Day 1 Arrival at Chennai (Madras)
Upon your arrival at the Chennai International airport you will have a reception at the airport and then be transferred to the hotel. Chennai is the capital of State Tamil Nadu and one of the four largest metropolises of India.
Today, you will go for a half day city excursion. Madras is a pulsating metropolis with over 6 million residents. Today many south Indian feature films are shot here so the city has earned the name “Hollywood of India”. On the city excursion, you will visit the Kapaleshvara temple which is dedicated to God Shiva and is a good example of the colorful south Indian temple architecture. After that, you will visit the Fort St. George, a trade post built during 1639. You will also visit the 16th-century St.Thomas Church. At the National museum, you will see sculptures out of the Pallava, Pandava and Chola time. Your excursion will also include a visit to the Marina Beach.An overnight stay in Chennai.
Day 2 Drive from Chennai via Kanchipuram to Mahabalipuram (138 km, 2-3 hours)
After breakfast you will drive about 40 miles to the far temple city, Kanchipuram. It is among the “sevens holy cities of” India. After each Kanchipuram was the capital of the Pallava, the Chola and the Vijayanagar kings. While the country is dotted with fabulous temples, you will visit the three most important temples in South India: the Kailasanatha-temple, the Vaikunthaperumal temple, as well as the Ekambareshwara temple. Kanchipuram is also very well known for its hand woven silk materials. You’ll then drive to Mahabalipuram which is well known for its 7th century Five Rathas. These are the world’s largest stone relief. You’ll then arrive and be transferred to your hotel. An overnight stay in Mahabalipuram.
Day 3 Explore! Mahabalipuram
After breakfast you will start your tour by visiting the 7th-century Shore temple which is surrounded by lush gardens. In addition you’ll visit the 7th- century Five Rathas, which are the world’s largest stone relief; Bhagiratha’s Penance, a 1900-square-foot rock block; and rock cut caves from the 6th and 7th centuries. In the evening, you can explore this small town, where you can also see the soap stone workers making designs and sculptures with chisel and hammer. An overnight stay in Mahabalipuram.
Day 4 Drive from Mahaballipuram via Pondicherry to Tanjore or Thanjavur (272 km, 4-5 hours)
After breakfast, you will drive to Tanjore. En route you’ll visit Pondicherry, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the city Auroville, which covers more than 2000 acres. Today also, you can see the influence of French rule in Pondicherry, because the Frenchmen strongly were represented here until 1954. Many residents still speak French in addition to Tamil. You’ll then continue on to Tanjore where you’ll be transferred to your hotel. An overnight stay in Tanjore.
Day 5 Drive from Tanjore to Trichy or Trichurapalli (62 km, 1-2 hours)
After breakfast you’ll visit the 9th-century Brihadeshwara Temple. This temple gave Tanjore its name of the “Jewel of South India”. The temple–dedicated to the God Shiva–features a 200-foot-high tower shaped like a pyramid. It is crowned by a heavy cupola weighing 88 tons. You’ll also visit Raja Rajan Art Gallery which houses bronze statues of the 9th through 16th centuries. You’ll continue on to Trichy where you’ll be transferred to your hotel for refreshment and rest. During the afternoon you’ll visit the famous Rock Fort Temple that is carved out of rock that is about 300 feet high. Wear your walking shoes because you’ll have to climb 345 steps to get to the top of the temple. Once there, you will have a wonderful view of the city. You’ll also have time to visit Srirangam, home to 21 temple towers on an island in the Kaveri River. The Ranganathasvami temple, dedicated to God Vishnu, is one of the largest temples in South India and is famous for its beautiful sculptures. After that, you will visit the Jambukeshwara temple, dedicated to God Shiva, and one of the oldest and largest in Tamil Nadu with five walls and seven Gopurams (soaring towers). An overnight stay in Tanjore.
Day 6 From Tanjore to Madurai (190 km, 4-5 hours)
After breakfast you will drive to Madurai. Madurai is home to many: Pilgrims, beggars, business persons, cow vehicles and many awaiting Rickshaw drivers. It is one of the oldest cities of South India and a center for Pilgrimage. The main attraction which lies in the middle of town is the Sri Meenakshi Temple. It was built during the 17th century in the Dravidian style with many Gopurams (soaring temple towers)and features colorful pictures of God, Goddesses, animals and mystical figures. Religious ceremonies take place here from early morning to late night. Pilgrims from all over the world visit here and sometimes up to 10000 persons are at the Temple. One of the largest temple complexes of India, within the Sri Meenakshi Temple is a market. Evenings you can pursue a temple ceremony. You’ll also have time to visit the 16th-century Thirumalai Nayak Palace before retiring at your hotel. An overnight stay in Madurai.
Day 7 Drive from Madurai to Munnar (160 km, 4 hours)
After breakfast you will drive to Munnar. Munnar is over 5000-foot-high mountain station surrounded by a stretch of mountains covered with tea plantations. Munnar is the trade center for special teas, lying on one of the world’s highest cultivating areas. You can see the rare Nilgiri Tahr (a type of mountain goat), enjoy the panorama, or climb the cliffs of Anamudi (2695 meters), south India’s highest mountain tip. You will also visit Tea Museum and Tea Factory and local Bazaars. An overnight stay in Munnar.
Day 8 Drive from Munnar to Thekkady (90 km, 2 hours)
After breakfast you’ll drive to Thekaddy. This trip through the mountains, spice plantations and tea plantations will definitely reenergize your senses. After your arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel for rest and refreshment. In the late afternoon you’ll enjoy a boat trip in Periyar Wildlife National Park. This park is one of the world’s best places to see elephants in their natural surroundings. Before sunset, you’ll also be fortunate to see other wild animals visit the bank of Periyar Lake to drink and eat. You can also enjoy a pleasant walk in the markets for some spices shopping before returning to your hotel. An overnight stay in Thekaddy.
Day 9 Transfer to Kumarakom and check in the private houseboat
After breakfast you’ll drive to Kumarakom. On the way you’ll visit a Spice Farm, where you can see various spice plantations such as cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, peppermint, clove, vanilla, ginger, chili, tea and coffee plants. Then you’ll continue on to Kumarakom where you can start your private overnight houseboat trip. The entire day will be spent in the Backwaters where breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served. Here, you will glide along the canals and observe the daily live of the Kerala people living on the banks of Backwaters. At night you will settle down to spend it in the house boat on the lake. An overnight stay in Houseboat.
Day 10 Transfer to beach resort in Mararikulam (41 km, 1 hour)
Today, after breakfast, you will leave the houseboat and be transferred by car to your beach resort of Mararikulam. Mararikulam is the internationally acclaimed beach destination of India with its white silvery sand beaches. Rest of the day is free. An overnight stay in Mararikulam.
Day 11 Drive to Cochin (42 km, 1 hour)
After breakfast, you will go on a Cochin. First you will visit the St. Francis Church, built in 1503 by the Portuguese. Then on to the Mattancherry Palace or “Dutch Palace” built by the Dutch and subsequently on handed over to the local queen. At the harbor, you can view unusual Chinese fishing nets, which marks the visit of Chinese folk in Cochin. You’ll also discover the Jewish Synagogue, built in 1558. Around the Synagogue, you can purchase a lot of unique and old products.
After sightseeing of Cochin, transfer to Cochin airport for your onward flight.