Explore the South Indian Shores and Temples with this amazing tour.
Visit FIVE RATHAS SHRINE in MAHABALIPURAM, SHRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM IN PONDICHERRY, BRIHADESHVARA TEMPLE in TANJORE, SPICE PANTATION in PERIYAR, BACKWATERS in KUMARAKOM, and COCHIN
Flight to India
Make your own way to your gateway city to check in for your international flight to India. Enjoy inflight meals and services
Welcome to Chennai. On arrival at Chennai International Airport you will be met and assisted by Expedition 2 India representative and transferred to Mamallapuram/Mahabalipuram with its picturesque location on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon. Mamallapuram is referred to as an ‘open-air museum’. The name Mamallapuram is believed to have been given after the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I, who took on the epithet Maha-malla (great wrestler), as the favourite sport of the Pallavas was wrestling. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th centuries, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
OVERNIGHT IN MAHABALIPURAM
Post breakfast at the hotel visit Arjuna's Penance. Nothing can prepare you for the wonderful bas-reliefs covering two huge boulders. The exquisite detail, dating from the 7th century, depicts the flow of the Ganges down from the Himalayan mountains as well as scenes from Indian daily life. You won't believe that the Five Rathas shrines are carved whole from an outcrop of rock. Each of the five temples is dedicated to heroes from the great epic of the Mahabharata. Spend time admiring the detail of the carvings which include gods, humans and elephants and wonder why the temples are incomplete and were never consecrated.
After traditional South Indian lunch at local restaurant time free for leisure,
OVERNIGHT IN MAHABALIPURAM
Post Breakfast at the hotel depart for Pondicherry ((100 km/02 Hours). Attractively set on the Bay of Bengal with delightful unspoiled beaches. This surprising town is a throwback to colonial times when it was a French enclave, but is now richly blended with Tamil culture. Those used to British colonial architecture will enjoy the Gallic imprint with the profusion of Catholic churches and distinctly French buildings and excellent French restaurants. En-route visit Auroville, the French village inspired by the Mother as a place where people can come together, regardless of nationality, belief or colour, to live a meaningful life. Experimental buildings combining Western and Indian elements are located along the narrow rural road shaded by lush greenery. This utopia supports itself through agriculture, handicrafts and alternative technology. Well known for the Shri Aurobindo Ashram that was set up by one of his disciples, a Parisian known as The Mother, in his memory and is one of the most active ashrams in India.
Afternoon check-in to the hotel. Evening free at leisure
OVERNIGHT IN PONDICHERRY
After breakfast drive to Tanjore (220km/05 Hours). A bustling market town in one of the main rice-growing regions of Tamil Nadu, Tanjore was once the capital of the Chola Empire and, although many buildings from that period no longer survive, the town is still full of lovely temples. En-route you may stop at Dharasuram Temple built in memory of the White elephant; Airavath from the god’s family, the temple’s original name was “Airavatheshwar.”
Late Afternoon check-in to the hotel
OVERNIGHT IN TANJORE
Morning explore Tanjore; visit Brihadeshvara Temple. This magnificent temple, over 1000 years old and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evokes the power of the Chola kings as it towers over the town. Study the detailed inscriptions which depict temple life and the dancers, musicians, potters, goldsmiths and astrologers who lived there. With a history of traditional bronze casting here you will have the opportunity to view the masters at work using the lost-wax method. This method, used to create sacred temple bronzes during the Chola period, is still practiced today and is being passed down through the generations to ensure that bronze casting continues to thrive also.
Afternoon continue drive to Madurai (165km/04 Hours), a vast, pulsating city, one of the oldest cities in South India, dating back 2500 years, sprawls along the banks of the River Vaigai. Wander through the fun, packed streets which are full of pilgrims, wandering cows, open-air kitchens and colorful bazaars.
Arrival in Madurai in evening and check in to the Hotel
Today take a tour of Madurai by bicycle rickshaw. The Bi-Cycle Rickshaw tour of Madurai offers you a memorable experience. It takes you through the interesting narrow streets & lanes of Madurai showing the typical life of locals. The rickshaw pullers of Madurai became unpopular with the locals, as the locals preferred the more modern mode of transport. The Cycle Rickshaw, the most ecofriendly form of transport was fast being phased out and the hundred and twenty rickshaw pullers of Madurai were being deprived of their livelihood as they were unable to buy modern forms of transport like the auto rickshaw/taxi etc. To give these pullers another lease of life we have designed this tour as part of our commitment to promote responsible tourism. By taking this tour you are supporting the rickshaw pullers and at the same time encouraging locals to use rickshaws. By Cycle Rickshaw we visit the Flower, Fruit & Spice Market, stop to admire the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, visit the Gandhi Museum, and small scale industries like vessel and cloth making.
OVERNIGHT IN MUDURAI
Morning you will take a drive Periyar, also known as Thekkady (165km/04 & Half Hour), a breathtakingly beautiful sanctuary located nearly 1800 m above sea level in the dense semi and evergreen deciduous forests of Idukki district. Thekkady is a landlocked home for its myriad fauna and flora as well as for the Mannans, Palians and Ooralie tribes who still continue their ancient methods of herding and bee keeping.
In afternoon check-in to the hotel. Later enjoy a guided Plantation tour in the area. Renowned for their spice plantations, the Cardamom Hills are the ideal location to explore a garden where spices and other aromatic plants are grown. Learn about their use in the preparation of local cuisine and their medicinal properties and you may also enjoy an optional short ride on an elephant (supplement cost applicable) to get the best view of the stunning scenery.
OVERNIGHT IN THEKKADY
Today rise early for the best chance to spot elephant, deer, wild boar, mongoose and colourful birds on a dawn walk. Your experienced guide will know the best places for game viewing and, if you are extremely lucky, you may even come across elusive leopard and tiger.
Depart for Kumarakom in afternoon. A cluster of tiny islands almost impossibly beautiful, surrounded by a labyrinth of tropical waterways. Kumarakom is the jumping off point to join a boat to explore the Kerala backwaters.
OVERNIGHT IN KUMARAKOM
Spend your time at leisure and relax at this tranquil resort. Day at Leisure. You can also enjoy the Kerala Ayurvedic massage session.
OVERNIGHT IN KUMARAKOM
Morning drive to Cochin (90 Kms/02 Hours) where European influences are instantly apparent in this charming town picturesquely located on a number of islands squeezed between the Arabian Sea and the Kerala backwaters. The maritime history of Cochin is reflected in its blend of Dutch, Portuguese and British architecture.
OVERNIGHT IN COCHIN
Today you will be transferred to Cochin International Airport for your onward flight.
Accommodation for 11 nights at hotels as per the itinerary
All transfers / tours and excursions by one AC chauffeur driven vehicle
Unlimited flow of bottled mineral water will be provided on a daily basis
Sightseeing & Entrance fees as per the itinerary
English speaking Tour Manager
All presently applicable taxes
Meals not mentioned
Items of a personal nature
Tips & gratuities
Beverages with meals
Camera or Video Fees if applicable
Travel Insurance and any other Items not mentioned as being included.