Essential South India Tour
The best of South India - combining a resplendent tropical landscape, the vibrant color and ritual of Hindu pilgrimage sites, serene backwater villages and historic colonial enclaves.
Where are you going?
Day 1 : Arrive Chennai and transfer to hotel.
Day 2: 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 3: Kanchipuram is the temple town of south India. The Ekambareshwar Temple, dedicated to Shiva, is one of the largest and houses the 3500-year-old mango tree from which its name derives and whose branches are said to represent the four Vedas. The oldest and most beautiful of Kanchipuram's temples is Kailasanathar, an excellent example of Dravidian architecture. A fitting compliment to all this history is a typical south Indian lunch of thali, served on a banana leaf.
Day 4: Today's first stop is Gangaikonda Cholapuram (a famous Shiva temple) with beautiful high towers adorned with many small sculptures depicting the stories of old epics. It is then on to Darasuram temple, built in memory of the white elephant - Airavath.
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 5 & 6: Trichy is situated on the bank of river Cauvery and 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 both Ganesh and Shiva. Festivals are almost continually celebrated in the temples and along the shores of the river.
Day 7: 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.
Day 8: 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 9: Drive through magnificent mountain country with jungle, palm forests, tea and coffee plantations, slowly descending to a green area where cocoa, rubber and spices grown. A private boat takes you into the backwaters, a splendid area of canals and lakes; palm trees, water birds, rice fields and floating water plants, where life takes place on the water. Peddlers take care of the supplies and the public transport is by boat. Return to land about sunset, it is then a 1-hour drive to Cochin.
Day 10: 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
Days 11-12: It is a beautiful drive to Mudumalai, one of South India 's largest wild life reserves. Situated in the foothills of Nilgiris it is a large reserve stretching from semi-evergreen forests to swamps and grasslands. It is home to Spotted Deer, Indian Bison, tiger, panther, wild boars and sloth bear. Otters & crocodiles inhabit the Moyar River. The wild elephant population, estimated around 600, is one of the largest in the country. Safaris by jeep and elephants offer the best wild life sightings.
Days 13 & 14: En-route to Mysore stop at the Kesava Temple at Somnathpur. This star shaped temple is covered with beautiful sculptures depicting stories from the epics. Mysore is the “Palace City” of Karnataka State and is famous for its silk and as a thriving sandal wood incense center. The beautiful palace occupies the entire southeastern sector of the city center. Srirangapattinam, an island fortress in the Cauvery River, is a place with an ancient history. Nearby Ranganathitu Bird Sanctuary is a good place to see storks, ibis, egrets, spoonbills and cormorants.
Sightseeing includes Saravana Belagola, one of the oldest and most important Jain pilgrimage centers in India; the Palace of Mysore. In the evening visit the bull temple and a 2000-year-old temple dedicated to Goddess Chamundi.
Day 15: Journey to Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka State and a modern business center. In the early 16th century Kempagowda built a mud fort and mapped out a city he envisioned with four watchtowers. The tour ends here. We will drop you railway station or Airport in Bangalore .