South India Heritage Tour

  12 Days / 11 Nights

   Chennai – (Kanchipuram) - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry - Tanjore - Madurai - Periyar National Park - Kumarakom – Alleppey - Cochin

South India Heritage Tour is throughout carried out by car / coach and covers major destinations representative of cultural and architectural heritage of two south Indian states. It not only takes a tourist to culturally and historically significant destinations but also helps explore natural beauty and diversity in two southern provinces. Heritage Tour of South India showcases the best aspects and locales of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. South India is for many the "real" India. The reason being, the millennia-old Hindu culture, due to lesser impact of barbaric Islamic invasions, is almost intact and thus introduces one to purest form of Hindu rituals, ethos, traditions, arts, crafts, lifestyle, attires, cuisines and practices. Tamil Nadu presents the best architectural specimens of Dravidian style of temple construction. More than thousands of years old mammoth and majestic temples, a sort of intricately carved and engraved stones built ancient sky-scrapers, are social nerve centers of the social life of the people of Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, Kerala, aptly called as ‘God’s Own Country’ welcomes you with dreamscapes of cardamom mountainous gardens, palm groves and waterways.

Day 1

Arrive in Chennai

Welcome to India! You will be met by our representative at the arrival hall of the airport in Chennai and transferred to pre-reserved hotel. Chennai (formerly Madras) is the capital of Tamil Nadu and has, despite its vast area, large population and long tumultuous history, preserved traditional atmosphere even to this date. Thronging people, tinkling rickshaw, mantras murmuring pilgrims, clattering mopeds, the sacred cows on the roads, honking vehicles etc will certainly bring you into a pleasantly bedazzling world.

After a short rest at the hotel, you will be taken up on a city tour. The Chennai city tour will encompass a visit to the main attractions- Fort St. George, Dakshinchitra and Kapaleeswarar Temple. The mighty Fort St. George , from where once the British East India Company managed the area, is now home to a museum which allows insights into the history of the occupation. In order to have deep insight into the original culture of the South, you will be taken to Dakshinchitra, a sprawling open-air museum where you can get to know at first hand the architecture, arts and traditions of the region. Another prime attraction of Chennai is Kapaleeswarar Temple, the Hindu temple which is a nice specimen of South Indian temple architecture, embodying elaborate carvings of Indian mythology. Spend evening in leisure and have overnight stay in Chennai hotel.

Day 2

Chennai – Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram

A bit early in the morning, drive for Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram, the city of 1000 temples, is one of the seven sacred cities of India and has an ancient tradition, whose roots are found in pre-Christian times. After about an hour of drive, reach Kanchipuram in the morning and enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city which is also known for the rich culture of silk weaving. After sightseeing of Kanchipuram, explore local market for handicraft products and beautiful silk sarees. Thereafter, early noon, drive to Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram is famous mainly for its beach and cave temples. The famous seaside temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is so close to the water that it had to be shielded of the ocean tide by a great wall. Noteworthy are also the cave temples, some dating back to the 7th century, which are decorated with a variety of reliefs of Hindu deities. On arrival at Mahabalipuram, check in at the hotel. Here, your tour guide will meet you and take you for sightseeing of Mahabalipuram. Later, return to spend evening in leisure and have overnight stay.

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Day 3

Mahabalipuram – Puducherry

This morning, continue along the coast and reach first Auroville. In the 1960s, the "City of Dawn" was established in order to disseminate the teachings and beliefs of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghosh who was a revolutionary, lead armed revolt against the British and later led a spiritual life. People from all over the world come here to participate in the life of the community and to develop spiritually. Then drive to Puducherry, which is unusual in many ways. A touch of French flair blows through the streets. Catholic churches, the city park, the Hotel de Ville and the colonial-style building facades are just a few of the vestiges of the French past. While strolling through the city, you get to know the charming town that was the scene of the movie "Life of Pi". Overnight stay has been scheduled in the hotel.

Day 4

Pondicherry – Chidambaram - Darasuram - Tanjore

After having scrumptious breakfast in Puducherry hotel, leave the shores, head towards inland and reach Chidambaram , the city of the cosmic dancer Nataraja (Lord Shiva). Stroll through the Nataraja Temple, probably the largest temple complex in India. The faithful and devotees offer prayer and perform religious rituals at various shrines in the courtyard of the temple complex and thus create an ambience of ethereal spiritualism. Enjoy the serene environment. Again drive to Tanjore. En route, stop at Darasuram to visit Airavateshvara Temple. The Airavateshvara Temple of Darasuram is expected to be declared UNESCO Heritage Site. It is embellished with splendid reliefs and chiseled sculptures of gods, mythical creatures and demons. After that, proceed to Tanjore. On arrival at Tanjore, you will be transferred to the pre-booked hotel. Tanjore has been capital of several dynasties but the prominent among them was Nayakas. After relaxing a bit, proceed to visit Sri Brihadeeswara Temple and Nayak Palace. Late afternoon, another highlight awaits you. You can have an appointment with a Nadi Reader. The art of Nadi reading is firmly integrated in the Hindu religion for thousands of years. About 7000 years ago, a group of "seers" (Rishis) created a collection of details of past, present and future of millions of people on palm leaf. These palm leaves are preserved in a library. On the basis of these descriptions, details about your past, present and future are told. Later in the evening, return to hotel for overnight stay.

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Day 5

Tanjore- Trichy – Madurai

After relaxed breakfast in Tanjore hotel, depart for Madurai. On the way to Madurai, you will be taken to Trichy. Trichy is a historical town and has lot more interesting tourist attractions. Among the prominent monuments are Srirangam and Rangnathar. The early cave temple on the flanks of the rock is well worth a visit. Then proceed on to Madurai. It will take about 4 hours to reach Madurai. Considered as the holy city of south India, Madurai is home to probably best of the temples. Madurai is a big bazaar, packed with shops, street vendors, temples and restaurants; a city where you can spend a lot of time alone with observing and watching. On arrival at Madurai, check in at the pre-booked hotel. Spend the evening at leisure in your own fashion and have overnight stay in Madurai hotel.

Day 6

In Madurai

Madurai is one of the oldest cities of south India. It has been the centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. 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 says that the divine nectar fell from Shiva's hair and gave it the name-Madhurapuri, now known as Madurai. The history of Madurai dates back to more than 3000 years when it was the capital of the Pandyan kings. In 10th century AD, Madurai was captured by the Chola emperors. It remained in their hands until the Pandyans obtained independence in 12th century, only to lose to Malik Kafur, a general in the service of the Delhi Sultanate. Malik Kafur and his dynasty was defeated by the Hindu king of Vijaynagar. After the fall of Vijaynagar in 1565, the Madurai Nayaks ruled until 1781 AD. Madhurapuri grew and prospered to become the capital of the kingdom of Pandyan. Madurai is referred to in the Ramayana, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, by Megasthenes (302 ac), Pliny (77 AD), Ptolemy (140 AD), Marco Polo (1293 AD) and Ibn Battuta (1333 AD).

After breakfast, proceed for exploring Madurai along with the tour guide. The Madurai tour guide will be introduced with you in the hotel. The sightseeing tour includes three prominent monuments – Tirumalai Nayak Mahal, Vaniyur Mariamman Teppakulam and Meenakshi Temple.

Meenakshi Temple is symbol of cultural and architectural epitome of Dravidian style of temples. Lying in the very heart of the city, Meenakshi Temple was built in pre-Christ era by the very founder of Madurai, Kulasekara Pandya. But the credit of present day grandeur goes to Vishwanatha Nayaka & Tirumalai Nayaka. During the reign of Vishwanatha Nayaka in 1560 AD, the design of the present day temple was prepared and final construction took place during the reign of Tirumalai Nayaka. Meenakshi Temple, spread over more than six hectares, has four entrances called Gopurams. Each of its 12 towers has the height of 45 to 50 meters. A perfect example of Dravidian style of temple architecture, Meenakshi Temple is characterized by highly heightened and broad ‘gopurams’( large gateways), mandapams (multi-pillared halls) and intricately and profusely sculptured inner and outer walls with images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. Visit of 1000 pillar Mandapam (hall). Each pillar got different sculpture.

Tirumalai Nayak Mahal is a historical monument. After decline of Vijayanagara Empire, the leading nobles –the Nayakas, emerged as rulers of south India, including Madurai. The city of Madurai and Nayaka dynasty flourished during 16th to 18th century. Thirumalai Nayak built this palace in 1523, which is hardly a kilometre away from Meenakshi Temple. Built in the Indo-Saracénico style, the remains of the palace constitute main entrances, ballroom and main hall. The palace was originally four times larger than it’s today. The main attraction is now sound and light show in the palace, which shows the events of the life of Thirumalai Nayak and parts of the ancient Tamil epic Silappathikaram.

Mariamman Teppakulam, an enormous temple tank, was also built by the Thirumalai Nayak in 17th. This huge tank in the eastern part of the city is said to have subterranean canals connecting it to the Vaigai River. There is a ‘mandapam’ with an idol of Vinayaka or elephant in the middle of the tank, brightly lit during the float festival at the time of full moon of the Tamil month Thai, which falls between January 15 and February 15.

After visiting monuments, primarily temples and palace, explore local market/ bazaar. If possible, do attend evening worship ceremony of the deity in a temple. Later, in the evening, return to hotel for over-night stay.

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Day 7

Madurai - Periyar National Park

Today you will leave the state of Tamil Nadu and travel across the Western Ghats to Kerala. India's wildlife is as diverse as its culture. Periyar National Park , the most famous nature reserve in South India, you have the opportunity to observe wild animals like tigers, elephants, monkeys etc which have become very rare on our planet. On arrival at Periyar National Park, check in at the jungle resort which is well equipped with all modern amenities. In the afternoon, take a cruise on a bamboo raft. Overnight stay has been scheduled at Thekkady/ Periyar hotel.

Day 8

Safari in the Periyar National Park

Have scrumptious breakfast in Thekkady resort and proceed to enjoy a boat ride on the Periyar lake .The artificial lake is not only the water storage for the neighboring Tamil Nadu, its adjacent forests are also home to many animals. The more advanced the dry season, the greater are your chances of sighting rare animals, because the water level drops in the lake and thus offer the forest dwellers less hiding places at the shore zones. In the afternoon, take a guided tour through the rainforest to watch spice gardens with vast plantation of herbs and spices. Evening is reserved for leisure and overnight stay is scheduled therein.

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Day 9

Periyar National Park – Kumarakom

After delicious breakfast in Thekkady/ Periayar resort, drive to Kumarakom. On arrival at Kumarakom, check in at the lakeside resort. Kumarakom, a hamlet, inhabited on a reclaimed land from Vembanad Lake, is also home to a bird sanctuary. World famous Ayurveda therapy is available here in many of the resorts. In Kumarakom, you will get today a glimpse of the lives of India's rural population. Visit the village of Kumarakom, a palm-fringed tourist destination that is tucked away at the mouth of a river falling in the Vembanad Lake. Enjoy the tranquility of the secluded village. Know and learn about its inhabitants and their daily life on an equal footing. The rest of the day is kept for leisure. Overnight stay has been scheduled in Kumarakom resort.

Day 10

Kumarakom – Backwaters (Alleppey)

A highlight of this trip is the boat ride in Alleppey through the lagoons of the backwaters. The backwaters are an extensive waterway network which is below sea level. Explore this water maze on board a comfortable houseboat. Wade through the tropical lagoon landscape of Kerala and catch a glimpse of the local life. Along the way, you also have the opportunity to contact/ visit directly the villages on the shore. As the night falls on the backwaters, the fishermen ignite oil lamps on the banks and images of their flames are reflected in the lake. Let yourself be enchanted by this sight while you are relishing local dishes being served on the deck. On the houseboat, enjoy all the amenities, including a comfortable room with bathroom. Overnight stay has been planned in private houseboat.

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Day 11

Backwaters – Cochin

Greet the new day on board the houseboat and experience how the backwaters come back to life. After a delicious breakfast on board, continue to Cochin. Cochin has exciting and varied stories to tell: the French, Portuguese and Dutch came and went. You can still find in the commercial capital city of Kerala many traces of this colonial past in the streets and buildings. While strolling through the city, you will visit the main attractions of the city. In the evening you should not forget to see the fishermen and Chinese fishing net in the harbor. Chinese fishing nets offer a unique spectacle. Overnight stay has been scheduled in Cochin hotel.

Day 12

Cochin- Departure

South India Heritage Tour is coming to an end. Depending on your departure time, transfer to the airport.

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  • Above rates are based on current exchange rate, fuel price, entrance fee, hotel rates and tax structure as applicable on the date of mailing the package proposal, however any change in these components beyond our control shall affect the cost accordingly.

  • Our Above all cost is based on good combination of Heritage & star hotels. All the hotels are neat and clean, tastefully decorated air-conditioned rooms and of international standards with all modern facilities. We have been using these hotels regularly for our various overseas clients with excellent report in respective categories.

    In case you are particular to stay with any preferred hotels, please do let us know and we will revise our cost accordingly.

  • If a particular hotel is stated in this travel proposal is not available, we will book you at an alternative hotel in the same category as the one stated with your consent and agreement.

  • We shall not be responsible for any delays & alterations in the programme or expenses incurred – directly or indirectly – due to natural hazards, flight cancellations, accident, breakdown of machinery or equipments, breakdown of transport, weather, sickness, landslides, political closures or any untoward incidents.

  • We do not have any insurance policy covering the expenses for accident, sickness, loss due to theft, or any other reasons. Visitors are advised to seek such insurance arrangements in their home country.

  • Please contact your health department or the nearest Indian consulate for more information on recommended vaccinations and medical precautions.

  • You will need a tourist visa to visit India . Please contact the nearest Indian consulate in your country of residence for more information.

  • In India, hotel check in time is 14:00 hrs & hotel check out time is 10:00 hrs, until specified otherwise.

  • Our cost doesn’t have any hidden taxes/charges.

Payment Terms:

We would require 50% advance payment to secure your bookings and process the file. We accept bank transfers and payment by credit cards through PAYPAL international payment gateway only. Balance amount needs to be paid on arrival in India by cash, Traveller’s Cheques or credit cards. All credit card payments are subject to 4.88% bank fees.

Cancellation Terms:

50% cancellation if cancelled within 45 days.

75% cancellation if cancelled within 30 days.

100% cancellation if cancelled 15 day or less.

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