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    Experience the charisma of the abundance of natural beauty, fascinating customs, cultural life, the unique art forms and traditions still preserved across the two major states of South India - Tamil Nadu and Kerala, a fascinating combination of temples and incredible nature. Your south Indian journey takes you from modern Chennai, once the first outpost of the British, to Cochin, the spice market of the world. On the journey, visit Mahabalipuram, Madurai and Tanjore, all of which have played a major part in Tamil history and culture. Enjoy a whiff of French sophistication in Pondicherry; spot the wildlife in Periyar; laze in scenic Kumarakom and cruise through the backwater in a houseboat - voted among the world’s best travel experiences.

    Code: Bespoke

    Duration: 14 Nights

    Destinations: Chennai (2), Mahabalipuram (1), Pondicherry (1), Tanjore (2), Chettinad (1), Madurai (1), Periyar (2), Kumarakom (1), Alleppey (1), Cochin (1), Mumbai-Departure

    Theme: .

    Experience Highlights:

    • View UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Shore Temples of Mahabalipuram and Brihadeshwara in Tanjore.
    • Visit several unique temples in Trichy.
    • Visit the churches and cathedrals in Chennai, Pondicherry and Cochin.
    • View the mansions of Chettinad.
    • Learn about the manufacture of Athangudi tiles.
    • Enjoy the peace and tranquility of Kerala’s backwaters on a cruise.
    • Relaxation massage and traditional therapies.
    • Enjoy a boat ride and spot wildlife in Periyar.
    • Learn about Sri Aurobindo’s unique philosophy in Auroville.
    • Witness the Chinese fishing nets, Dutch Palace, Jewish quarters and spice market in Cochin.
    • An exhilarating Kathakali performance.
    • Enjoy the Indian Cuisine.
    • Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences...

    Day 1: Arrive Chennai 
    Upon arrival at Chennai International Airport, you will be met by our representative, who will assist with the journey to the hotel and your check-in. You will spend two nights in Chennai.

    Chennai or Madras as it was known is the capital of Tamil Nadu. It is a teeming, sprawling, bustling industrial metro established on the site of a fishing village in 1639 as a first British settlement in India by the English merchant, Francis Day. Later, The East India Company developed Chennai as one of the major trading centers in India. Chennai has a blend of Dravidian and Gothic architecture in its buildings. The city might have grown but it has never lost its traditional grace and charm. The Tamil society might have incorporated English culture but the Dravidian roots are as strong as ever. Here many interesting churches still remain from the first British settlement in India. This coastal city has a beautiful promenade and a string of waterfront Indo-sarsenic buildings.

     
     
    Day 2: In Chennai 
    After a leisurely breakfast, begin a tour of Chennai with the High Court Building and then proceed to the San Thome Basilica, built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers. This structure was rebuilt in the neo-gothic style, and it was given the status of a cathedral by the British in 1893. Then visit Fort St George, also known as White Town, the first British fortress in India, founded in 1639. The construction of the fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity for the British East India Company. Today, the Fort serves as the administrative headquarters for Tamil Nadu, and still houses a garrison for troops in transit to various locations in South India and the Andamans.

    End the tour with a visit to the Bronze Gallery at the Museum, known for its unique bronze sculptures, and a visit to Marina Beach, along the Bay of Bengal. The beach runs from near Fort St. George in the north to Besant Nagar in the south, a distance of 13 km (8.1 mi), making it the longest urban beach in the country and the world's second longest. You could also visit Elliot's Beach, popularly known as "Besant Nagar Beach" or "Bessie", located in Besant Nagar. It forms the end-point of the Marina Beach shore and is named after Edward Elliot, Governor of Madras. The Velankanni Church and the Ashtalakshmi Kovil are located nearby.

    In the evening, a well groomed host takes you for dinner to a city restaurant where you witness the local culture whilst getting an insight into the life in Chennai.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 3: Chennai - Mahabalipuram 
    After breakfast drive, to Mahabalipuram, visiting Crocodile Farm, a reptile zoo and herpetology center, en route. It is located 40 kilometres south of the city of Chennai. This is the first crocodile-breeding center in Asia and is under the purview of the Central Zoo Authority, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. It was established with the aim of saving three endangered species of Indian crocodiles—the marsh or mugger crocodile, the saltwater crocodile, and the gharial, which, at the time of founding of the trust, were all nearing extinction.

    Check in at the hotel on arrival in Mahabalipuram and enjoy lunch.

    In the afternoon take an excursion of the city. Mahabalipuram was a port city in the 7th century, when the Pallavas were in power. It was named after Mahendravarman, a Pallava king. Mahabalipuram is known for the Shore Temples, rock-cut temples dating back to the 7th century, which heralded the birth of the Dravidian style of temple architecture. Since Mahabalipuram contains several fine examples of Pallava architecture, created between the 7th-9th centuries, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 4: Mahabalipuram - Pondichery 
    After breakfast, drive to Pondicherry (3-4 hours). En route, visit Auroville, which was envisioned as a town where people from different nationalities, faiths and beliefs could live in peace and harmony. At its spiritual and physical heart is the futuristic golden spherical structure known as Matrimandir, dedicated to the universal mother, which seemingly rises out of the earth and represents a symbol of the Divine's answer to man's aspiration for perfection. The outside is plated with gold, while the inside is stark white with a gigantic crystal in the center.

    Pondicherry, or Puducherry, which was a French colony from the 17th century onwards, exhibits French influence in its architecture, the red caps of the local police, its food, its graffiti and signage and its monuments. It is an interesting mixture of French and Tamil culture.

    Upon arrival in Pondicherry, check-in at the hotel and enjoy lunch. Later, visit the Aurobindo Ashram, the final resting place of Sri Aurobindo, a Saint/Yogi who synthesized yoga and modern science. Also visit the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which has some beautiful stained glass windows depicting the life of Jesus.

    In the evening, take a walk in the French quarter of the city.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 5: Pondicherry - Tanjore 
    After breakfast drive, to Tanjore. (4 hours). En route, you can either visit White City or the seaside. Upon arrival in Tanjore, check-in at the hotel and enjoy lunch.

    Thanjavur or Tanjore derives its name from Tanjan, a demon who caused devastation and was killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Sri Neelamegapperumal. Tanjan's last request, that the city might be named after him, was granted. Thanjavur is a very fertile area and is called the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu.

    Later in the day, visit the Brihadeshwara Temple, built in the Chola period and a fine example of Dravidian architecture, and the Archaeological Museum. Brihadishwara’s cupola is made of a single granite block, weighing 80 tons, which was raised using a 6-kilometer long ramp, a technique used by the Egyptians when building pyramids.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 6: In Tanjore (Day excursion to Tirchy) 
    After breakfast, go on an excursion to Trichy, to visit the temples dedicated to Lords Ganapathi and Shiva. There are 434 steps cut into the side of a mountain, which lead to the temple. As you climb up, you will note the many shrines that you pass on your way. Another flight of stairs takes you to the Shiva temple. At the top, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River. Visit Srirangam, a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, which contains a bazaar within its walls.

    Return to Tanjore and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 7: Tanjore - Chettinad 
    After breakfast, drive to Chettinad (up to 2 hrs). Upon arrival, check in at the hotel.

    Chettinad, a region of the Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu, is well known for its culinary delicacies. It is also rich in cultural heritage, art and architecture. Since its inhabitants were known for their involvement in trade and commerce, the houses built here were embellished with marble and Burma teak, featuring wide courtyards and spacious rooms. Enjoy lunch at the hotel.

    Later, take a walk to visit artisans’ workshops and admire the splendid architecture of the mansions, reflecting the opulence of a bygone era. Learn about the unique art of making Athangudi tiles, which are manufactured in the nearby village of Athangudi, of sand, water, cement and pigments to form simple but unique patterns.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 8: Chettinad - Madurai 
    After breakfast, travel to Madurai (2-3 hrs). Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel.

    Madurai is the oldest city in Tamil Nadu and lies on the banks of the River Vaigai. According to a legend, the local king, Kulashekhara Pandya dreamt of Lord Shiva, with drops of nectar or Madhu falling from his matted hair. It is this Madhu that gave the town its name, Madhurapuri or Madurai.

    In the evening, visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace, built in the Indo-Saracenic style, famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches. Later, visit the great Meenakshi Temple, dedicated to the consort of Lord Shiva, and participate in the aarti ceremony there.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 9: Madurai-Periyar 
    After breakfast, travel to Periyar (5-6 hours). Upon arrival, check in at the hotel and enjoy lunch.

    Periyar is a protected area, and a Project Tiger nature reserve in Kerala, set in the mountains of the Western Ghats on the border with Tamil Nadu. Periyar is situated in the Idukki district of God’s Own Country, Kerala. Periyar or Thekkady as it is commonly known is famous as one of the best places to see the Asian Elephant. Today, it is one of the very few strongholds of this magnificent pachyderm in Southern India. The uniqueness of this sanctuary is the Periyar Lake, an artificial lake, which was created by damming the Periyar River a century ago. Thekkady consists mainly of Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest. Some areas of the Thekkady also house pristine evergreen forests. The diversity of flora and fauna is absolutely amazing with a magnificent variety of animals - the elephant, the bison, Gaur, Sambar deer, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Nilgiri langur, Bonnet macaque, Lion-tailed macaque leopards, Jungle cats, Wild dogs and most importantly the tiger that is main predator in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

    In the afternoon visit a spice farm. Kumily is known for its enchanting spice and tea plantations sprawling over acres. You will see the how tea and spices are produced, from plantation to the factory. Walk through the avenue of Cardamom tress that provides shade to the small pods that grow from the bottom of the plant, glimpse cinnamon trees, Rubber plants and Coffee trees.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 10: In Periyar 
    This morning take Boat ride on Periyar Lake, an incredible way to experience the sanctuary. There are an estimated 700 elephants roaming freely in these forests. Most of the population is generally concentrated on the banks of the Periyar Lake and come to the lake to frolic in the water. Best chance to observe wildlife with large herds of elephant and other animals.

    Return to the hotel for breakfast and spend the afternoon at leisure. Use the time to experience some of the traditional massage therapies that Kerala is famous for.

    Late in the afternoon visit a nearby area for the most spectacular Elephant Safari. Take an elephant ride through the dense forest on elephant backs to explore the landscape. The Mahaut (Elephant Trainer) provides you with interesting details. Arrive back at the camp after the ride to bathe and feed elephants. Enjoy the elephants being trained over a cup of tea as the Sun sets.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 11: Periyar-Kumarakom 
    After breakfast, drive to Kumarakom (5 hours). Upon arrival, check-in at the hotel.

    Kumarakom is an emerald peninsula of paddy fields, meandering lagoons and backwaters that juts out into Lake Vembanad. This area consists of a labyrinth of canals and lakes that stretch between Cochin and Quilon. The backwaters are where you glimpse the daily life of the villagers—from children splashing in the water to women washing clothes; from fishermen digging for fish with their feet to barges transporting coconut and rice from one village to the next—with an overriding sense of peace and tranquility permeating this stunning region.

    Early afternoon take a private cooking class (approx. 90 minutes) to explore both vegetarian and non-vegetarian south Indian cuisine. The cooking session will acquaint us with the typical culinary delights of Southern India. Savor the authentic delicacies cooked with traditional exotic spices, a gastronomical bliss.

    Spend the rest of the day at leisure or get an Ayurvedic massage, a health treatment for which Kerala is famous. The exact treatment can be decided as per the suggestions of inhouse experts.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 12: Kumarakom - Alleppey 
    After breakfast at the hotel, late in the morning board your traditional houseboat (ketuvallam). Enjoy cruising around the backwaters - the palm-lined banks and quiet water-bound villages. Behind the Kerala coast extends one of the most fascinating landscapes of India - half water, half land. A maze of lagoons, rivers and canals runs through the palm-shaded country. Glide through the backwaters in your houseboat. Your personal chef cooks traditional dishes for your palate while the butler looks after your every comfort as you proceed through this sojourn. At sunset, the boat halts and you can enjoy fresh food cooked on board the houseboat.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 13: Alleppey - Cochin 
    Enjoy breakfast on board and sail to disembark and continue, drive to Cochin (1.5 hours). Upon arrival, you will be met by our representative, who will assist with check in at the hotel.

    Cochin, the most charming city in Kerala, was the first port of call for Arabs, Chinese and , European traders, who sailed here to buy spices for their home markets. Cochin was ruled first by the Portuguese in the 16th century, then by the Dutch in the 17th century and finally by the British in the 18th century. Each of these foreign influences left their mark, resulting in a distinctly Indo-European culture, most evident in the architecture.

    Visit the city, to witness shore operated lift nets using the Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi. Also view St. Francis Church, the oldest European church in India; the Mattancherry Palace, also known as Dutch Palace; and Jew Town, including the Jewish synagogue--the oldest synagogue in the commonwealth. Explore the spice markets and shop for souvenirs in the antique bazaars of Jew Town.

    Enjoy a relaxing, hour-long massage at the hotel.

    In the evening, enjoy a Kathakali performance. This highly ritualized dance depicts incidents from the Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. The dancers narrate the story through intricate facial expressions and gestures, with sudden leaps, spins and freeze balances, each wearing fantastic costumes and elaborate make up.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Day 14: Cochin – Mumbai 
    After a leisure morning and breakfast, we take you to the airport to catch your flight for Mumbai.

    Upon arrival at Mumbai International Airport, you will be met by our representative and taken for a glimpse of the city.

    In the evening we take you for a farewell dinner before going to the airport to board your flight back home.

    Meals :: B L D
     
     
    Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences…
    Day City Luxury Deluxe Superior
    1ChennaiVivanta by Taj ConnemaraVivanta by Taj CoromandelThe Pride
    2ChennaiVivanta by Taj ConnemaraVivanta by Taj CoromandelThe Pride
    3MahabalipuramVivanta by Taj Fisherman's CoveRadisson Temple BayRadisson Temple Bay
    4PondicherryWindflower ResortLe DupleixHotel Atithi
    5TanjoreHotel SangamHotel SangamHotel Sangam
    6TanjoreHotel SangamHotel SangamHotel Sangam
    7ChettinadChidambara VilasChidambara VilasChettinadu Court
    8MaduraiThe GatewayThe GatewayHotel Sangam
    9PeriyarSpice VillageShalimar Spice VillageThekkady Wild Corridor
    10PeriyarSpice VillageShalimar Spice VillageThekkady Wild Corridor
    11KumarakomKumarakom Lake ResortCoconut LagoonBackwater Ripples
    12Alleppey (House Boat)Rainbow - LuxuryRainbow - PremiumRainbow - Deluxe
    13CochinBrunton BoatyardVivanta by Taj MalabarCasino Hotel by CGH Earth
    14MumbaiLeela Kempinski
    Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences...
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    Theme: Heritage & City Life

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    Contact us for reservations & more details. All Experiences can be tailor-made to suit your interests and travel preferences…