Day 01 : Chennai
Arrive Chennai in the evening and transfer to hotel by private vehicle. Chennai : At the southern tip of India in the state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai - or Madras as it was known earlier - is its capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu. It is also the third largest metropolis in India. Chennai as the gateway will put you in touch with a different face of India - classical, ancient, gentle. Definitely touched by colonialism but not ravaged by wars & intensely aware of its roots & traditions.
Day 02 : Chennai - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram (60 kms, 01 hr.)
After breakfast, sightseeing of Chennai. Visit Museum to see the art and bronze gallery (Closed on public holidays). Drive through the Flower & Fruit Market, High Court, Fort Museum, Marina Beach, San Thome cathedral.
Afternoon, leave for Mahabalipuram, enroute visit Kanchipuram (64 km from Madras) ancient capital of the Pallavas, famous as a city of 1000 temples that still has 124 shrines. The first temple dedicated to Shiva was built in the 7th & 8th century & has painting on the walls. Templs of Ekambaswara, Kailasnatha, Sri Kamakshi & Vardarajaewamy are of interest. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silk. On arrival in Mahabalipuram check-in at your prebooked hotel.
Day 03 : Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry
(98 kms, 02 hrs.)
After breakfast, visit Mahabalipuram, which was the main port of the Pallava dynasty & has exquisite Rock-cut monuments, monolithic structures & Bas-reliefs. It is also a beach resort. Visit a very interesting creation enroute Dakshin Chitra, a museum that preserves actual houses of different communities & village craftsmen from the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka & Kerala.
Afternoon, leave for Pondicherry. On arrival check-in at your prebooked Hotel.
Day 04 : Pondicherry - Tanjore
(150 kms, 03 hrs.)
Morning, sightseeing of Pondicherry, which was formerly a French Colony. Settled early in the 18th century Pondicherry became part of the Indian Union in the early 50s when the French voluntarily relinquished control. The main attraction here is the Aurobindo Ashram which was founded by Sri Aurobindo in 1926. The ashram is one of the most popular in India with westerners, and is also one of the most affluent. Also to be visited is the Pondicherry Museum which has a well displayed variety of exhibits ranging from French furniture to this history of bead making.
Afternoon, leave for Pondicherry. On arrival check-in at your prebooked Hotel.
Day 05 : Tanjore - Trichy
(60 kms., 1 hr. drive)
Trichy - Chettinad (104 kms, 02 hrs. drive)
After breakfast, visit Tanjore (Thanjavur) which was the ancient capital of Chola kings. Visit the Brihadishwara temple which was built by Raja Raja and is termed as the crowning glory of Chola temple architecture. This temple is one of the monuments in India with World Heritage listing. Also visit the Thanjavur Palace which was contructed in 1550 and has huge corridors, spacious halls, observation and arsenal towers.
Afternoon, leave for Trichy. Visit the Rock Fort Temple in Trichy (Tiruchirapalli) and the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam - This superb temple complex is surrounded by seven concentric walls with 21 gopurams and is probably the largest in India. Most of it dates back from 14th to 17th centuries. The largest gopuram was completed as recently as 1987, and now measures an astouning 73 metres.
Continue drive to Chettinad. Arrive Chettinad & check-in at prebooked hotel.
Day 06 : Chettinad - Madurai
(100 kms, 02 hrs.
Morning, free to explore the region.
Afternoon, drive to Madurai. Arrive Madurai & check-in at prebooked hotel.
Day 08 : Madurai - Periyar
(110 kms, 02 hrs. drive)
After breakfast, visit Madurai, one of the oldest cities in South India and has been a centre of learning & pilgrimage for centuries. Visit Madurai's main attraction - Sri Meenakshi temple which attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over India. The temple is named after the daughter of a Pandyan King.Designed in 1560 by Vishwanatha 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 Pandya Kings.
Afternoon, leave for Periyar. Periyar has one of the world's most fascinating Natural wildlife reserves noted for its geography, diverse wildlife and scenic beauty. Arrive at Periyar and check-in at your prebooked hotel.
Day 09 : Periyar
Morning, leave for Jungle Walk, the forest provides specially trained guides who can be hired at the hotel for early morning treks into the jungle.The treks are of a duration of 03-04 hrs. These treks are an ideal way to really feel the forest and to experience it closely.
Afternoon, boat ride on the Lake Periyar where one can have a unique experience of viewing wildlife at close quarters from the safety of a boat on the lake. The greatest attraction of Periyar, however are the herds of wild elephants that come down to play in the lake.
Day 10 : Periyar - Kumarakom
(140 kms, 03 hrs. drive)
After breakfast, leave for Kumarakom in time to board houseboat for overnight backwater trip. On arrival in Kumarakom, commence an overnight houseboat cruise, which gives one a fascinating insight into the life of a Keralan Backwater Village. As the boat glides along the backwaters one can see the daily life in the backwater villages. On the narrow strips of land, fisherman fishing, children swimming and playing in the water, women doing their daily chores, mobile shops in tiny canoes, the cultivation of paddy and it's harvesting (during harvest season), huge country barges ferrying the coconuts, rice, coir etc.
Note : The cruise commences at 1300 hrs with lunch served onboard and continues till dusk. At dusk the boat will anchor in a wide waterway or lake for the night. (The backwaters close to boat traffic at dusk as the fisherman lay their nets in the backwaters. Other boats are not allowed to ply in the backwaters after dusk.) On the following day the cruise commences again after breakfast and you will be dropped at Allepey by 1000 hrs.
Day 11 : Kumarakom - Cochin
(50 kms, 01 hr. drive)
Morning, drive to Cochin. Arrive Cochin & check-in at prebooked hotel.
Afternoon, sightseeing of Cochin including Asia's best preserved Synagouge, the Dutch Palace and the oldest European Church in India - the St. Francis Church where Vasco De Gama was originally buried. A leisurely walk through the Fort Cochin area which gives you a close look at the operation of the huge catileavered Chinese fishing nets introduced by Chinese traders which is still used in Kerala backwaters as a traditional way of fishing.
In the evening, witness Kathakali Dance Show.
Day 12 : Cochin - Ooty
(290 kms, 06 hrs. drive)
After breakfast, drive to Ooty also known as Udhagamandalam is the "Queen of hill stations" and the capital of Nilgiris district. It is one of the most popular tourist resorts in India. Nilgiris means "Blue Mountains". It is a land of picturesque picnic spots. Used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the Britishers during the colonial days. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level.
Day 13 : Ooty
Visit the Botanical garden, which has some rich flora of the region, St. Stephen's church that reflects the city's long association with the British. You can also explore Government Museum to witness tribal artifacts of the region and other historical relics. Or simply sit back and reflect by the side of Ooty Lake.
Day 14 : Ooty - Mysore
(107 kms, 02 hr. drive)
After breakfast, drive to Mysore - the political capital of the Wodeyar dynasty which ruled the state of Karnataka for some 150 years till the independence of the country from the British. These kings were great patrons of art and culture and Mysore was the cultural capital of the south under the rule of the Wodeyars.
Afternoon, visit Srirangapatnam - 16 kms from Mysore are the ruins of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan's capital from which they ruled much of Southern India during the 18th century. Tipu Sultan, was defeated by the British in 1799 and Tipu's defeat marked the real beginning of British expansion in South India. Much of the palace was destroyed by the British, but the extensive ramparts and battlements and some gates still stand. The dungeon where Tipu held a number of British officers has been preserved and the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, a popular place of pilgrimage for Hindus.
Day 15 : Mysore - Hassan
(120 kms, 02 hr. drive)
Morning, Visit mysore Mysore Palace, also known as Amba Vilas Palace, this palace was the sea of Maharajas of Mysore. The earlier palace was burnt down in 1897 and the present one was completed in 1912. Notable are beautifully carved mahogany ceilings, solid silver doors, white marble floors and superb columned Durbar Hall. Chamundi Hill - At the top of 1062m Chamundi hill, overlooking Mysore is Sri Chamundeswari Temple. One has to climb 1000 plus steps to the top. The temple is dominated by its towering seven storey, 40m high gopuram. The goddess Chamundi was the family deity of the maharaja. On you way down you can see the famous Nandi (bull). Standing five meters high and carved out of solid rock in 1659, it's one of the largest in India.
Afternoon, drive to Hassan. Arrive Hassan and check-in at prebooked hotel.
Day 16 : Hassan
Visit the Hoysala temples at Belur and Halebid - the cream of what remains of one of the most artistically exuberant periods of Hindu cultural development
Belur - The main temple to be seen here is the Channakeshava temple. The main structure of the temple, which is star shaped, is a homogenous architectural unit on a raised platform. Everything is carved in blackstone looking like metal. Facing the temple, at the entrance, stands the winged figure of Garuda, Lord Vishnu's carrier. The 650 charging elephants on the frieze around the walls outside are all different from each other. The exotic bracket figures (Madanikas) on the walls of the temple are serene, playful and amorous, enhancing the overall effect of this pinnacle of architectural excellence. Inside, even in the darkness you can see the hand-lathe-turned shining pillars, each unique in its splendor. On the smooth circular hassan templesplatform in front of the shrine you can see the beautiful Shantala Devi, queen of King Vishnuvardhana. The spotlight is on the famous bracket figures on the ornate ceiling. All these figures have been inspired by Shantala Devi's Voluptuous beauty. Sculpted limbs undulated in lyrical lines. One sculpted beauty communicates with a pet parrot whose tail is like that of a peacock another wrings water from her long hair and you can see the drops collected on hair ends. The delicacy and attention to the fines details here are incredible.
Halebid - Halebid is 27 Kms north west of Hassan and 17 Kms from Belur. This place is also called as Dwara Samudra, the wealthy capital of the Hoysala Kingdom. Halebid has several striking beautiful Hoysala temples and Jain Shrines. Another famous temple is the Keddareshwara Temple where the sculptor's virtuosity seems to have surpassed even the goldsmith's skill in its sheer intricacy. One Kilometer from the Halebid temples is the Basti hills where there are Jain Bastis with gleaming black stone pillars. The Hoysaleshwara temple, standing on platform like a casket, is a sculptural extravaganza, richly endowed with most finely detailed scroll work in stone. Outside there is a Nandi( the sacred bull, a vehicle of the Lord Shiva) and a hillock where a palace stood, connected to the temple by a passage. Inside its dark depts., the queen Shantala Devi beckons from an alcove. The figure of mortals and immortals are larger compared to Belur and are beautifully chiseled in shinning black stone. The walls of the temples are covered with variety of gods and goddesses, animals, birds and dancing girls. There is a museum on the lawns with 12-13th century sculptures and the gold coins in use at the time.
Day 17 : Hassan - Sravanabelagola - Bangalore
(182 kms, 04 hr. drive)
Morning, drive to Bangalore enroute visit Sravanabelagola - (Monk of the White Pond) - Sravanabelagola's history goes back to the 3rd century B.C. when Chandragupta Maurya came here with is guru, Bhagwan Bhadrabahu Swami, after renouncing his kingdom. In the course of time, the preachings of Bhadrabahu were spread all over the region and thus firmly established Jainism in the south. The religion found powerful patrons in the Gangas who ruled the southern part of Karnataka between the 4th and 10 centuries, and it was during this time that Jainism reached the zenith of its influence. The statue was created during the reign of Ganga King, Rachamalla in 981 A.D. The statue of naked Bahubali (Gomateshvara) is 17m high and overlooks the town of Srivanabelagola over the top of a hill called Indragiri. This is one of the oldest and most important Jain pilgrimage center in India.
Continue drive to Bangalore. Arrive Bangalore and check-in at prebooked hotel.
Afternoon, visit The Bangalore Palace was built in the year 1887 by the Wodeyar dynasty. It is built similar to medieval castles in Normandy and England . It's interiors boasts of elegant wood carvings and Tudor -style architecture. Tipu's Palace - The Palace was constructed first by Hyder Ali and completed by his son Tipu Sultan in the year 1791. Tipu called it as 'The Envy of Heaven'. It is constructed mainly in wood and has fine intricately sculpted arches surrounded by exquisite minarets.
Day 18 : Depart Bangalore Morning, transfer to the airport to board onward/return flight.