)
After breakfast drive to Pondicherry (or Puducheri) meaning 'the new settlement'. It was a French settlement comprising of Karaikal, Mahe, and Yanam besides Pondicherry. A unique thing about Pondicherry is that it spreads into several states. On arrival check in at Anandha Inn. During your afternoon tour visit SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for the most parts of their lives. The PONDICHERRY MUSEUM is home to some of the most exquisite collections on architecture and sculpture. Pondicherry also has a pleasant beach alongside promenade and historical monuments.
Day 5 : To Tanjore via Chidambaram & Dar (180 kms)
We drive to Tanjore. En-route visit CHIDAMBRAM, famous for its NATARAJA TEMPLE. Chidambaram is a temple town situated in Tamil Nadu around 58 km off Pondicherry. The place is famous for its temple complex where the renowned Nataraja Temple is housed. Later stop at DARASURAM for AIRATESWARA TEMPLE built by Raja Raja Chola-II, which is an excellent example of 12th century Chola architecture and is well preserved to this day. The frontal columns of the temple have unique miniature sculptures. Arrive Tanjore in the afternoon to check in at Hotel Sangam. It is primarily a place for the art lovers, especially for those who love temple architecture and wonder about kings who erected these magnificent monuments. During their reign, the Cholas made significant contribution to the various fields of art and architecture. The BRIHADEESWARA TEMPLE, the wonderful PALACE, ART GALLERY and the SARASWATI MAHAL LIBRARY are some of the other things to see in Tanjore.
Day 6 : To Madurai via Srirangam & Trichy (200kms)
This morning you will drive to the temple city of Mudurai stopping en-route at Trichy. In Trichy visit ROCK FORT, from where the view is spectacular. The VINAYAKA TEMPLE at the top is reached by climbing a tunnel in rock. Half way up is the SRI THAYUMANASWAMY TEMPLE, dedicated to Lord Siva having a 100-pillar hall and a Vimana covered with gold. Also visit TIRUVANAIKKAVAL or JAMBUKESWARA TEMPLE named after the elephant , which is believed to have worshipped Lord Siva here. Installed under an ancient Jambu tree, the lingam is partially submerged by water and meant to represent God incarnate as water. Finally visit SRIRANGAM, the most important pilgrim center in the district on an island. It is surrounded by the waters of the Cauvery on one side and its tributary Kollidam on the other. It is a 600 acre island town enclosed within the seven walls of the gigantic SRI RANGANATHA TEMPLE. There are not less than 22 gopurams, one of which is the tallest in India. The 72m high 13-tiered Rajagopuram was built in 1987 and dominates the landscape for miles around, while the remaining 21 gopurams were built between the 14th and 17th centuries. Continue your drive to Madurai and on arrival check into Taj Gardern Retreat. Here the architectural marvels of the temples and the exquisite sculptures fascinate all those who have a look at them. You can also participate in the many festivals and regale in the rich tradition of the locals. Some of the major attractions in the city are the MEENAKSHI TEMPLE, TIRUMALAI NAYAK MAHAL, GANDHI MUSEUM, KOODAL AZHAGAR TMEPLE, VANDIYUR MARIAMMAN TEPPAKULAM etc.
Day 7 : To Kodaikanal (140 kms)
Today morning we start with one of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage, the MEENAKSHI-Sundareswarar, which is located at the heart of the city and is the hub of the religious and cultural life of the city. Built by Kulasekara Pandya in the pre-Christian era, the temple was in ruins, before it was rebuilt by Tirumalai Nayak. Spread over six hectares, the temple is an outstanding example of Vijayanagar temple architecture sculptures as well as parrots that chant the name of Meenakshi. Within the temple is located an art gallery. The gallery contains beautiful stone and brass images and some fine examples of South Indian scripts and friezes. After the visit then drive about 1 km to the palace of TIRUMALAI NAYAK. Constructed in 1523, this Indo-Saracenic building was originally four times as large as it is today. Swarga Vilasam, which served as the audience hall, is the most remarkable part of this palace.
Drive to Kodaikanal. The name Kodaikanal means the gift of the forest. Situated in the state of Tamil Nadu, among the Palani Hills, Kodaikanal is one of the unexplored destinations of southern India. With its intoxicating air, breathtaking scenery and serenity that you can hardly find in any other hill station, Kodaikanal is an ideal summer resort for the travel buffs of the southern plains. This hill station was officially founded by the American missionaries in 1845. Overnight is at Hotel.
Day 8 : To Periyar (140 kms)
After breakfast we will drive to visit the one of the major attractions of Kodaikanal the STAR-SHAPED LAKE. It is the legacy of former Collector, Sir Vere Levinge, who formed it by damming the valley where three streams flowed. The entire lake area is spread over an area of about 60 acres. Here you can also try out some boating courtesy the Boat Club that is located here. Then drive to PERIYAR, which is one of the finest sanctuaries for studying the Indian Elephant in its home. Since situated around a large lake, Game viewing is done by boat. On arrival check in at the hotel.
Day 9 : To Kovalam (220 kms)
Morning enjoy the boat ride in Lake Periyar to witness the animals in their natural habitat. What an idyllic way to start the day, an early morning boat ride on Lake Periyar! Covering an area of 300 square miles Periyar is one of the largest and most frequently visited wildlife reserves in India. It is part of the Project Tiger campaign and animals inhabiting the area include elephant, deer, pig, tiger, leopard, bison, monkeys and malabar squirrel. Whilst actually spotting an illusive tiger or leopard could prove difficult, the mix of wooded hills and valleys make it a wonderful place to enjoy the greenery. Then drive to Kovalam, near Trivandrum stopping en-route at VIZIHINIAM HARBOUR. On arrival check in at the hotel.
Day 10 : To Alleppey (180 kms)
Drive to Alleppey in the morning, often referred to as Venice of the East. En route stop at TRIVANDRUM city for a quick tour. Covering an area of about 2,400 sq. meters, the temple of SRI PADMANABHASWAMY is believed to be around 260 years old. The temple with its gopuram (tower) soaring majestically upwards is believed to be one of the 108 shrines sacred to the Vaishnavites in India. Dating back to 1880, the NAPIER MUSEUM building is a combination of the Kerala, Mughal, Chinese and Italian architectural styles. The building has a unique natural air-conditioning system. The SRI CHITRA ART GALLERY houses paintings from the Mughal, Rajput and Tanjore schools of art. Besides these, the gallery has a rare collection of paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Svetoslav and Nicholas Roerich. An Oriental collection consisting of paintings from China, Japan, Tibet and Bali are a visual treat to the visitor. Later continue your drive to Quilon, also known as Kollam, having a hoary past. It was an international emporium of trade and even now it is a prosperous commercial center. The town edges with the famous ASTAMUDI LAKE. It is said that the present town of Kollam was built by the Syrian Merchant; Sapir Iso, in the 9th Century A.D. It is also the headquarters of the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation. The 144 ft. THANGASSERY LIGHT HOUSE, built in 1902, is a center of attraction. The ANANDA VALLEESWARAM TEMPLE here attracts people on almost all days. There are several Churches and Mosques is not around Kollam. The PULLICHIRA CHURCH was established in 1700 A.D. One of the oldest and most important Mosques in the town is the CHINNAKKADA PALLI. Continue your drive to Alleppey and arrive in the evening where your houseboat is reserved for you for overnight stay for an unforgettable experience.
Your boat has a private balcony with comfortable chairs (perfect for that Gin & Tonic while the sun goes down!). The rooms are fully furnished with attached bathrooms. Each boat has a fully equipped kitchen and an experienced cook to prepare authentic Kerala cuisine with seafood specialities and fresh vegetables. This is your chance to pick up some fabulous cooking tips! The entire state of Kerala is blessed with plenty of rivers and the resources of many are still untapped. 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. Houseboats, also known as kettuvallam or rice boats, are today one of the major tourist attractions in Kerala, but these boats were used to carry rice bags in their earlier days. These houseboats are uniquely designed using local materials like bamboo poles, coconut fiber ropes, bamboo mats, carpets etc. and are a fabulous way to enjoy exploring the fascinating beauties of backwaters. With their languid grace and quaint design adding another dimension to your cruise in the shimmering blue waters.
Day 11 : To Cochin
You will get up early today by chirping of birds and occasional ripples in the water. Your breakfast will be cooked before your eyes by your expert boat-crew. Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast while cruising quietly on the unending stretches of these backwaters. The boat will cruise through various canals and waterways giving you an insight into the rural life. Stop at any house and ask your boatman to take you to one of the houses to interact with local people and to witness their way of living. Later check out of the houseboat and switch over to a faster boat for a 3-hour backwater cruise up to Kottayam. In Kottayam you will switch over to your car to drive down to Cochin. Being a major harbor from the times of the British and Portuguese, Cochin has a rich heritage of forts, churches and temples. A visit to these ancient marvels gives you an overview of the political, religious and commercial developments of the city. Some of the major attractions of the city are the Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, Fort Kochi, St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Dutch Cemetery, the Chinese Nets, Wilingdon Island, and Hill Palace Museum.
Day 12 : Cochin - Conoor (200 kms)
A long and winding drive will bring you today to Conoor, the Conoor is the first of the three Nilgiri hill stations. Coonoor has an equable climate that makes this small town a popular hill resort. The main attraction here is the Sim's Park, a well-maintained botanical garden & a hike to Lamb's Rocks, if time permits. Overnight is at the Hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure in the bounty of the nature.
Day 13 : To Ooty (50 kms)
After a very early breakfast, enjoy a spectacular train ride from Conoor to Udhaghamandlam (the rail head for Ooty). The train starts from Mettupalayam at 0745hrs and goes up to Ooty via Conoor, where you will be boarding it. Arrive Udhagamandhlam and switch back to your car for driving up to Hotel Savoy. Move around the town and revel in the scenic surroundings. The BOTANICAL GARDEN is an ideal tourist spot besides being a source of information about the region's flora. For those who like to enjoy boat rides and fishing, a visit to the OOTY LAKE is a must. Besides these, there are various view points like Lamb's Rock, Kodanadu and Dodabetta Peak that offer fascinating views of the surrounding plains and hills.
Day 14 : To Mudumalai (60 kms)
One of the most important wildlife sanctuaries in South India, the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at about 67 km from Ooty. It is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve along with Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and Wynad Sanctuary in Kerala. Wildlife in Mudumalai is very similar to other sanctuaries in Nilgiris. The predominant species in this region are bonnet macaque and common langur. Tigers and leopards also reside here but are a rare sight. Other important species are giant squirrels, flying squirrels, elephants, gaurs, sambhar, chital, barking deer and mouse deer. The birds in the sanctuary include racket-tailed drongo, black woodpecker, parakeets, barbets, mynas, cuckoos, Malabar trogon, Malabar grey hornbill, crested hawk eagle, and crested serpent eagle. An elephant camp called Theppakkadu is located within the sanctuary where you can find a rest house. Overnight is at the Jungle Lodge.
Day 15 : To Mysore (200kms)
Leave for Mysore. Thirty-five kilometers east of Mysore lies SOMNATHPUR, a town famous for the temple built by the Hoysala kings. The beautiful building of the KESHAVA TEMPLE built in 1268 is the major attraction here. The walls of this star-shaped temple are covered with sculptures in stone depicting various scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita and the life and times of the Hoysala Kings Also visit Sivasamudram visiting twin waterfalls. After the visit continue your drive to Mysore and arrive straight at LALITHA MAHAL PALACE, your hotel for two nights. A half-hour's drive from the city takes you to the terraced BRINDAVAN GARDENS. Here the well- manicured steps are bordered by water courses. Musical fountains with soft colored lights add to the visitor's delight. The view of the gardens during the nights is a thing to be seen.
Day 16 : Mysore
The city of Mysore offers a visitor an insight into the lifestyles, cultures and traditions of its erstwhile rulers. The palaces and temples around the city speak volumes about heritage and architecture of the medieval times and the kind of patronage the city received from its rulers. Forming the backdrop of the city is the 1,100-feet-high CHAMUNDI HILL. On the top of the hill stands the temple dedicated to the Goddess Chamundeshwari, the royal family's patron deity. About 15 km from the royal city of Mysore lies the town of SRIRANGAPATNAM. There are many interesting places here of which the summer palace of Tipu Sultan is a must visit. Built in 1784 in the Indo-Saracenic style, the palace also has a small museum where Tipu's trivia, including a gold-embroidered tunic, old paintings and a coin collection, are displayed. Built in around AD 897 in Saracenic style, THE MYSORE PALACE has both Hindu as well as Muslim influences. The palace, designed by an English architect and completed in 1912, was built in place of an earlier palace which was burnt down in 1897. The main palace building is made of massive grey granite with a tower covered by a gilded dome.
Day 17 : To Chikmaglur (160 kms)
Drive for 4 hours to Chikmaglur. On the way visit the temples of BELUR and HALEBID. One of the three major Hoysala temples still in daily use today is the CHANNEKESHAVA TEMPLE of Belur. The construction of the temple, which took almost a century, was started in 1116 to commemorate the Hoysala's victory over the Cholas. Enclosed in a paved compound, the temple complex includes a well and a bathing tank. It is believed that every major deity of the Hindu pantheon is represented in the temple. Also visit The HOYSALESWARA TEMPLE at Halebid, which has a history dating back to around AD 1121. Though its construction spanned 80 years, it was never completed. The temple is set in a well-tendered garden. A small museum adjacent to it houses a collection of sculptures. The KEDARESWARA TEMPLE and three small Jain temples are also located at Halebid. Arrive Chikmaglur in the evening to check in at the Hotel for overnight stay.
Day 18 : To Bangalore (300kms)
After breakfast we drive for Bangalore. Enroute visit SRAVANBELGOLA. The Monk of the White Pond or Shravanbelagola is the oldest and the most important pilgrimage centre for the Jains in the country. The town is famous for being the home to the world's tallest monolithic, the Gommateshwara statute. The 17-metre-high statue representing the saintly prince Bahubali was erected some time between AD 980 and 983. To reach the site of the statue, which stands on the hill, you need to climb a flight of about 700 steps carved in the steep granite slope. After the visit continue your drive to Bangalore. On arrival in the city, check in at the Hotel.
Day 19 : To Chennai
Take a full day city tour visiting in and around the city. There are a number of tourist attractions to visit in and around the city. Of historical, religious and contemporary interests, these tourists spots are easily accessible and worth a visit. The VIDHAN SOUDHA makes the major attraction in Bangalore. The building is a massive neo Dravidian architecture presently functioning as the state legislative assembly. CUBBON PARK in the heart of the city, LAL BAGH, which is famous for the wonderfully bloomed red roses and the BANGALORE PALACE are some of the other must see of this garden city. In the evening fly to Chennai by CD 7588 (1945/2030 hrs) and on arrival transfer to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 20 : Depart Chennai
In time transfer to the airport to board your flight for onward destination.
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