South India Temple Tour
Product Code : AGORA29
Your voyage to South India Temples will begin from the colonial port Chennai. Explore the city and advance to visit Kanchipuram the city of thousand temple & Mahabalipuram. Further drive to Pondicherry the French colonial town and visit Aurovil. Continue to visit UNESCO WHS of the Great Living Chola Temples at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Darasuram & Thanjore. See some largest active temples in India at Trichy and Madurai.
Day 1: Arrive Chennai
On arrival at Chennai airport meet with our office executive assistance and transfer to hotel (hotels check in time 1200hr afternoon, early check in subject to room’s availability).
Later city tour of Chennai. Visit Fort St. George & Museum - Fort St. George is located on the banks of Bay of Bengal. It was built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. It is a military architecture marvel, which was erected as a trading post and later evolved to be the origin of modern Indian Army. Kapaleeshwarar Temple - Semmozhi Poonga is a beautifully landscaped botanical garden in Chennai which is set up by the horticulture department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Apart from some common plants and trees, the garden houses some really rare types of plants and medicinal herbs. There is also an artificial pond in the garden and ducks which makes it an enjoyable place for the children as well. Dakshina Chitra - DakshinaChitra is a living-history museum in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, dedicated to South Indian heritage and culture. Opened to the public on 14 December 1996, the museum was founded and is being managed by the Madras Craft Foundation. Arulmigu Sri Parthasarathy Temple - The Parthasarathy Temple is an 8th-century Hindu Vaishnavite temple dedicated to the Lord Vishnu, located at Thiruvallikeni, Chennai, India. Evening to walk on Marina beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Chennai - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram (120kms/ 3hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel drive to Mahabalipuram via visiting Kanchipuram - the City of Thousand Temples and The Silk City.
Visit Kailasanathar temple - 8th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is noted for its architecture and sculptures. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine as compound wall. Sandstone was used in the construction of this temple. Ekambareswarar temple - another ancient temple of the city dedicated to Siva. The 2500-year-old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yields different varieties of mangoes. Varadharaja temple - dedicated to Lord Vishnu, noted for its wonderful sculptures. This is one of the 108 sacred Shri Vaishnavite temples. Vaikundhaperumal temple - dedicated to lord Vishnu, it is also one of the 108 Divyadesams. Kamakshiamman temple - dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi the presiding deity, one of the holy Sakthi worship places in India. It is closely associated with Sri Adi Sankaracharya.
Optionaly visit Handloom industry - famous for handloom Silk Sarees the main profession of people in Kanchipuram.
Continue drive to Mahabalipuram check in at hotel.
Later visit Monolithic Temples - locally known as Rathas. They were executed by chiseling out the exterior face of the boulder. Work started from top to bottom. The pyramidal vimana with sikhara at the top is an important feature of this style. There a total number of 8 monolithic temples found in Mamallapuram. The five rathas in one place, Ganesha Ratha, Valayankuttai Ratha & Pidari Rathas. Shore Temple - built with blocks of granitein in 7th century during the rule of King Narsimha-Varman II Rajasimha the temple complex consisting of two Siva temples and a carving of Anantasayana Vishnu. The temple facing east is entered by a small gopura. It is one of the oldest structural stone temples of South India. As one of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. Cave Temples - cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style of the Pallava period in the 7th century. Remnants seen in the caves also indicate that they were plastered and painted when built. Many of the caves of the Pallava period have remained incomplete. The procedure in creating these caves involved creation of a smooth rock face, then cutting columns through the polished rock faces of required size and then carving bas-reliefs on the walls of the cave. Krishna's Butterball - a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline.
Rest time free & easy to relax. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry (120kms/ 3hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Pondicherry check in at hotel.
Later visit Aurovil - an experimental community in southern India. It was founded in 1968 by the spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa as a town where people from all over the world could live in harmony. Its focal point is the Matrimandir, a futuristic, spherical temple covered in gold discs. Auroville Botanical Gardens protects the region’s tropical dry evergreen forest. Auroville Beach is a long sandy stretch with gentle surf. Sri Aurobindo - established in 1926 by Shree Aurobindo and 'The Mother'. Together they explored the possibilities of yoga and meditation as a path to salvation. At the ashram, residents continue to practice their teachings. Pondicherry Museum - an art and history museum especially noted for its collection of fine lost wax bronzes form the period of the Chola Empire. The Museum's collection includes 81 Chola bronze sculptures, ranking as one of the largest collections of Chola bronzes.
French Colony - Pondicherry has some of the finest examples of old French culture with a hint of Tamil influence in its visual aesthetics. In this tour, you will catch sight of some of the unique and old infrastructures. Observe and get inspired by the architectural beauty of the French part of the town while enjoying a cup of coffee and some deserts along the way. As part of the package, customise your walk with your guide to cover the visit of French consulate, French Institute, Raj Nivas, Bharati Park (Aayi Monument), Government Square, Beaches, Monuments, Churches, French schools.
Evening to relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Pondicherry - Chidambaram - Gangaikonda Cholapuram - Darasuram - Thanjore (180kms/ 4hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Thanjore. Enroute visit Chidambaram Nataraja Temple which is dedicated to the Nataraja or the dancing posture of Lord Shiva. This temple is located in the heart of the town and has undergone numerous renovations under the reign of Chola and Pallava kings. In 1213 AD, Aragalur Udaya Iraratevan Ponparappinan rebuilt some of the parts of this temple. The Nataraja Temple is known for its attractive gopurams, carvings, five mandapams and inscriptions. Built during the 10th century by Chola Kings, this temple is known for huge walls, four tall shikharas in four directions and a big Sivagangai tank. The four tall shikharas are decorated with 108 carved dance postures of Natya Shastra.
Further drive & visit Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple - built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The original courtyard is two squares stacked next to each other, all mandapas, the upapitham, the shrine plans, the garbha griha (sanctum) and the tower elements are all square shaped and incorporate circles and principles of geometric symmetry. The structural elements resemble the big Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur. Both include a courtyard entered through multiple gateways and relatively small gopuram (tower). Inside are shrines, most of which are aligned on an east-west axis; a few are perpendicular. The temple complex includes Nandi Mandapa, Alankar Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Mukha Mandapa and Ardha Mandapa. Some of these were added and restored by Hindu kingdoms after the 14th century or by British India art conservation officials in the 19th century. There is an image of a seated Nandi bull in the courtyard, aligned axially 200 m (660 ft) facing the sanctum. There are five shrines around the sanctum and a Lion well, which was added during the 19th century. The temple site has a monolithic representation of Navagrahas, the nine planetary deities.
Continue drive & visit Darasuram Temple - a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple.
Continue drive to Thanjore check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 5: Thanjore - Trichy (60kms/ 1.3hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort - built by great Chola king in the 10th century. It is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site. On the top of the apex of 63 metres high dome is said to be constructed from a single piece of granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones. Thanjavur Palace & Museum - the palace near the temple is a vast building of masonry built by the Nayakas around 1550 and partly by the Maratha. The palace houses an art gallery, a library and a hall of music. The art gallery occupies the Nayak Durbar Hall. It has a superb collection of Chola bronze statues from the 9th to 12th centuries. The Saraswati mahal Library is next door to the gallery. Art Gallery - in the Palace there are a number of granite and bronze statues of the Chola period. Saraswathi Mahal Library - another section of the Palace is the library where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in India and European languages are preserved.
Day 6: Trichy - Madurai (135kms/ 3hrs approx)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple - there are 22 gopurams including India’s tallest (72 meters, 13 storey high). Many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and rulers from Vijayanagar. Ivory sculptures of Lord Vishnu in various poses and the images of Nayak Kings with consorts donated by Nayak kings who ruled Madurai during the 17th century are available here.
Rock Fort Temple: The 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the otherwise flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3.800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. At the top of the rock is the Uchipillaiyar Koil, a temple dedicated to Lord Vinayaka from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Tiruchirappalli. A flight of steps leads to the Mathrubutheswarar of Thayumanaswami temple, dedicated to Lord Siva where the lingam is a projection of the rock itself. Below the Siva temple are the two Pallava cave temples that have beautiful sculptures of the 6th and 7th centuries. At the foot of the Rock Fort are a tank and a pavilion which are used during the float festival of the temples. The Rock fort Hillock is said to be 230 crore years old. The materials like Quartz used in glass making and felspar used in ceramic are found in this Rock formation.
Tiruvanaikkaval - the Jambukeshwara temple, here is dedicated to Shiva, and it houses five concentric walls, and seven gopurams. Once an elephant worshipped Lord Shiva under the holy Jambu tree and hence the name Jambukeshwar.
After sightseeing drive to Madurai check in at hotel.
Later city tour visit the Meenakshi Sundareshwar - one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th and 18th centuries. Apart from the estimated 33 million sculptures there, the temple is absolutely absorbing with the endless rounds of ceremonies, prostration of countless devotees and glittering market stalls. Later visit Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple, Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. Also visit the Tirumal Nayak’s Palace; a highly decorative monument. Its enormous roofed arcade supported by 48 – foot high stone pillar, still stands. In the evening visit the famous Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple to attend the Aarti (Prayers) witnessing interesting rituals and ceremonies. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Madurai - Deaprture (flight)
Breakfast at hotel. As per flight schedule transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination.
Garland welcome and assistance on arrival at airport
6 Nights accommodation in selected price category hotels.
Daily breakfast at hotels.
Deluxe Air-conditioned private vehicle as per tour program from arrival till departure.
Monuments entrances of sightseeing places & activities charges mentioned in the itinerary (almost all places of tourist interest are included in our itinerary)
English speaking tour guide on sightseeing days (local guide in each city).
Hotels are used or similar
Chennai x 1 night
3* - Raj Park/ MGM East Woods
4* - The Raintree/ Accord Metropolitan
5* - ITC Grand Chola/ The Leela Palace
Mahabalipuram x 1 night
3* - INDeco Hotels/ Mamalla Beach Resort
4* - Ideal Beach Resort/ Confluence The Banquet & Resort
5* - Radisson BLU Resort Temple Bay/ Fisherman's Cove
Pondicherry x 1 night
3* - Shenbaga Hotel/ Annamalai International
4* - Le Pondy/ The Windflower Resort & Spa
5* - Palais De Mahe/ La Villa
Thnjore x 1 night
3* - Grand Gardenia/ Oriental Towers
4* - Sangam Hotels/ Ideal River View Resort
5* - Svatma
Trichy x 1 night
3* - Red Fox Hotel/ Grand Gardenia
4* & 5* - Sangam Hotels/ Ideal River View Resort
Madurai x 1 night
3* - Astoria by Sparsa/ Madurai’s Residency
4* - GRT Regency/ Fortune Pandiyan Hotel
5* - Heritage Madurai/ The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai
Any air fare
Meals other than mentioned in inclusions.
Expenses of personal nature like liquor, laundry, tips, telephone, fax, internet etc.
Or anything not mentioned in inclusions.