Southern Splendours: 09 - 23 January 2020
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Join us in exploring this beautiful part of India as we traverse from the eastern coast to the western coast. From massive temple spires to colonial settlements, from local artisans to performing arts, from serene coastal villages to fragrant spice plantations, from smiling faces to the delectable cuisine- this is a region where you are bound to lose your heart!
Once ruled by mighty kingdoms like the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas, the southern states of India are today a reflection of the culture, religion and architecture of that glorious past. Protected by the Vindhya mountain, the region remained uninfluenced by the northern kingdoms and thereby maintained its uniqueness.
This tour, led personally by Bindu Lall, is designed with 6 to 10 participants in mind. Hotels are a mix of luxury resorts, heritage as well as 4-star properties, each carefully selected to give you the best experience in each location.
USD 3,125.00 on Twin Sharing
USD 1144.00 Single Room Supplement
Day 1, Thu, 09 Jan: International arrival into Chennai.
We will meet you at the international airport in Chennai and transfer you to your hotel. Check-in and turn in for the night.
Day 2, Fri, 10 Jan: Chennai
After a relaxed morning, head out in the afternoon to explore the city. Today you visit Fort St. George, built in 1640 and the Fort’s Museum. Next you the oldest Anglican church of India built in 1680 St. Mary’s church. You also get to see San Thome Cathedral built in 1505 by the Portuguese.
Day 3, Sat, 11 Jan: Chennai to Pondicherry by road via Mamallapuram (160 Kms / 05 hrs)
This morning drive for sightseeing at Mamallapuram, 60 kms south of Chennai. Nestling on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. You get to visit the marvelous monuments with sculptural panels, caves, monolithic rathas (chariots) and temples.
After lunch drive on to Pondicherry, 100 kms further south. Evening to relax or head out for a stroll (depending on time available).
Day 4, Sun, 12 Jan: Pondicherry
Walking tour of French neighbourhood and Tamil town, fish market and fisherman village.
Option: Visit the well-known Shri Aurobindo Ashram.
Day 5, Mon, 13 Jan: Pondicherry to Kumbakonam by road (150 kms / 3.5 hrs)
Drive to Kumbakonam today. On the way visit Gangaikoda Cholapuram which has some incredible temples. Afternoon visit bronze workshops which make the famous metal idols. Next meet silk weavers this region.
Day 6, Tue, 14 Jan: Kumbakonam-Tanjore-Kumbakonam
Today, you will visit the famous Chola temple of Brahadeswarar - the colossal, timeless edifice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also visit the Palace museum, library and bronze gallery. “The rice bowl of Tamil Nadu” is also known for its exquisite handicrafts, bronzes and South Indian musical instruments.
Day 7, Wed, 15 Jan: Kumbakonam to Madurai by road (160 kms / 05 hrs)
Morning drive to Madurai, stopping at Chettinad for sightseeing and lunch. We will visit some beautiful traditional houses in the area. Evening in Madurai witness the evening prayers and ceremonies at the beautiful Meenakshi Temple which is believed to be more than 2000 years old.
Day 8, Thu, 16 Jan: Madurai
Morning visit the Meenakshi temple again for a more thorough tour. Visit Pudhu Mandapa outside the temple. Also visit the Thirumalai Nayak palace, built in 1636. Next stop is the Madurai Market with its labyrinth of bustling alleys and the flower market next door.
Day 9, Fri, 17 Jan: Madurai to Periyar (Thekkady) by road (150 kms / 04 hrs)
In the morning we drive to Periyar, with its spice-scented plantations and the famous Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve.
In the afternoon enjoy a guided tour of a beautiful and lush spice plantation. In the evening witness Kalari Payattu a traditional and ancient martial art.
Day 10, Sat, 18 Jan: Thekkady
Today we have a soft trek lined up for you.
Day 11, Sun, 19 Jan: Thekkady to Kumarakom by road (120 kms / 04 hrs)
Drive through stunningly green routes to arrive at Kumarakom, an enchanting cluster of islands which lie at the backwaters on Vembanad Lake
Rest of the day is at leisure to relax at the hotel or enjoy Ayurveda treatments and massages, which Kerala is so famous for.
Day 12, Mon, 20 Jan: Kumarakom
Today we have a relaxing and interesting day cruise through backwaters on Kettuvalloms or Houseboats (Rice boats). Enjoy a traditional Kerala lunch onboard.
Day 13, Tue, 21 Jan: Kumarakom to Kochi by road (55 kms/ 02 hrs)
After a leisurely breakfast drive to Cochin. Today, walk around Fort Cochin. Visit St. Francis Church originally dedicated to Santo Antonio, patron saint of Portugal. Vasco de Gama died on this site in 1524 and was buried in the cemetery, his body being taken to Portugal 14 years later.
Also visit the famous 14th-15th century cantilevered Chinese fishing nets. Later visit Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1557. Visit the close-by is the Jewish Synagogue and the quaint ‘Jew Town’
Day 14, Wed, 22 Jan: Kochi
This morning we take you to visit a village close by to see local life up-close. Meet and interact with people who practice different professions like coir-making, duck farming, coconut harvesting etc. Enjoy the rural and rustic atmosphere and smiling faces which will greet you.
Later this evening, back in Cochin, head to a small theatre to enjoy a traditional Kathakali performance. Followed by a Farewell dinner in a specialty restaurant.
Day 15, Thu, 23 Jan: Kochi to home
You will be transferred to the airport for your international flight from Kochi or via Chennai/Bangalore/Mumbai.