15 Nights & 16 Days Chennai / Covelong (Kanchipuram) / Pondicherry / Tanjore / Madurai / Thekkady / Kumarakom / Cochin

Day 01: Arrive Chennai

Arrive in Chennai by flight. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Overnight stay in Chennai for 02 nights.At the southern tip of India in the state of Tamil Nadu lies the states capital city Chennai or Madras as it was known earlier. It is also the third largest metropolis in India.

Chennai will put you in touch with a different face of India classical, ancient & gentle. Definitely touched by colonialism but not ravaged by wars and intensely aware of its roots and traditions. Chennai was the site of the first settlement of the East India Company. It was founded in 1639, on a piece of and given by the Raja of Chandragiri, the last representative of the Vijayanagar rulers of Hampi.

Day 02: Chennai:

Morning full day sight seeing tour of Chennai city. City tour of Chennai. Visit the Government Museum and Art Gallery, which has an interesting archaeological section and a bronze gallery (Closed on public holidays). Drive through the Flower & Fruit Market; visit the Fort St. George, which once served as the very first bastion of the East India Company, Now it houses the Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. The 46 meter high flagstaff, that adorns the front of the structure, is actually a mast salvaged from a 17th century shipwreck. The Fort Museum has a remarkable collection of rare exhibits of weapons, uniforms, coins, costumes, medals and some other artifacts dating back to the days of the Raj. Within the Fort complex, is also the oldest Anglican Church in India, St Marys Church, built in 1678-1680. It also happens to be the oldest surviving British construction.

Drive along the Marina Beach, (which is the second longest beach in the world and runs to a length of 12 km.) to visit San Thome Cathedral, which is said to contain the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle (Doubting Thomas).

Day 03: Chennai / Kanchipuram / Covelong

After breakfast depart by road from Chennai to Covelong a drive around two hours. En-route visit to Kanchipuram . Overnight stay in Covelong for 02 nights. Covelong is a nice beach between Chennai and Mahabalipuram and a small charming fishing settlement. It was originally a port built by Saadat Ali, Nawab of Carnatic and it was here that the French General Laboudonnais landed his troops in 1746. Later taken by Clive in 1752 and destroyed. The beach is separated from the mainland by the canal runningfromChennaitoMahabalipuram.

Covelong is a popular picnic spot and offers facilities for Wind Surfing and Swimming too. An ancient Catholic Church, a Mosque and the Fort make an interesting view from the resort.

Kanchipuram

Located on the main Chennai-Bangalore road,

80 kms

southwest of Chennai Kanchipuram is one of the most vibrant religious and cultural centers in Tamilnadu, also well known for its flourishing silk industry. It is a spectacular temple city known as city of thousand temples which reflects the glorious traditions of South India, with its noted temples. No less than 50 temples within the city are dedicated to different Hindu divinities, including major complexes consecrated to Shiva, the Goddess and Vishnu. The temple town of Kanchipuram is also a treasure- trove of Hindu temples and art from the Pallava, Chola and Pandiyan dynasties.

Day 04: Covelong

Morning sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram. Afternoon is free for independent activities.

Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavasaround 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is believed to have been named after the Pallava king Mamalla. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th century, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Day 05: Covelong / Pondicherry

After breakfast depart by road from Covelong to Pondicherry a drive around two and half hours. Overnight in Pondicherry for 01 night.

Pondicherry has a long history dating back 2000 years when it was an important Roman trading post. Francois Martin, a Frenchman, established the modern city of Pondicherry between 1673 and 1680 when most of the trade with France was through this port. The French established their supremacy in this area by waging several battles against Dutch, the English and the Caranatic Nawabs.Pondicherry is also the place where Sri Aurobindo, a well known philosopher, patriot and savant established his Ashram, which today is an important landmark added to the itinerary of every tourist visiting Pondicherry.

Day 06: Pondicherry / Tanjore

After breakfast depart by road from Pondicherry to Tanjore a drive around three hours. Afternoon visit Brihadisvara Temple and Raja Chola Art Gallery. Overnight at Tanjore for 01 night.Visit the Brihadisvara temple and the Raja Chola Art Gallery. The Brihadisvara temple, capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single gigantic granite block weighing 80 tons which was taken to the top with the help of a 6 km ramp, an old technique used by the Egyptians for building Pyramids. Built from 1003 to 1010. I t is the greatest of Chola temples, and was one of the largest structures in the world at the time. Its thirteen-storied tower (all temple towers in India have an odd number of stories) is about 66m (200ft) tall. The temple is dedicated to the worship of Shiva. The tower is a testimony to the engineering skill of the Chola architects who planned its construction in such a way that the shadow of the cupola never falls on the ground.The Raja Raja Chola Art Gallery has some fine pieces of stone and bronze sculptures from the 9th and 12th centuries. Over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper are preserved in the Saraswathi Mahal Library.

Day 07: Tanjore / Madurai

After breakfast depart by road from Tanjore to Madurai a drive around four hours. Afternoon visit to Meenakshi temple. Overnight in Madurai for 01 night.

Situated on the banks of the river Vaigai, Madurai is also known as the Athens of the East. Madurai, once the seat of Tamil learning and still the place where Tamil language is spoken in its purest form, is planned in the shape of a lotus. An ancient city, more than 2,500 years old, Madurai is said to have got its name from the drops of nectar (Mathuram) that fell from Shivas locks.

The Meenakshi Temple, which is an excellent example of Dravidian architecture, covered from top to bottom, in images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The enormous temple complex is dedicated to Shiva, known here as his consort Parvati or Meenakshi (the fish eyed Goddess).

Also visit Sundareswarar Temple. The high point of the temple is the Hall of a Thousand Pillars, was built around 1560. This hall adorned with 985 elaborately carved pillars, some of which sound like metal when hit with an object and are commonly referred to as the metal stone or musical pillars.

Day 08: Madurai / Thekkady

After breakfast depart by road from Madurai to Thekkady a drive around three hours. Overnight stay in Thekkady for 02 nights.

Bordered by the lofty Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lak and paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics. Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, extensive rubber plantations and a totally literate people have given this district the enviable title: The land of letters, latex and lake.

Day 09: Thekkady

Afternoon game viewing by common boat on Periyar Lake.A boat ride in the lake running through the sanctuary provides an opportunity to watch wild animals such as Elephants, Deer and scores of Water Birds.

Day 10: Thekkady / Kumarakom

After Breakfast depart by road from Thekkady to Kumarakom a drive around four hours. Overnight in Kumarakom for 02 nights.

Bordered by the lofty Western Ghats on the east and the Vembanad Lake and paddy fields of Kuttanad on the west, Kottayam is a land of unique characteristics. Panoramic backwater stretches, lush paddy fields, highlands, extensive rubber plantations and a totally literate people have given this district the enviable title: The land of letters, latex and lakes.

Day 11: Kumarakom

Morning take a walking tour of Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.In the morning take a walking tour of the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, situated on the banks of the Vembanand Lake is known for its varied avian population. Local varieties such as waterfowls, cuckoos and owls, as well as the migratory Siberian Cranes can be viewed here. The sanctuary is open 10 AM to 6 PM.

Day 12: Kumarakom – Houseboat

Morning transfer to Kettuvalam embark Houseboat. Overnight in Houseboat for 01 night.

Board the Houseboat (Kettuvalam) for the overnight stay and cruise on the backwaters of Kerala.The Backwaters are a maze of bridge and canals set in a labyrinth of backwater channels laced with endless stretches of lakes and lagoon. Over 900 km of this intricate network is navigable.This is the best place to explore the unspoilt countryside of Kerala.

Day 13: Backwater – Cochin

Morning disembark the Houseboat and depart by road to Cochin a drive around an hour. Evening enjoy a Kathakali Performance. Overnight at Cochin for 03 nights.

One of the finest natural harbors on the Arabian Sea coast, Kochi earlier known as Cochin, is the oldest European settlement in India. Many influences including Chinese, Arab, Jewish, British, French and Portuguese are contained within its environment.With its wealth of historical associations and beautiful setting on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, Cochin or Kochi, reflects the eclecticism of Kerala perfectly. Traders from the West came to Kerala as far back as the 3rd century B.C. and took back with them spices, ivory and teak. Much later, in the 15th century, the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British came to this region in the guise of merchants, some to stay on as colonial rulers. They all left their impression on the town. Modern Cochin is a splendid mosaic myriad where Portuguese architecture and British influences all blend harmoniously with the basic thread of Kerala’s rich heritage. Here you can also see the oldest church in India.

In the evening attend a Traditional Kathakali dance performance.

The Dance involves the enactment of an episode from the epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata

The performers convey moods, emotions and inner sensibilities by facial expressions and gestures. The costume of the Kathakali dance is a striking sight. The elaborate facial paint made from rice power treated with various colors, is an indication of the nature of the character being portrayed. The heroes have green faces; the villain’s red or black, while the holy men and female characters have yellow faces.

Day 14: Cochin

Morning sight seeing tour of Cochin City. Sightseeing tour of Cochin includes a visit to the Dutch Palace originally built by the Portuguese, which houses a fine collection of mural paintings.

The Jewish Synagogue built in 1568 & magnificently decorated with Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers.

Visit the St. Francis Church, which is the oldest church, built by Europeans in India.

See the Chinese Fishing nets that line the tip of Fort Cochin and which are the only ones of their kind in India. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here.

Evening by sunset enjoy boat ride for 02 hrs.

Day 15: Cochin

Day at leisure – no car booked

Day 16: Cochin Departure

Transfer from hotel to Cochin airport for flight onward destination.