India Dravida Tour


  • India Dravida Tour

India Dravida Tour

 India

18 days from £2599 pp  return flights from LHR

This formidable journey takes you through the immense Dravidian part of India to explore its illustrious past and its present full of colours, history and contrasts.
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This formidable journey takes you through the immense Dravidian part of India to explore its illustrious past and its present full of colours, history and contrasts. Discover the past eras of this charming area and travel back in time to see some of the most prized religious, historical and cultural monuments of Southeast Asia, apart from its large urban cities like Chennai and Puducherry. This trip will fill your senses and will not leave you indifferent.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1 : DEPARTURE LONDON HEATHROW

Today you will board on an overnight plane to New Delhi. Your flight will have 1 stopover with 1-5 hour stopover; direct flights [Virgin, British Airways and Air India] are available to New Delhi at extra cost, please ask at the time of booking if you wish to fly direct.

Overnight at the plane.

Day 2 : ARRIVAL CHENNAI

Once you arrive at Chennai Airport, you’ll be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in (preferably book a flight arriving at noon). Chennai (formerly Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu, is located along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, and was established after 1639, when the British East India Company founded a fortress and a port. It was developed around the fortress of St. George. Many buildings are still reminiscent of the Colonial kingdom. The remainder of this day is free for you to explore the city at leisure.

Overnight in Chennai.

Day 3 : CHENNAI:SIGHTSEEING TOUR

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave for a sightseeing tour of Chennai, which includes a visit to Fort St. George, completed in 1653 and today filled with reminders of the past, including St. Mary’s, the first church consecrated on Indian soil. Then continue to the National Art Gallery, where you can see excellent bronzes including the famous Nataraja, the God Shiva in the cosmic dance pose. The next stop is at the Government Museum which contains sculptures and architecture produced by the Dravidian dynasties. In the afternoon, drive along the Marina, an elegant promenade, and proceed to the old Indian section of Mylapore, where you will visit San Thome Basilica. It’s dedicated to the legendary Thomas Didymus, the apostle who doubted and who is believed to have lived and preached on Mylapore’s shores. Afterwards, return to the hotel where you will enjoy the remainder of the afternoon free at leisure.

Overnight in Chennai.

Day 4 : CHENNAI – KANCHIPURAM – MAHABALIPURAM (60km – 1 hr)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave Chennai and head to Mahabalipuram, with a stop en route to visit the ‘Golden City’ of Kanchipuram, which contains about 125 shrines dating back to the early Cholas of 200 BC. It was successively the capital of the Cholas, the Pallavas and the Rayas of Vijayanagara, and a testimony to this are its magnificent temples. Kanchipuram’s other claim to fame is its silk, renowned for more than four centuries. A unique system of weavers makes and sells Kanchi saris, the most sought-after saris in India (temples in Kanchipuram are closed from 12:00-16:00 and visiting hours are only until 12:00). Later, continue with the drive to Mahabalipuram, and on arrival check in at the hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of Mahabalipuram, located on a stunning rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon, a dreamworld of awesome Tamil art, an open-air museum of sculpture in living rock. The piece de resistance is Arjuna’s Penance or the Descent of the Ganga, the world’s largest bas-relief. It is a beautiful composition of hundreds of celestial beings, human and animals all hurrying to a natural rock cleft that divides the giant stone. The best-known landmark of Mahabalipuram, is the Shore Temple which has stood by the sea for 12 centuries and was recently listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Overnight in Mahabalipuram.

Day 5 : MAHABALIPURAM – PUDUCHERRY (105km – 3 hrs)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave Chennai and head to Pondicherry, a spiritual seaside location. Its ancient French flavour remains visible in the well-kept gardens, the magnificent churches, the historical monuments, the palaces and the clean and wide streets that still retain their French names. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel before enjoying an afternoon visit of Pondicherry’s landmarks: the Raj Nivas; the residence of the Lt. Governor of Pondicherry, a handsome 200-year-old building which faces Government Park with its well-laid-out paths, lawns, fountains and sculptures; the Romain Rolland Library and the 60,000 plus volumes on its shelves; the Pondicherry Museum, with its outstanding collection of artefacts relating to all aspects of the French Indian past; and the church of Notre Dame des Anges, built around 1865, which has a rare oil painting of Our Lady of the Assumption, a gift from Napoleon III. Later, visit the Aurobindo Ashram, the best-known landmark of Pondicherry. Here followers come from all over the world to practice yoga and practical activities like construction, farming, shoe-making and laundering. Auroville, an extension of the Aurobindo Ashram, in a voluntary commune where around 800 people from 28 nations live. It looks like a city of the future as its architecture is the result of diverse experiments in building materials, techniques and styles.

Overnight in Puducherry.

Day 6 : PUDUCHERRY – CHIDAMBARAM – GANGAIKONDACHOLAPURAM – SWAMIMALAI – THANJAVUR (200 km – 5 hrs)

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a drive to Tanjore. En route, stop at Chidambaram, an important pilgrimage centre for the followers of Shiva known for its famous Nataraja temple, an excellent example of the Dravidian architecture of Tamil Nadu. Then continue your drive to Gangaikonda Cholapuram, a Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva with an imposing gopuram that can be seen from afar, followed by a stop at Swamimalai. After the visit, proceed onward for Tanjore, where you’ll check in upon arrival. In the afternoon, visit the Brihadeeswara Temple. The corridors around the shrine have many sculptures and frescoes from the period of the kingdom of Chola that were only recently discovered. The palace and the remains of the fort surrounding temple number 6 are still visible. Members of the former royal family of Thanjavur still occupy apartments on the inside, but the palace is now mainly used as an art gallery. After the tour, return to the hotel.

Overnight in Tanjore.

Day 7 : THANJAVUR – TRICHY – MADURAI (200km – 5.5 hrs)

Enjoy an early breakfast at the hotel before you proceed for an excursion in the historical town of Trichy. Your first stop of the tour is at Rock Fort, which dominates the landscape at an altitude of 90 metres, followed by the ancient temples dedicated to Lord Ganapathi. 434 steps carved into rock interspersed with shrines lead to this temple, while yet another flight leads to the temple of Lord Shiva. The ascent is rewarded with a magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River. Then visit the island of Srirangam, a massive temple dedicated to Vishnu, which contains a bazaar within its walls. Its annual winter festival attracts thousands of devotees. After the tour, proceed on your journey to Madurai and, upon arrival, check in at the hotel with the remainder of the day free for you to enjoy on your own.

Overnight in Madurai.

Day 8 : MADURAI

After a leisurely breakfast, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the holy city of Madurai, found in the heart of Tamil Nadu. The whole life of this teeming city converges on the magnificent temple of Menakshi-Sundareshwara, rebuilt in the 17th century by King Tirumalai-Nayak. It is a real masterpiece, where you can admire an astonishing proliferation of columns and corridors embellished with countless statues in an atmosphere full of life and faith. Afterwards, visit the Tirumalai Nayak Palace, founded in 1636 and built in the style of Indo-Muslim art with Italian influence. Yet another Nayakar legacy is the Mariammam Teppakulam, a tank which was fed from the waters of the river Vaigai, north of the city. Spend the remainder of the day free at leisure exploring this spell-binding location at your own rhythm.

Overnight in Madurai.

Day 9 : MADURAI – PERIYAR (145km – 4 hrs.)

After breakfast, depart to Periyar, where you’ll check in at around noon. After lunch, prepare to discover this land of elephants, unending hills and spice-scented plantations. The flora and fauna of Periyar’s wildlife sanctuary is absolutely thrilling, and the Periyar Lake is a paradise for nature lovers, the greatest delight it offers being the herds of elephants that come down to play in its waters. Enjoy an afternoon boat ride on Periyar Lake and contemplate the wildlife (subject to water level). Keep an eye out for sambhar, bison, spotted deer, tigers, leopards, malabar flying squirrels, stripe-necked mongooses and more. In the evening, watch a Kerala martial arts performance called Kalaripatitty at a theatre in Periyar. Known as the mother of all martial arts, Kalaripayattu originated in South India and is one of the oldest fighting systems in existence. It includes strikes, kicks, grappling, weaponry and healing methods.

Overnight in Periyar.

Day 10 : PERIYAR – KOCHI (150km – 4 hrs)

After breakfast, transfer to Kochi and upon arrival check in at the hotel. Enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing in Kochi with a tour that includes a visit to the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555 and renovated by the Dutch in 1663. In these ancient rooms are 17th-century murals that relate in vibrant colour the story of the epic Ramayana. If possible, visit from the outside a Jewish Synagogue in Jew Town and Fort Cochin Area – legend dates Jewish trade with Kerala as far back as the times of King Solomon. Later, marvel at St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. It contains several antiquities and a wealth of records that include a palm-leaf title deed the local Raja gave the Portuguese in 1503. End the tour with the Chinese Fishing Nets, unique to this part of Kerala and living symbols of the centuries-old Chinese influence on this coast.

Overnight in Cochin.

Day 11 : KOCHI: DAY AT LEISURE

After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, step out into the vibrant streets of Kochi and enjoy a whole day exploring this fascinating location at your own rhythm. You can either wander around its colourful streets, sightseeing, shopping and trying local food, or relaxing at the hotel making the most of the available services. Today, you set the pace.

Overnight in Cochin.

Day 12 : KOCHI – CONOOR / CONOOR -OOTY BY TRAIN (280 km – 5.5 hrs)

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a transfer to Conoor, also known as the Nilgiri (‘Blue Mountains’), a captivating terrain surrounded by rolling green hills. Once in Connor, board the train to Ooty, a truly unforgettable ride with breath-taking views. At an altitude of 2286 metres, Ooty is famed for its healthy climate, fabulous gardens and pretty cottages. Founded in 1819 by John Sullivan, the former Collector of Coimbatore who was the first European to build his house there, Ooty prides in its natural beauty and retains its old-world charm. Landscaped over 22 hectares, its Botanical Gardens (laid out 120 years ago) are covered with blossoming trees, shrubs and colourful flower beds. On arrival, check in at the hotel and spend the remainder of the day enjoying this wonderful location at leisure.

Overnight in Ooty.

Day 13 : OOTY – MYSORE (140 km – 3.5 hrs)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave Ooty and head to Mysore. En route, make a stop at Somnathpur. Its exquisite temple of the Hoysala dynasty, built in the 13th century, is located on the banks of the Kaveri River. The temple has a closed courtyard and a well-carved and sculpted flat roof with rows of friezes around its walls representing intricate scenes of the time, starring dancers, musicians, warriors and nature. Afterwards proceed to Mysore; on arrival, check in at the hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a city tour of Mysore, known as the ‘City of Palaces and Oriental Splendour’. It is the principal residence of the royal family. This tour will take you to visit the Maharajas’s Palace, a synthesis of Hindu and Muslim styles, with a profusion of gateways, domes, arches, turrets, colonnades and sculpture. Then continue to Chamundi Hill, named after the Royal Family’s patron goddess and the site of summer palaces, an ancient temple and the 16-foot Nandi (Shiva’s bull) carved out of a single huge boulder. The view from the hill offers a beautiful panorama of not only all of Mysore, but also of the surrounding hills, lakes and the turrets of temples and churches

Overnight in Mysore.

Day 14 : MYSORE – BELUR Y HALEBIDU – MYSORE (150 km – 3.5 hrs)

Wake up to breakfast at hotel before setting off on a full-day excursion to the Belur and Halebidu temples, a city which flourished under the Hoysala Kings around 800 years ago, the sole reminder of this grandeur being the Chennakesava Temple. It stands in a perfect state of preservation and is an outstanding testament to the skill of Hoysala craftsmen. Its polished black stone exterior is profusely carved with scenes from the epics, each figure sculpted with fine detail. A short distance away at Halebid is a sister temple, the Hoysalesvara, dedicated to Shiva. Here too, the art is remarkable, with endless exquisite details: frieze upon frieze of gods, goddesses, animals and humans. It was constructed a decade after the Belur Temple by the same king but left uncompleted after 80 years of labour.

Overnight in Mysore.

Day 15 : MYSORE – BANGALORE(150km, 3hrs) / BANGALORE – MUMBAI (FLIGHT) / MUMBAI -AURANGABAD (FLIGHT)

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a morning transfer to Bangalore Airport, where you’ll board a flight to Aurangabad. Once there, you’ll be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in. The rest of the day is free for you to rest or explore Aurangabad at leisure.

Overnight in Aurangabad.

Day 16 : AURANGABAD – ELLORA – AURANGABAD (35km – 1 hr)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel and continue with a morning excursion to Ellora, one of the finest examples of Indian sculpture. The awe-inspiring mammoth Kailash Temple, carved out of solid rock, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This monolithic structure is a very rare phenomenon that demanded the most careful planning, based not on what was added but what was removed! Ellora is a repository of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religious expression: thirty-four shrines synthesise Indian religion and India’s passion for sculpture. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are also depicted here in carvings, as are the many-faceted personalities of Lord Shiva. In the afternoon, upon returning to Aurangabad, enjoy a tour of this city names after the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb who made it his capital. Aurangazeb was a megalomaniac who had his father Shah Jehan imprisoned. Visit the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, built in memory of Aurangazeb’s wife Rabia Durrani, which was meant to surpass the Taj Mahal (built by his father Shah Jehan) in grandeur. Continue with the Panchakki, or ‘Water Mill’, an ingenious creation of Mughal engineers who used it to harness water to run large grinding stones which served as a flour mill. The tomb of a Muslim saint lies in the garden beyond the mill. End the tour with a visit to Aurangabad Caves. The most interesting is Cave 7, containing a huge figure of Bohisattva Padmapani, who is praying for deliverance from eight fears illustrated dramatically in stone.

Overnight in Aurangabad.

Day 17 : AURANGABAD – AJANTA CAVES (105km – 2 hrs) / AURANGABAD – MUMBAI (FLIGHT)

After your breakfast at the hotel in Aurangabad before the start of your morning excursion to the Ajanta Caves, which are hewn out of rock by Buddhist monks who found the sanctuary and left a legend for posterity. These thirty caves containing twenty-six monasteries and four temples have wall paintings and sculptures of a timeless aesthetic appeal. Some of the most exquisite paintings depict the life and teachings of Buddha, as well as his earlier life as a prince. The Ajanta Caves are like chapters of a splendid epic tale in visual form. Marvel at how the natural light brightens the caves at different times of the day, an awe-inspiring feat. Afterwards, transfer to the airport to board your connecting flight for Mumbai, where, upon arrival late at night, you will be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in.

Overnight in Mumbai.

Day 18 : DEPART MUMBAI

Enjoy your last breakfast at hotel before you depart on your morning excursion by motor launch (1hr from Mumbai) to the island of Elephanta, where the Elephanta Caves are located (closed on Mondays). . This island was so named by the Portuguese after the large stone elephant near the landing place and which now stands at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the mainland. The caves are reached by a stairway up the hillside from the ferry landing.

Return to the mainland and in the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Mumbai. Visit the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s principal landmark, Afghan Church built in memory of those who fell in the First Afghan War. Drive past the Bombay High Court and the Old secretariat. The ornamental university building with its 280 ft. high Rajabhai Clock Tower, the ornate Victoria Terminus, the colourful Crawford Market, the Flora Fountain in the large bustling square at the heart of the city, the Prince of Wales Museum (Closed on Mondays) which houses a varied collection of China-ware, miniature paintings and sculpture. Drive along the Marine Drive which is known as the Queen’s Necklace. View the memorial to Haji Ali, a Muslim Saint. Stop at the Jain Temple and also visit Mani Bhavan where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai.

Later in time transfer to airport to connect flight for onward destination.

Tour Ends

This formidable journey takes you through the immense Dravidian part of India to explore its illustrious past and its present full of colours, history and contrasts. Discover the past eras of this charming area and travel back in time to see some of the most prized religious, historical and cultural monuments of Southeast Asia, apart from its large urban cities like Chennai and Puducherry. This trip will fill your senses and will not leave you indifferent.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1 : DEPARTURE LONDON HEATHROW

Today you will board on an overnight plane to New Delhi. Your flight will have 1 stopover with 1-5 hour stopover; direct flights [Virgin, British Airways and Air India] are available to New Delhi at extra cost, please ask at the time of booking if you wish to fly direct.

Overnight at the plane.

Day 2 : ARRIVAL CHENNAI

Once you arrive at Chennai Airport, you’ll be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in (preferably book a flight arriving at noon). Chennai (formerly Madras), the capital of Tamil Nadu, is located along the coast of the Bay of Bengal, and was established after 1639, when the British East India Company founded a fortress and a port. It was developed around the fortress of St. George. Many buildings are still reminiscent of the Colonial kingdom. The remainder of this day is free for you to explore the city at leisure.

Overnight in Chennai.

Day 3 : CHENNAI:SIGHTSEEING TOUR

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave for a sightseeing tour of Chennai, which includes a visit to Fort St. George, completed in 1653 and today filled with reminders of the past, including St. Mary’s, the first church consecrated on Indian soil. Then continue to the National Art Gallery, where you can see excellent bronzes including the famous Nataraja, the God Shiva in the cosmic dance pose. The next stop is at the Government Museum which contains sculptures and architecture produced by the Dravidian dynasties. In the afternoon, drive along the Marina, an elegant promenade, and proceed to the old Indian section of Mylapore, where you will visit San Thome Basilica. It’s dedicated to the legendary Thomas Didymus, the apostle who doubted and who is believed to have lived and preached on Mylapore’s shores. Afterwards, return to the hotel where you will enjoy the remainder of the afternoon free at leisure.

Overnight in Chennai.

Day 4 : CHENNAI – KANCHIPURAM – MAHABALIPURAM (60km – 1 hr)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave Chennai and head to Mahabalipuram, with a stop en route to visit the ‘Golden City’ of Kanchipuram, which contains about 125 shrines dating back to the early Cholas of 200 BC. It was successively the capital of the Cholas, the Pallavas and the Rayas of Vijayanagara, and a testimony to this are its magnificent temples. Kanchipuram’s other claim to fame is its silk, renowned for more than four centuries. A unique system of weavers makes and sells Kanchi saris, the most sought-after saris in India (temples in Kanchipuram are closed from 12:00-16:00 and visiting hours are only until 12:00). Later, continue with the drive to Mahabalipuram, and on arrival check in at the hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of Mahabalipuram, located on a stunning rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon, a dreamworld of awesome Tamil art, an open-air museum of sculpture in living rock. The piece de resistance is Arjuna’s Penance or the Descent of the Ganga, the world’s largest bas-relief. It is a beautiful composition of hundreds of celestial beings, human and animals all hurrying to a natural rock cleft that divides the giant stone. The best-known landmark of Mahabalipuram, is the Shore Temple which has stood by the sea for 12 centuries and was recently listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Overnight in Mahabalipuram.

Day 5 : MAHABALIPURAM – PUDUCHERRY (105km – 3 hrs)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave Chennai and head to Pondicherry, a spiritual seaside location. Its ancient French flavour remains visible in the well-kept gardens, the magnificent churches, the historical monuments, the palaces and the clean and wide streets that still retain their French names. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel before enjoying an afternoon visit of Pondicherry’s landmarks: the Raj Nivas; the residence of the Lt. Governor of Pondicherry, a handsome 200-year-old building which faces Government Park with its well-laid-out paths, lawns, fountains and sculptures; the Romain Rolland Library and the 60,000 plus volumes on its shelves; the Pondicherry Museum, with its outstanding collection of artefacts relating to all aspects of the French Indian past; and the church of Notre Dame des Anges, built around 1865, which has a rare oil painting of Our Lady of the Assumption, a gift from Napoleon III. Later, visit the Aurobindo Ashram, the best-known landmark of Pondicherry. Here followers come from all over the world to practice yoga and practical activities like construction, farming, shoe-making and laundering. Auroville, an extension of the Aurobindo Ashram, in a voluntary commune where around 800 people from 28 nations live. It looks like a city of the future as its architecture is the result of diverse experiments in building materials, techniques and styles.

Overnight in Puducherry.

Day 6 : PUDUCHERRY – CHIDAMBARAM – GANGAIKONDACHOLAPURAM – SWAMIMALAI – THANJAVUR (200 km – 5 hrs)

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a drive to Tanjore. En route, stop at Chidambaram, an important pilgrimage centre for the followers of Shiva known for its famous Nataraja temple, an excellent example of the Dravidian architecture of Tamil Nadu. Then continue your drive to Gangaikonda Cholapuram, a Hindu Temple dedicated to Shiva with an imposing gopuram that can be seen from afar, followed by a stop at Swamimalai. After the visit, proceed onward for Tanjore, where you’ll check in upon arrival. In the afternoon, visit the Brihadeeswara Temple. The corridors around the shrine have many sculptures and frescoes from the period of the kingdom of Chola that were only recently discovered. The palace and the remains of the fort surrounding temple number 6 are still visible. Members of the former royal family of Thanjavur still occupy apartments on the inside, but the palace is now mainly used as an art gallery. After the tour, return to the hotel.

Overnight in Tanjore.

Day 7 : THANJAVUR – TRICHY – MADURAI (200km – 5.5 hrs)

Enjoy an early breakfast at the hotel before you proceed for an excursion in the historical town of Trichy. Your first stop of the tour is at Rock Fort, which dominates the landscape at an altitude of 90 metres, followed by the ancient temples dedicated to Lord Ganapathi. 434 steps carved into rock interspersed with shrines lead to this temple, while yet another flight leads to the temple of Lord Shiva. The ascent is rewarded with a magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River. Then visit the island of Srirangam, a massive temple dedicated to Vishnu, which contains a bazaar within its walls. Its annual winter festival attracts thousands of devotees. After the tour, proceed on your journey to Madurai and, upon arrival, check in at the hotel with the remainder of the day free for you to enjoy on your own.

Overnight in Madurai.

Day 8 : MADURAI

After a leisurely breakfast, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the holy city of Madurai, found in the heart of Tamil Nadu. The whole life of this teeming city converges on the magnificent temple of Menakshi-Sundareshwara, rebuilt in the 17th century by King Tirumalai-Nayak. It is a real masterpiece, where you can admire an astonishing proliferation of columns and corridors embellished with countless statues in an atmosphere full of life and faith. Afterwards, visit the Tirumalai Nayak Palace, founded in 1636 and built in the style of Indo-Muslim art with Italian influence. Yet another Nayakar legacy is the Mariammam Teppakulam, a tank which was fed from the waters of the river Vaigai, north of the city. Spend the remainder of the day free at leisure exploring this spell-binding location at your own rhythm.

Overnight in Madurai.

Day 9 : MADURAI – PERIYAR (145km – 4 hrs.)

After breakfast, depart to Periyar, where you’ll check in at around noon. After lunch, prepare to discover this land of elephants, unending hills and spice-scented plantations. The flora and fauna of Periyar’s wildlife sanctuary is absolutely thrilling, and the Periyar Lake is a paradise for nature lovers, the greatest delight it offers being the herds of elephants that come down to play in its waters. Enjoy an afternoon boat ride on Periyar Lake and contemplate the wildlife (subject to water level). Keep an eye out for sambhar, bison, spotted deer, tigers, leopards, malabar flying squirrels, stripe-necked mongooses and more. In the evening, watch a Kerala martial arts performance called Kalaripatitty at a theatre in Periyar. Known as the mother of all martial arts, Kalaripayattu originated in South India and is one of the oldest fighting systems in existence. It includes strikes, kicks, grappling, weaponry and healing methods.

Overnight in Periyar.

Day 10 : PERIYAR – KOCHI (150km – 4 hrs)

After breakfast, transfer to Kochi and upon arrival check in at the hotel. Enjoy an afternoon of sightseeing in Kochi with a tour that includes a visit to the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555 and renovated by the Dutch in 1663. In these ancient rooms are 17th-century murals that relate in vibrant colour the story of the epic Ramayana. If possible, visit from the outside a Jewish Synagogue in Jew Town and Fort Cochin Area – legend dates Jewish trade with Kerala as far back as the times of King Solomon. Later, marvel at St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. It contains several antiquities and a wealth of records that include a palm-leaf title deed the local Raja gave the Portuguese in 1503. End the tour with the Chinese Fishing Nets, unique to this part of Kerala and living symbols of the centuries-old Chinese influence on this coast.

Overnight in Cochin.

Day 11 : KOCHI: DAY AT LEISURE

After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, step out into the vibrant streets of Kochi and enjoy a whole day exploring this fascinating location at your own rhythm. You can either wander around its colourful streets, sightseeing, shopping and trying local food, or relaxing at the hotel making the most of the available services. Today, you set the pace.

Overnight in Cochin.

Day 12 : KOCHI – CONOOR / CONOOR -OOTY BY TRAIN (280 km – 5.5 hrs)

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a transfer to Conoor, also known as the Nilgiri (‘Blue Mountains’), a captivating terrain surrounded by rolling green hills. Once in Connor, board the train to Ooty, a truly unforgettable ride with breath-taking views. At an altitude of 2286 metres, Ooty is famed for its healthy climate, fabulous gardens and pretty cottages. Founded in 1819 by John Sullivan, the former Collector of Coimbatore who was the first European to build his house there, Ooty prides in its natural beauty and retains its old-world charm. Landscaped over 22 hectares, its Botanical Gardens (laid out 120 years ago) are covered with blossoming trees, shrubs and colourful flower beds. On arrival, check in at the hotel and spend the remainder of the day enjoying this wonderful location at leisure.

Overnight in Ooty.

Day 13 : OOTY – MYSORE (140 km – 3.5 hrs)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel before you leave Ooty and head to Mysore. En route, make a stop at Somnathpur. Its exquisite temple of the Hoysala dynasty, built in the 13th century, is located on the banks of the Kaveri River. The temple has a closed courtyard and a well-carved and sculpted flat roof with rows of friezes around its walls representing intricate scenes of the time, starring dancers, musicians, warriors and nature. Afterwards proceed to Mysore; on arrival, check in at the hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a city tour of Mysore, known as the ‘City of Palaces and Oriental Splendour’. It is the principal residence of the royal family. This tour will take you to visit the Maharajas’s Palace, a synthesis of Hindu and Muslim styles, with a profusion of gateways, domes, arches, turrets, colonnades and sculpture. Then continue to Chamundi Hill, named after the Royal Family’s patron goddess and the site of summer palaces, an ancient temple and the 16-foot Nandi (Shiva’s bull) carved out of a single huge boulder. The view from the hill offers a beautiful panorama of not only all of Mysore, but also of the surrounding hills, lakes and the turrets of temples and churches

Overnight in Mysore.

Day 14 : MYSORE – BELUR Y HALEBIDU – MYSORE (150 km – 3.5 hrs)

Wake up to breakfast at hotel before setting off on a full-day excursion to the Belur and Halebidu temples, a city which flourished under the Hoysala Kings around 800 years ago, the sole reminder of this grandeur being the Chennakesava Temple. It stands in a perfect state of preservation and is an outstanding testament to the skill of Hoysala craftsmen. Its polished black stone exterior is profusely carved with scenes from the epics, each figure sculpted with fine detail. A short distance away at Halebid is a sister temple, the Hoysalesvara, dedicated to Shiva. Here too, the art is remarkable, with endless exquisite details: frieze upon frieze of gods, goddesses, animals and humans. It was constructed a decade after the Belur Temple by the same king but left uncompleted after 80 years of labour.

Overnight in Mysore.

Day 15 : MYSORE – BANGALORE(150km, 3hrs) / BANGALORE – MUMBAI (FLIGHT) / MUMBAI -AURANGABAD (FLIGHT)

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a morning transfer to Bangalore Airport, where you’ll board a flight to Aurangabad. Once there, you’ll be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in. The rest of the day is free for you to rest or explore Aurangabad at leisure.

Overnight in Aurangabad.

Day 16 : AURANGABAD – ELLORA – AURANGABAD (35km – 1 hr)

Start the day with breakfast at the hotel and continue with a morning excursion to Ellora, one of the finest examples of Indian sculpture. The awe-inspiring mammoth Kailash Temple, carved out of solid rock, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This monolithic structure is a very rare phenomenon that demanded the most careful planning, based not on what was added but what was removed! Ellora is a repository of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religious expression: thirty-four shrines synthesise Indian religion and India’s passion for sculpture. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are also depicted here in carvings, as are the many-faceted personalities of Lord Shiva. In the afternoon, upon returning to Aurangabad, enjoy a tour of this city names after the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb who made it his capital. Aurangazeb was a megalomaniac who had his father Shah Jehan imprisoned. Visit the Bibi-ka-Maqbara, built in memory of Aurangazeb’s wife Rabia Durrani, which was meant to surpass the Taj Mahal (built by his father Shah Jehan) in grandeur. Continue with the Panchakki, or ‘Water Mill’, an ingenious creation of Mughal engineers who used it to harness water to run large grinding stones which served as a flour mill. The tomb of a Muslim saint lies in the garden beyond the mill. End the tour with a visit to Aurangabad Caves. The most interesting is Cave 7, containing a huge figure of Bohisattva Padmapani, who is praying for deliverance from eight fears illustrated dramatically in stone.

Overnight in Aurangabad.

Day 17 : AURANGABAD – AJANTA CAVES (105km – 2 hrs) / AURANGABAD – MUMBAI (FLIGHT)

After your breakfast at the hotel in Aurangabad before the start of your morning excursion to the Ajanta Caves, which are hewn out of rock by Buddhist monks who found the sanctuary and left a legend for posterity. These thirty caves containing twenty-six monasteries and four temples have wall paintings and sculptures of a timeless aesthetic appeal. Some of the most exquisite paintings depict the life and teachings of Buddha, as well as his earlier life as a prince. The Ajanta Caves are like chapters of a splendid epic tale in visual form. Marvel at how the natural light brightens the caves at different times of the day, an awe-inspiring feat. Afterwards, transfer to the airport to board your connecting flight for Mumbai, where, upon arrival late at night, you will be met by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in.

Overnight in Mumbai.

Day 18 : DEPART MUMBAI

Enjoy your last breakfast at hotel before you depart on your morning excursion by motor launch (1hr from Mumbai) to the island of Elephanta, where the Elephanta Caves are located (closed on Mondays). . This island was so named by the Portuguese after the large stone elephant near the landing place and which now stands at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the mainland. The caves are reached by a stairway up the hillside from the ferry landing.

Return to the mainland and in the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Mumbai. Visit the Gateway of India, Mumbai’s principal landmark, Afghan Church built in memory of those who fell in the First Afghan War. Drive past the Bombay High Court and the Old secretariat. The ornamental university building with its 280 ft. high Rajabhai Clock Tower, the ornate Victoria Terminus, the colourful Crawford Market, the Flora Fountain in the large bustling square at the heart of the city, the Prince of Wales Museum (Closed on Mondays) which houses a varied collection of China-ware, miniature paintings and sculpture. Drive along the Marine Drive which is known as the Queen’s Necklace. View the memorial to Haji Ali, a Muslim Saint. Stop at the Jain Temple and also visit Mani Bhavan where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai.

Later in time transfer to airport to connect flight for onward destination.

Tour Ends

What's included

  • Return flight from London Heathrow
  • All domestic flights as per the itinerary 15kg baggage
  • TOUR GUIDE: Operated with English-speaking local guide***
  • ACCOMMODATION: 16 nights’ accommodation
  • MEALS: Breakfast
  • TRANSPORT: Air-conditioned private transportation
  • Inbound private airport transfer from Chennai International Airport
  • Train journey from Coonoor to Ooty (on day 12 )
  • Outbound private airport transfer to Mumbai Airport
  • ENTRANCE FEES AND ACTIVITIES: All monuments and parks as indicated: Government museum and fort in Chennai, Temples of Mahabalipuram, temples and palace in Madurai, sanctuary in Periyar, palace / Srirangapatnam in Mysore, Caves of Ajanta and Ellora in Aurangabad, Prince museum of Wales and Mani Bhawan in Mumbai
  • OTHER: Meet & Greet on arrival
  • Porterage only in the airport

What's not included

  • Expenditures of a personal nature, drinks and meals if not stated explicitly in the programme
  • Optional excursions (as recommended/suggested) in the itinerary.
  • Airport taxes, supplement for which are quoted separately if applicable
  • Visa fees, tips to drivers, local guides, and hotel staff
  • International or domestic flight tickets and visa fees.
  • Any service not listed above

Accommodation

ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

Chennai: Accord Metropolitan or similar 5*
Mahabalipuram: Grand Bay Resort or similar 4*
Pondicherry (Puducherry): Accord Puducherry or similar 5*
Thanjavur (Tanjore): Sangam or similar 3*
Madurai: Sangam or similar 3*
Periyar: Greenwoods Periyar or similar 4*
Kochi (Cochin): Casino Hotel or similar 3*
Ooty: Hotel Gem Park or similar 4*
Mysore: The Windflower or similar 4*
Aurangabad: WelcomHotel Rama International or similar 4*
Mumbai: Holiday Inn Airport or similar 4*

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Chennai: The capital of Tamil Nadu is considered the most important cultural and economic centre of southern India

Mahabalipuram: The sand-colored temples of this area are on the Unesco World Heritage list and represent a glorious past of the Pallava dynasty

Puducherry: The sand-coloured temples of this area are on the UNESCO World Heritage list and represent the glorious past of the Pallava dynasty

Thanjavur: Visit the best example of Chola architecture in Tamil Nadu with the Brihadeshwara temple on the outskirts of Thanjavur

Madurai: Discover the great Hindu temple of Meenakshi and its more than 30,000 figures

Periyar: One of the most famous nature reserves in the country where, with a bit of luck, you will see elephants, a variety of birds and even wild tigers

Kochi: This coastal town boasts a lot of history and European influence

Ooty: A quiet area of green hills surrounds the village

Mysore:Visit the stunning Palace of the Maharaja

Aurangabad: Known as the ‘City of Gates’ for being the district with the most monuments of national importance

Mumbai: Although Mumbai may appear chaotic and crowded, it can also bring moments of peace; markets are lively places in which to negotiate for spices or souvenirs

Please note

  • The standard hotel check-in and check-out time is from 14:00. In some cases it may vary
  • The distances and travel times described in the itinerary may vary.
  • Please note that local conditions prevalent at the time of travel may result in modifications to the tour contents without prior notice
  • Please note that hotel classification is as per Indian standards.
  • Please note we are able to accept clients request for Vegan meals.

What do I need to bring?

Comfortable and light clothing is the most suitable for travelling in India. Visitors should not wear sleeveless shirts, shorts, short skirts or skimpy clothing when visiting temples, religious or official buildings. Shoes should be removed before entering a temple or private house. Sun protection, sunglasses, a hat and mosquito repellent can be very useful during your stay.

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A private departures on any day all around the year can be arranged for this trek/tour, for more details and dates E-mail sales@lumle.com

AVAILABILITY OPTIONS

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Your Program Duration = 18 Days
All the Prices are in GBP (£) Per Person.

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Travel Info

    • Flight time 8 1/2 hours (New Delhi)
    • Timezone GMT+5 1/2 hours
    • Recommended airlines Turkish, Air India, Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, Oman, Etihad, Qatar, Emirates
    • Best season Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov & Dec

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