GLIMPSES OF THE SOUTH – SOUTH INDIA VACATION PACKAGE

GLIMPSES OF THE SOUTH – SOUTH INDIA VACATION PACKAGE

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Overview

Tour Duration: 11 Nights / 12 Days

Places Covered: Cochin / Kumarakom / Periyar / Trichy / Pondicherry / Mahabalipuram / Cochin
Tour Destination: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12

A 12 day South India holiday package, taking you to some of the most beautiful, and culturally rich destinations in Southern India.  The trip covers the most important sights of Kerala, the harbour city of Cochin,  backwater destination of Kumarakom, and the Periyar National Park.  You then move further east towards the temple towns of Trichy, Madurai and Mahabalipuram.  This South India holiday also gives you a chance to experience the Indo-French flavour of Pondicherry, and the cosmopolitan flavour of Chennai, Southern India’s most populous city.

Day 01 - Arrive Cochin

Your South India vacation begins with an arrival into Cochin, where you will be met at the airport by Trans India Holidays representative and transferred to the hotel and assisted with check in formalities.

South India Vacation Package, CochinCochin: - Cochin means harbour and even before the building of Ancient Rome, spices, silks, ivory and sandalwood were traded here. Cochin proudly boasts a rich cultural heritage, but is also one of the most fast-paced and modern cities in India. It is also one of the finest natural harbours of the world and a major Indian port. It is its charm and a relatively good infrastructure that make it the ideal gateway to the state. This has been the case since 1341, the year nature carved out Cochin's harbor with a massive flood. As a result, Cochin became the first port of call for Arabs and came to be known as the "Queen of the Arabian Sea." This city offers visitors Forts, palaces, museums, old churches, cool backwaters, palm fringed lagoons, beaches and the practicality of a contemporary metro.

Overnight in Cochin.

Day 02 –Cochin

After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken for a guided sightseeing tour of Cochin.  Tour includes visits to the following places of interest:

Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace): The Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to the Maharaja of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma (1537-61), as a gesture of goodwill. It was substantially renovated by the Dutch after 1663, hence it’s other name, the 'Dutch Palace'. The most important feature of this palace, however are the astonishing murals in the bedchambers and other rooms, which depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranic legends connected with Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Kumara and Durga. These murals are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and extensive to be seen anywhere in India.

The Jewish Synagogue The synagogue, magnificently decorated by Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers, was built in 1568. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is located near the Dutch Palace.

Cochin Harbor: Cochin harbor terminus where the Chinese fishing nets present a wonderful sight. The Chinese fishing nets found here are the only ones of its kind in India. It is believed that traders from the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan introduced these nets here.

St Francis Church It is the oldest church built by European in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portugese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that the exact place where he was buried has been marked out inside the church.

Fort Kochi Beach: A stroll along the beach, particularly at sunset with the Chinese fishing nets and sailing ships in the background, is a fine experience. Many European style bungalows can be seen along the shoreline.

Hill Palace: Built in the 19th century by Raja of Kochi, the Kochi province was ruled from here. The palace has been converted into a museum displaying a fine collection of articles used by the Rajas of Kochi apart from many archaeological findings.

Later in the evening you will be picked up and taken to a Kathakali Dance Performance at a local theatre. Kathakali is a traditional dance form, depicting Indian epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata). The dancers are dressed in very colorful and elaborate costumes. Their faces are painted to depict various characters of the se epics. This dance has a lot of facial expressions and brisk, yet articulate body movements.

Overnight in Cochin.

Day 03 –Drive Cochin – Kumarakom (85 kms/02 hrs)

After leisurely breakfast, you will be assisted with Check out formalities and start your drive to Kumarakom.

South India Vacation Package, KumarakomKumarakom: The enchanting backwater destination of Kumarakom is a small village that is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake in Kerela. Kumarkom strengthens Kerala’s reputation for being God’s own country with its unbelievably beautiful mangrove forests, coconut groves and emerald green paddy fields interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with while lillies. It is part of the Kuttanad region, and the bird sanctuary here spread across 14 acres of any ornithologist's paradise. This enchanting backwater destination offers visitors many leisure options. From wandering into the depths of its wildlife sanctuary to cruising down the back waters and fishing, Kumarkom is perfect for a lazy and laid back holiday. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands, as hundreds of swaying verdant coconut palms lining the rivers lean to brush the tops of your heads. Kumarkom is an example of nature at her bountiful best in the fragrant flowers, the riot of multi coloured birds, the surrounding greenery and the clear waters.

On arrival in Kumarakom, check in at the hotel.

No activities are scheduled for this day. Spend rest of the day enjoying the Resort’s facilities.  

Overnight in Kumarakom.

Day 04 – Drive Kumarakom – Periyar (200 kms / 4 hrs)

After leisurely breakfast, check out from hotel and then start your drive to Periyar.

South India Vacation Package, PeriyarPeriyar - Situated in the Idukki district of God’s Own Country, Kerala, Periyar or Thekkady as it is commonly known, is famous as one of the best places to see the Asian Elephant. Today, it is one of the very few spanholds of this magnificent pachyderm in Southern India. The uniqueness of this sanctuary is the Periyar Lake, an artificial lake, which was created by damming the Periyar River a century ago. Thekkady consists mainly of Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest. Some areas of the kkady also house pristine Evergreen forests. The varieties in habitats ensure that the diversity of flora and fauna is absolutely amazing with a magnificent variety of animals - the elephant, the bison, Gaur, Sambar deer, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Nilgiri langur, Bonnet macaque, Lion-tailed macaque leopards, Jungle cats, Wild dogs and most importantly the tiger that is main predator in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

On arrival in Periyar, check in at the hotel.

Overnight in Periyar.

Day 5 – In Periyar

South India packages, PeriyarEarly morning, you will be picked up from hotel for a boat ride on the Lake Periyar to watch wild life. All tourist activity is concentrated around the splendid artificial Periyar lake, an incredible way to experience the sanctuary. There are an estimated 700 elephants roaming these forests. Most of the population is generally concentrated on the banks of the Periyar Lake and come to the lake to frolic in the water.

Later, you will be picked up from your hotel for a guided visit to the nearby spice plantation  The Portuguese and the Jews of Cochin visited as traders, turning the natural bounties of the area into wealth. Pepper and cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, and several other spices, grown in the  Periyar hills , made it nature's taste factory in the 14th century, as Cochin became nature's harbour, the port of lading for a spice-hungry world. Later, the area came under the Kingdom of Travancore, and many of its plantations, orchards and hunting lodges date from that time. The British Raj too, left its mark on the Cardamom Hills.

Overnight in Periyar.

Day 6 – Drive Periyar –Madurai (160Kms/03 hours)

After leisurely breakfast, check out from the hotel and then start your drive to Madurai.

Madurai The city is known for its rich heritage, culture and historical background in the sense that Lord Shiva himself performed sixty-four wonders called "Thiruvilaiyadals" in Madurai many centuries ago. Madurai is located on banks of river Vaigai and was the capital of Pandya kingdom,and is now the second largest city in Tamil Nadu.

South India packages, MaduraiThe city is most famous for the Meenakshi Temple, with its baroque example of Dravidian Architecture and the four tall gopurams (pillars) with multi coloured Gods, Goddesses, demons and deities. The 1000 pillared hall has stone figures carved on the pillars; some of which sound like metal when hit with an object. The metal stone or musical pillar, although made of stone, produces sounds of different metals. Other places of interest include the Tirumalai Nayaka Temple and the Temple Art Museum.

Madurai has reference in the great Indian epics - Ramayana, Kautilyas and Arthasastra. As early as the 302BC, Megasthanes visited Madurai. Great travel-historians like Pliny (77AD) and Ptolemy (140AD) have made reference to Madurai in their travelogues. Marcopolo visited Madurai in 1293AD followed by Ibn Batuta in 1333AD. Later many people from Rome and Greece visited Madurai and established trade with the Pandya kings. The city is surrounded by three small prominent hills, which are called the Anaimalai, Pasumalai and Nagamalai named after their resemblance to an Elephant, a Cow and a Snake respectively.

On arrival in Madurai, check in at the hotel.

Rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Madurai.

Day 07 – Drive Madurai – Trichy (140Kms/03 hours)

After leisurely breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken for a guided sightseeing tour of Madurai.  Tour includes visits to the following places of interest:

Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple: One of the most important Hindu pilgrim spots and an international tourist attraction, the twin temple is located at the heart of the city. It reflects the cultural and religious life of the people of the city. It is said that the people of the city wake up with the chanting of hymns at the temple. This pre-Christian era temple, actually built by Kulasekara Pandya, was in ruins before Tirumalai Nayak who restored this magnificent structure to its original glory.

Tirumalai Nayakar Mahal: The palace of Tirumalai Nayakar, one of the last Nayak kings, is about 1 km away from the Meenakshi-Sundareshwar temple. This Indo-Saracenic building, constructed in 1523, was originally four times larger than its present size. The most remarkable part of this palace is the Swarga Vilasam or the audience hall. The Swarga Vilasam has a dome that is a true engineering marvel as it, rises to a height of 20 m without any kind of support.

Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam: This is a tank with a Mandapam (covered platform) at the center, enshrining Lord Vigneshwara. The Float festival is conducted here every year between January and February.

The Gandhi Museum: The old city palace in Madurai has been dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.

Thirupparankundram: Located 8 km from the center of the city, Thirupparankundram is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya.

Ancient Koodal Azhagar Shrine: This shrine is well known for its sculptures of Vishnu in sitting, standing and reclining postures, placed one above the other

Your sightseeing tour is followed by a drive to Trichy.

Trichy Trichy is a fine blend of tradition and modernity built around the Rock Fort. It was one of the main centers around which the wars of the Carnatic were fought in the 18th century during the British-French struggle for supremacy in India. It was a citadel of the early Cholas kings which later fell to the Pallavas kings. This city is a thriving commercial centre in Tamilnadu, and is famous for artificial diamonds, cigars, handloom cloth, glass bangles and wooden and clay toys. This city has given great Tamil scholars whose contributions to the Tamil literature have been very significant.
On arrival in Trichy, check in at the hotel.

Rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Trichy.

Day 08 – Drive Trichy- Pondicherry (255 Kms/05 hours)

South India Holidays, Rock Fort Temple After leisurely breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken for a guided sightseeing tour of Trichy.  Tour includes visits to the following places of interest:

Rock Fort Temple - which stands on a 84 m high rock in the centre of the town. In the eighteenth century, the British fought and defeated the French at Trichy for possession of the fort. Cave-shrines and temples are built on the rock - look out for the Hall of a Thousand Pillars and the shrine of Shiva. At the top one can relax and enjoy the panoramic views of Trichy.

Ranganathswamy Temple Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, the temple was known as a theological seat of learning as far back as the 11th century and as a sacred site it dates back two thousand years. As it is today, the temple comprises of a series of walled courts with 21 towers – the tallest of which reaches up 72 meters. It is a busy place with street sellers offering sweets, garlands and holy images to worshippers and tourists alike.
Your sightseeing tour is followed by a drive to Pondicherry.

Pondicherry - a former French colony settled in the 18th century is now a Union territory and a beautiful seaside town with traces of French culture still intact. Apart from the charming atmosphere, excellent restaurants, and cheap beer, what attracts most travelers to Pondicherry is the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The ashram, founded by Sri Aurobindo in the year 1926, has brought international reputation to this coastal town.  

On arrival in Pondicherry, check in at the hotel.

Rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Pondicherry.

Day 09 – Drive Pondicherry- Mahabalipuram (95 Kms/02 hours)

After leisurely breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken for a guided sightseeing tour of Pondicherry.  Tour includes visits to the following places of interest:

Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Founded in 1926, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram has grown, under the Mother’s guidance, from a small group of two dozen disciples into a large diversified community. The Ashram is not a quiet place of retreat secluded from the world but a vibrant centre of life in a modern urban setting.

Aurobindo Hand Made Paper Factory - one of the Ashram’s most successful commercial enterprises, with the paper produced here being exported to other countries. You can actually watch the process of manufacturing quality hand made paper as you wander through the factory.

The Pondicherry Museum with its various stone statues and a fossilized tree trunk is also worth a visit.

Your sightseeing tour is followed by a drive to Mahabalipuram.

Mahabalipuram, a little seaside town, has a vibrant history dating back to the days of the Pallava dynasties in South India. Mahabalipuram, is well known for its rock hewn temples,sculptures and the worlds largest stone bas relief. The fantastic Shore Temples are among the most talked about and most photographed monuments in the country. These romantic relics of the last millenium have been ravaged by the seas and wild winds, something that seems only to have made them that much more beautiful. There are nine rock-cut cave temples in the vicinity. These have interesting carvings on them, depicting Hindu Gods and Goddesses in various poses, some mythological relating incidents. There is a carving of the celebrated fight between the Mahishasura and Goddess Durga, a carving of Lord Vishnu and another of Lord Shiva. The magnificent Pandava Rathas (dedicated to the Pandava brothers of Mahabharata fame) are the main attractions here, all carved out of a single rock. Though they are popularly referred to as the 'five rathas', there are in fact eight, one of which is dedicated to Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas. There is also the huge rock known as Arjuna's Penance, where the Mahabharata hero was said to have atoned for his worldly sins. This magnificent natural structure has a massive fissure right through the middle and is the biggest of its kind in the world. There are also the famous 'Mandapams', which are rock-cut halls with sculpted figures inside them
On arrival in Mahabalipuram, check in at the hotel.

Overnight in Mahabalipuram.

Day 10 – Mahabalipuram – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram (95 Kms/02 hours)

South India Holidays, Mahabalipuram After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and taken for a guided sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram.  Mahabalipuram is a site of many ancient sculptural marvels. It was the port city of the Pallavas who had mastered the art of construction without using bricks or mortar, carving out exquisite sculptures from rocks. The best examples of their art here are the five monolith chariots, the pride of Mahabalipuram. The various panels on the walls depict scenes from Hindu mythology and fables from the Panchtantra. The Mahabalipuram ruins, date to the seventh century and consist of a cave temple, shore temple, monolithic rathas (rock-carved temple chariots) and bas-reliefs (among the world's finest.). It is the ideal place to purchase intricately shaped and skilfully carved statues.  Later visit Kanchipuram, where the Tour includes visits to Kamakshi Amman dedicated to Goddess Parvati ; the Kailashanathar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the Ekambareshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the largest temples of city.

Overnight in Mahabalipuram.

Day 11 – Drive Mahabalipuram- Chennai (60 Kms/01 hour)

After leisurely breakfast, check-out from the hotel and then start your drive to Chennai, the last stop of your South India holiday.

Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. It is the fourth largest metropolis in India. Modern Chennai grew out of a small fishing village called Madraspatnam, when the East India Company chose the location for a new settlement way back in 1639.

On arrival in Chennai, you will be met by our representative and assisted with check in formalities.

This afternoon you will be picked up from your hotel and taken for a guided sightseeing tour of Chennai.  Tour includes visits to the following places of interest:

Fort St. George: Fort St. George occupies a place of pride and prominence in Chennai. It was built in 1640 A.D by the British East India Company, under the direct supervision of Francis Day and Andrew Cogon. This bastion achieved its name from St. George, the patron saint of England. The fort houses St. Mary's Church and Fort Museum.

Marina Beach: Marina Beach has the honour of being the second largest beach in the world. An Aquarium, and a few beautiful buildings like the University of Madras, Senate-House, Chepauk Palace, etc. on the beachfront add colour to the beach.

The Fort Museum: This repository of rare exhibits is home to a number of weapons, uniforms, coins, costumes, medals and other artifacts dating back to the British period. The flag -staff at Fort St. George is the tallest in India. South of the Fort is the War Memorial, a graceful monument built in 1939 in memory of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the First World War. The Island Grounds, the biggest lung space in the city, is situated on an island formed by the river Cooum. This ground is the venue for Trade and the Tourist Fairs held periodically which are seasonal attractions.

Santhome Cathedral Basilica: Santhome at the southern end of Marina Beach derives its name from St. Thomas, the apostle of Christ who is believed to have come to Madras sometime during 52 A.D. He was killed on St. Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 A.D. and was interned in Santhome beach, where a church was later built. Several years later, another church was built further inland and his mortal remains were transferred from the old church to the new one. In 1606 the church was rebuilt as a cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica. The beautiful stained glass window at the basilica portrays the story of St. Thomas and the central hall has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. In the cathedral is a 3 ft. high statue of Virgin Mary, which is believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543.

Overnight in Chennai.

Day 12 – Depart Chennai

Morning at leisure. Later in the day you are met by our representative at your hotel and assisted with checkout formalities, followed by transfer to airport in time for your flight home.

Cochin or Kochi as it is now called, is the commercial capital of the Southern Indian State of Kerala, is sometimes referred to as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. Cochin proudly boasts a rich cultural heritage, but is one of the most fast-paced and modern cities in India. It is also one of the finest natural harbours of the world and a major Indian port.

Always a tourist favourite, this city offers visitors plenty. Forts, palaces, museums, old churches, cool backwaters, palm fringed lagoons, beaches and the practicality of a contemporary metro.

The interesting places to visit in Cochin include the Mattancherry Palace (Dutch Palace), built by the Portuguese and presented to the Cochin Raja in 1555 AD. A fine blend of Indo-European architecture, The Chinese Fishing nets, St. Francis Church, where Vasco Da Gama was buried before his remains were taken back to Portugal 14 years later and Jewish Synagogue, situated close to the Mattancherry boat jetty, the Synagogue and the ancient Jew town built in 1568 A.D. is of great historical importance.

Kumarakom -- Kumarakom is rated as one of the top 15 beautiful spots in the world by the National Geographic magazine. The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and this small water world is part of the Kuttanad region of the Southern Indian states of Kerala. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favorite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist's paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teal, waterfowl, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian stork that live There in flocks are a fascination for visitors. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands.An unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with while lillies - this is Kumarakom.

 

Periyar in the Southern most state of Kerala , is one of the sixteen Project Tiger reserves in India, and one of the most picturesque and beautiful wildlife sanctuaries in the world. With its waterways, forests and grasslands, it provides a magnificent venue for both mammal and bird watching. Despite the destruction of much of the lowland forest within the reserve as a result of the construction of a dam across the Periyar River in 1895, its 777 square kilometres provide a haven for a wide range of mammals,including Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Sloth bear, Leopard, Dhole, and Nilgiri Langur. Periyar National Park also has a rich and varied bird fauna and we will be hoping to see several of the species found only in southern India and Sri Lanka, such as Grey Junglefowl, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet, White-cheeked Barbet, Crimsonfronted Barbet, Black-headed Cuckoo-Shrike, Heart-Spotted Woodpecker, Rufous Babbler, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Flycatcher, Ruby-throated Bulbul and White-bellied Treepie.

Game viewing in Periyar National Park is done on Boats. The boat journeys provide unrivalled opportunities for observing mammals, particularly Elephants, at close range. Other mammals in abundance in Periyar National Park include Sambar, Nilgiri Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Three-striped Palm Squirrel and Bonnet Macaque. Tiger sightings are relatively rare in Periyar, since game viewing is by boat and the big cats have sufficient cover to hide themselves. Another interesting activity in Periyar National Park is guided Jungle treks that are possible late night.

Mamallapuram, the city of Mamalla, is after the title of great Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman-I (AD 630-68). It was a sea-port during the time of Periplus (1st century AD) and Ptolemy (AD 140) and many Indian colonists sailed to South-East Asia through this port town. While there is some evidence of architectural activity going back to the period of Mahendravarman-I (AD 600-30), the father of Mamalla, most of the monuments like rock-cut rathas, sculptured scenes on open rocks like Arjuna's penance, the caves of Govardhanadhari and Mahishasuramardini, the Jala-Sayana Perumal temple (the sleeping Mahavishnu or Chakrin at the rear part of the Shore temple complex) are attributed to the period of Narasimhavarman-I Mamalla.

 Of the nine monolithic temples found in Mahabalipuram, the most important are Five Rathas known after the famous five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata fame. These monuments are carved out a single rock with choice of all known forms of plan and elevations. While the Dharmaraja, Arjuna and Draupadi rathas are square on plan, the Bhima and Ganesa rathas are rectangular and Sahadeva ratha apsidal.

 

 

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This seems to be the whole package for anyone planning for a south tour covering many places like Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple, Mahabalipuram, Marina Beach Chennai , Mattancherry Palace Cochin and many more prominent places. Thank You Very Much Regard's Samson

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