South India Temple Tour

Kerala & South India ToursSouth India Temple Tour

Your voyage to South India Temples bigin from Chennai the colonial port city of India. As advance toward the journey you will visit to Kanchipuram the city of thousand temple and one of the four math for Sankaracharya. Some of the UNESCO World Heritage listed temples and world renowned Auroville Asharm of Pondicherry are the part of your itinerary. The beach resort will be added advantage for your accommation. The tour can be combined with Backwater of Kerala

  • Days: 07 Nights / 08 Days
  • Cost: Please enquire
Day 1: Arrive Chennai
 
Day 2: Chennai – Mahabalipuram
 
Day 3: Mahabalipuram
 
Day 4: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry 110Kms/ 3hrs approx]
 
Day 5: Tanjore – Trichy - Madurai (180kms / 5hrs approx)
 
Day 6: Madurai
 
Day 7: Madurai – Chennai 
Day 1: Arrive Chennai
 
Arrive Chennai airport, meet & greet with our office representative. Assistance and transfer to hotel. Rest day free for personal activities. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 2: Chennai – Mahabalipuram
 
Breakfast at hotel, AM: city tour of Chennai, visit the San Thome Cathederal, built on the site of a 16th century Portuguese basilica which is said to be the tomb of the apostle Thomas, who is reputed to have brought Christianity to India in the 1st century AD. The tour also includes St Thomas Mount, the Little Mount Shrine, the Fort St George, St Mary's Church, and the Fort Museum which has a collection of objects from the tenure of the East India Company in Chennai including letters from Robert Clive. The Marina Beach is the second longest in the world. Walk along the surf-kissed edge, coast along the Drive, relax in your shorts, take the kids to the aquarium, sip coconut water, but worshippers of the sun, beware! You’ll offend everyone if you bring out your bikini. Rumours of sharks and sharp eddies keep all but the bravest away. The academy of classical dance and music, Kalakshetra or 'Temple of Art’ is in Thiruvanmayur. Run on the ancient lines of gurukul education, it frequently presents recitals of classical music and Bharatnatyam in town. The Government Museum and Art Gallery has objects of art, sculptures and carvings from the Chola, Pandya, Pallava, and the Vijayanagar periods.
 
PM: Drive Mahabalipuram, en-route visit Kanchipuram [130Kms/ 3hrs approx]
 
Enroute visit Kanchipuram or Land of Thousand Temples is a small, rural town about 75-km from Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu. With the Sankara Mutt acting as the hub of Hindu activities and the temples, Kanchipuram is one of the most highly visited pilgrimage spots in India, and can rightfully be called the "Kanchipuram was under the Pallavas from the 6th to 8th century AD and later became the citadel of the Cholas, Vijayanagar Kings, the Muslim and the British. It has been a center of Tamil learning, cultural and religious background for centuries. Kanchipuram has magnificent temples of unique architectural beauty bearing eloquent testimony to its glorious Dravidian heritage.
 
On arrival check in to hotel in Mahabalipuram. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 3: Mahabalipuram
 
Breakfast at hotel. Mahabalipuram: A small temple town of Tamil Nadu is situated along the shores of the Bay of Bengal. Mahabalipuram, or Mamallapuram, was the chief seaport of the Pallavas who ruled over much of South India from as early as the first century B.C to the eighth century A.D., and it is now recognized as the site of some of the greatest architectural and sculptural achievements in India
 
The sheer sculptural extravaganza of the rock-cut temples is not only reflective of the artistic tastes of the erstwhile Pallava rulers: the temples are also regarded as the birthplace of an entirely new style of architecture, which came to be known as the South Indian temple architecture. 
 
Mahabalipuram art can be divided into four categories: open air bas - relief, structured temples, man-made caves and rathas ('chariots' carved from single boulders, to resemble temples or chariots used in temple processions). The famous Arjuna's Penance and the Krishna Mandapa, adorn massive rocks near the centre of the village. The beautiful Shore Temple towers over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. Sixteen man-made caves in different stages of completion are also seen, scattered through the area.
 
Visit the Cave Temples which excavated by scooping out the scarp of the hill. The scooping work starts from front to back. The cave temple is usually divided into inner & outer mandapas, distinguished by the difference in levels. The front mandapa will have pillars & plasters numbering 4,6,8,10. The inner mandapa contains single, triple or five cells. The cave temple with little modification is categorized as Mamalla style. The pillars under this style are slender & taller with squatting lion at their base. The pillar is divided into distinct parts known as kalasa, tadi, kumba, padma etc. Monolithic Temples are locally known as Rathas. They were executed by chiseling out the exterior face of the boulder. Work started from top to bottom. The pyramidal vimana with sikhara at the top is an important feature of this style. It can be rightly said that these monolithic temples must have paved the way for the structural temples with elaborate architectural & sculptural details in the subsequent stage. There a total number of 8 monolithic temples found in Mamallapuram. The five rathas in one place, Ganesha Ratha, Valayankuttai Ratha & Pidari Rathas. Five Rathas, a small hill sloping from south to north has been segmented into five divisions & converted into monolithic temples. The heights of the segments have been cleverly used for temples with single tier to three-tiered vimana. Each monolithic temples shows different kind of sikhara. The five rathas are Dharmaraja Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Draupadi Ratha and Nakul Sahadev Ratha. Shore Temple, The Shore Temple on the Bay of Bengal was constructed in the 7th century during the rule of King Narsimha-Varman II Rajasimha (c. 690-728).The Shore temples is a temple complex consisting of two Siva temples and a carving of Anantasayana Vishnu. The temple facing east is entered by a small gopura. On plan, it consists of a small sanctum & a front mandapa & is a two-tired vimana. The sanctum is housing a linga. The Somaskanda panel consisting of Siva & Parvati with baby Skanda is on the back wall of the sanctum. The dhara linga & Somaskanda panel on the back wall of the sanctum are the features of the Pallava temples only. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 4: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry 110Kms/ 3hrs approx]
 
Breakfast at hotel, drive to Pondicherry. On arrival check in to hotel
 
PM: Sightseeing of Pondicherry, The name Pondicherry has been derived from the Tamil word Puducheri signifying 'the new settlement'. It was a French settlement that comprised Pondy, Yanam, Karaikal, and Mahe. Amazing is the fact that different districts of Pondicherry fall under different states. The capital Pondicherry is situated in the state of Tamil Nadu at a distance of around 200 km from Chennai. While Karaikal is also a part of Tamil Nadu, Mahe is located in Kerala, and Yanam is in Andhra Pradesh. There is a strong influence of French culture on Pondicherry town, especially on it's architecture, a result of the centuries-old relations this place maintained with France. Today, Pondicherry is more famous because of its relation with Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo selected this peaceful and harmonious place to make his abode in the second decade of this century and remained there till his death. A political revolutionary before coming to Pondicherry, he became one of the most famous sages of modern times produced by India.
 
Shree Aurobindo and The Mother, his most eminent disciple, set up the Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville in 1926. Together they explored the possibilities of yoga and meditation as a path to salvation. At the Ashram residents continue to practice their teachings and run a lot of the cultural activity in Pondicherry. There is an educational centre, which occasionally hosts lectures, screens films and holds play performances. The sun, surf and sand are best at the beaches a little outside town. Called Serenity, Quiet and Reppo they manage to live up to their name. The town beach has a 4-meter high statue of Mahatma Gandhi and French World War I memorial. There is a 150-year-old lighthouse also. The French Institute is in a stylish colonial building. It has some remarkable old French books that are very rare. The Romain Rolland library has over 60,000 volumes and overlooks the sea. Along with the ‘kepis’ capped cops and its streets being called ‘rue’, it is the churches that help the town retain its European charm. The church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception or Notre Dame de la Conception is almost 300 years old. The church to Our Lady of Angels is famous for an oil painting that was gifted by Napoleon III. The most magnificent however is the grand gothic Sacred Heart Church with 3 stained glass panels of the life of Christ. Just outside town is a copy of the Basilica at Lourdes. Many temples around Pondicherry are dedicated to Ganesh, the half man half pachyderm god who is the Destroyer of all Obstacles. The oldest ones date back to the 10th century Chola Empire. The Vinaynagar Manakula temple has a golden dome and a collection of 40 beautiful friezes. The temple to the local goddess Drowpattiamman has a fire festival in July-August.
 
The Botanical Gardens are pleasant for a stroll and the aquarium has a collection of exotic ornamental fish. The Pondicherry Museum has a really eclectic collection of this, that and the other. It has an art collection, Pallava sculptures, handicraft, weaponry, archaeology, geology and the old French governor Dupleix’s bed, an old palanquin and such interesting odds and ends! The Jawahar Toy Museum has a collection of dolls dressed up to represent every state in India. Also visit Auroville is something of an avante garde community 10 km from Pondicherry. It was instituted by The Mother in 1968 as an experiment in international living. The aim was spiritual regeneration and communal harmony. Over 1200 people are divided into several communes like ‘Forecomers’, ‘Grace’, ‘Sincerity’ etc with each commune engaged in a separate field of research. Casual tourists aren’t encouraged but anyone with a genuine interest in the philosophy is welcome. Auroville is sprawling so the biking there, around and back will be heavy work. Mopeds might be a better idea. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 5: Pondicherry - Tanjore (190Kms/4hrs approx)
 
Morning after breakfast drive to Tanjore. On arrival check in to hotel 
 
PM: Sightseeing of Tanjore or Thanjavur was the ancient capital of the Chola kings whose origins, go back to the beginning of the Christian era. Power struggles between these groups were a constant feature of their early history, with one or other gaining the ascendancy at various times. The Cholas' turn for empire building came between 850 and 1270 AD and , at the height of their power. Probably the greatest chola emperors were Raja Raja who was responsible for building the Brihadishwara Temple ( Thanjavur main attraction ) and his son Rajendra-I whose navy competed with the Arabs for controls of the Indian Ocean trade routes and who was responsible for bringing Srivijaya under Chola control.
 
Thanjavur District is the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu. The Big Temple and the other famous temples in the district are known all over the world. Thanjavur was the cultural capital of the country in 1790. Thanjavur gained prominence during the period of Chola Kings, who made it as their capital. Thereafter, it was ruled by Nayaks and Maratta Kings, who nurtured art and culture. The cultural, the architectural and the scholarly pursuits of these rulers are reflected in the great monuments like Grand Anaicut, Big Temple and Serfoji Mahal Library etc. in the district. Thanjavur rose to glory during the later Chola reign between the 10th and 14th Centuries and became a centre of learning and culture. It is the headquarters of Thanjavur district, the 'Rice Bowl' of Tamil Nadu. It is also known for its exquisite handicrafts, bronzes and South Indian Musical Instruments.
 
The main tourist attractions of Tanjore are Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort : built by great Chola king in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in world heritage. On the top of the apex of 63 metres high, a dome is said to be constructed from a single piece of granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones. Thanjavur Palace & Museum : the palace near the temple is a vast building of masonry built by the Nayakas around 1550 and partly by the Maratha. The palace houses an art gallery, a library and a hall of music. The art gallery occupies the Nayak Durbar Hall. It has a superb collection of Chola bronze statues from the 9th to 12th centuries. The Saraswati mahal Library is next door to the gallery. Art Gallery : In the Palace there are a number of granite and bronze statues of the Chola period. Visiting Times: 9.00 - 13.00 hrs and 15.00 - 18.00 hrs. Saraswathi Mahal Library : In another section of the Palace is the library where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in India and European languages are preserved.Visiting Times: 9.00 - 13.00 hrs and 14.00 - 17.00 hrs.Wednesday Holiday. Schwartz Church : (In the Palace garden) Built in 1779 AD by Rajah Serfoji in token of his affection for the Rev.C.V.Schwartz of the Danish mission. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 6: Tanjore – Trichy - Madurai (180kms / 5hrs approx)
 
After breakfast at hotel drive to Madurai, Enroute visit Trichy.
 
Trichy: Situated on the banks of the river Cauvery, Tiruchirappalli is the fourth largest city in Tamil Nadu. It was a citadel of the early Cholas which later fell to the Pallavas. Trichy is a fine blend of tradition and modernity built around the Rock Fort. The most famous land mark of this bustling town is the Rockfort Temple, a spectacular monument perched on a massive rocky out crop which rises abruptly from the plain to tower over the old city.
 
Sightseeing of Trichy Rock Fort Temple: The 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the otherwise flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3.800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. The fort played an important part during the Carnatic wars and according to an inscription, mainly contributed to lay the foundations of the British Empire in India. At the top of the rock is the Uchipillaiyar Koil, a temple dedicated to Lord Vinayaka from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of Tiruchirappalli. A flight of steps leads to the Mathrubutheswarar of Thayumanaswami temple, dedicated to Lord Siva where the lingam is a projection of the rock itself. Below the Siva temple are the two Pallava cave temples that have beautiful sculptures of the 6th and 7th centuries. At the foot of the Rock Fort are a tank and a pavilion which are used during the float festival of the temples. Near the tank is the house where Robert Clive lived when he was in Tiruchirappalli and there is an 18th century Church built by Reverend Schwartz of Denmark. The Rock fort Hillock is said to be 230 crore years old. The materials like Quartz used in glass making and felspar used in ceramic are found in this Rock formation.
 
Tiruvanaikkaval: The Jambukeshwara temple, here, is dedicated to Shiva, and it houses five concentric walls, and seven gopurams. once an elephant worshipped Lord Shiva under the holy Jambu tree and hence the name Jambukeshwar. Srirangam Temple or Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple: Srirangam, situated around a distance of 7 kms this small island town in the Cauvery River is encircled by the temple walls. There are 22 gopurams including India’s tallest (72 meters, 13 storey high), which was built in 1987 while the others date back to the 14th century.Many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and rulers from Vijayanagar. An annual Car Festival is held here in January during which a decorated wooden chariot is pulled through the streets between various walls. In mid-December, the Vaikunda Ekadasi, or Paradise Festival will be celebrated in the Vishnu Temple. Ivory sculptures of Lord Vishnu in various poses and the images of Nayak Kings with consorts donated by Nayak kings who ruled Madurai during the 17th century are available here. St. John's Church : Built in 1812, this Church has louvred doors, which when opened, turns the church into an airy pavilion. The brilliant architecture of the church is a treat to the eyes. Continue drive to Madurai, check-in to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 7: Madurai
 
Breakfast at hotel, city tour of Madurai 
 
Madurai, originally known as Madhurapuri got its name from the falling of divine nectar from Lord Shiva's rocks. This ancient city has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. Madurai is belieed that this is more than 2500 years old ancient city, situated on the banks of the river Vaigai Madurai is believed to have been built by the Pandyan King Kulasekara. Madurai was the capital of the Pandyan Kings. The Chola emperors captured the city in the 10th century A.D. The Pandyas regained their rule in the 12th century only to lose it to the Muslim invaders under Malik Kafur. The Vijaynagar kings of Hampi defated Malik Kafur. After the fall of Vijaynagar, in 1565, the Nayaks ruled Madurai till 1781 A.D. Major portion of the Meenakshi temple was constructed during the Nayak regime. During the rule of the Nayaks Madurai became the cultural centre of the Tamil people. In 1781, Maduri passed on to the East India Company. The company demolished the fort surrounding the city and filled in the moat. Four streets, the Veli streets, which were constructed on top of the fill, till today, define the limits of the old city. The 200 year old reign of the Natakas marked the golden era when art, architecture and learning scaled new heights.
 
Visit, Meenakshi Temple: This temple is the city's main attraction. This temple is nearly 2000 years old placed in the heart of the old town - a splendid example of Dravidian architecture. A striking feature of the temple is the astonishing structure know as “Ayiramkaal Mandapam” or the Hall of Thousand Pillars and each pillar features high, ornate, bold sculptures that look life like. The present temple was designed in 1560 by Vishwanatha Nayak and subsequently built during the reign of Tirumalai Nayak. There are four entrances to the temple with an area of six hectares. Each of its 12 towers has the height of 45 to 50 meters. The Potrama Raikulam or the Golden Lotus Tank is the place where the Tamil literacy society, called Sangam used to meet to decide the merits of the work presented to them. The temple museum has 985 richly carved pillars and each one surpasses the other in beauty. Visiting Timings : The temple is usually open between 0500hrs and 1230hrs and again between 1600 hrs and 21.30 hrs.
 
Tirumalai Nayak Mahal: This Indo-Saracenic building was built in 1636 by the ruler whose name it bears. The imposing edifice is famous for the “Stuccowork” on its domes and impressive arches. The Sorgavilasam (Celestial Pavilion), measuring 75m x 52m, constructed entirely of brick and mortar without the support of a single rafter or girder, is a marvel of indo-Saracenic architectural style. Among other striking features of the palace are the massive white pillars, several of which line the corridor that runs along the courtyard. Connected by high decorated arches, these pillars measure 20m in height and have a circumference of 4m. Elsewhere, there are polished black stone pillars of varying heights. It was King Thirumalai Nayak’s grandson who demolished much of the fine structure and removed most of the jewels and woodcarvings in order to build his own palace in Tiruchirapalli. (His dream never came true). There’s daily sound and light show in English at 1845 hrs and in Tamil at 2015 hrs. This half an hour show extols the virtues of King Thirumalai, particularly his passion for arts, his victories in battle and his love for his subjects. Visiting Timings : The Palace is open for visitors between 0900hrs and 1300 hrs and again between 1400 hrs and 1700 hrs.
 
Gandhi Museum: The 300-year-old palace now converted into Museum has a picture gallery, a library of personal memorable of the Mahatma Gandhi and an exhibit of South Indian handicrafts and village industries. Timings: 1000hrs to 1300 hrs and 1400 hrs to 1730 hrs. (Open all days)
 
Vaniyur Mariamman Teppakulam: This enormous temple tank is fed by water from the Vaigai river. Mariamman Teppakulam is a beautiful square tank spread over a huge area of almost 16 acres, located about 5Kms East of Meenakshi Temple. The tank is the scene of the colourful float festival held in January/February to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Thirumalai Nayak, who built this tank. The deities of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed in a float, called “Teppam”, decorated with flowers and illuminated with hundred of lights. This float is taken around the tank to the sound of traditional music. On the Northern side of the tank a temple is dedicated to Mariamman, a famous village deity of Tamil Nadu. Overnight at Hotel.
 
 
Day 8: Madurai – Chennai
 
Breakfast at hotel, transfer to airport to board flight SG304, 1000/1115hrs OR SG296, 1840/1940hrs for Chennai. From Chennai board connecting flight for your home country