Day 1: Arrival in Chennai (Madras)
Our Tour begins with a guided tour of the City of Chennai.
Day 2-3: Mahabalipuram & Kanchipuram
A one hour drive to beautiful Mahabalipuram with its beautiful monuments and an excursion to Kanchipuram, one of India's seven sacred cities for the Hindu population and also famous for it shand woven silk sarees.
Day 4: Pondicherry
A relaxed morning to enjoy the seashore. Drive to Pondicherry and enjoy its beautiful colonial ambiance.
Day 5: Pondicherry - Tanjore
We start early this morning so we can enter several inner sanctums of the temples before they close (most close berween noon & 3 pm). We shall visit the great temples of Tamil Nadu: Chidambaram's Nataraja Temple (where we attend a magnificent puja), Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Airavatesvara Temple in Darasuram and the grand Brihadisvara Temple in Tanjore.
Day 6: Tanjore - Trichy - Chettinad
Today we visit the temples and monuments of Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) before arriving in Chettinad, homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars. We shall stay in one of the villages in a private home-turned hotel, still owned and operated by the ancestors of the original family. A wonderful opportunity for close observation and interaction with a unique heritage of India.
Day 7-8: Madurai
Explore the quaint villages of Chettinad contrasted with the fabulous mansions of the region. Our guided South India tour then takes you to Madurai, center of Tamil culture. Its history dates back to the 6th century BC. Attend evening ceremony at Minakshi Temple and tour the vast temple complex.
Day 9-10: Periyar - Kerala Backwaters
Enjoy a pleasant stay at Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary with a boat excursion to view wildlife (wild elephants and other exotic Indian wildlife). Our tour members then proceed to the glorious Kerala Backwaters where we overnight on traditional riceboats converted into deluxe houseboats.
Day 11-12: Cochin
Tour the bustling old world port city of Cochin where the influence of colonial Portugal, Holland (now the Netherlands) and England can still be seen. Highlights include Dutch Palace, St Francis Church, Paradesi Synagogue, the elegant and fascinating Chinese fishing nets and a Kathakali dance performance.
Day 13-14 Mysore
Your vacation in India continues at Mysore, a magnificent royal city known for its palaces and the nearby Chamundi Hills, site of the Chamundeswari Temple, statue of Nandi (the Bull ridden by Lord Shiva) and the Mahisshasura Statue. A magnificent panoramic view of the city, nearby lakes and the palaces in the area can be seen from the top of the main hill.
Day 15: Hassan
Admire the Belur Chennakeshava temple and Halebidu temple complexes built by the Hoysala kings and seen as some of the best examples of Hoysala architecture.
Day 16: Depart
Return to Bangalore to depart for home.
Note: Nov Tour Only Day 12-13: Conoor
Explore nearby villages of the Toba tribal community who live on the isolated Niligiri Plateau.
OPTIONAL IN-DEPTH TOUR EXTENSION
Day 15-17: Hassan - Hospet - Hampi
Admire the Belur Chennakeshava and Halebid temple complexes built by the Hoysala kings. An in-depth exploration of the superb ruins of Hampi, one of the most fascinating historical sites in south India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 18-19: Aihole - Pattadakal - Badami
Our guided tour visits the three former Chalukyan Dynasty capitals, Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami that date between the 4th and 8th centuries. In Pattadkal the temples illustrate the crossroads of North and South Indian traditions with southern Dravida temple architecture and North Indian Nagara style blended together. Rural Badami is set in beautiful countryside amongst red sandstone hills, lakes and peaceful farmlands.
Day 20-22: Bijapur - Gulbarga - Bidar - Hyderabad
Our in-depth tour of South India ends with an exploration of Islamic cities and their mausolea, mosques and palaces.
Day 23: Depart for Home
Join Our Post Tour to Sri Lanka or our Ellora/Ajanta Caves extension.