Splendours of South India
Duration: 17 Nights / 18 Days
Places Covered: Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry - Tanjore - Chettinad - Madurai - Periyar - Mararikulam - Cochin - Ooty - Mysore - Chikmaglure - Hospet - Hampi - Hubli
Price: On Request
South India is different in texture, in its taste, sounds, smells and colours. Everything is richer and yet more simple, if you can grasp that essential Indian paradox. It is traditional and seeped in a quiet Dravidian heritage and culture that has remained remarkably unaffected despite a very ancient trade through its splendid seaports, and contact with foreign people and cultures – the Phoenicians, Arabs, Romans and Chinese. You cannot but help appreciate the simple integrity yet extraordinary richness of the region, with its changing landscape of the high Deccan Plateau, the rugged but forested hills and coastal Ghats, the lush green fields of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the surreal beauty of the Kerala backwaters, the long stretches of beach stepping out of thick coconut palm and bamboo plantations. Serene, gentle and quite beautiful.
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Ooty, also known as Queen of Hill Stations, is a popular Hill Station located in the Nilgiri Hills.
Population (2011): 88,430
Nearest Airport: Coimbatore International Airport
Languages Spoken: Tamil, Badaga, English
STD Code: 91423
Best Time to Visit: September - March
Arrival Chennai (Madras): Upon arrival at Chennai International Airport meet to our representative and transfer to Mahabalipuram cover around 65 Km/ 1 H.
Mahabalipuram: After breakfast commence full day sightseeing of Mahabalipuram. This is home to 7th - 9th century monuments of Pallava kingdom which are now a designated UNESCO world heritage site. The monuments include Rock Temple, Lord Vishnu Temple, Arjuna Penance, Varaha Cave temple & Shore Temples. Rest of time visit local market.
Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (120 Km / 3 H): Breakfast at the hotel, proceed to Pondicherry. Puducherry, the capital of the union territory of Puducherry (which includes Pudhucherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam) and is located in the Coromadel coast of the Bay of Bengal. Besides being a nesting place for many poets and laurels down the ages, The union territory also been a shore of different cultures, from the Romans to the French, who ruled for 300 years. The town is almost filled with a lot of heritage buildings and monuments. The attraction of the territory includes Botanical Garden, Aurobindo Ashram, & rest of the time visit Pondicherry Beach. Overnight at hotel.
Pondichery – Tanjore (170 Km): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure by road to Tanjore. En route you will visit Gangaikondacholapuram. The Gopurams of this enormous temple dominate the landscape. On arrival at Tanjore visit the city as Brihadeeswara Temple - This temple, the main attraction of Tanjore was built by Rajaraja Chola and reflects the contribution of the Cholas to the development of arts here. The Palace - also makes for an important tourist destination. It is characterised by its vast corridors, large halls, its shady courtyards and observation towers. Aart Galley & Saraswati Mahal Library. Rest of the time visit market. Overnight at hotel.
Tanjore: After breakfast full day excursion of Trichy. Trichy is situated on the banks of the river Cauvery. It is the fourth largest city in Tamil Nadu and is named in the memory of a fight Lord Shiva had with a three-headed demon named Trisiras. The sightseeing points of Trichi are Rock Fort Uchi Pillaiyar Temple, Srirangam Lord Venkateswara Temple, & Le College Saint Joseph. Overnight at Tanjore.
Tanjore – Chettinad (110 Km): After breakfast drive to Chettinad. A true open-air museum where you can discover beautiful small ornate palace belonging to Chettiars, rich merchants Tamil community. These palaces are still inhabited today occasionally at major family celebrations. On arrival, check in hotel, rest of the time visit Chettinad.
Chettinad – Madurai (155 Km): Breakfast at the hotel later proceed to Madurai. On arrival check in hotel, than visit the city "blessed by Loard Shiva." Meenakshi Temple, the most mysterious and fascinating of all South India's Temples, Tirumalay Nayak (1627-1659) built in 1636 with the assistance of an Italian architect. In the evening, visit Meenakshi temple for the ceremony of Loard Shiva. Overnight at Madurai.
Madurai – Periyar (Thekkady) (130 Km): Breakfast at the hotel. Later proceed to Periyar through the steep landscapes of the Deccan. On arrival, commence Periyar Sightseeing- Periyar wild sanctuary Boating, Spice garden visit, Spice, natural walk, jungle patrol and can go for Ayurveda Rejuvenation massage ( All Activities are optional). Overnight at Periyar (Thekkady).
Periyar – Mararikulam (135 Km): Morning drive to Mararikulam. En route, you'll board a traditional boat transport of goods, spices or rice. Some are now equipped for recreation and walk on the "backwaters". This small boat is made of woven reeds and rice mats. Cruising is the best way to go to meet the local population through picturesque villages. Lunch on Board. Continue to Marari, overnight at Mararikulam.
Mararikulam: Breakfast at the hotel. Free day to relax and enjoy the beaches. A car will be available all day.
Mararikulam – Cochin (50 Km): Breakfast at the hotel, later proceed to Cochin. On arrival, check in hotel, than visit city. Visit the Dutch Palace, San Francisco Church, built in the early days of the installation of the Portuguese in Cochin, near the fort, where Vasco da Gama died in 1524. Then, you can admire the fishermen and their strange “Chinese Fishing Nets”. By late afternoon, a show of Kathakali will be given in a small theater where you will have the opportunity to discover this traditional dance based primarily on facial expressions.
Cochin – Ooty (300 Km): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure by road to Coonoor (255 Km) where you will board the train that will take you to Ooty through a road teeming tea plantations and coffee plantations. This line owes its originality to the little engine (Toy Train). On arrival at Ooty check in hotel. Ooty is the most attractive hill station of South India. It spreads over a vast park and is surrounded by mountains covered mainly by thick forests. Visit the beautiful botanical garden.
Ooty – Mysore (126 Km): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure by road to Mysore. On arrival, you will start with a visit to the city with the palace of the Maharajah. You will discover the vegetable market and flowers. During the day, you also visit Srirangapatnam, former capital of the Mysore Sultans.
In the afternoon, excursion to Chamundi Hill on the top of this hill you will discover a wonderful panorama of the city, en route you will pass a huge Nandi bull, carved from a block of granite.
Mysore – Chikmaglure (180 Km): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure by road to Chikmaglure. On the way, stop at Sravanabelagola, a Mecca of Jainism and site of a gigantic statue of 17m high, considered the highest in the world. Sravanabelagola means "monk at the top of the hill."
Continue by road for tours of the temples of Belur and Halebid. At Belur, you will visit the Chennakeshav temple by a large courtyard, where appears opposite the main temple consists of countless paintings. Halebid, This place was known as Dwara Samudra, the wealthy capital of Hoysalas. Halebid has several strikingly beautiful Hoysala temples and Jain shrines. The Hoysaleshwara temple, standing on platform like a casket, is a sculptural extravaganza, richly endowed with most finely detailed scroll work in stone. One kilometre from Halebid is Basti Hill where there are Jain Bastis with gleaming black stone pillars. On arrival at Chikmaglure check in hotel.
Chikmaglure – Hospet (255 Km): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning drive to Hospet across the plateau of Karnataka. On arrival, check in hotel.
Hospet – Hampi (14 Km): After breakfast day excursion to Hampi, the last capital of the kingdom of Vijayanagar. Visit the site, definitely one of the most beautiful of South India and its vast outdoor museum of architecture and sculpture Dravidian. The village is dominated by the Hampi Virupaksha temple, a Gopuram 52m high. Continue to the Vittala temple, historic monument by UNESCO. The outer pillars are known as musical pillars as they reverberate when tapped. The stone chariot that adorns the pediment of the temple is one of the most photographed sculptures in India. Previously, the wheels were turning. At the temple of Achyutaraya will appreciate the atmosphere created.Finally, site visit south of the city with the Lotus Mahal (pretty house located in a chamber called Zanana) and stables of the elephants.
Hospet - Aihole - Badami – Hubli (151 Km): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning drive to Hubli. On the way, stop at Badami, the capital of the South Indian Kingdom of the Chalukyas, is situated near a beautiful red sandstone ridge in North Karnataka. Initially known as Vatapi. Badami, more than anything else, is famous for its rock-cut cave temples. These temples, over thirteen centuries old, have been carved out of the hills of red sandstone surrounding Badami. Two temples are devoted to Vishnu, one to Shiva, and other two to Jainism and Buddhism. Apart from these, the town also is the home to several other temples and a beautiful tank. Aihole, a small village bringing together nearly 70 temples, and Pattadakal. When visiting Pattadakal, discover the temples of Virupaksha, of Mallikarjuna and former Jain temple with two stone elephants. It is an old city where the coronation took place. Then continue in the afternoon to Hubli.
Hubli - Mumbai – Departure: Transfer to Hubli airport. Flight to Mumbai and connect onward flight to your home.
" Many thanks to you and the other travel specialists at Delighted Journey who offered us an outstanding visit to South India. We appreciate your flexibility in tailoring the itinerary to our interests, specifically the inclusion of Bandipur for safari and Periyar Tiger Reserve. The hotels were excellent. The Coconut Laggon at Kumarakom was memorable in its design and location and the Leela Kovalam was way beyond anything we could have anticipated in elegance and luxury. The restaurants offered attractive, sometimes dramatic, settings and the meals were consistently delicious.
Most important, all of our guides were excellent--knowledgeable, articulate, and engaged. Shankar managed to communicate the mystery at Madurai, so even as Westerners, we felt like we acquired some understanding of the ceremonies that we observed. Devi was a delight. His leadership provided structure with flexibility and he helped tie together our many and varied experiences. He was always cheerful and very patient in answering our many questions.
I would unhesitatingly recommend Delighted Journey to any of my friends considering a tour of India."ERIC & LISA, USA