Culture & History - India: Glimpse of South India - 13 Days

From USD 1'764

Relaxed morning 10:30 am start for a city tour of Madras, including the Parthasarathy Temple at Triplicane, 12000 years old, dedicated to Vishnu; and a walking tour of the Mylapore temple area visiting the 16th century Kapeeleswrar temple, dedicated to Shiva, which attracts thousands of devotees. These are living temples where you will see local residents as well as pilgrims who come from afar, in acts of devotion.  It is quite a striking experience.  

We will have lunch in Chennai and then visit the excellent State Museum and National Art Gallery........................

 

Price Per Person US$ with 3*: (Validity till April 15, 2019 except Dec 20, 2018 – Jan 5, 2019)

Based on min 2 People: US$1764.00pp

Based on min 3 People: US$1478.40

Single Room Supplement US$516.00pp

Accommodation on twin sharing basis in below mentioned 3* hotels or similar in base category rooms.

1 night Madras at The Pride http://www.pridehotel.com/chennai/the-pride-hotel-chennai/overview/

2 nights Mahabalipuram at Sea Breeze http://www.hotelseabreeze.in/

1 night Pondicherry at Annamalai International http://www.hotelannamalai.com/

1 night Tanjore at Star Residency http://www.starresidencyhotels.com/

1 night Chettinad at Chettinadu Mansion  http://chettinadmansion.com/

2 nights Madurai at Poppys Hotel  http://www.poppyshotel.com/poppys-hotel-madurai

1 night Periyar at Abad Green Forest http://www.abadhotels.com/thekkady

1 night Backwaters on Deluxe House Boat

2 nights Cochin at Hotel Arches   http://www.hotelarches.com/

 

 

Price Per Person US$ with 4*: (Validity till April 15, 2019 except Dec 20, 2018 – Jan 5, 2019)

Based on min 2 People: US$2,054.00

Based on min 3 People: US$1,764.00

Single Room Supplement US$780.00

Accommodation on twin sharing basis in below mentioned 4* hotels or similar in base category rooms.

1 night Madras at Accord Metropolitan http://chennai.theaccordhotels.com/

2 nights Mahabalipuram at Ideal Beach Resort http://www.idealresort.com/index.php

1 night Pondicherry at Accord Puducherry http://pondicherry.theaccordhotels.com/

1 night Tanjore at Ideal River View Resort http://www.idealresort.com/tanjore.php

1 night Chettinad at The Bangala http://www.thebangala.com/

1 night Periyar at Cardamom County Resort  http://www.thekkady.com/cardomon/

1 night Backwaters on Deluxe House Boat

2 nights Cochin at Hotel Tea Bunglow http://www.teabungalow.in/

 

Price includes:

Arrival, departure transfers & land transport in air-conditioned Toyota Innova as per itinerary.
Professional English Speaking Local Guides during sightseeing; in Madras, Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram, Pondicherry, Chidambram, Tanjore, Trichy, Chettinad, Madurai, Periyar and Cochin as per program.
Monument/museum entrance

Cycle Rickshaw ride to night Ceremony in Madurai

Spice Plantation Tour in Periyar

Entrance to Kathakali dance performance

Mineral water in the vehicle

GST 5%

 

Meals as described in the itinerary;
Daily breakfast, 1 lunch & 2 dinner.

 

Does not include: Any air & train, Insurance, Portage, Meals other than mentioned above, Tips, Any expenditure of personal nature such as drinks, telephone calls, laundry.

 

B: Breakfast

B,L: Breakfast, Lunch

B,L,D: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

PAYMENT SCHEDULE, CANCELLATIONS, REFUNDS AND OUR RESPONSIBLITIES.
Payment for internal flights is generally due within 14 days of booking.  Should you need to cancel at any time, your deposit will be non-refundable. Although we will try to refund your internal airfare less any penalties levied by the airline.

In the case of GIT’s

Final Payment:

1st installment is due 90 days prior to departure.  If you need to cancel between 60 and 90 days prior to departure, we will refund 25% of your trip cost, as well as your internal airfare less any penalties levied by the airline.
2nd and final installment is due within 45 days prior to departure. If you need to cancel within 45 days of departure we will not be able to issue you a refund.

In the case of FIT’s

Full and final payment is due within 45 – 30 days prior to departure. If you need to cancel within 30 days of departure we will not be able to issue you a refund. Your internal airfare will be refunded less any penalties levied by the airline.

 

Our Responsibilities: RSV Travelcircuit Pvt. Ltd.

RSV Travelcircuit Pvt. Ltd.makes arrangements with airlines, hotels and other independent parties to provide you with the travel services you purchase. We do not own or operate any of the accommodation, transport or other facilities used in connection with our tours. We therefore cannot accept liability for negligence of the staff of these organizations. These parties are independent suppliers over whom we have no direct control.

RSV Travelcircuit Pvt. Ltd. is not liable in the event of any failure by any person or company to render any transportation, accommodation or other travel service to be provided on the journeys, or for expenses incurred due to delays caused by weather, strikes, war, civil disturbances, natural disasters, flight delays, government actions, mechanical failures or any acts of God.

RSV Travelcircuit Pvt. Ltd.cannot assume any responsibility for flight delays, cancellations or missed connections and is not liable for any expenses or consequences resulting there from, and such expenses shall be borne by the client. When you travel with an airline the Conditions of Carriage of that airline will apply. These conditions are the subject of International Agreements and may limit or exclude liability. Your travel agent or airline can advise you of these conditions.

 

From USD 1'764

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Day 01: Arrival in Madras, evening. Met at airport and transfer to pre-booked hotel.

 

Day 02: Madras-Mahabalipuram (60 km) / 1.5hrs)
Relaxed morning.

At 10:30 am start for a city tour of Madras, including the Parthasarathy Temple at Triplicane, 12000 years old, dedicated to Vishnu; and a walking tour of the Mylapore temple area visiting the 16th century Kapeeleswrar temple, dedicated to Shiva, which attracts thousands of devotees. These are living temples where you will see local residents as well as pilgrims who come from afar, in acts of devotion.  It is quite a striking experience.  

We will have lunch in Chennai and then visit the excellent State Museum and National Art Gallery.

Afterwards, drive one hour to Mahabalipuram, en-route stop to visit Dakshina Chitra (approx 45 minutes), a wonderfully conceived Folk Museum that showcases the rich architectural and artistic heritage of South India.  All of the traditional buildings have been painstakingly reconstructed with original materials and the exhibitions express many craft traditions. There are also some artists demonstrating their traditional crafts and techniques. (Tuesday Closed)

On arrival, check-in to the hotel. This evening at leisure. (B)


Day 03: Mahabalipuram

For our morning excursion we shall begin close by,  just 2 km north, to visit the Government College of Sculpture to gain an interesting insight into the process of sculpture training.

This afternoon tour of the city including the Five Rathas,  Ajunas Penance Bas relief and Shore Temples just before sunset. (B)

 

Day 04: Kanchipuram-Pondicherry  (160 km / 4hrs)
Morning breakfast at hotel and at 0800 hrs drive to Pondicherry carries a strong whiff of the French presence in India. Legend says that Pondicherry is the place where St. Agasthaya settled down.

Enroute visit Kanchipuram, one of the seven ancient sacred cities of India.  Known as the Golden City of 1000 Temples, Kanchipuram has 125 recognized shrines dating back to the early Chola Dynasty around 200BC.  Foreigners are not allowed to enter the inner sanctums. The town is also famed for its hand-woven silk and we can visit a weaver’s home if you like.   

Thereafter continue your drive to Pondicherry. Upon arrival check in at hotel. After fresh n up leave for leave for city tour of Pondicherry visiting Aurbindo Ashram, the city of dawn, which is 10kms north of Pondicherry. This ashram promotes Aurbindo's ideas in bringing about a synthesis of Yoga and modern science, so as to unite the spirit and matter. Afternoon, visit Auroville - a unique experiment in international living and in creating a new environment where men and women of all nationalities live together in harmony; Vardaraja Perumal Temple, Vedapureeswarar Temple & Manakula Vinayagar Templewar memorial, Town hall. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight stay at hotel.

Pondicherry - Pondicherry is a union teritory, which lies within the state of Tamil Nadu.The inherent ambience of Pondicherry, becomes most evident in the oldest part of the town, which flanks the seashore boulevard. The French ruled this territory for 300 years, Pondicherry is a living monument of French Culture in India. The Aurobindo Ashram and 'Auroville' the international township are famous all over the world. (B)

 

Day 05: Drive Chidambaram-Gangaikonda Cholapuram-Darasuram - Tanjore (168 km/5hrs)

After breakfast, drive to Tanjore. En-route visit CHIDAMBRAM, famous for its NATARAJA TEMPLE. Chidambaram is a temple town situated in Tamil Nadu around 58 km off Pondicherry. The place is famous for its temple complex where the renowned Nataraja Temple is housed,
Later drive and visit “Gangaikonda Cholapuram Shiva Temple’ ,The magnificent temple was constructed by the Chola King Rajendra Chola I in the year 1025 CE and The temple has been accorded the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Later visit “Kumabakonam and Darasuram”.

The Brihadisvara Temple built between 985 and 1012 AD is a UNESCO monument. The temple has superb inscriptions and sculptures of Shiva, his consort Durga, and Vishnu. There are also 81 carvings of the classical Bharat Natyam poses, which is the first record of any classical dance form in this manner. Brihadishvara is capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite block weighing 80 tons. 

We will also visit the Tanjore Art Gallery within the Tanjore Palace compound.  The gallery has a good collection of Chola bronzes.
Transfer to the lovely Ideal River Resort for dinner and overnight. (B)

 

Day 06: Drive Tanjore - Trichy - Chettinad (140 km/5 hrs)

Trichy is surrounded by seven concentric-walled courtyards with magnificent gateways and several shrines. We shall stop to visit the Sri Ranganathasvami Temple, located at Srirangam (banks of River Kaveri).  It is one of the largest in India, is famous for its superb sculptures, the 21 impressive gopurams and its rich collection of temple jewelry. 

The Rock-Fort is the landmark of Trichy, though not of great significance architecturally.  We will have a view of it atop the hill as we drive by.

We shall arrive in Chettinad, homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars,  is famous for its fortress like homes and temples that are architectural marvels

Chettinad is a region of over 75 villages that is famous for its mansions and culinary delicacies. The Chettiars were a prosperous banking community who mostly migrated to South East Asia during the 19th century. They built opulent mansions of marble, granite and Burmese teak, incorporating elaborate pillars, gates and inner courtyards. You will spend the day leisurely exploring these mansions, as well as temples and village markets where you will witness local craftsmen working with wood, metal, silver and textiles.

The houses in Chettinad has been erected on a rectangular plot, across two streets, they have superb interior planning. If you come to see one of these buildings you would wonder at the architectural skill of the ancient artists who had the talent to erect such magnificent structures without the aid of the Interior Decorators! The 100 years old Chettinad Palace is a special Tourist Attraction at this place and one can hardly deny the splendor of the artifact. It has been constructed with materials brought from Italy and Burma, Indonesia and Belgium. (B,D)

 

Day 07: Chettinad - Madurai (80 km / 2 hrs)
This morning we explore Karaikudi with its fabulous mansions, once the homes of the wealthy merchant families known as the Chettiars. One specialty of these houses is the woodcarving. We will meet some of the families who have remained in this area.  Karaikudi offers a weekly shandy, or village market, a number of temples, visits to craftsmen working with wood and metal, silversmiths and goldsmiths, attractive textiles and exciting Chettiar cuisine.  

Afternoon drive to Madurai (80 km/2 hrs).  A center of Tamil culture, famous for its writers and poets, its history goes back to the 6th century BC. The Nayakas laid out the old town in the pattern of a lotus with narrow streets surrounding the Meenakshi Temple at the center. Meenakshi, known as the Fish-eyed Goddess and the consort of Siva, is the presiding deity and daily ceremonies are performed at her shrine.

Evening: travel on cycle-rickshaws for an evening visit to the Meenakshi Temple to witness the nightly spiritual ceremony (pooja) in which Lord Shiva is carried in a palanquin and accompanied by musicians, temple singers and priests to the temple of his consort, Parvati, to spend the night.  He is brought back to his temple in the morning.  Every day the timing for this night ceremony procession is different as they follow the almanac so it done during an auspicious time.  On certain nights of the month there is also a Golden Chariot (in Tamil known as Thanga Ratham ) which has the miniature idol of Goddess Meenakshi which goes around from the Meenakshi Kalyani Mandapam to the East Gate (called Aadi Veedhi) prior to the nightly ceremony, around 7.30 p.m.  Announcements are made on the same day if the Golden Chariot ceremony will be held.  Dates cannot be known in advance.(B)

 

Day 08: Madurai

This morning we return to Meenakshi Temple to tour it with ample time to meander inside and see the details without the large crowds and frenzy of the previous night. The temple was built in the Dravidian style of temple architecture.  The Gopurams are covered from top to bottom with profuse multi-colored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures.  The main temple has long galleries and large halls supported by columns. The Hall of 1000 Columns has musical pillars. We’ll also visit the Nayyaka Palace, built in 1636 in the Indo-Saracenic style. 

Return to the hotel for lunch on your own and enjoy a bit of relaxed time.  

In the late afternoon we return to the bustling city center and browse bazaars and textile shops if you like or free time to relax at hotel. The people of Madurai are amicable, hospitable, and deeply respect and value their tradition.  They lead a relaxed and casual lifestyle.  Those interested may visit Padumandappam on the street opposite the Meenakshi temple, with 200 tailors.  They will stitch a dress to your design within a few hours. Afterward, visit a local family at their home for tea and snacks. (B)

 

Day 09: Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (approx. 140 kms, 4 hr drive)

Drive southwards over rolling hills and coffee plantations to the PERIYAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY - enroute visiting Vegetable and Flower market at Usilampatti & Chinamannur, Brick Kiln on the Usilmapatti – Andipatty Route. There will be various agricultural activities in the fields based on the availability of water (at the time which can be pre or post-harvest), there is also a Dhobi Ghat on the route.
Reach Periyar and check into the hotel.
Bullock Cart Ride through the villages behind the hills of the Periyar Tiger Reserve - the villages here are quite picturesque and there numerous crops like Mango, Tamarind, grapes, sunflower, and a host of vegetables grown in this village.
In late afternoon visit spice plantations like cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates etc. on your way to the hotel, you could stop at the Kumily market and pick up some fragrant spices. (B)
 

Day 10:  “The Backwaters of Kerala” / private traditional houseboat
After breakfast, we drive to Alleppy (160 km/4 hr drive) to board a private, deluxe Kettuvallom (traditional riceboat) for an overnight tour of the backwaters. 

A series of canals thread their way through the state to the sea, allowing you a glimpse into local life in Kerala that would be impossible to get from road transport.  Along the way you will pass rice fields, tiny villages, boats transporting children to school and farmers transporting their produce to the market, and women completing household tasks such as laundry and washing utensils.  You will disembark from the boat to wander in the villages and meet some locals.  The riceboats are made completely of natural material.  Each houseboat has furnished bedrooms with attached showers and toilets.  At night the boat will anchor midstream and your meals will be specially prepared by the crew from freshly bought produce.  (B,L,D)   

 

Day 11: Alleppy - Cochin (60 km / 1.5hrs)

After breakfast disembark & drive to Cochin. One of the finest natural harbors on the Arabian Sea Coast of India, Cochin, an ancient harbor town now renamed Kochi, has been a port of call for foreign traders from very early times. A city of peninsulas and islands, it is the hub of Kerala. The influence of medieval Portugal, Holland and England can still be seen in this fast growing coastal city. It is also known as the spice city of India. Most of the exports of spices are from here. 
We’ll start our afternoon half-day sightseeing at 2 pm, with an easy walk around the heritage zone including visits to St. Francis Church, where Vasco da Gama was buried for 14 years before his remains were transferred to Lisbon. His tombstone still stands there. The church was built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars. Nearby is the Mattancherry Palace or "Dutch Palace” built in 1557 AD.  The central hall on the 1st floor was the coronation hall of the rajas of Cochin. Other rooms depict scenes from the Ramayana and Puranic Legends connected with Hindu gods.

Next we’ll see the Chinese Fishing Nets along Vypeen Island  (set up between 1350 - 1450 AD). These cantilevered fishing nets were introduced by traders from the courts of Kublai Khan. 

We can browse the colorful array of freshly caught fish and observe the lively market just before sunset. (B)

 

Day 12: Cochin
We depart the hotel at 9 am for our tour including the Jewish Synagogue (closed on Saturday & Jewish Holidays), constructed 1568 AD, with hand-painted willow-pattern floor tiles brought from Canton in the mid-18th century by a Rabbi who had trading interests there.  Afterwards you’ll have time to browse the market area nearby, including the well-known antique shops. 

Return to the hotel for lunch on your own. 

This afternoon  drive to the Folklore Museum.  At 5 Pm we will depart to the Cochin Cultural Center to attend the traditional Kathakali Dance Performance 6-7:30. We arrive about 530 to observe the actors applying their elaborate make-up. (B)

 

Day 13: Depart

Transfer to Cochin International airport to catch flight for onward destination.

Highlights

Relaxed morning, 10:30 am start for a city tour of Madras, including the Parthasarathy Temple at Triplicane, 12000 years old, dedicated to Vishnu; and a walking tour of the Mylapore temple area visiting the 16th century Kapeeleswrar temple, dedicated to Shiva, which attracts thousands of devotees. These are living temples where you will see local residents as well as pilgrims who come from afar, in acts of devotion.  It is quite a striking experience.  

We will have lunch in Chennai and then visit the excellent State Museum and National Art Gallery.

Afterwards, drive one hour to Mahabalipuram, en-route stop to visit Dakshina Chitra (approx 45 minutes), a wonderfully conceived Folk Museum that showcases the rich architectural and artistic heritage of South India.  All of the traditional buildings have been painstakingly reconstructed with original materials and the exhibitions express many craft traditions. There are also some artists demonstrating their traditional crafts and techniques. 

Route

  1. Medan