10 Days South India
DAY 01 ARRIVE COCHIN
Arrive Cochin by International flight. Assistance upon arrival and check-in at the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Cochin The spirit of the Portuguese, Dutch and the English lingers in the narrow streets and the houses of Cochin. The city was put on the World Map by Vasco da Gama, who was also buried here in the St. Francis Church. The Mattencherry Palace, also called the Dutch Palace, houses a museum which has a collection of portraits of Maharajas of Cochin, their costumes, jewelry and seventeenth century depicting lively scenes from the Hindu mythologies. One of the oldest Jewish Synagogue of the Commonwealth is located here, built in 1568; it was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 and was rebuilt by the Dutch in 1664.
The floor of the synagogue is paved with hand-printed tiles of willow pattern brought from China and each of these tiles is different. The interiors of the Synagogue glitters with nineteenth century chandeliers and a brass pulpit. Also see the Chinese fishing nets on the harbour. Evening Kathakali dance performance - it is the traditional dance-drama of the state of Kerala. Dance, music, song, discourse - comic and serious, and drama are combined to bring alive well-known sequences from the epics. They wear elaborate costumes and mask like make up to mime stories. The story is of secondary importance. Traditionally, all dancers were male. Overnight.
DAY 02 COCHIN/KUMARAKOM
Morning drive to Kumarakom (83 kms, 03 hrs drive). Assistance upon arrival and check-in at the hotel. Overnight.
Morning drive to Periyar (130 kms, 05 hrs drive). Assistance upon arrival and check-in at the hotel. Afternoon Boat Cruise on Lake Periyar. Periyar sanctuary was the earliest sanctuary to be set up in 1934. The sanctuary extends to 800 sq. km., and forms a part of the high mountain ranges in the Western Ghats. Wildlife can be seen whilst cruising on Periyar Lake in a motor-boat. Amongst the animals are wild elephants, which can be seen and photographed at close quarters, wild boar, sambar, tiger, leopard, wild dog and langurs (Monkeys). Overnight.
DAY 04 PERIYAR/MADURAI
Morning drive to Madurai (146 kms, 04 hrs drive). Assistance upon arrival and check-in at the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Madurai - Madurai, as per the legend was formed from the drops of nectar which fell from Siva's locks here. The centre of attraction is the famous Meenakshi temple dedicated to Siva's consort. Its nine towering gopurams stand out with their colorful stucco images of gods, goddesses and animals. Inside the temple, the 1000 pillared hall has exquisitely carved columns from the lives of Siva and Parvati and there is a cluster of 5 musical pillars carved out of a single rock each of which produce different musical note when tapped. Overnight.
DAY 05 MADURAI/TRICHY
Morning drive to Trichy (128 kms, 03 hrs drive). Assistance upon arrival and check-in at the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Trichy, an ancient town in the Kaveri delta was a Chola citadel in 2 B.C. Later the Nayak Kings of Madurai built the magnificent Rock Fort that dominates the city. 437 steps cut out into the rock side and interspersed with shrines, lead to the Vinayaka Temple built at its highest point. The ascent is climaxed by a magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River. At a lower level along the rock is the Tayumanaswamy temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Later visit Srirangam a massive temple on an island in the cauvery dedicated to Lord Ranganathaswamy. The temple has 21 magnificent gopurams and is adorned with exquisite sculpture. Overnight.
DAY 06 TRICHY I PONDICHERRY
Morning drive to Pondicherry (231 kms, 05 hrs drive). Assistance upon arrival and check-in at the hotel. Afternoon day at leisure. Overnight.
DAY 07 PONDICHERRY
Morning sightseeing tour of Pondicherry • it has a distinct French ambience to it amidst the surrounding Tamil country. Although, it's believed to be the site of ancient Vedapuri in 14th century BC, today it is famous for the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a philosopher who developed a system of internal yoga combining the ancient yogic philosophy with his knowledge of modern science. Auroville or the 'City of Dawn' was set up as a tribute to him. The town has number of colonial buildings, Catholic churches and temples. Overnight.
DAY 08 PONDICHERRY I MADRAS
Morning drive to Madras (168 kms, 03 hrs drive). Assistance upon arrival and check-in at the hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Chennai (Madras) - Origins of Chennai go back to the colonial period. It was established in 1639 as East India Company's fort and trading post and later it became the political and economic capital of British territory in South India. Thus, it has a very distinct colonial character. Drive past the High Court was built in late 19th century in Indo Saracenic style, through the local markets; visit the Museum which houses one of the world's finest collections of South Indian bronzes (closed on Fridays & Public holidays). Overnight.
Day 09 MADRAS
Morning full day sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram - The seashore of Mahabalipuram is famous for ancient rock temples examples of Dravidian style of architecture most of them built in early 7th century. Bhagirath's Penance (descent of the Ganga), also referred asArjuna's penance is 3 bas relief depicts life size figures of animals, gods & saints watching the descent of Ganga; there are 10 cave temples or mandapas on the hill which are cut out of rock to make shallow halls having monolithic figures and bas relieves depicting various gods and stories from their lives; the Five Rathas are monolithic temples and the Shore temple which has shrines of both Siva and Vishnu.
Kanchipuram Kanchipuram, famous for its high quality silk, is the golden city of a thousand temples which date from the 2nd century. Today only about 100 remain and the important ones include the Ekambaresvara Temple (non Hindus not permitted entry) dedicated to Siva; Kailasantha temple is one of the most beautiful temples of the town with intricately carved panels depicting legends about Siva; the other interesting temples are Varadaraja Swami temple and Vaikuntha Peru mal temple. Overnight.
DAY 10 DEPART MADRAS
Transfer to International airport to connect the flight to onward destination.