Discovering South India
Route : Bangalore Hassan Mysore Ooty Kochi Kumarakom Periyar Madurai Tanjore Pondicherry Mahabalipuram Chennai
Upon your arrival in the hi- tech Indian city of Bangalore, you will be greeted by our representative at the International Airport. After a warm welcome, you will be escorted to your hotel for an overnight stay.
Bangalore to Hassan [185 Kms/4 Hrs]
After breakfast, enjoy a city tour of Bangalore visiting the Government museum (one of the oldest museums of India), Vidhan Soudha (state legislative chambers with magnificent amalgamation of modern and traditional Dravidian temple style architecture), the famous Bull Temple (which houses a huge granite monolith of Nandi, the holy Bull), ruins of the fort of Tipu Sultan and Lal Bagh Gardens (regarded as one of the most richly diverse botanical gardens in south Asia).
Later, drive to Hassan for overnight stay.
Hassan to Mysore [120 Kms/3 Hrs]
This morning, visit Belur, famous for its magnificent Hoysala Temple Complex with intricate sculptures. This is the only Hoysala Temple still in active worship. Also visit Halebidu, the erstwhile capital of the Hoysalas. The Hoysaleswara Temple here perched on a star-shaped base amidst lawns, is a sculptural extravaganza.
This afternoon, embark on your drive to Mysore for 2 nights stay.
Day in Mysore
This morning, enjoy a city tour of Mysore visiting the Maharaja's Palace, one of the biggest palaces in India; St Philomena's Church; Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in the Jag Mohan Palace, which has a collection of exquisite paintings.
In the evening visit the Chamundi hill and Bull temple and see the daily prayers and rituals being performed by priests.
Mysore to Ooty [125 Kms/4 Hrs]
This morning embark on a leisurely drive to Ooty. Known as the Queen of the Blue Mountains, Ooty is famous for its rolling hills covered in pine and eucalyptus, sparkling waterfalls and its coffee and tea plantations.
Enroute to Ooty, enjoy a tea plantation and factory tour and learn the secrets to a perfect brew. Evening at leisure to relax and unwind in the serenity of Ooty
Ooty to Kochi [300 Kms/7.5 Hrs]
This morning, drive to Kochi, the commercial capital and the most cosmopolitan city of Kerala. Starting from the Dutch, Portuguese and the British, Kochi was the site of the first European colonial settlements in India.
Upon arrival, check into your hotel for 2 nights stay.
Day in Kochi
After breakfast, take a guided walk through the historic Fort Kochi area. This morning we will visit the Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue, St. Francis Church and see the authentic Chinese fishing nets still in use.
Today we provide you some options to choose from. Enjoy your afternoon exploring Kochi the way you prefer.
Drive Kochi to Alleppey [65 Kms/1.5Hrs]
Cruise Alleppey to Kumarakom
This morning, drive to Alleppey, a coastal town in the backwaters of Kerala. Upon arrival in Alleppey, board your houseboat to cruise through the backwaters. Kerala backwaters consist of a complex network of lagoons, lakes, & canals and are best experienced while slowly rowing down the labyrinth of canals in a traditional thatch-roofed houseboat, known as 'Kettuvallam'. See life on the banks, lush green rice fields, and coconut groves with occasional temple or church as you cruise through the canals. Enjoy the special Kerala style meals prepared by your chef on board. Overnight stay at houseboat.
Kumarakom to Periyar [125 Kms/4 Hrs]
This morning, enjoy breakfast on board. Alight your houseboat at Kumarakom. Visit the Kumarakom bird sanctuary on the banks of Vembanad Lake. This sanctuary is spread over 100 acres and is home to thousands of resident and migratory birds. Some commonly found species include egret, darter, waterfowl, heron, bittern, kites, marsh harries, kingfishers, woodpeckers and wild ducks.
Later, embark on a scenic drive to Periyar, the wildlife and spice plantation hub of Kerala. Upon arrival in Periyar, check in to your hotel for 2 nights stay.
Day in Periyar
This afternoon, take a spice plantation tour and learn about the mystery and history of Indian spices. You also get the opportunity to shop for fragrant spices at a local market.
Periyar to Madurai [175 Kms/5 Hrs]
After an early breakfast, embark on your drive to the temple city of Madurai. This afternoon, visit the Gandhi museum, containing photos, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, quotations, and some original articles used by Mahatma Gandhi. Then visit the 17th century Tirumalai Nayak Palace which is famous for its rectangular dance courtyard.
Later, visit the famous Meenakshi temple and stay on to enjoy the evening Aarti (prayer ceremony) to see the rituals being performed by priests.
Madurai to Tanjore via Trichy [185 Kms/5.5 Hrs]
After breakfast, embark on your drive to Tanjore. Enroute visit Trichy, famous for its rich cultural and splendid architectural heritage.
Upon arrival in Tanjore, check in to your hotel and freshen up. This afternoon visit the Brihadeshwara Temple, which is often referred as the crowning glory of Chola Temple architecture.
Also, visit the Thanjavur Palace, which was constructed in the 16th century and has huge corridors, spacious halls, observation and arsenal towers.
Tanjore to Pondicherry [165 Kms/4.5 Hrs]
After breakfast, drive to Pondicherry. Ruled by the French for 300 years, today Pondicherry stands as a living epitome of French culture in India.
Enjoy the evening at leisure walking around the small town and exploring the mix of French and Tamil architecture and culture in the region.
Pondicherry to Mahabalipuram [100 Kms/2 Hrs]
This morning, visit the community of Auroville, a unique experiment in human unity and international living.
Located approx 6 kms north of Pondicherry, the community at Auroville was founded in 1968 by a French national who lived in Pondicherry for many years and was a follower of a local spiritual visionary, Sri Aurobindo. She wanted to create a way to implement Sri Aurobindo's vision of new forms of individual and collective life, preparing the way towards a brighter future for the whole earth. Today Auroville is an international community, with a population of some 50,000 people from 43 different countries. The city is centred around Matrimandir, ‘Temple of the Mother’, the geographical and spiritual heart of the community. Nearby is the residential area and many of the buildings have been constructed using climate responsive designs, cost-effective building materials and other eco-friendly considerations.
Later this afternoon, embark on a short drive to Mahabalipuram, a town famous for its rocks carvings and monolithic sculptures.
Day in Mahabalipuram
Today, explore the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, visiting the Shore temple (one of the oldest temples in south India, belonging to the early 8th century AD), Arjuna's penance (the world's largest bas-relief measuring 27m x 9m - this huge rock consists figures of Gods, men, beasts, birds and represents the entire creation), Five Rathas (five monolithic temples, each having its own style - also known as the "Panch Pandav Rathas").
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Mahabalipuram to Chennai via Kancheepuram [50 Kms/1 Hr]
This morning, embark on a short drive to Chennai, en-route visiting Kancheepuram.
Kancheepuram is known as the city of thousand temples, and is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim centers for Hindus. Besides its temples, Kanchipuram is also known for its fascinating silks. This beautiful city has many silk weavers residing here from more than 4 centuries ago, giving it the reputation of the ‘Silk city’ of India. Kanchipuram silk sarees are exotic pieces of art, woven from pure mulberry silk and decorated with fine gold thread (zari). A short stop over at Kancheepuram also includes a visit to see the silk weaving process.
Later, continue drive to Chennai, where you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight back home.