Tamil Nadu is the little-known treasure of India’s diverse tourism. It’s beautiful beaches, magnificent temples, picturesque wildlife sanctuaries, colorful festivals and a plethora of panoramic sites make Tamil Nadu tourism an enthralling experience. Your two-week tour starts in Tamil Nadu’s bustling capital city of Chennai. You then move to Madurai, famous for the Meenakshi Temple, Chettinad, Tiruchirapalli and Thanjavur, the trio of temples. You then move to French-influenced town of Pondicherry before moving to the famed historic city of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO world heritage site before finally concluding your tour in Chennai.
On arrival at Chennai airport, assistance by our representative and transfer to hotel. Rest of the day at leisure to get over the jet lag.
Today morning your appointed guide will take you on a sightseeing tour of Chennai. Retaining much of its traditional charm, this 350-year-old city is the gateway to the South, providing many fascinating vignettes of southern heritage. You will be visiting The Cathedral of Sam Thome – the last resting place of St. Thomas the Apostle who brought Christianity to India in 52 AD and the Fort George – where most of Chennai history was written are focal points of visit. The St Mary’s Church in the Fort was built in 1678 – 80 and Robert Clive was married in this church in 1753. Also, visit some of the temples, the most important being the Kapileshwarar temple – the 7th-century temple dedicated to Goddess Karpagambal or ‘Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree’. The goddess is one of the forms of Parvathi, Lord Shiva’s wife. The afternoon is at leisure or to dine at one of the South Indian specialty restaurants.
Today morning our representative will transfer you to the airport in time to board your flight to Madurai. On arrival in Madurai – Varanasi of South, you will be assisted and transferred to hotel. Evening: Attend the evening ceremony at Meenakshi Temple. This is a ceremony that takes place every evening at 9 PM when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bedchamber of Parvathi. The procession is accompanied by religious prayer and temple music.
After a leisurely breakfast, you will proceed for a city tour of Madurai. Situated on the banks of the Vaigai River, Madurai, the ancient capital of the Pandyan Kings, is a sacred place. Legend has it, that the divine nectar falling from the Lord Shiva’s locks gave the town its name. Visit Tirumal Nayak Palace constructed in the Indo Saracenic style in 1639 AD. Mariamman Teppakulam – the tank with a mandapam in the center and Meenakshi temple – a superb example of Dravidian architecture and sculpture, the focal point around which the city has developed. Rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Today morning you will drive to Visalam (2 hrs), a heritage property in Chettinad region known for it’s culinary. On arrival check in at the hotel, check in at the hotel. Afternoon you will proceed for a tour of the town and participate in a cooking demonstration.
After an early breakfast drive to Trichy (2 hrs) and visit the Rock Fort temple with your local guide. The rock rises to a height of 273 feet to be climbed by a flight of 417 steps. There are Two Vinayaka (Ganesha) Temples at the foot and the top of the rock respectively and a Temple for Siva in between. Lord Siva is known as THAYUMANAVAR. It means the God who turned Mother. Later drive to Thanjavur (1 hr) and on arrival check in at your hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure.
Today morning your appointed guide will take you on a city tour of Thanjavur. This was the capital of the powerful Chola dynasty. Today, it is a little town set amidst the lush rice fields of the Cauvery delta. Visit the magnificent temple of Brihadeswara built about 1000 years ago by Raja Raja Chola. This temple is a living testimony to the sculptural and architectural excellence of the Cholas. Also, visit the Thanjavur Palace partly built by the Nayaks in 1550 AD and partly by the Marathas. Visit the Saraswathi Mahal Library which has an extensive collection of over 30,000 manuscripts, palm leaf inscriptions, and books. Rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
After breakfast drive to Tranquebar (3 hrs) en-route visit Dharasuram and Kumbakonam temples. On arrival in Tranquebar, check in at the hotel. Rest of the day free to explore Tranquebar, which was one of the Danish Colony from 1620 till 1845 AD.
After an early breakfast drive to Pondicherry (3 hrs) en-route visit the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. On arrival in Pondicherry, check in at the hotel. Afternoon city tour of Pondicherry. This essentially French influenced fishing village of Pondicherry, by 18thcentury had turned into a grand port city. The French first set foot here in 1670 and left a part of them when their undisturbed rule finished in 1954. Not much has changed since. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram located on rue de la Marine, is one of the most well known and wealthiest ashrams in India, with devotees from India and all over the world flocking to it for spiritual salvation. Its spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science. The Ashram was set up in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, one of India’s greatest philosopher-poets, who originally came to Pondy to escape persecution by the British, which still retains its French influence to this day.
Today morning visits Auroville – a universal township in the making for a population of up to 50,000 people from around the world. The concept of Auroville – an ideal township devoted to an experiment in human unity – came to the Mother as early as the 1930s. Rest of the day is at leisure Rest of the day free.
After a relaxed breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram (1 hr) and on arrival check in at a beach resort. Rest of the day free on the beach.
Today morning your appointed guide will take you on the tour of the UNESCO heritage sites of Mahabalipuram covering Arjuna’s Penance – an enormous relief made on two huge boulders, is the universe itself in stone. This colossus of art, 27 meters long and 9 meters high, is perhaps the world’s largest bas-relief. The Varaha Cave, a small rock-cut mandapam (hall), is a faceted and finished gem with two incarnations of Vishnu—Varaha (boar) and Vamana (dwarf). Rathas – dedicated to the five Pandav brothers. Out of these, four are carved out of a single rock, while the fifth on the west is scooped out from a small rock. Shore temple – a three-in-one abode of God—a Vishnu temple sandwiched between two Shiva temples—it is a visual pleasure, its precincts abounding in architectural masterpieces. Rest of the day is at leisure on the beach.
Morning drive to Chennai en-route visits the holy city of Kanchipuram. The temples of Kanchipuram are torchbearers of the glorious heritage of the Kanchipuram District and are repositories of the magnificent art forms that evolved over several centuries. The most famous Siva temple at Kanchi is the Ekambareswara temple. The dimensions of this temple are reflected in its 20 – acre spread and its tall south gopuram which soars to a height of 58.5m. On arrival in Chennai assistance by our representative and check in at the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure or for last minute packing/shopping.
In time you will be transferred to Cochin airport (2 hrs) in time to board onward flight home…
Little gifts from Travel East: