Places Covered: Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Tanjore – Chettinad – Madurai – Periyar – Marari – Cochin – Ooty – Mysore – Chikmaglure – Hospet – Hampi – Hubli – Goa – Mumbai
From east to west, this trip transports you from one end of South India to the other. Two different worlds, but living with the same fervor, in a vertigo of sensations and colors. First Tamil Nadu with its beautiful sites, magnified by the Chola dynasty. From Mahabalipuram to Brihadishwara, you will discover the intoxicating atmosphere of Hindu shrines, which the Indians continue to venerate passionately. First tropical break in Pondicherry, bathed in the memory of the French colonies. We leave these wonders when we cross the Western Ghats that are home to a country of Cocagne where spices abound, between vast emerald carpets tea plantations in the Periyar region. What a beautiful introduction to the amphibian world of Kerala, all coconut trees and sweetness, as we wade through the proverbial backwaters to a tropical paradise … Finally, to the north, Karnataka offers beautiful landscapes of tea plantations, the resplendent Mysore and the temple of Virupaksha in Hampi, a city full of treasures and emblematic of the style of the region. Solemn sanctuaries, sublime gardens, green plantations, and dance shows are waiting for you during the promising days of this trip. The highlight of this stay in India, however, is the opportunity to enjoy Ayurvedic treatments of high quality to penetrate the soul of this sublime region of India, between healing body and mind.
Throughout this trip, you will visit the most beautiful sites of South India beginning with Tamil Nadu which borders the Bay of Bengal. From Mahabalipuram to Madurai, discover the architectural wonders built by the powerful Chola dynasty, and enameled sumptuous bas-reliefs recounting the great epics of the Hindu gods. Also, you will be “initiated” to the worship of gods like Shiva by attending ritual ceremonies. For sure you will fall in love with the old French counter of Pondicherry with its colorful facades, its many shops and especially an atmosphere of perpetual holidays!
India’s richest state, Kerala, literally “coconut country” is famous for its animal reserves near Periyar, its labyrinthine canals called “backwaters” – which you’ll admire on a unique cruise, and its cultural heritage among the teeming of the whole country, like the famous shows of Kathakali. To the north finally, Karnataka offers beautiful landscapes of tea plantations, the resplendent Mysore and the temple of Virupaksha in Hampi, a city full of treasures and emblematic of the style of the region. Solemn sanctuaries, sublime gardens, green plantations, and dance shows are waiting for you during the promising days of this trip.
The highlight of this stay in India, however, is the opportunity to enjoy Ayurvedic treatments of high quality to penetrate the soul of this sublime region of India, between healing body and mind.
Upon arrival at Chennai International Airport. Reception and assistance by our staff. Transfer to the hotel, after breakfast full day Chennai sightseeing. Overnight at Chennai.
Breakfast then departure by road to Mahabalipuram. Arrival, check in hotel and rest of the morning free to enjoy the resort. In the afternoon, you will visit the site of Mahabalipuram. You can admire the Ganges Descent, carved on the west side of the rocky outcrop, which is lit by the rising sun. This 27-meter-by-9-meter panel tells us in huge “fresco” the legend of the Ganges descent, which Shiva received in his hair to preserve the earth from destruction under the violence of shock. You will also discover the five rathas, temples shaped like floats of procession as one sees them still circulating in South India. Small monolithic monuments, they are decorated with high relief sculptures featuring gods of the Brahman pantheon, such as Shiva, Durga and Indra. And finally, you will admire Shiva’s Temple of the Shoreline, as evidenced by the many statues in the round of the Nandi bull that you will see in the courtyard.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, drive to Pondicherry, former French colony. Arrival and installation at the hotel. In the afternoon, you will discover this charming city. On one side, the white city, its cobbled streets that have retained their French name: Suffren, Romain Rolland .. and its colonial style houses. You will visit one of the largest ashrams in all of southern India, founded by Sri Aurobindo – a whole district of buildings painted in gray and obeying a strict philosophical doctrine. Admire the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, the pretty waterfront that comes alive at dusk and across the canal, the Tamil neighborhood of the Black City and its rustling and colorful market.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, departure by road towards Tanjore. En route you will visit Gangaikondacholapuram. Beautiful sculptures adorn the walls of the temple and the enclosures. You will discover an immense basin in which were poured whole boats of water coming from the Ganges. Then, continuation to Tanjore, the visits of other temples raised to the glory of the Chola dynasty Darasuram & Kumbakonam.
Breakfast at the hotel. The morning will be dedicated to the visit of Trichy. Ascent of the fort perched at the top of a rock, the Rock Fort, which dominates the city. From the small temple located at the top, we discover the valley of Kaveri and the temple of Srirangam that you will have the opportunity to visit.
In the afternoon, visit Tanjore, former capital of the powerful empire of the Chola dynasty. You can admire the masterpiece of Dravidian architecture, the temple of Brihadishwara, shrine dedicated to Shiva and erected around the year 1000, during the reign of the mighty emperor Chola Rajaraja (985-1014). You can also visit the art gallery where is kept a beautiful collection of bronzes.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning departure by road to the Chettinad area. A real open-air museum where you can discover magnificent, richly decorated palaces belonging to the Chettiars, the rich community of Tamil traders. These palaces are still today occasionally inhabited during major family celebrations. On arrival, check in at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, departure by road to Madurai. On your arrival, the day will be devoted to the visit of the city “blessed by the nectar which dripped of the hair of Shiva”. Madurai was built around its extraordinary Vijayanagar-style, Meenakshi double temple the most mysterious and fascinating of all of southern India. It is a true city in its own right. You will visit the palace of Nayak Tirumalay (1627-1659) built in 1636 with the assistance of an Italian architect. In the evening, go to the Meenakshi Temple for the Shiva sunset ceremony.
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure by road to reach Periyar through the steep landscapes of the Western Ghats, a mountain range that cuts the subcontinent in two along a vertical axis. As you leave the state of Tamil Nadu behind you, along the road and as you ascend, you will feel the air cool off and see the plantations invade the landscape. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel. Free time the rest of the day to enjoy the unspoiled nature, such as visiting a spice farm, the specialty of the place.
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure by road to reach Marari. On arrival at Alleppey you will embark a traditional boat carrying goods, spices or rice. Some are now equipped for recreation and run on the “backwaters”. The cruise is the best way to meet the local population through picturesque villages. Today you will see beautiful landscapes. Lunch on board. Continue to Marari.
Breakfast at the hotel. Free day to relax and enjoy the ocean. A car will be at your disposal all day.
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure by road to Cochin. On arrival, visit the city. You will visit the Dutch palace which contains fabulous wall frescoes, the San Francisco church, built from the earliest days of the installation of the Portuguese in Cochin near the fort where Vasco de Gama died in 1524. Then you can observe the fishermen and their weird fishing nets or Chinese squares. At the end of the day, a show of Kathakali will be given in a small theater where you will have the opportunity to discover this traditional dance based mainly on facial expressions.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, departure by road to Coonoor, where you will board the toy train, which will take you to Ooty through a busy road of plantations of tea and coffee. This line owes its originality to the small locomotive, located at the rear to push and not forward to shoot.
Reception and transfer to the hotel. Ooty is the most attractive mountain resort in South India. It is spread over a vast park and is surrounded by mountains mostly covered with thick forests. Visit the beautiful botanical garden.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, departure by road to Mysore. On your arrival, you will start by visiting the city with the sumptuous palace of the maharajah. You will discover the market with vegetables and flowers. During the day, you will also visit Srirangapatnam, the ancient capital of the Sultans of Mysore. In the afternoon, excursion to Chamundi Hill where from the top of this hill you will discover a wonderful panorama of the city, but on the way, you will pass a colossal bull Nandi, carved in a block of granite.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, departure by road to Chikmaglure. Along the way, stop at Sravanabelagola, one of Jainism’s hotspots and site of a gigantic 17m high statue, considered the highest in the world. Sravanabelagola means “the monk at the top of the hill”. Continuation by the road for the visits of the temples of Belur and Halebid. At Belur, you will enter the temple of Chennakeshav by a large courtyard, where opposite appears the main temple consisting of countless paintings. Then continue to Halebid where you will visit the temple of Hoysaleshwara, actually comprising two contiguous temples but forming a single building designed on a starry plane that left more space to the sculptors.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, drive to Hospet through the Karnataka plateau. Upon arrival, check-in at hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Day trip to Hampi, last capital of the Kingdom of Vijayanagar. You will visit the site, certainly one of the most beautiful in southern India, and its vast open-air museum of Dravidian architecture and sculptur. The village of Hampi is dominated by the Virupaksha temple and its 52m high gopuram. Continuation to the temple of Vittala, classified as a historical monument by UNESCO. The outer pillars are called musical pillars because they sound when you hit them. The stone car that adorns the pediment of the temple is one of the most photographed sculptures in India. In the past, the wheels were spinning. At the temple of Achyutaraya, you will appreciate the atmosphere that emanates there. Finally, visit the site located south of the city with the Lotus Mahal (pretty pavilion located in an enclosure called Zanana) and stables elephants.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, drive to Hubli. On the way, stop at Badami. On arrival, visit the city nestled at the edge of a small lake, which was the center of development of Dravidian architecture, whose influence was felt until today. You will visit its ocher temples and rock sanctuaries dug on the hillside. as well as 2 neighboring sites: Aihole, a small village gathering about 70 temples, and Pattadakal. During the visit of Pattadakal, you will discover the temples of Virupaksha, Mallikarjuna and the ancient Jain temple with two stone elephants. It is an ancient city where coronations took place. Then continue at the end of the day to Hubli.
Breakfast at the hotel then drive to Goa. Check in and overnight at the hotel. Next day free for relax and explore the beaches. Overnight at hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel then flight to Mumbai. Assistance for check-in and international return flight.