Best of Two Culture (Tamil Nadu with Kerala) Tour

Duration : 09 Nights & 10 Days
Destinations: Chennai – Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram - Tanjore – Madurai – Periyar - Kovalam - Alleppey - Cochin Departure
Tour Highlights
Chennai Fort St. George, San Thome Cathedral & the Museum
Mahabalipuram Shore Temple, Arjuna's Penance & Five Rathas
Kanchipuram Kailasanatha Temple, Ekambaranatha & Kamakshi Amman Temple
Tanjore Brihadeshwara temple
Trichy Srirangam Temple & Rockfort
Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwar
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Boat Cruise and Spice plantation tour
Kumarkom & Alleppey Backwaters of Kerala & Houseboat
Cochin Kathakali, St. Francis Church, Dutch Palace (Built by Portuguese), Jew Town, Jewish Synagogue, spice market & Chinese fishing nets
Optional Boat Cruise

Day 01: Arrive Chennai

Arrive by International flight, after traditional 'Swagat' (Welcome) by our representative would assist you at airport transfer to you domestic airport to board the flight to Chennai. Upon arrival transfer to hotel for check in. Chennai is known for its cultural heritage & temple architecture. The region was served as an important administrative, military, & economic centre dating back to the 1st century. When the Portuguese arrived in 1522, they built a port, the region then passed into the hands of the Dutch, who established themselves near north of the city in 1612. On 22 August 1639, British East India Company was granted land, as a base for a permanent settlement.
Overnight Hotel – Chennai

Day 02: Chennai Sightseeing

Today we take a tour of Chennai, touching Fort St. George, built in the year 1640 AD by the British East India Company, under the direct supervision of Francis Day & Andrew Cogon. This bastion achieved its name from St. George. Within the fort we visit St. Mary's Church, built in the year 1680. It is an oldest Protestant Church in the East contains several antiquities, not the least being the oldest British tombstones in India. Fort Museum, with 10 rooms displaying the old uniforms, coins, padlocks, old prints & palanquins etc. Santhome Cathedral derives its name from St. Thomas, the apostle of Christ who is believed to have visited Madras sometime during 52 AD. He was killed on St. Thomas Mount in 78 AD & was interned in Santhome beach, where the church was built. Several years later, another church was built & his mortal remains were transferred to the new one. Madras Museum, established in 1857, it is undoubtedly one of the country's finest museums. It has sections devoted to geology, archaeology, anthropology, botany, zoology, sculpture & numismatics. Its most prized possessions are the relics from 2nd century AD Buddhist site of Amaravathi & the prehistoric antiques of South India.
Overnight Hotel – Mahabalipuram


Day 03: Chennai – Mahabalipuram (70 km - 02 hr) Enroute Kanchipuram

Morning post breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram, 7th century port city of the South Indian. It is believed to have been named after the Pallava king Mamalla. Mahabalipuram has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th & the 9th century & has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monuments are mostly rock-cut & monolithic, constitute the early stages of Dravidian architecture wherein Buddhist elements of design are prominently visible.
En rout visit Kanchipuram. It is one of the seven holy cities in the country. It was a city of learning for both Tamil & Sanskrit & was believed to be visited by Hsuan Tsang. In ancient times it was called Kachi. Once it had over a thousand temples & today there are more than a hundred extant. It is also known for its temples & silk sarees. We visit Kailasanatha Temple, built in 8th Century AD. It is built in the typical Pallava style, with a pyramidal tower, a pillared hall & vestibule, enclosed by a wall. The temple is famous for exquisite carvings & attracts devotees & tourists alike. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine. Fresco style paintings adorn the inner walls of the temple. Next we visit Ekambaranatha. The ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The 57 metres high Raj Gopuram is one of the tallest towers in South India. The 3000 year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yielding different variety of mangoes. Before returning to Mahabalipuram, we visit Kamakshi Amman Temple, built in 12th century AD as an important Shakthisthalam, known as Parabrahmaroonpini. The main deity is seated on Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Eswara & Sadasiva. Evening return back to hotel.
Afternoon we take a guided tour of Mahabalipuram, visiting Shore Temple, one of the oldest temples in South India. It belongs to the 8th Century A.D. & is a good example of the first phase of the structure of temples constructed in the Dravidian style. Designed to catch the first rays of the rising sun & to illuminate the waters after dark, the temple ended up with an unusual lay-out. Arjuna's Penance, is the world's largest bas-relief. This huge whale-back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demigods, men, beasts, & birds & in fact, can be said to represent creation itself. Next we visit Rathas, monolithic temples fashioned as chariots. They remain an architectural mystery, for each is apparently a faithful reproduction of a structure built of wood. In fact, even the grain of the timber beams & rafters has been simulated in stone. Of the eight Rathas, five have been named for the Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic Mahabharata.
Overnight Hotel – Mahabalipuram

Day 04: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry via Auroville (100 Km – 02hrs)

Later, drive to Auroville near Pondicherry. The community of Auroville consists of Indian & International residents who aim to develop a harmonious environment through the implementation of the teachings Sri Aurobindo & The Mother. Upon arrival visit Matri Mandir which was designed to be the spiritual & physical centre of Auroville (Temple is opened between 1530-1630 hr). Next, drive to Pondicherry - the land of Sri Aurobindo Ashram - the serene world of distinct spiritual vibration & thus renowned as Sacred Land. Upon arrival in Pondicherry, check-in at the hotel.
Overnight Hotel – Pondicherry

Day 05: Pondicherry - Tanjore (300 km - 06 hr)

Today we drive to Tanjore. This city flourished during the rule of the Nayaks & Mahrattas. It has been the treasure house of art for centuries. It is called the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is well-known throughout the world for its exquisite handicrafts like the Art Plate, pithwork, bronze icons, Thanjavur paintings & the classical South Indian musical instruments. Later we visit Brihadeshwara temple, also known as Big Temple, built by Rajaraja Chola I was completed around 1010 CE. This 10th century CE temple, one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is a brilliant example of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. The beautiful Chola Fresco paintings on the inner walls of the temple are in no way less than Ajanta paintings.
Overnight Hotel – Tanjore

Day 06: Tanjore - Madurai via Trichy (200 km - 04 hrs)

Today we leave for Madurai, a city rich in cultural heritage passed down for more than 2500 years It has been an important commercial centre as early as 550 AD. It is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu & was originally known as Kadambavanam or the forest of Kadamba.
En route Trichy En route we stop at Trichy, which has very historic temples, monuments & churches. It was an important town in the days of the later Cholas, Nayaks as well as during the early days of the British East India Company. We start with Srirangam Temple, surrounded by the waters of the River Kaveri on one side & its tributary Kollidam on the other is a 600-acre island-town enclosed within the seven walls of the gigantic Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. There are not less than 21 Gopurams here in this temple, one of which is the tallest in South India. Later, we visit Rockfort which is the most famed landmark that is an 83 m high rock - the only outcrop in the otherwise flat land of the city. The most amazing fact about the rock is that while tit is one of the oldest in the world approximately 3,800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland & older than the Himalayas.
Overnight Hotel – Madurai

Day 07: Madurai - Periyar (136 km - 3 ½ hrs)

Today we visit the Meenakshi Sundareshwar which was first built 2000 years ago & was substantially expanded between the years (1623-55 AD). Initially there was only the Shiva temple. A striking feature of the temple is the astonishing structure known as Ayiramkaal mandapam or the Hall of a thousand pillars in the outermost corridor.
Later proceed to visit the The Gandhi Memorial Museum. It is one of the distinct places to be visited in Madurai. This Museum is one of the rare living memorials of "The Father of India" Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace is a spectacle of Indo-Western palatial brilliance in Madurai. Built by King Thirumalai Nayak (or Nayakkar) in circa 1636, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal covers a large expanse of land in the city which is 2.5 km from the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple.
Later we leave for Periyar. Upon arrival at Periyar, we assist you to check in at our hotel. Set on an attractive lakeside, its South India's most popular Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary,a nice place to cruise on lake & have an opportunity to see wildlife. Its home to tigers, leopards, elephants, bison (gaur),sambhar antelopes, wild boar, money & wide variety of birds.
Overnight stay in Periyar

Day 08: Periyar – Kovalam (250 kms – 6 hrs)

Early morning before breakfast at 0630 hrs we go for wildlife viewing of the sanctuary on lake Periyar by boat cruise. After two hours of wildlife viewing we get back to the hotel for breakfast.
Late afternoon at 1500 hrs we shall take you on a guided Spice & plantation tour in one of Spice Garden Plantations for which this region is famous.
Today morning after breakfast drive to Kovalam is located at the most Southern part of India and famous for it's beaches. There are two main beaches at Kovalam, separated by a high cliff. It is finding a new significance in the light of several Ayurvedic salons, & recuperation & regeneration resorts which provide a slew of Ayurvedic.
Overnight stay in Kovalam

Day 09: Kovalam - Alleppey (160 Kms / 3-4 Hrs) (A/C Deluxe Houseboat)

After breakfast, transfer to the jetty. On arrival board the houseboat, locally called Kettuvallam, and enjoy a cruise around the beautiful Vembanad Lake. This lake offers an enchanting experience to the tourists. The lake is the best picnic spot, where you can relax your mind and body while the water gives the place a cooling effect, trees and shrubs act as a respite to the parched eyes. The lake is an excellent family-picnic destination too. While seniors can laze around the lake reading a book or talking, youngsters can opt for fishing and boating. Later, proceed to Alleppy through backwaters to observe and experience the daily life of the villagers along the backwaters.
Please note that it would be a private houseboat just for your group so you can party or enjoy activities whichever you want.
Overnight – Houseboat

Day 10: Alleppey - Cochin (52 kms Approx 1 hrs drive)

Today morning after breakfast, @ 08:30 Hrs we disembark houseboat at Alleppy & drive to Cochin. This city always had a very popular & historical sea trade connection with Middle East, Mediterranean Europe, Dutch & British. It has one of the finest natural harbors on the Arabian coastline. Its cosmopolitan character is reflected in the buildings & structures representing different regions of the world. It is one of the few places in the world where one can see a Jewish synagogue, Portuguese churches, architecture, mosques, temples & Chinese fishing nets, all in one city - a city of peninsulas & islands. Today it is Kerala's commercial hub. Half Day Tour Today we take a tour of Cochin, visiting St. Francis' Church, built in the year 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan Friars & known to be the oldest European church in India. It was restored in the year 1779 by the protestant Dutch, and converted to an Anglican Church by the British in 1795. Vasco da Gama's remains were buried here in 1524 & later moved to Lisbon, Portugal. We also visit Dutch Palace, originally built by the Portuguese. Later in 17th century they modified it & presented it to the Raja (King) of Kochi (Cochin). The Palace has a fine collection of mural paintings depicting scenes from Hindu epics, Mahabharata & Ramayana. Later we visit the Jew Town synagogue, built in the year 1568. It is magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles & Belgian chandeliers. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. Also visit the spice market, where the air is filled with the pungent smell of spices & history that brought the world to its doorstep. Chinese fishing nets, (Cheenavala) are distinctly unique to Cochin. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here.

In the evening, we take you to view a Kathakali dance performance (time for photography of a lifetime) Enjoy and observe the elaborate pre-dance make up ritual.
Later evening transfer airport to board your international flight for onward journey, taking back a wonderful memory of INDIA.

Our tour concludes: Caper assists you with your transfer to the airport for boarding onward flight.

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