South India Luxury Tour -
Chennai, Mamallapuram, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Kothamangalam (Chettinad), Madurai, Thekkady, Periyar Nature Sanctuary, Kovalam, Kanyakumari, Alleppey, Kochi, Hassan, Belur, Halebid, Mysore & Bangalore
Discover the dramatic variations in the landscape, cultures, languages and cuisines of the three southernmost states of India: Tamilnadu, Kerala & Karnataka. Explore Tamilnadu's temple towns of Kanchipuram, Thanjavur and Madurai. Pondicherry, a former colony still retains its French colonial architecture and language. Wonder at the Chettiar mansions in Karaikudi, the traditional home of the Nagarathar business community that became very affluent during the early period of British East India Company rule when they expended their money lending business to southeast Asia. Because of the unique architecture of their mansions in Karaikudi, the town is declared a heritage town. Cross the western Ghats in to Periyar National Park and further in to spice growing region of Kerala. Kochi with its rich history of Jewish, Dutch, Portuguese and British traders is also the home of the ancient tradition of Kathakali dance drama. Visit the medieval Hindu temples at Belur & Halebidu near Hassan as well as the former capital town of Mysore before returning from Bangalore.
This private tour can custom designed to include cities & sites of your choice, and using hotels of prefered category. In the below mentioned itinerary the best hotels are selected in each place.
Day 1, USA:
Board the international flight.
Day 2, Chennai:
Arrive in Chennai airport after mid-night. Arrival time may vary depending on airline and schedule. Traditional welcome with fresh flower garlands. Transfer to Radison Blu Hotel Center City Chennai in St. Thomas Mount area. for overnight.
Day 3, Chennai - Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) (52 Kilometers or 33 Miles):
Full day sightseeing of Chennai including St. Thomas Basilica, Fort St. George including museum, and National Art Gallery in Edgemore area. Lunch will be in city restaurant during sightseeing. Dinner and overnight in Radisson Blu Center City Chennai.
Day 4, Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram):
After breakfast drive to Mamallapuram. Full day sightseeing of the famous Shore Temples (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava rulers of Kanchipuram. The village has revived the ancient craft of the Pallava sculptors and there are many shops selling fine sculptures chiseled out of granite by the local craftsmen. Some of the impressive sites that are included: the Descent of the Ganges (Arjuna’s Penance), which has intricate rock carving, small cave temples and the Five Rathas. Mahabalipuram also has a most beautiful shoreline and fine beaches. Overnight in Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram.
Day 5, Monday, Mahabalipuram – Kanchipuram - Pondicherry:
AM: Kanchipuram: Afternoon visit to this ancient temple town. This spectacular temple city is one of the seven sacred cities of India. The temples and Gopurams are reminders of the beauty of Dravidian architecture. The Ekambaresvara Temple covers nine hectares, has a 59 Meters high Gopuram, a 1000-pillared hall and a sacred mango tree that is said to be 3500 years old. Two temples - Kailasanatha and Vaikunta Perumal Temple - finely reflect the early Dravidian architecture. Kanchipuram is also famous for its high quality hand-woven silk fabrics and many shops offer these products at competitive prices.
PM: drive 58 kilometers or 37 miles to Pondicherry, the former French colony enclave in Tamil Nadu. Check-in to Palais de Mahe Hotel. Overnight in Palais de Mahe Hotel.
Day 6, Pondicherry – Thanjavur (167 kilometers or 104 miles):
AM: Visit Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, Prominade by Bay of Bengal, Eglise de Notre Dame de la Conception Immaculee Church (oldest church in Pondicherry built initially in 1686 CE, Raj Niwas (Governor’s House was formerly the French Governor’s residence).
After lunch drive 167 Kilometers or 104 Miles to Thanjavur (Tanjore). In the afternoon visit the Brihadeeshwar Temple and enjoy the Sayaratchai evening puja (prayers). Overnight in Ideal River View Resort.
Day 7, Thanjavur:
The Art Gallery in Thanjavur has a superb collection of bronze statues from the 9th to 12th centuries CE. The Brihadeeswar Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is an outstanding example of the Chola architecture built by the great king, Raja Raja I in the 10th century CE. Guarding the inner shrine of the temple is the gigantic statue of Nandi, the Bull. The courtyard walls of the sanctum are covered with wall paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods, comparable to the famous Ajanta cave frescoes. Later visit the Palace of Nayak rulers and the Serforji's Saraswathi Mahal Museum and Library. Overnight in Ideal River View Resort.
Day 07, Thanjavur to Kothamangalam (Chettinad) 93 kilometers or 58 miles:
After breakfast drive about 2 hours to the Heritage Saratha Vilas Hotel in Kothmangalam. The Chettinad region is hidden treasure of palatial mansions of Chettiar businessmen from 19th. and 20th. centuries. The rich Chettiar traders spread all over south-east Asia with the rise of East India Company but never lost touch with their villages in Chettinad. In this semi-arid region they built huge aristocratic mansions with materials from south-east Asia as well as from Europe and in a unique architecture blending finest elements ancient Tamil and European renaissance design. Saratha Vilas Hotel is very tastefully renovated and decorated by Bernard Dragon and Michel Adment, two French architects. The building was originally built in 1905 by Tiru S.A.S. Subramanian Chettiar, a wealthy Tamil merchant and banker. Explore the architectural treasures in Kothamangalam, Karaikudi and nearby towns. Overnight in Saratha Vilas or Chidambaram Vilas in Pudukottai near Karaikudi.
Day 9, Friday, December 30, 2016, Kothamangalam - Madurai (94 kilometers or 58 miles):
After breakfast drive about 2 hours to Tamilnadu's most famous temple town, Madurai. Madurai is a pilgrimage city and its biggest attraction is the Sri Meenakshi temple, which is an epitome of Dravidian architecture, covered from top to bottom with multi colored sculptures of Gods, animals and mythical figures.
It has huge and well-decorated entrance gateways and sprawling premises full of activity with a colourful temple elephant, flower sellers and performing temple musicians. This temple is most of the times very crowded and one can observe large crowds of visiting Indian pilgrims.
Later visit the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in 1636. In the evening enjoy the Sound & Light Show in Thirumalai Nayak Palace Overnight in Heritage Madurai Hotel.
Day 10, Madurai - Thekkady:
After breakfast enjoy south India's most scenic highway through the hilly region between Tamilnadu & Kerala. The 140 Kilometers or 87 Mile journey with hair-pin curves takes about 5 hours.
The small town lies surrounded by tea and spice plantations, a typical south Indian mountain landscape. It is one of the best places to buy high quality Indian spices. In a Spice Garden traditional spice varieties like cardamom, pepper, anis, and many others can be seen on a guided tour. Overnight stay at Spice Village, Thekkady.
Day 11, Thekkady - Periyar excursion:
Periyar National Park is one of the most famous Nature and Animal reserves in south India. In the 77km2 protected area lives 800 elephants and around 35 tigers. Visitors have several options. Early morning or late afternoon boat ride on the Periyar Lake running through the sanctuary provides an opportunity to watch wild animals like elephants, deer and scores of water birds. Also to be recommended is a trek with a reserve guide. The highlight is a singular program that combines the trekking and bamboo rafting which takes the visitor deep into the national park. Often on such an excursion wild elephants can be observed. Overnight in Spice Village, Thekkady.
Day 12, Periyar - Kovalam:
After breakfast drive 253 Kilometers or 157 Miles to Kovalam. Rest of the afternoon to relax on beach. An appealing beach, Kovalam lies about 12km south of Trivandrum. It consists of two palm-fringed beaches separated by rocky headlands. There are numerous bars and cafes lined up on the shore side and you can enjoy a variety of fresh seafood or continental cuisine. Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Green Cove in Kovalam.
Day 13, Kovalam:
Drive to Kanyakumari – the southernmost tip of Indian peninsula, a distance of about 76 kilometers or 44 miles in about 2 hours. Enjoy a boatride to the Vivekanand Rock Island Memorial and Our Lady of Ransom Church. Return to Kovalam and enjoy the beach. Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Green Cove in Kovalam.
Day 14, Kovalam:
After breakfast drive 158 Kilometers or 98 Miles to Alleppey to board the traditional air-conditioned Kerala Houseboat (former rice-boats) for a unique overnight experience. The romantic houseboats converted from former rice boats are ideal accommodation in the backwaters. Lunch, dinner and overnight in Kerala Backwaters Houseboat.
Day 15, Alleppey - Kochi:
After breakfast on the houseboat drive 76 Kilometers or 47 miles to Kochi. After lunch boat ride in Arabian Sea and visit to Bolghati Palace.
After dinner a spectacular Kerala Culture Evening with decorated elephant and Kathakali Dance-Drama performance. Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Malabar Hotel.
Day 16, Kochi:
After breakfast sightseeing of the winding narrow lanes Kochi that are home to some Old Dutch houses, spice markets, the Dutch Palace, India’s oldest European church built in1503 and a Jewish synagogue. Huge, elegant Chinese fishing nets that line the tip of Fort Cochin are a must see. Overnight in Vivanta by Taj Malabar Hotel.
Day 17, Sunday, Kochi – Bangalore - Hassan:
Morning is free to relax in hotel. Transfer to airport to board Jet Airways Flight 2614 departing at 11.15 am and arrive in Bangalore at 12.35 pm. After lunch in Taj Airport Hotel just across from arrival lounge of Bangalore airport, drive to Hassan in about 2.15 hours. Rest of the afternoon is free to relax in hotel. Overnight in Hoysala Village Resort.
Day 18, Hassan – Belur – Halebidu:
After full day sightseeing of Channakesava Temple at Belur and Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu. Overnight in Hoysala Village Resort.
Day 19, Hassan – Mysore:
After breakfast drive to Ranganatittu Bird and Crocodile Sanctuary on the way to Ranganathaswami Temple in Srirangapatnam (7.30 am to 1 pm & 4 to 8 pm) and Tipu Sultan’s summer palace; then drive further to Mysore for sightseeing of Mysore Palace (10 am to 5.30 pm). Overnight in Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Mysore.
Day 20, Mysore – Bangalore:
After breakfast visit the Nandi Bull Temple in Chamundi Hills on the way to Mysore Airport. Board the international flight around mid-night.
Day 21, Abu Dhabi- Los Angeles / Fresno:
Arrive in Fresno or Los Angeles during the day.
- Round trip international flight from USA to Chennai and return from Bangalore in Karnataka
- 18 overnights accommodation in the mentioned or similar standard hotels inclusive of taxes
- One overnight in deluxe air-conditioned Kerala Backwaters House Boat with all meals
- Daily buffet breakfast and 5-star dinners at your hotels.
- Air-conditioned deluxe coach.
- Bottled water 2 per day in coach
- Entrances to monuments
- English speaking local guides at each city for city tour only as per program
- English language Sound & Light Show in Thirumalai Nayak Mahal in Madurai
- Boat ride in Periyar + wild life tour
- Bharatnatyam dance-drama performance can be planned in Chennai
- Ancient Hindu temples in Tamilnadu - including the Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur
- Medieval Hindu temples at Belur and Halebidu as well as Mysore Palace
- Farewell dinner
- All taxes, parking fees, interstate taxes, state taxes, driver’s allowance etc.
- Single room occupancy supplement
- Visa Fees - Please apply online at https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
- International Travel Insurance
- Expenses of personal nature such as drinks in hotels & restaurants, telephone, laundry bills etc.
- Tips to drivers, guides and hotel porters
- Any additional expenses incurred due to any flight delay or cancellation, weather conditions, political closures, technical faults etc.
- Any other service/s not specified above
An advance payment is required to be paid with registration. The balance payment is due and payable 90 days before departure date from USA. Both advance and balance payments are to be paid by personal check in favor of "INDIA TRAVELLER".