Discover exotic stone carved temples, princely palaces & colonial hill stations. Take a train journey on the scenic Blue Mountain Railway, cruise the backwaters of Kochi & spot elephant from your jungle hide-away at both Mudumalai & Nagarhole National Parks.
Arrive Chennai airport and transfer to the seaside town of Mahabalipuram. Situated on the Bay of Bengal, Mahabalipuram offers long white sand beaches and a number of the best archaeological sites to be present in the state of Tamil Nadu. Overnight – Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram – Coonoor. Touring the town’s sites to the rhythm of chisels chipping granite provides facts of the strong stone carving traditions that have endured since the 8th century – Pallava dynasty. Visiting the stunning ancient stone carved Shore Temple, presiding over the long, flat beach they discover high wall friezes, intricately carved bas-reliefs & shrines dedicated to both Siva & Vishnu. It is also of interest to inspect the east facing fine-tune designed to catch the rising sun & the giant stone pillar with mountings to hold a beacon for sailors at night out at sea. Later they return to Chennai in time to board the Nilgiri Express bound for Mettupalayam. Overnight – Train
Upon arrival to Mettupalayam, they board the narrow gauge Blue Mountain Railway toy train destined for Coonoor. Operating since 1899, the Blue Mountain Railway with its blue and cream steam livery has chugged from Mettupalayam to Otty by Coonoor, negotiating 16 tunnels, 31 major bridges and climbing to 2193 metres. The charming four-hour journey offers sweeping mountain views and breathtaking scenery. On arrival to Coonoor, transfer to hotel and afternoon at leisure. Overnight – Coonoor
Coonoor – Mudumalai – breakfast. Today they drive to the nearby Mudumalai National Park for a two-night stay. Wake up each day with a foray of India’s great wildlife right at your doorstep. The 322 sq km predominantly deciduous forest is a sanctuary for Indian bison, Nilgiri langur, bonnet macaques (monkeys), peacock, jackal, hyena and a few tigers and leopards. The northern reaches of the park are home to of the largest population of elephant in all of India. Over the following days enjoy morning and afternoon jeep safaris and in the evening retire to your jungle lodge equipped with all the mod-cons to make for an enjoyable and relaxing stay. Overnight – Mudumalai National Park
Mudumalai NP – Mysore. This morning its goodbye to your jungle hideaway and onward travel to Mysore – the former capital of the princely state, ruled by Wodeyars dynasty royalty from 1399 – 1947. The city of former glory and grandeur, enchanted admirers with its quaint charm, rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautifully laid-out gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples. After exploration they continue to Somnathpur, visiting the only complete temple of the Hoysala empire in the region. The tiny but exquisite Kesava Temple dates from the 11th century. Day 7, offers a city tour of Mysore and visits to the island of Srirangapatnam and the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. Overnight – Mysore
Mysore – Nagarhole NP. Today they drive west to Nagarhole National Park, one time the Maharaja’s reserve forest turned national park in 1955. The park name, Nagarhole is derived from the Kannada word, naga meaning snake & hole meaning stream. True to its name Nagarhole is crisscrossed with serpentine streams. Covering gentle hills bordering Kerala, the area includes swampland, streams & tributaries, damp deciduous forest, stands of bamboo & valuable teak & rosewood trees. Spot Asian elephant, horned antelope, flying squirrels & on occasion leopard & tiger. A jeep safari is offered on the afternoon of day 8. Day 9 – morning & afternoon safaris. Overnight – Nagerhole NP
Nagarhole NP – Sultan’s Battery. The Tipu Sultan of Mysore captured the Jain temple built here in the 18th century. It is said that the sultan took the site as a fort & ammunition store to prevent any assault by English warships entering the Gurpur River. The original temple, believed to have been built in the 13th century served the Jain as a shrine & a centre for commercial activity. This afternoon offers free time to enjoy the tranquil surroundings & gaze on the bountiful birdlife present in the area Overnight – Sultan’s Battery
Sultan’s Battery – Guruvayur – Athirapally. Taking the coast road most of the journey to Athirapally, stops are made at Krishna Temple & the Punnathur Kotta Elephant Stables. Krishna Temple is among the holiest sites in Kerala. The heaving Hindi pilgrimage centre is filled with stalls & thronged with devotees enthusiastic to take darshan – a viewing with the deity. It is said to be of the wealthiest temples in India, with a waiting list for the auspicious duty of lighting its oil lamps till 2025. Onward travel to Athirapally, lucky with a backdrop of lush rainforest & cascading waterfalls. Overnight – Athirapally
Athirapally – Kochi. Arrive Kochi & hotel check-in. This evening they take a cruise along the backwaters of Kochi. Day 14, offers a guided sightseeing tour with visits to the Parsi Synagogue, Dutch Palace, St Francis – Church & evening Kathakali dance performance. Overnight – Kochi
Kochi – breakfast. Arrangements conclude after breakfast & onward transfer to the airport.
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