[Cochin-02 – Alleppey-01 – Kumarakom-01 – Periyar-02 – Madurai-01 – Thanjavur-02 – Mahabalipuram-02 – Chennai-01]
DAY 01: ARRIVE KOCHI
Arrive Kochi and transfer to the hotel.
Kochi is also called the Queen of the Arabian Sea. It is believed to be the finest natural harbor in the world. Cochin was the oldest European settlement in India and each settlement has left its own distinctive imprint here.
The afternoon is at leisure to relax at the hotel.
DAY 02: EXPLORE KOCHI
After breakfast proceed for half day tour of the satellite towns of Kochi (Cochin) which comprise of visits to the Dutch Palace (CLOSED ON FRIDAY), the Jewish Synagogue – (CLOSED ON FRIDAY & SATURDAY), St. Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilica. See the Chinese fishing nets, which dot the harbor as you drive along the coastline. The tour ends in the Fort Kochi area where you can walk through the historical Dutch and Portuguese buildings. Also visit Jew Street which is famous for the antiques.
In the evening enjoy Kathakali dance performance (if organised by your hotel). Kathakali is a traditional dance form of Kerala and is performed only by men. (B)
DAY 03: DRIVE 67 kms, 1½ hr KOCHI – ALLEPPEY – HOUSEBOAT
Depart by surface to Alleppey
Transfer to the embarkation point jetty for Houseboats in Alleppey.
Embark the houseboat which will be your home for the night. A full day cruise on the backwaters takes off through a network of canals with a backdrop of villages and coconut trees on the shores. Enjoy all meals on-board prepared by the talented staff. The house-boat docks at the jetty for the night. (B, L, D)
DAY 04: DISEMBARK FROM HOUSEBOAT AT KUMARAKOM
After leisurely breakfast, disembark at Kumarakom and transfer to your hotel.
Kumarakom, lies on the shores of the enchanting Vembanad Lake. A village that till recently enjoyed anonymity, and redolent of peace. Skiff-fishermen launching there cockleshell boats, large flotillas of ducks waddling down to the water from thatched houses on the banks, women, neck-deep in water, with there waist-length hair heaped in a crown, searching for fish with their feet, and aimless cattle grazing in lush pasture-land – this is Kumarakom.
In the afternoon proceed to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary to enjoy a boat cruise. Located on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the bird sanctuary is spread across 14 acres. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, an ornithologist’s paradise is a favorite haunt of migratory birds like the Siberian stork, egret, darter, heron and teal.
Rest of the day is at leisure to relax at the hotel or enjoy ayurveda massages/treatments. (B)
DAY 05: DRIVE 140 kms, 04 hrs TO PERIYAR
After breakfast, drive to Periyar.
Periyar, is best known for its wildlife, is a must-see for all visitors to Kerala. The Periyar Lake lying at the heart of the sanctuary provides one with a unique opportunity to view wild animals in their natural surroundings.
Rest of the day is at leisure to relax at the hotel or explore the city. (B, L, D)
DAY 06: EXPLORE PERIYAR
Explore the highlights of Periyar.
After breakfast, enjoy a boat cruise on the Periyar National Park to view Flora and Fauna.
In the evening visit a Spice Plantation. Closed shoes are essential. Spices growing here include vanilla, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, surrounded by coconut palms, bananas and jackfruit. (B, L, D)
DAY 07: DRIVE 142 kms, 04 hrs TO MADURAI
After breakfast, drive to Madurai.
Madurai is famous for housing one of the five traditional dance halls where Lord Siva, in his form as the Silver Hall or the Velli Ambalam. It is situated within the Meenakshi Temple
This afternoon, visit the Shree Meenakshi Temple. The temple has a thousand pillared hall, an architectural & engineering marvel, built in the 16th century. There are musical granite pillars here, which when struck yield different musical notes.
In the evening witness the Aarti ceremony (closing ceremony) in the temple. (B)
DAY 08: DRIVE 158 kms, 04hrs TO THANJAVUR
After breakfast, drive to Thanjavur.
Thanjavur (Tanjore) is well-known throughout the world for being the home to its Thanjavur paintings and the classical South Indian musical instruments. The town of Thanjavur was the seat of the glorious Chola Empire of Tamilnadu, and was later on the seat of the Nayaks and the Marathas. True to art historian Fergusson, the Chola artists conceived like giants and finished like jewelers.
In the afternoon visit Brihadeeswara Temple – a 107 paragraph long inscription on the walls of the Vimanam(Temple Dome) records the contributions of Raja Raja Chola and his sister Kundavai to the Thanjavur temple. The temple stands within a fort, whose walls are later additions built in the 16th century. (B)
DAY 09 THANJAVUR
Post breakfast proceed for a full day excursion to visit the temples of Kumbakonam, known as the temple city of South India. Some of the temples include – Adi Kumbeswarar temple, Sarangapani Temple and Ramaswamy Temple.
Later continue to visit the Darasuram Temple.
Darasuram, it is an excellent example of 13th century Chola architecture and is well preserved to this day and has been declared as a world Heritage Monument. (B)
DDAY 10: 280 Kms, 06hrs TO MAHABALIPURAM VIA PONDICHERRY
After breakfast, drive to Mahabalipuram enroute visiting Gangaikondacholapuram and Pondicherry with lunch.
Gangaikonda cholapuram Temple, a big Nandi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion head well with a flight of steps leading to the water level and the gigantic door men are the other special features of this temple.
Later continue to Pondicherry.
Pondicherry, a former French colony is renowned for the Auroville – an ideal township devoted to an experiment in human unity. In 1966 UNESCO passed a unanimous resolution commending it as a project of importance to the future of humanity, thereby giving their full encouragement.
Later proceed to Mahabalipuram. It is famous for its Shore Temple – one of the oldest temples in South India. It belongs to the 8th Century A.D. and is a good example of the first phase of the structure of temples constructed in the Dravidian style. It also prides itself for the world’s largest bas-relief measuring 27m x 9m. (B, L)
DAY 11: EXPLORE MAHABALIPURAM
Kanchipuram, one of the seven sacred cities of India, is 71 km from Madras. It was successively the capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Rayas of Vijayanagar. During the 6th and 7th centuries some of the best temples in the city were built by the Pallavas. The city was also a great seat of learning. Sri Sankaracharya, Appar, Siruthonder and the great Buddhist Bhikku, Bodhidharma, lived and worked here.
Mahabalipuram is famous for its’ seven pagodas – a group of ancient rock hewn temples on the seashore. They are an excellent example of the Dravidian style of architecture. Mahabalipuram itself is a good example of a temple town, where a multi layered society that preached faith and grew from social harmony developed within the temple precincts.
Later in the evening return to Mahabalipuram for overnight.
Rest of the day is at leisure to relax on the beach or at the hotel. (B)
DAY 13: DRIVE 55 kms, 02 hrs TO CHENNAI
After breakfast, drive by surface to Chennai enroute visiting Dakshinachitra.
Dakshinachitra – Situated near Muttukkadu was founded by the Madras Craft Foundation. Dakshina Chitra has models of traditional handlooms and the replicas of the kinds of houses of the four south Indian states.
With a population of around six million, it is India’s fourth largest city. With the Bay of Bengal on the east, the city is the gateway to the rest of South India. There are verdant green patches found amidst the high-tech, high-rise buildings. The city was called Madras till 1996 and then renamed Chennai
WThis afternoon, proceed for a half day sightseeing of Chennai. Visit the Government Museum (CLOSED ON FRIDAY) and Art Gallery with its fantastic bronze collection of jewelry, musical instruments and modern sculptures. Also visit the St. Mary’s Church and drive along the Marina beach, the second longest beach in the world. (B)
DAY 14: DEPART CHENNAI
Transfer to the airport in time to board flight for onward destination.
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