Day 1: Arrive Chennai
On arrival at Delhi airport assistance & transfer to hotel (check in/out time 12pm).
Later city tour of Chennai. Visit Fort St. George & St Mary`s Church inside the fort built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. Kapaleeshwarar Temple a holy shrine of Lord Shiva originally built by the mighty Pallavas and rebuilt in 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings. Vadapalani Murugan Temple one of the most frequented places of worship for Hindus in Chennai. Government Museum built in the Indo - Sarcenic style it houses a rich collection of works of Raja Ravi Varma. Dakshinachitra Museum, one of the living - history museums. Santhome Cathedral a historical and ancient pilgrim centre, which was built during the 14th to the 15th century AD by the then reigning Portuguese. Drive Pass Marina Beach a 13kms long natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Chennai - Mahabalipuram (120kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram the city of thousand temples. In Kanchipuam visit Kailasanathar temple 8th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ekambareswarar temple an ancient temple dedicated to Siva, 2500 year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yields different varieties of mangoes. Varadharaja temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Vaikundhaperumal temple dedicated to lord Vishnu & Kamakshiamman temple the ultimate form of Goddess Parvati.
Continue drive to Mahabalipuram check in at hotel. Later visit Monolithic Temples Five Rathas an excellent examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. Krishnas Butterball a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline. 7th century Cave Temples cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style. Shore Temple built with blocks of granite 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 Arjuna`s Penance an enormous rock-cut relief, one of the largest in the whole world. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry (120kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Aurovil an experimental community 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. Pondicherry Museum it houses a fantastic collection of bronze sculptures of god and goddess, a wide gathering of temple lamps, handicrafts and art. Drive pass or walk through stunning French Quarters, charming mustard streets, colonial villas and vibrant Tamil settlements. Besides a very picturesque view of the lovely alleys and narrow lanes, you can also marvel at the gorgeous architecture of the French colonial settlements which include French consulate, Raj Nivas, Government Square, Churches & French schools. Evening to relax on the beach. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Pondicherry - Thanjavur (180kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Thanjavur via visiting Nataraja Temple dedicated to the dancing posture of Lord Shiva at Chidambaram. Constructed during the 10th century when Chidambaram used to be the capital of the Chola dynasty, the architecture of temple represents the link between arts and spirituality.
Also visit The Great Living Chola Temples at Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The temple complex includes Nandi Mandapa, Alankar Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Mukha Mandapa and Ardha Mandapa. And Darasuram a storehouse of art and architecture with 85 feet high vimana. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deitys consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple. Arrive Thanjavur check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 5: Thanjavur - Trichy (60kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Brihadeshwara Temple, built in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site. The shrine is a 216 feet structure, the sanctum is dotted with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods and the statue of Nandi the Bull welcomes at the entrance. Vijayanagar Fort built by Nayaks and partly by Maratha rulers during the early 1550 AD. Thanjavur Art Gallery, located in the Thanjavur Palace has an exquisite collection of ancient sculptures and coins. Saraswathi Mahal Library another section of the Palace where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts are preserved.
Drive to Trichy check in at hotel. Later visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple the largest functional temple in the world. The temple complex along with the surrounding area covers a total area of 156 acres, 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. Rock Fort Temple the 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. Also visit Jambukeswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, it houses five concentric walls, and seven gopurams. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Trichy - Madurai (135kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Madurai check in at hotel.
Later visit Meenakshi Temple one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th to 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. Thirumalai Nayakar Palace built in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, the palace depicts the perfect blend of Dravidian and Rajput styles. Also visit Alagar Koil, Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple & Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Madurai - Rameshwaram (170kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Rameshwaram, check in at hotel.
Later visit Ramanathaswamy Temple one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples with world longest corridor and immaculate carvings on pillars. The lingam in the Rameshwaram Temple was installed by Lord Rama but, the construction was led by several rulers over the centuries. Inside the temple, there are two lingams Ramalingam and Shivalingam (only Hindu can enter temple sanctum). Lakshmana Tirtham constructed in the loving memory of Lord Lakshman, brother of Lord Rama. Several wonderful sculptures of Lord Lakshmana have been carved out from marble and the temple has the statues of lord Rama and Goddess Sita too which signifies the spirit of unitedness that exisited between them. Also visit to Adams Bridge the chain of reefs, sandbanks and islets that almost connects Sri Lanka with India. According to legend, this is the series of stepping stones used by the monkey army, lead by Hanuman to cross the ocean in a bid to rescue Sita from the clutch of Ravana. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Rameshwaram - Kanyakumari (320kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Kanyakumari check in at hotel. Rest time to relax on the beach and watch sunset. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9: Kanyakumari - Kovalam (80kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Vivekananda Rock Memorial built on the site where Vivekananda attained enlightenment, located at about 500 meters east of the mainland of Vavathurai and can be accessed by regular ferries. The Shripada Mandapam has a study hall and a museum, where you can explore Vivekananda`s life and work in depth. Vattakottai Fort, a seaside fort largely made of granite blocks. The historical fort provide a panoramic view of the Bay of Bengal Sea on one side and majestic hills of the Western Ghats on other. Kumari Amman Temple believed to be built by Lord Parshuram 3000 years ago to worship Devi Kanyakumari who is the reincarnation of goddess Parvati, on the coast rising above the sea level while affording a beautiful view of foamy water touching the temple walls (only hindu can enter the temple). Kanyakumari Beach, the beautiful hue-changing beach on the confluence of three water bodies: Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea. Miraculously, here you can see that the water of three seas does not mix, you can distinguish between the turquoise blue, deep blue, and sea green waters of the three seas, though the colors keep changing with the season and the day`s weather.
Later drive to Kovalam check in & overnight at hotel.
Day 10: Kovalam
Breakfast at hotel. City tour of Trivandrum. Visit Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple embellished in gold-plated covering, the temple sanctom is opened only to Hindu. Attukal Temple, rich in cultural heritage and adorned by impeccable Tamil architecture. The city has a rich tradition of nurturing art and culture since ancient times, witness same by visiting Museums. Napier Museum, renowned for its fine collection of sculptures, paintings and musical instruments. Kuthira Malika built in the 1840 is an iconic monument that gives you a curious insight into the glorious history of Kerala. The museum houses artifacts like the ethnic jewelry that was once worn by the queens, wooden paintings and carvings, armory and idols made of the purest metal. Sri Chitra Art Gallery a perfect place for art lovers housing some of the famous work of Raja Ravi Verma and art objects belonging to the Mughals, Rajputs and Tanjore art schools. Drive through famous beaches which include Shankumugham Beach, Kovalam Beach, Vizhinjam Beach & Light House Beach Road. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: Kovalam
Breakfast at hotel. Day free for personal activities and relax. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12: Kovalam - Alleppey (160kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Alleppey boat jetty to board houseboat and sail through the tropical countryside enchanting backwaters. While sailing enjoy palm fringed narrow canals winding through the vast expanse of paddy fields and the neat tiny hamlets lined up along either side of the canals, the panoramic sights one can never forget. Pass through one of the few areas in the world where farming is done below sea level. Alleppey is referred as the Venice of the East, due to canals, backwaters, and lagoons. Boats are the main mode of transportation here, you can see Shikara boats, small motor boats, passenger boats, cargo boat, and houseboats. Evening enjoy sunset from the sun-deck of the houseboats. The Houseboats have generated electricity, sitting cum dining area, separate bedroom with attached English toilets, sun deck and fully loaded kitchen with a chef & driver. Overnight in houseboat.
Day 13: Alleppey - Cochin (60kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Cochin check in at hotel.
Visit Fort Cochin a charming seaside area known for its Dutch, Portuguese & British colonial architecture and elaborate bamboo fishing nets at Fort Kochi Beach. St. Francis Church was the original burial site of explorer Vasco da Gama. Upscale eateries and chic cafes serve Keralan specialties, and quaint shops sell cotton clothing and handmade souvenirs. Heritage buildings house contemporary art galleries. Also visit Jewish Synagogue & the Mattancherry Dutch`s Palace. In the evening enjoy Kathakali, a traditional dance form of Kerala with lavish costumes, exotic makeup, masks etc. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: Cochin - Departure
Breakfast at hotel. Departure transfer to airport to board flight for onward destination.
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