Southern Splendour


20 days | INDIA, TAMIL NADU | from INR 30000.0000

India
  • Arrive Chennai

  • Chennai

  • Chennai - Pondicherry

  • Pondicherry

  • Pondicherry - Tanjore

  • Tanjore

  • Tanjore - Madurai

  • Madurai

  • Madurai - Paradisa

  • Paradisa

  • Paradisa – Marari

  • Marari

  • Marari

  • Marari – Cochin

  • Cochin

  • Cochin – Calicut – Sultan Battery

  • Sultan Battery

  • Sultan Battery – Mysore

  • Mysore

  • Mysore – Chennai

  • Chennai – Onwards destination

 

Programme

  • 1 . Arrive Chennai

    On arrival at Chennai airport today you will be received by our representative and transferred to your hotel (room available from 1200 noon onwards). Rest of the day is at leisure. Situated on the eastern coast of India, Chennai (earlier called Madras) is the fourth largest of the Indian cities, after Mumbai, Calcutta and Delhi. It used to be one of the bastions of the British Empire and a trading post for the East India Company. Today, this metropolis is a microcosm of ancient traditions and cultures co-existing with modern day industry and commerce. It is a fascinating city with ancient temples and unique culture, golden sandy beaches merging with the breakers of the Bay of Bengal and a marvellous tradition of music and dance. Meals: None



  • 2 . Chennai

    This morning you will explore Chennai city in a half day tour. The Fort St. George, a 350-year-old fort with wide battlements is a reminder of the British Empire. Today, the old buildings in the fort house the Tamil Nadu State Government Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. Within the fort complex, a number of other early buildings still stand, of which St. Mary's Church is the most interesting. The church has many paintings, records and registers, each with a story to tell. The Fort St. George Museum contains some of the most fascinating items belonging to the East India Company and the colonial period. It houses rare weapons, uniforms, coins, costumes, medals and some other artifacts dating back to the British period. The museum also has a valuable collection of documents, letters and declarations which have been greatly used by the historians. The renowned Kapaleeswarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple complex has the traditional market, the tank and Brahmin residential houses. Another ancient and important temple here is the Krishna Parathasarthy Temple, which dates back to the 8th century during the reign of the Pallavas. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Meals: Breakfast



  • 3 . Chennai - Pondicherry

    After breakfast this morning you will be driven (3 hours) to Pondicherry. En-route you will visit Mahabalipuram. Located just outside Madras city, Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) is a group of monumental rock-cut temples, set amidst palms trees on a long beach, washed by the Bay of Bengal. In fact, it is said that the story of south Indian stone architecture begins on the sandy beaches of Mahabalipuram. It witnessed large scale temple construction during this period. The most renowned landmark of Mahabalipuram is the Shore Temple. Standing alone on the shore, this temple is protected by a wall constructed to minimize erosion. It is believed that at one point in time there were seven such temple, six of them were victims to the natural elements of erosion. Built in the 7th century AD, it has three shrines; one dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the other two to Lord Shiva. After visiting the temples you will continue your drive to Pondicherry and check in at your hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure. Meals: Breakfast



  • 4 . Pondicherry

    Pondicherry was a French colony at one time. It first came under the French rule in the mid-18th century, but over the years it repeatedly became a battlefield and, on many occasions, changed hands. In 1954, Pondicherry was restored to India. The influence of the French has been tremendous here. This oval-shaped township with the streets aligned at right angles is unlike any other Indian town. Its skyline from off-shore is typical of coastal French settlements as is its town planning. Today you will explore the charming city of Pondicherry – visiting Chamundi Hills, Auroville and the Old French and Tamil towns. Pondicherry has come into international focus because of the Aurobindo Ashram or Auroville which is situated here. It was established by Sri Aurobindo, an important Indian religious philosopher, who had once played an active role in the Indian independence movement. The ashram, its orchards, workshops and activity centres, attract a number of people, including foreigners, who share the beliefs of Sri Aurobindo. Meals: Breakfast



  • 5 . Pondicherry - Tanjore

    After breakfast this morning you will be driven (4 hours) to Tanjore. En-route you will visit Gangaikondacholapuram Temple. Gangaikondacholapuram Temple is situated near the Thanjavur city of Tamil Nadu. The temple was founded in the year 1020 and it took approximately nine years to fully complete the construction work. The temple of is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu Trinity of Gods. The person who can be credited with the erection of this temple is King Rajendra Chozhan, son of Raja Raja Chozhan. Rajendra built this temple to recreate his father's achievement, the Brihadeeswarar Temple of Thanjavur After visiting the temples you will continue your drive to Tanjore and check in at your hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure. Meals: Breakfast



  • 6 . Tanjore

    This ancient city of Tanjore enjoys the distinction of having been the capital of Cholas — one of the greatest dynasties of the south India. Though the history of Tanjore dates back to the ancient Sangam age, it was between the 10th and 14th centuries that Tanjore reached its zenith, becoming the centre of Tamil learning and culture. The Cholas were great temple builders and Tanjore bears witness to this, being dotted with no fewer than 74 temples — the most famous of which is the Brihadishwara temple. This morning you will be taken to visit The Brihadishwara Temple, which is the crowing glory of Chola architecture. This superb and fascinating monument is one of only a handful in India with World Heritage listing. It has been worshipped continuously for more than 1000 years. The temple is fortified and inside the inner courtyard is a well-arranged Archaeological Museum, with some interesting exhibits and photographs. After visiting the temple, you will be taken to visit Thanjavur Palace. The Thanjavur Palace has huge corridors, spacious halls, arsenal towers and a great collection of Tanjore Bronze sculpture. Meals: Breakfast



  • 7 . Tanjore - Madurai

    After breakfast this morning you will be driven (4 hours) to Madurai. En-route you will visit Chettinadu region where you visit the lovely traders’ mansions. Chettinadu is the homeland of the famous Tamil traders Chettiars, a prosperous banking and business community, many of whose members migrated to various part of South-east Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today Chettinadu is well known for its mansions, embellished with marble and Burma teak, wide courtyards, spacious rooms. Sadly, all these lovely mansions today are vacant, though they are still well-maintained by the Chettiars living in different parts of the world…as they come once in few years to visit their homeland. It is an absolutely amazing experience to wander around a typical Chettinadu village and explore these largely abandoned mansions. Your lunch will be in Chettinad (payable directly) and you will sample the unique Chettinad cuisine that has transcended the boundaries of the state to carve a worldwide following. Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of a variety of spices in preparing mainly non-vegetarian food. After visiting the temples you will continue your drive to Madurai and check in at your hotel. Rest of the day will be at leisure. Meals: Breakfast



  • 8 . Madurai

    Madurai town is perhaps the most vibrant town of southern India and throbs with vim and vitality. It is a burgeoning industrial centre, even though the vast stretches of lush paddy fields, dusty roads and crowded bazaars make it seems almost like an overgrown village. All activities at Madurai are centred around Sri Meenakshi Temple, which is in the heart of the old town and is one of the most stunning living temples in the country. Today you will be taken for city sightseeing which includes Tirumalai Palace & Meenakshi Temple. Tirumalai Palace. This Indo-Saracenic palace, constructed in 1523, was originally four times larger than its present size. Its most remarkable feature is the Swarga Vilasam or the audience hall, whose dome rises to a height of 20 m without any kind of support All activity in Madurai is centred around Meenakshi Temple. It is a riotously baroque example of Dravidian architecture with 'gopurams' covered from top to bottom with a breathless profusion of multi coloured images of gods and goddesses, animals and mythic figures. Designed in 1560 by Vishwanath Nayak, the present temple was substantially built during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak (1623-55 AD), but its history goes back 2000 years to the time when Madurai was the capital of the Pandya kings. Later in the evening you will visit the beautiful temple for evening putting to bed ceremony. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati who is known here as Meenakshi. The temple complex is within a high-walled enclosure, at the core of which are the two sanctums surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and grand pillared halls. Especially impressive are the 12 gopurams. Their soaring towers rise from solid granite bases, and are covered with stucco figures of dieties, mythical animals and monsters painted in vivid colours. Meals: Breakfast



  • 9 . Madurai - Paradisa

    After breakfast this morning you will be driven (5 hours) to Paradisa and rest of the day will be at leisure. Set amidst the tranquil atmosphere of organic coffee and spice plantations, Paradisa Plantation Retreat comprises separately arranged traditional wooden Kerala style houses. Sitting in your cottage, the view itself on offer is enough to rejuvenate your mind and body. From Paradisa Plantation Retreat you can hike through the plantations to see the cultivation and harvesting of coffee, cardamom, cloves and pepper. The tea plantations and factory are also well worth a visit. Accommodation: Paradisa Meals: Breakfast



  • 10 . Paradisa

    Spend the day at leisure or explore the neighbouring hills for spice and coffee plantation gardens with the help of the hotel staff. Accommodation: Paradisa Meals: Breakfast



  • 11 . Paradisa – Marari

    After breakfast this morning you will be driven (4 hours) to Marari Beach and rest of the day will be at leisure. Meals: Breakfast



  • 12 . Marari

    Full day at leisure by the beach



  • 13 . Marari

    Full day at leisure by the beach



  • 14 . Marari – Cochin

    This morning you will be driven to Alleppey to board your houseboat for a Day Cruise with lunch onboard. After the cruise you will be driven to Cochin and rest of the day will be at leisure. If Kerala is India's most beautiful state, which many believe, then the lovely port of Cochin is its jewel. It has been variously hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea, Venice of Orient, etc. Some choose to call it simply a museum city for its rich past and colourful present. Cochin displays a blend of people and architecture. It is one place where you can see a Jewish synagogue, Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, mosques, temples and Chinese fishing nets all in one day. Meals: Breakfast



  • 15 . Cochin

    Your tour of Cochin will include visit to Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays and Saturdays), Mattancherry or Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays), St Francis Church and Chinese fishing nets. The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555 for the maharaja of Cochin. Later renovated by the Dutch, it came to be known as the Dutch Palace. It has a large central courtyard and a temple depicting scenes from the Ramayana and other legends. The little museum at the palace has a collection of costumes, palanquins and other articles from the royalty. Adjacent to the palace is the Jewish Synagogue built in 1568. This simple building has marvellously rich interiors. There are clusters of coloured glass lamps hanging from the ceiling and the floor has blue willow patterned tiles, none of which are identical. Built in 1503 at Fort Cochin, St. Francis Church is one of the oldest churches in the subcontinent. It was built by the Portuguese, but became a Protestant church with the arrival of the Dutch and an Anglican church after the British occupation. Vasco da Gama was buried in its churchyard. After visiting St Francis Church just walk across to see the Chinese fishing nets along the shores. Later in the evening you will be collected from your hotel and taken to witness spectacular Kathakali Dance Drama. Kathakali is Kerala’s very own classical dance-drama form which combines facets of ballet, opera, masque and the pantomime. Kathakali explicates ideas and stories from the Indian epics and other story books. Presented in the temple precincts after dusk falls, Kathakali is heralded by the Kelikottu or the beating of drums and to the accompaniment of the Chengila (gong). The riches of a happy blending of colour, expressions, music, drama and dance are unparalleled in any other art form. Those who are interested may come a little early to see make up of the artistes being done which is considered to be a full-blown art in itself and is regarded as important as the dance-drama. Meals: Breakfast



  • 16 . Cochin – Calicut – Sultan Battery

    After breakfast this morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the railway station to board your train to Calicut (Jan Shatabdi; 0920/1300). On arrival at Calicut railway station you will be driven (01.5 hours) to Sultan Battery and rest of the day will be at leisure. Meals: Breakfast



  • 17 . Sultan Battery

    Tranquil is a 400-acre private coffee and spice plantation nestled within the remote and lush rainforest of Wayanad in Northern Kerala. You stay here as house guests of the family who offer a personalized experience of living on the plantation. Integral to your stay will be dining at the family table, as part of the extended family, where an elaborate mix of continental, regional Indian and traditional Kerala fare is served. You can relax in the outdoor pool, do our daily yoga or meditation on the tree-deck overlooking the pool or pamper yourself with Kerala Ayurvedic massages. Activities and excursions available at Tranquil include (payable directly if any): • Explore the plantation walking – there are 12 routes spanning the 400 acre plantation • Tranquil being a bird watcher’s paradise with around 115 species of birds • The Neolithic Eddakal Caves are only a 10 minutes drive away • A half hour drive will take you to Muthanga Game Sanctuary • Pookote Lake, a picturesque water body in the hills, is just an hour’s drive • A 9th century Jain Temple, Banasura Sagar Dam, Meenmutty Falls, Chembra Peak and Soochipara Falls are another excursion options from here • The town of Sulthan’s Battery, a former stronghold of Tipu Sultan, is also short drive from Tranquil Accommodation: Sultan Battery Meals: Breakfast



  • 18 . Sultan Battery – Mysore

    This morning you will be collected from your hotel and driven (4 hours) to Mysore and rest of the day will be at leisure. Mysore has a long history of eminent dynasties, which ruled from here and created a city that, even today, is one of the finest and best planned cities in southern India. Often called the city of palaces, Mysore combines traditional grandeur with modernity. There are tree- lined boulevards, beautiful gardens, parks and stately palaces. Being a major producer of sandalwood in the world, it is often called the city of fragrance. Meals: Breakfast



  • 19 . Mysore

    Today you will visit Mysore Palace Formerly the residence of the Wodeyar family, Mysore Palace is a splendid structure in Indo-saracenic style. Among the many attractions of the palace are a magnificent gold throne displayed during the Dussehra festival celebrations and a carved silver door. Its Kalyana Mandapa (Marriage Hall) has paintings that depict the royal times of the maharajas. Later enjoy walking tour of markets of Mysore. This 125 year old market with more than 700 stalls will hold your interest for its vibrancy and colours. You also get to discover Mysore’s specialities from sweets to natural incense for which the city has always been popular. Later you will be taken to Chamudi Hill. Up on a hill overlooking the city is the 2000 year old temple of Chamundeshwari, its patron goddess. From the top of the hill, there is a splendid view of the city. Continue to visit the artisans of Mysore who are famous for Inlay art, Stone carving. On this tour interact with the artisans who practise this delicate art passed on from generations. Watch these royal patrons as they give us an insight to the intricate art form. Meals: Breakfast



  • 20 . Mysore – Chennai

    After breakfast this morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the railway station to board your train to Chennai (Shatabdi; 1415/2125 – Do not run on Wednesdays). On arrival at Chennai railway station you will be received and transferred to your hotel. Meals: Breakfast



  • 21 . Chennai – Onwards destination

    This morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport to board your flight to onward destination. Accommodation: None (check-out before 12 noon) Meals: Breakfast