Chennai, Pondicherry and Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Kochi, colonial hill stations as well as a rice boat cruise on the Keralan backwaters. An action-packed fortnight in the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, that basically has it all!
Once you arrive into Chennai you will be met and transferred to your hotel. An afternoon tour of the city includes a visit to St George Fort, built in 1653 and St Mary’s Church, the oldest British church in India. Overnight – Chennai
Chennai – Pondicherry. En route to Pondicherry visit Kanchipuram, of sacred cities in India and the seaside town of Mahabalipuram, famous for its shore temple. The city is also famous for handwoven silk. In Mahabalipuram, the immense rock-cut sculptures and mandapams (pillared pavilions) date from the 5th to 8th centuries. Drive south to Pondicherry, a former Italian colony which exudes a Mediterranean aura – whitewashed residences, decorative gardens and excellent French-Indian restaurants. Plenty of travellers come to visit the popular Sri Aurobindo Ashram, whose spiritual tenets combine yoga and modern science. Overnight – Pondicherry
Pondicherry – Tanjore. Start the day with a sightseeing tour of Pondicherry which includes the immense Brihadishwara Temple before continuing south. Arrive at Tanjore, also called Thanjavur, Tanjore is an ancient fortified town, with an amazing history dating back over 1500 years. Thanjavur was the ancient capital of the Chola kings whose origins date back to the beginning of Christianity. Overnight – Tanjore
Tanjore – Trichy. Spend the morning on a sightseeing tour of Tanjore before a short drive to Trichy. Our city tour includes the giant Brihadishwara Temple. Built by Raja Raja in 1010, the World Heritage protected temple has a dome weighing an estimated 80 tonnes which were hauled in to place along an earth ramp in a manner similar to that used for the Egyptian pyramids. Trichy has been devastated by war through the centuries. A long-lasting legacy is the Rock Fort and its temples. Overnight – Trichy
Take a morning sightseeing tour of Trichy before the journey continues south to Madurai. An important centre for worship and commerce, Madurai has been around since the dawn of civilization in southern India. A bustling city jam-packed with rickshawallas, pilgrims and traders and resembling a seemingly continuous bazaar crammed to the gunnels with shops, markets and lodgings for tourists and pilgrims, Madurai is yours this afternoon. Go immerse yourself. This evening, you’ll witness a religious ceremony at a local temple. On the morning of day 7, enjoy a sightseeing tour. Highlights include the Sri Meenakshi Temple built in 1560 and the city’s busy bazaars. The afternoon is then free for you to further explore the city. Overnight – Madurai
Madurai – Periyar. The journey continues to Periyar which has south India’s most popular wildlife sanctuary and home to sambar wild boar, elephant, bison, antelope, langur and a small tiger population. Kumily, close to the sanctuary and where you’ll stay, is a town dotted with small spice and handicraft shops. Overnight – Periyar NP (B)Day 8: Periyar NP There is plenty to do in & around Periyar. Perhaps enjoy a boat ride on Lake Periyar to spot herds of wild elephants or visit the nearby tea estates & spice plantation. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight – Periyar NP
Periyar- Kumarakom. Continue to Kumarakom. Perched sleepily amongst a tangle of lush tropical waterways known as the Keralan backwaters, Kumarakom is technically an island on Lake Vembanad. An ideal place to relax & beat with natural surroundings, you’ll enjoy nights here. Check out the brilliant bird sanctuary. Overnight – Kumarakom
This morning, you’ll board a traditional Keralan rice boat for a journey through the backwaters in and around Alappuzha (Alleppey). The boat will cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes and cruise along quiet canals where copra and cashews are loaded onto local boats. The onboard cook will prepare locally-inspired food. Relax, read and catch some sun as the boat plies it’s route. Overnight – Rice Boat.
Backwaters – Kochi. Disembarking at Allapuzha, enjoy a short drive to Kochi (Cochin). The city of Kochi perfectly reflects the eclecticism of Kerala. can see winding streets with mosques, a 16th-century Jewish synagogue and Jewish community with ancient roots and 500year elderly Portuguese cottages! Enjoy the remains of the day your way. Overnight – Kochi
This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour, including a jogging tour of Fort Cochin. With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps watch famous Keralan dancers perform. Arrive early so you don’t miss the artists applying their awesome make-up. Overnight – Kochi
Hotel check-out and included onward transfer to airport.
Little gifts from Travel East: