India - Southern Spices
Duration :- 16 Days Tour
Day 01: Arrive Madras (Chennai)
Namaste! Welcome to Chennai - better known as Madras. Assistance on arrival and check in to the hotel. Afternoon sight seeing tour of The capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and the cultural Gateway to South India, Chennai is in some respects unlike other Indian cities. The National Art Gallery, the Museum with some beautiful temple prizes and the finest collection of South Indian bronzes are quite interesting. St. Mary's Church, Peoples Park and the beautiful Marina Beach which is the second longest beach in the world as well as the clock towers are worth visiting.
Day 02: Madras-Mahabalipuram-Madras.
Excursion to the small seaside town of Mahabalipuram - a sculptor's delight - famous for it's rock hewn sculptures.
A few miles south of Madras, at Mahabalipuram, on the sandy shores of the bay of Bengal, a beautiful group of rock-cut monuments evokes the past. Seventh-century carvings of the Pallava dynasty include a series of freestanding boulders carved to resemble small temples and animals. Rock-cut caves and and a masterful stone bas-relief are nearby. The 'Penance of Arjuna' relief, cut on two huge rocks, shows scores of figures of deities, people and animals including, according to one interpretation, the emaciated figure of Arjuna, the great warrior of the Mahabharata, standing on one leg and doing penance, praying to Lord Shiva for the strength to destroy his enemies. Sadhus of today perform this exact act of sacrificial devotion. On the adjacent beach stands one of South India's oldest temples, the Shore Temple, its foundations washed for twelve centuries by the forthy sea.
Day 03: Madras/Tiruchirapalli (Trichy)
A Short flight to the cultural town of Trichy followed by a visit to the Rock Fort Temple, Srirangam and Tiruvanei Khavval and a local where we meet the local folks or rural India.
ABOUT TRICHY:Tiruchchirappalli (also Tiruchirapalli), city, southern
India, in Tamil Nadu State, capital of Tiruchchirappalli District, on the Cauvery River.
It is a road and rail centre in an area where cotton, grain, tobacco, and rice are grown
and that has mica, gypsum, and limestone deposits. Large railway plants and locomotive
works are found in the south-eastern section of Golden Rock here. Other industries include cotton-textile milling, tanning, and the manufacture of cement, filigree work, and tobacco products. Located here are the Seshasayee Institute of Technology (1952) and several colleges affiliated with the University of Madras. In the northern section is Garden Rock, which contains excavated 7th-century Pallava cave temples, a ruined 17th-century fort, and a Dravidian temple. Capital of Tamil kingdoms from the 10th to the 17th century, the area was the site of several Anglo-French battles in the 18th century and was ceded to the British in 1801. The former name was Trichinopoly,sometimes shortened to Trichy. Population (1991) 387,223. "Tiruchchirappalli"
Day 04: Tanjore
We enjoy a day visit to Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Darasuram and Gangaikondacholapuram.
Evening enjoy the famous Kathakali dance.
Tanjore:was the ancient capital of the Chola kings whose origins, go back to the beginning of the Christian era. Power struggles between these groups were a constant feature of their early history, with one or other gaining the ascendancy at various times. The Cholas' turn for empire building came between 850 and 1270 AD and , at the height of their power. Probably the greatest chola emperors were Raja Raja who was responsible for building the Brihadishwara Temple ( Thanjavur main attraction ) and his son Rajendra-I whose navy competed with the Arabs for controls of the Indian Ocean trade routes and who was responsible for bringing Srivijaya under Chola control.
Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort: built by great Chola king in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in world heritage. On the top of the apex of 63 metres high, a dome is said to be constructed from a single pieceof granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones. The dome was hauled into place along a 6 km earthwork ramp in a manner similar to the one used by the Egyptian Pyramids. The temple has been the sense of continuous worship for over thousand years. Only Hindus are allowed inside.
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. Two of the palace towers, the Armoury and the observation tower are visible from all parts of the city. 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. Over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaves and paper are preserved in the Saraswati Mahal Library
Day 05: Trichy/Madurai (128 Kms)
Drive to one of the oldest cities of The South followed by a visit to the majestic Meenakshi Temple & Tirumali Nayak Palace and witness a Puppet show enroute.
Srirangam (Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple): This magnificent temple complex is situated at 3 km from Rock Fort. This is one of the finest temples in South India dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is probably the largest temple complex in the whole of India. This 13th century temple is surrounded by 7 concrete walls with 21 gopurams.Non-Hindus are not allowed into the gold topped Sanctum but can visit as far as the sixth wall. The whole place is very fascinating and there is a small museum containing sculptures within, the temple precincts.
Madurai: More than 2500 years old ancient city, situated on the banks of the river Vaigai Madurai is believed to have been built by the Pandyan King Kulasekara. Legend has it that drops of Maduram (nectar) fell from Lord Shiva's locks when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him. Madurai's history can be divided into four periods, beginning over 2000 years ago, when it was the capital of the Pandyan Kings. Apart from a brief period it fell to the Cholas, Madurai remain with Pandyan till the decline of the empire. The 200year old reign of the Natakas marked the golden era when art, architecture and learning scaled new heights.
Meenakshi Temple: This temple is the city's main attraction. This temple is nearly 2000 years old placed in the heart of the old town - a splendid example of Dravidian architecture.
Day 06: Madurai/Kodaikanal (166 Kms)
Today is a scenic drive to the peaceful hill station of Kodaikanal at the crest of the Palini Hills enjoying boat cruise on Lake Kodai Kanal.
Day 07: Kodaikanal/Periyar (150 Kms)
Drive to the Wildlife sanctuary. Afternoon, our first game viewing famous for the Indian elephants, gaur and water birds.
Day 08: Periyar
Morning we continue enjoying game viewing. Evening free.
Day 09: Periyar/Cochin (185 Kms)
A countryside drive to Changanacherry to take the famous backwaters cruise of Kerala to Cochin.. The back waters offer the best way to see and experience the countryside of India.
Day 10: Periyar/Cochin (185 Kms)
Venice of the East - tour of Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and cruise Cochin visiting Bolghatty Palace and Chinese fishing nets. Cochin harbour, Jew Town and St. Francis Church.
Day 11: Cochin/Kovalam (250 Kms)
Drive to the beautiful Kovalam Beach in the Malabar Coast near Trivandrum. Evening an ideal opportunity to meet local folks or laze at the enchanting beach.
Day 12: Kovalam
Visit the "lands end" of India, Padmanabha and Suchindram where the 3 seas i.e. Bay
of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea meet. This is a beautiful site known
as Kanya Kumari.
Day 13: Trivandrum
Day excursion to Trivandrum visiting the
the city's most dominating feature - the Temple of Padmanabhaswamy, Chitra Art Gallery, Napier Museum and the exotic Kerala bazaar.
Days 14 & 15: Kovalam
Today, to end this tour, a treat! We are driven to Somatheeram which specialises in the world famous Indian ayurvedic massages for rejuvenation. Day free at leisure at the typical Kerala styled resort and enjoy the many ayurvedic activities. Included in this treat is one rejuvenating massage.
Day 16: Kovalam/Home bound
After an interesting insight into the colourful and mystical Dravidian India, we bid farewell with a transfer for our flight back Home or continue on to Sri Lanka.