Dussehra Festival Itinerary
Beginning in the sandalwood city of Mysore witness the important Indian festival of Dussehra. This journey through the south of India combines the color and vibrancy of Hinduism today, incredible monuments that bear testimony to historic splendor with the region's natural beauty and exotic wildlife.
Where are you going?
Day 1: Arrive Bangalore and transfer to Mysore .
Day 2: Dussehra is a festival is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. Caparisoned elephants marching in procession are a unique feature of the Mysore Dussehra. Accompanied by mounted guardsmen they carry the palace deity, Chamundeshwari, on a gold 'howdah' from the palace to the Banni Mantap. There is also a floating festival in the temple tank at the foot of Chamundi Hill and a procession of chariots around the temple at the top. A torch light parade takes place in the evening followed by a massive firework display and much jubilation on the streets.
Days 3 & 4: Mysore is the palace city of Karnataka State, famous for its silk and is a thriving sandalwood incense center. The beautiful palace of Mysore occupies the entire southeastern sector of the city center. Srirangapattinam is an island fortress in the Cauvery River - a place with ancient history. Nearby Ranganathitu Bird Sanctuary is a good place to see storks, ibis, egrets, darters, spoonbills and cormorants. In the evening visit the bull temple and a 2000-year-old temple dedicated to Goddess Chamundi.
Day 5: Mamallapuram is a wonderful combination of heritage monuments, sandy beaches and excellent seafood. The perfect introduction to Indian life, it is also one of the best places in south India for handicrafts. Sightseeing includes the 7th century Shore Temple, Arjuna's Penance bass relief, cave temples and a crocodile farm with over 2000 resident crocs.
Day 6: Today's first stop is Gangaikonda Cholapuram (a famous Shiva temple) with beautiful high towers adorned with many small sculptures depicting stories of old epics. It is then on to Darasuram temple, built in memory of the white elephant - Airavath.
Day 7: Tangore was the ancient capital of the Chola Kings between the 10th and 14th centuries and became a center of learning and culture. It is also known as the rice bowl of Tamilnadu. Sri Brihadeshwara Temple, built by the great Chola king Raja Raja in the 10th century is an outstanding example of the Chola architecture and houses Asia's largest image of Nandi, Shiva's bull. The Raja Raja Palace has been converted into an excellent Museum & Art Gallery.
Days 8 & 9: Trichy is situated on the bank of river Cauvery where, Srirangam, the largest temple complex in India has twenty thousand people living and working within its labyrinths. The Rock fort temple, built by the Nayak King of Madurai , has shrines to bota Ganesh and Shiva. Festivals are almost continually celebrated in the temples and along the river.
Madurai , known as the ‘nectar' city, is the oldest in Tamilnadu. It has a lotus shape and was founded by the Pandya king Kulashekara. Thousands of priests and worshippers come daily to Sri Meenakshi Temple where believers bathe themselves in the temple baths and have their fortunes told. The evening ceremony where the god Shiva is led to the bedroom of his wife, Meenakshi is not to be missed. Madurai is also a great place to look for bronze statues, carpets or other souvenirs.
Days 10 & 11: Drive into the foothills of the Western Ghats towards Periyar. The best way to observe the game in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is by boat. There are herds of elephant, and bison, packs of wild boar various species of ape including the golden langur monkey, rarely seen elsewhere in India . Turtles can often be seen sunning themselves on the pieces of wood that stick out of the water. Osprey and cormorants are the most prevalent bird species in this area.
Day 12: Kumarakom, the best of Kerala's backwaters, is situated on Vembanad Lake near Kottayam. A paradise of mangroves, paddy fields, water lilies, kingfishers and coconut groves networked by a maze of waterways and canals. Wake up to a hive of activity, tiny canoes ferrying fruit and vegetables, children rowing to school, fishermen casting for the day's catch, the tempting aroma of fried fish and juicy mussels. The Kumarakon Bird Sanctuary attracts numerous migrating flocks.
Days 13 & 14: Cochin is situated on a number of small islands and peninsulas. Ferries join the islands and you are transported by boat through the green lagoons that form the city's harbor. In 1653 the Dutch settled in Cochin to trade in pepper. The spice trade is still important, as is shipbuilding. In the Dutch Palace beautiful murals depict episodes in Hindu mythology. Cochin boasts a 16th century Jewish synagogue and the only Jewish neighborhood in India. The ten meter high Chinese fishnets that Marco Polo mentioned are wonderful to see - a method of fishing that originated in the 11th century. After a trip to a backwater village finish the evening with the famous dance drama of Kerala, the Kathakali. Grotesque gesticulations, amazing costumes and very extensive make-up characterize this dance. The stories are mostly taken from the Mahabharaata and Ramaayana.
Day 15: Depart. Transfer to airport.