The south Indian temples are famous for its unique architecture which is also known as DRAVIDA style architecture .The South Indian temple consists essentially of a square-chambered sanctuary topped by a superstructure, tower, or spire and an attached pillared porch or hall (MANDAPA) enclosed by a peristyle of cells within a rectangular court.
Day 01 – Arrive Chennai
Arrive Chennai by International flight. Meeting and assistance upon arrival and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 02 – Chennai
Morning proceed for the sightseeing of Chennai, “the gateway of South India”. P.M. Visit National Art Gallery and Museum (closed on Fridays) which has a selection of ancient paintings of almost all schools as well as section devoted to modern art, Fort St. George, St. Mary’s Church, Drive along Marina Beach (the second longest in the world) and San Thome Cathedral Basilica rebuilt in 1606 as a cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica; and Theosophical Society – the world headquarters of the Theosophical Society formed to encourage the study of comparative religion philosophy and science. Evening is free for individual activity. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 03 – Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram
Today after early breakfast we will drive to Mahabalipuram (approx. 150kms / 04hours) en-route visiting Kanchipuram. It’s a city of thousand temples and one of the seven sacred cities of Hindus, it was the capital of the early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC. Kanchi was a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Apart from temples, the city is also famous for its silk weavers, who settled here some 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation.
Thereafter proceed to Mahabalipuram, driving south of Chennai on the coast which is the ancient port of Pallavas. The pallavas have created many marvellous monuments with sculptural panels, caves, Monolithic Rathas and Temples. Krishna Mandapam has a big bas relief, notable for its realistic representation. The world’s largest bas relief measuring 27m x 9m, whale back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demi-gods, men beasts, birds and representation of the entire creation. Shore Temple, one of the oldest in south dating back to 8th century AD is a good example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in Dravidian style. The Five Rathas are a group of five monolithic temples, each created in different style. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and evening is free for relaxation. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 04 – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
Today after breakfast we will drive to Pondicherry (approx. 100kms / 02hours). A French colony till 1954, Pondicherry borders the ocean & still has a distinctly French flavor to it with its mediterrain waterfront & cobbled streets. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel and rest of the day is free to relax at beach, which runs along the city. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 05 – Pondicherry
Morning proceed for the sightseeing of Pondicherry, once a French settlement and now home to the Aurobindo Ashram – It spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science and Auroville or the City of Dawn, an international settlement where community living is the focus of life. The sphere shaped Matri Mandir a hall of meditation is the splendid centre of Auroville. Visit Pondicherry Museum which has an outstanding collection of artifacts. The sculpture gallery is a treasure house of Pallava and Chola art. Evening Relax at the beach, which runs along the city. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 06 – Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Kumbakonam
Today morning after breakfast drive to Kumbakonam (approx. 135kms / 04hours) en-route visiting Chidambaram, the seat of the Cosmic Dancer; dedicated to Lord Nataraja. Spread over an area of 40 acres with a gopuram on each side, the temple is distinguished by the five sabhas or counts. The towering gopurams, the tallest one on the north is 42.5m are carved on it with 108 dance poses of Bharatanatyam.
Thereafter continue your drive to Kumbakonam, one of the oldest towns in Tamil Nadu and is famous for its Mahamaham festival. In the 7th Century it was the Capital of Chola Kings. Kumbakonam, the famous temple town of South India, is picturesquely located amidst the two rivers, Cauvery & Arasalar. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and later visit the temple of Kumbakonam. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 07 – Kumbakonam – Thanjavur – Trichy
Today morning after breakfast drive to Trichy (approx. 100kms / 03hours) en-route visiting Thanjavur as it is now called an ancient Chola dynasty town renowned for the Brahadeeswara temple, now a World Heritage monument. Thanjavur is rich in its architecture, exquisite handicrafts, paintings, bronzes and South Indian Musical instruments. Visit the magnificent Brahadeeswara temple, where the shade of the tower (gopuram or vimanam) will not fall on the ground. The second largest monolithic sculpture, Nandi (Bull) can be found in the portal of the shrine. The Royal palace complex houses in important library and museums, including a superb collection of Chola bronzes.
Thereafter continue your drive to Trichy. It was the citadel of the Chola dynasty in the medieval period. In the 18th century it witnessed the Carnatic wars fought between the French and the English. Lord Robert Clive’s house is still there to see and so is the Danish Church. The Rock-Fort is the landmark of Trichy. A climb of 434 steps leads to the ancient temple of Ganapati on top and a further climb to a Shiva temple Visit Srirangam temple and Rock Fort temple. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 08 – Trichy – Madurai
Today morning after breakfast drive to Madurai (approx. 135kms / 02 ½ hours). Madurai, known as Athens of the East, is the second largest city on the banks of the River Vaigai. The city is believed to be more than 2500 years old. The city got its name from the drops of nectar (Mathuram) that fell from Shiva’s lochs when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him.
Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and later visit Madurai famous for the Meenakshi Sundereswar temple is the epitome of South Indian temple cities alive and bustling with pilgrims and religious preoccupations. The temple of goddess Meenakshi houses the hall of 1000 musical pillars known for their intricate work. Some free time later in the day to explore this cultural capital of South India. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 09 – Madurai – Rameshwaram
Today morning after breakfast drive to Rameshwaram (approx. 170kms / 04hours), the most sacred pilgrimage destinations of India. No pilgrimage is over without taking a trip to this holy island of Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram, as it is said, is the place where Lord Rama offered thanks to Lord Shiva in return for his support in defeating King Ravana. This makes it an important pilgrimage destination for devotees of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Situated in the Ramanathapuram of Tamil Nadu, Rameshwaram is home to some of the most fascinating temples in entire India.
Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and later start your temple tour including Ramanathaswamy, this magnificent temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas situated in different parts of India. Ramanathaswamy Temple also has its name in history books as it has the largest hallway anywhere in India. The construction of Ramanathaswamy Temple which was started in the 12th century was contributed to by many rulers. During its construction period, many dynasties came and fell and each of them put their input into the temple. The list of unique features in its construction seems to be endless. There is this huge hallway that is of approximately 1220 meters in length. Throughout the length of the hall, there are brilliantly carved pillars, the alignment of which will leave you totally mesmerized. The 54 meter tall Gopuram has become the symbol of divinity in the heart of many pilgrims; such is the beauty and presence of it. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10 – Rameshwaram
Today after breakfast proceed on full day temple tour of Rameswaram, visiting Sri Ramanathaswamy temple. The temple has 22 holy springs which are believed to have medicinal properties. After darshan, visit the Ghanthamathana Parvatham which provides fine views of the island.
Later, visit Dhanushkodi, it is one of the Tirthas in the island of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India. This is located beside the ghost town of Dhanushkodi at the eastern most tip of Rameswaram Island. Rama used his bow’s (Dhanush) end (Kodi) to break the bridge – Adam’s Bridge (hence the name). This bridge was used for his army to cross over to Lanka for the victorious war against Ravana. Evening is free for individual activities. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11 – Rameshwaram – Kanyakumari
Today morning after early breakfast drive to Kanyakumari (approx. 310kms / 06hours). Kanyakumari is the southernmost end of Tamil Nadu, the land’s end of India or the point where the three seas meet – the Bay of Bengal, The Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel and later visit Kumari amman temple dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanyakumari (Parvati) who stands guard over the country. The temple is built at the spot where the goddess is believed to have waited for her consort Lord Siva. Gandhi Memorial, constructed at the spot where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were kept for public view in an urn before a portion was immersed into the three seas. Vivekananda Memorial built on the Vivekananda Rock where the great Philosopher guide Swami Vivekananda went into meditation that transformed him into one of the most charismatic spiritual leader. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 – Kanyakumari – Kovalam
Today morning after breakfast drive to Kovalam (approx. 85kms / 02 ½ hours) en-route visiting Padmanabhapura. The capital of Travancore until 1333, Padmanabhapuram is known for its fort which encloses, among other buildings, a palace and a temple. The palace has some important art relics while the Ramaswamy temple has exquisitely carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana.
Thereafter, continue your drive to Kovalam beach which is also known as the “Paradise of the South”. Kovalam is the place where one can see the golden sand at the day time & silver sand in the night. With high rock promontory and a calm bay of blue waters, this beach paradise creates a unique aquarelle on moonlight nights. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel and relax for a while amidst the comforts of your room. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13 – Kovalam
Morning at your leisure, day on your own to relax and enjoy Kovalam Beach. Overnight at the hotel.
** If interested you can also book an excursion to Kanyakumari, the town located on the southern tip of India. The town is named after the goddess Devi Kanya Kumari, the sister of Krishna and as such is a popular site for pilgrims to visit and take a dip in the ocean.
Day 14 – Kovalam – Trivandrum (Departure)
Morning at leisure. In time transfer to Trivandrum airport to connect flight for onward destination.