A fascinating journey through India’s tropical south, do experience the diversity in scenery, architecture, culture and most importantly the people.
The tour starts in Cochin in the Southern State of Kerala. Leave the highways behind and cycle through villages where you will share the road with goats and sacred cows – perhaps even an elephant; See local women pumping water at the communal well as you bike through tea plantations, banana, coffee, rubber, spices and so much more.
You arrive at Cochin Airport today, and our car with our representative will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. Cochin is the capital city and one of the most picturesque places in Kerala. Cochin is a beautiful all-weather harbor and a grand seascape, one of India’s largest ports and a major naval base. At dusk, you can see the dim silhouettes of huge merchant ships patiently awaiting their turn for a berth in the docks. The influence of Chinese, Jews, Arabs, and Europeans is evident in Cochin and its people. The older parts of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry are an unlikely blend of medieval Portugal, Holland and an English country village grafted onto the tropical Malabar Coast. Later in the day, our car along with our representative will be taking you to watch the famous Kathakali Dance Show. You will arrive earlier at the show venue so that you can get a backstage view of the performers preparing for the show. Enjoy a presentation of the colorfully costumed Kathakali dance drama. Kathakali is a ritualized dance form, native to Kerala; elaborate costumes and makeup, are the norm. Male dancers portray both male and female roles. Later in the evening proceed back to Hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, our car and our representative will pick you up from the hotel and you will proceed for a full day city tour of Cochin. Visit the Portuguese St. Francis Church, considered the first European Church in India, built in 1562 by St. Francis; this is India’s oldest European-built church. The original structure was wood but was rebuilt in stone in the mid-16th century. Continue on to Mattancherry Dutch Palace, a double-storied palace built in the classic Kerala Nallukettu style denoted an interesting blend of European and indigenous forms of architecture. The most important feature of Mattancherry Palace is the murals in the bedchambers and other rooms, which depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic legends connected with Shiva, Vishnu & Krishna, These murals are some of the most beautiful and extensive, one of the wonders of India. You now proceed to the Jewish Synagogue, which was constructed in 1568 and is the oldest in the Commonwealth. A stone slab from the Kochangadi synagogue (built in 1344, and has disappeared), inscribed in Hebrew, can be found on the inner surface of the wall. The copper plates on which have inscribed grants of privileges made by the ruler are also to be found here. At the Cochin Harbor, you can watch the fishermen using strange Chinese fishing nets to catch fishes from a tiny waterfront area strewn with natural rocks. Also included in this city tour will be a harbor cruise. Later in the evening, you proceed back to your hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, our car will pick you up from the hotel and you drive to Kumarakom (50 miles / 2 hours approximately). Upon arrival, check-in at your hotel. Later in the afternoon, you enjoy a boat ride through the series of canals and lagoons snaking their way through several tiny villages and tropical vegetation. Not only do the backwaters of Kerala link the state together, they are an integral element in maintaining ecological balance and creating harmony with nature. You may want to experience an Ayurvedic therapeutic massage, which is both relaxing and healing and is indigenous to this region. Later on, you proceed back to your hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, you take a cruise this morning on Vembanad Lake, site of a bird sanctuary. Afternoon at your leisure. Overnight at Hotel.
After breakfast, you drive today to Thekkady (81 miles/5 hours approximately). This unique wildlife sanctuary is about 300 square miles and centered on an artificial lake fed by this Periyar River. Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel. Later this afternoon, our naturalist will accompany you to the jetty where you will board the specially designed boats for game viewing. You sail along the convoluted waterways and afford sightings of elephant, bison, deer and occasionally tiger. Like a placid river, the lake winds around capes and hills and is the heart of the 300 sq. mile sanctuary Return to your hotel for overnight stay.
After breakfast at the hotel, you leave Thekkady in the morning and drive to Tiruchirapalli (95 miles/3 hours approximately). Upon arrival check in at our hotel. Later this afternoon, our car and representative will accompany you on a guided tour of the city, Visit the spectacular Rock Fort temple, a boulder of giant proportions perched on top of a hill with images carved into it. Climb the 400-odd steps from the entrance to the summit. On the way is a tunnel said to lead to Thanjavur, now sealed. Sri Rangam temple is sprawled over a large area, on an island as the Cauvery flows on both sides. It houses the image of the sleeping Vishnu along the mortal remains of Sri Ramanuja Acharya. After this, you are taken back to your hotel for overnight. Stay at the hotel.
Today after breakfast you drive to Pondicherry (157 miles/7 hours) en route our representative meets you to take you on a guided sightseeing tour of Kumbakonam, Darasuram, Gagaikondachaolapuram, Chidambaram which are all famous temples. Between two rivers in a 40-acre temple-complex, lies the temples of Chidambaram, one of the oldest, most venerated and magnificent temples of South India. Shiva Nataraja or the dancing Shiva stands in his cosmic dance pose in the golden rooted sanctum sanctorum. Flanking the temple are 108 sculptured illustrations of Bharat Natya Shashtra. Upon arrival in Pondicherry, check in at your hotel for overnight.
After breakfast at the hotel, our representative will take on a guided half day city tour of Pondicherry. The city is the capital of the Union Territory of Pondicherry, a seaport on the Coromandel Coast. Besides shipping, the chief industry of the city is the manufacture of cotton textiles. It was the capital of former French India. You later in the day proceed to Mahabalipuram (69 miles/3 hours) and upon arrival, you check in at your hotel. The shore temple, the only surviving one of seven, is a unique example of a temple built of rock quarried elsewhere and carried to shore. The best-known of the rock carvings are the immense bas-relief which is sculpted in fascinating detail on a huge whaleback-shaped rock, depicts the descent of the Ganges to the earth, the penance of Arjuna and myriad characters from the Mahabharata. Overnight is at the hotel.
This morning after breakfast, our representative will accompany you on a private guided half day city tour. This ancient Palawan port of Mamallapuram, the seventh-century rock-hewn monuments. You leave you the car here and visit the shore temple, the only surviving one of seven, is a unique example of a temple built of rock quarried elsewhere and carried to shore. The best-known of the rock carvings are the immense bas-relief which is sculpted in fascinating detail on a huge whaleback-shaped rock, depicts the descent of the Ganges to the earth, the penance of Arjuna and myriad characters from the Mahabharata. Later you are driven to your hotel where the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure. Overnight is at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, you drive to Chennai today with our representative and en route visiting one of India’s seven great Hindu cities, Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is believed to help confer eternal happiness on its visitors. One of South India’s ancient cities, Kanchipuram’s history dates back to the 2nd century when it was the capital of the Cholas. Continue overland to Chennai (formerly Madras). Chenna, the now capital city of Tamil Nadu was the site of the first settlement of the East India Company. It was founded in 1639, on a piece of land given by the Raja of Chandragiri, the last representative of the Vijayanagar rulers of Hampi. Chennai is a vibrant city that has managed to strike a beautiful balance between the modern and the traditional, a metropolis with a distinct old – world charm Upon arrival in Chennai late this afternoon, check in at your hotel. Overnight is at the hotel.
After breakfast, you are met by our representative who will accompany you on a short sightseeing tour of the city. Visit the Victoria Art Gallery, which houses a rare collection of sculptures depicting the story of the life of Buddha and Visits Fort St. George, 350 year-old-fort with wide battlements considered as a reminder of the British Empire and now houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican church consecrated in 1680 located within the Fort; and the Fort St George Museum which contains some fascinating items belonging to the early days of the East India Company and the colonial period. Drive along Marina Beach, visiting San Thome Cathedral Church, name after the Apostle, St. Thomas by the Portuguese who call it San Thome. It was believed that his remains were enshrined in the church. Your last stop is Kapaleeswarar, an ancient Shiva temple, which is the biggest temple in Madras and dedicated to Lord Shiva. This afternoon an excursion to Dakshinachitra. Reconstructing the timeless setting of the 19th century, it offers you an unforgettable and euphoric glimpse of the diverse lifestyles of four Southern States of India Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Kerala & Karnataka. Dakshinachitra, a serene and calm retreat for the esthetic conscious, transports you into a fantasy world of make-belief. Later our representative will drop you back at the hotel for overnight stay.
After breakfast, our representative will meet you and escort you to the airport for your onward flight.
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