Grand Tour of Southern India

grand tour south indiaFor centuries, merchants from Africa and Asia followed the monsoon winds to the thriving ports of the Malabar and Coromandel coasts in search of the riches of Southern India. The modern traveller is just as well rewarded. Southern India is the country’s Dravidian heartland where great civilizations, from the ancient Chola Dynasty to the British Raj, have left a legacy of temples, palaces and graceful cities. The tranquil beauty of the Kerala backwaters, the elegant Palace of Mysore, the peaceful Hoysala temples, and the bustling bazaars of Madurai and Cochin are just some of the highlights of this journey through one of India’s lesser known regions.

Day 01 : Bangalore
Arrive at Bangalore. Meet and assist at the airport. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel. Later visit Bangalore’s botanical gardens before touring the ancient Bull Temple and Tipu Sultan’s Palace. Then transefr to the hotel for overnight stay.

Day 02 : Bangalore – Hassan
Drive to Chikmagular (139 kms / 4 hrs) and transfer to Hotel. In the afternoon we visit the temples at Halebid, one of the greatest examples of Hindu architecture in India, whose walls are covered with detailed friezes of the life and times of the Hoysala rulers. Our tour continues in Belur with the victory temple, Cheenakesvara, crowded with exquisitely filigreed pillars.

Day 03 : Hassan – Mysore
mysore india tourLalitha Mahal – MysoreDrive to Srirangapatnam and visit the opulent Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan, occupied briefly by the future Duke of Wellington in 1799. Continue to the chairing city of Mysore ( 125 Kms/ 3 Hrs.). Our tour includes the Mysore Palace whose rooms are a kaleidoscope of colour.

Day 04 : Mysore
A relaxing start to the day as we ascended Chamundi Hill – the Climb is said to improve one’s karma – for Panoramic views of the city and the giant statue of the Nandi bull. Day is free for leisure at the local market. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 05 : Mysore – Chennai
Morning is free for leisure. In the afternoon, board the modern Shatabdi Express for our train journey to Chennai, train # 2008, Shatbadi Exp, Dep at 14:20 hrs and arr at 21:35 hrs. Upon arrival transfer to the Hotel for overnight stay.

Day 06 : Chennai – Mahabalipuram
Chennai is a bustling city with a relaxed and friendly character. Our tour commerce in the area around the 17th century Fort St. George, taking in St. Mary’s Church where Clive of India was married, before a visit to the Government Museum to view the Chola bronzes. Finally we visit San Thome Catherdal, said to house the remains of the apostle. Thomas who is reputed to have brought Christianity to India in the 1st century AD. The afternoon, drive to Mahabalipuram, 55 kms and 1 1/2 hrs. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel.

Day 07 : Mahabalipuram – Tanjore
tanjore india tourAfter breakfast, visit the place, where the legendary Pallava Kings Commissioned a range of temples. The most famous is the shore temple, romantically weathered by wind and sea. Later proceed driving to the great Chola Capital – Tanjore (290 kms / 6 Hrs).

Day 08 : Tanjore
Our Exploration of Chola architecture continues with the Bridhdiswara Temple built in 1010. With a dome carved from a single piece of granite weighting over 80 tonnes, this magnificent temple is now a World Heritage Monument. In the afternoon we examine the temple of Airavatesvara at Darasuram whose decorative friezes portray mythological stories.

Day 09 : Tanjore – Trichy – Madurai
Trichy GopurhamsThis morning drive to Trichy (56 kms / 1½ hrs) sightseeing concentrate on the spectacular temple architecture near Trichy at Srirangam. Set on an island in the Cauvery River within seven concentric walled Courtyards, the Sri Ranganathaswami Temple is one of the largest complexes in India. We take time to stroll though the local village before driving to Madurai (131 kms / 3 hrs.).

Day 10 : Madurai – Thekkady (Periyar)
Madurai, an Ancient and traditional town is dominated by the colorful and lively Minakshi Temple whose thousand-pillared hall is crowded with exquisitely carved columns. We explore the ruined Thirumalai Nayaka Palace before departing to Thekkady (140 kms/3 hrs).

Day 11 : Thekkady
Coromandel Malabar TourEnjoy morning and evening game viewing in the wildlife sanctuary of Periyar where elephant, sambar, bison and spotted deer may be seen during our lake cruise. Thekkady is renowned for its spices, and the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and a multitude of other spices scent the air as we explore a spice garden.

Day 12 : Thekkady – Kumarakom
Kumarakom WaterThe drive to Kumarakom (130 km / 4hrs) negotiates some of India’s most stunning scenery. From the sea of clouds over the Cardamom Hills we descend into the lush backwaters of Kerala to Kumarakom. Later visit Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 13 : Kumarakom – Houseboat
Morning free for leisure. Later board the houseboat, from Kumarakom to Alleppey, Staying in this moving palace is breathtakingly stimulating experience. While sailing down a maze of canals one sees different scenes from the villages, paddy fields, coconut palms, fisherman and local life. Lunch, dinner next day breakfast and tea snacks will be provided in the boat. The cool breeze from the Lake make you sleep early in the night after anchoring in a fancy place.Dinner and Overnight in the houseboat.

Day 14 : Alleppey – Cochin
home stay keralaAfter breakfast, disembark the houseboat, and drive to Cochin, 90 kms and 01 hrs. Cochin is a curious blend of medieval Portugal, Mercandle Holland and an English country village, set on the exotic Malabar coast. Morning tour of the opulent Mattancherry Palace, a gift from the Portuguese to the Raja of Cochin. The place has a collection of remarkable 16th century murals painted on wooden walls. In the old Jewish quarter we visit the ancient Synagogue. Later the warehouse and shops provide us with some of the best shopping in India. We conclude our visit with the Church of St. Francis and the tomb of Vasco Da Gama. In the evening there is an opportunity to experience the renowned Kathakail dance at a local hall.

Day 15 : Cochin Out
Morning free time at the local market for shopping. Late evening transfer to airport for onward destination. (Hotel Checkout 12:00 Hrs)

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