Day 1: Madras (Chennai) / Mahabalipuram
Early morning arrival in Madras, Welcome to India & beginning of South India Temple Tour! Airport welcome by your guide. Transfer to Mahabalipuram to hotel
After Noon: Excursion to Kanchipuram.
Day 2: Mahabalipuram / Pondicherry (110 km / 2h30)
On the Tamil side, the Pallava dynasty in Mahabalipuram created a commercial port, from where it exports to the 7th and 9th-century culture and civilization to Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam. The city is full of charm with its stone masons, tranquility and friendliness of its inhabitants.
Drive to Pondicherry where you have lunch in a French restaurant in Pondicherry. The latter is located in the white area, the old French Quarter.
Day 3: Pondicherry:
Morning excursion to Auroville.
Pondicherry: The nostalgic counter sleeping on the edge of the Indian Ocean, appears not to have forgotten the presence of the French three centuries. It was in 1673 that Francois Martin, a merchant-loving adventure, founded a counter which he gives the name of Poudouchery (new village), name, which misspelled the scribes of Colbert, was to become Pondicherry. Since its foundation, Pondicherry city was divided into white and black town, separated by a channel.
During the afternoon discovery of the ancient French city. You will see many buildings reminiscent of the golden age: the French School, the French School of the Far East, the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, the embroidery workshop of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny (Open every day except for local festivals), the war memorial, the monument dedicated to Gandhi on the seafront and the statue of Duplex.
Day 4: Pondicherry / Chidambaram / Gangaikondacholapuram / Tanjore (180km):
Departure for Chidambaram where you will visit a remarkable sacred complex characteristic of Dravidian India: Temple of Shiva Nataraja which is revered as the god of the cosmic dance.
Two of Gopurams are adorned with sculptures depicting the 108 positions of the Natya Shastra, the Treaty of dramaturgy of Hindu ritual dances.
Road to Gangaikondacholapuram where Raja Rajendra Ist, powerful Chola King, founded his new capital and the magnificent temple of Lord Shiva. It is famous for its architecture and rich carvings. Passing the great Nandi and Dwarapalika impressive, you will see admirable reliefs associated with the cult of Shiva, his consort Parvati and their son Skanda.
Continue to Tanjore: it was probably the favorite city of the Cholas kings. During their reign between the tenth and fourteenth centuries, the city was at its peak. pleasant town on the banks of the Kaveri River, there are many artistic activities since its heyday in the eleventh century, when the city had almost 100,000 inhabitants and was the capital of the Chola empire.
Day 5: Tanjore / Trichy / Tanjore 70km:
Visit Tanjore ancient capital of the Chola with the Saraswati Mahal Palace, built in the seventeenth century, which houses a superb Cholas collection of statues in bronze from 9th till the 14th century, and the Saraswati Mahal Library which exposes 30,000 drawings on palm leaves .
At Tanjore, explore the city with the visit of the temple still active Brihadishwara dedicated to Lord Shiva and a World Heritage Site by Unesco. This granite sanctuary soars 72 meters high and is topped by a monolithic dome of 80 tons.
Excursion to Tiruchirapally (Trichy)
Visit of Srirangam temple, the largest temple in Tamil Nadu. And visit Rock Fort (450 steps), from where one has an impressive view of the region Walk in the China Town Market, located at the foot of the Rock Fort.
Day 6: Chettinadu:
Chettinadu, demonstration of Chettinadu cuisine and lunch on banana tree leaf
Afternoon: Walk to the village where all the houses are old abandoned ancient Villas, it is also equipped with some weaving and quaint markets. Here you will stay for 2 nights in a classic building of the 19th century, former home of a wealthy merchant Chettyar beautifully restored. Chettinad is the mother land of Nattukottai Chettyar, a thriving community of bankers and entrepreneurs who came from South and South East Asia, particularly Sri Lanka and Burma in the 19th century.
Day 7: Chettinadu / Madurai 120km 2h:
You are in the heart of the Tamil country. Discover the city with the fascinating temple of Meenakshi-Sundareshvara Vijayanagar style. It is a true masterpiece, where you can admire an astonishing profusion of columns and corridors adorned countless statues, in an atmosphere full of life and faith of the Hindu devotees.
Then visit the Palace Tirumali Nayak dating from the 17th century. It is built in the style of Indo-Muslim art Italian influence. Time for a stroll on the market. Madurai is famous for its silk and carved wood sculpture.
In the evening you will go to the temple by tuk-tuk for the ceremony of Shiva Sunset who before joiningParvati, wish, worn by Brahmins goodnight to his two sons whose Ganesh the elephant god: a great moment !
Day 8: Madurai / Periyar (165 km / 4h):
Periyar, along with the way, stops in a brick factory and opportunity to visit a school (except during school holidays Indian).
Periyar: the heart of the mountains, is one of the best reserves of India. This park covers an area of 780 kmÂ² in a part of the Western Ghats (high mountain). The habitat here is one of the best for Asian elephants.
Arriving in at the hotel and go on with the spice plantation visit, cocoa, pepper and cardamom. And almost all the spices found in India.
Departure for a boat safari on the lake in order to better see wild elephants, gaur, antelopes and monkeys, but be aware that animals tend to hide. The site has about a thousand elephants, which increases your chances of spotting a majestic elephant, tigers themselves are less, they number about fifty. Overnight at hotel
Day 9: Periyar / Kumarakom:
Early in the morning a walk half an hour elephant in the spice plantations)
Starting around 9:00 am by the road through the Cardamom Mountains and tea plantations. Stop in a tea plantation and a tea factory where you will see the production of tea (closed Sunday and open from 09:00 to 17:00 every day).
Arrival and facilities in a nice hotel on Lake Vembanadu followed by a cruise on the lake to watch the sunset
Day 10: Kumarakom / Cruise on the “backwaters”
Yoga for those wishes at the hotel
Boarding House of boats called “Kettuvallam” from your hotel around 12 noon for a navigation on the “backwaters”, which you wander peacefully through the tropical countryside inland along the shady banks of coconut and paddy fields emerald irrigated a maze of canals and lagoons, where traditional boats glide.
Equipment “houseboat”: air-conditioned cabins with bathroom. A kitchen with a traditional cook, a navigator / guide and a platform for the view.
Day 11: Cruise on the backwaters / Cochin 80 km (1:30):
Breakfast on board. Morning cruising on the backwaters towards Alleppey. Landing and departure to Cochin
Afternoon free time to walk around in old Cochin. Do not hesitate, in the late afternoon to stroll along the waterfront, where you will see the huge Chinese nets in action, evoking the memory of the first sailors.
By early evening, transfer to the theater where you will witness the makeup artists, then a performance of Kathakali, featuring extraordinary characters with impressive masks that recreate in a dance theater, sacred legends of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
Day 12: Cochin:
Cochin, “Queen of the Arabian Sea”, the largest natural harbor in India. Cochin means an assembly of islands and cities. This is where the first “settlers” Europeans settled in India in 1500, led by Vasco da Gama died in India in 1524 with the title of Viceroy of Portuguese India.
Visit Cochin: the Dutch Palace (closed on Friday), or Mattancherry Palace, you will find some of the finest sacred murals paintings of South India. On the first floor, the hall coronation contains objects that belonged to the ruler of Cochin Raja Veera Kerala Varma (1537-1561). Visit of the Church of Saint Francis Xavier, the oldest European church in the country.
Visit the Synagogue (closed on Fridays and Saturdays), 1568, which is the oldest in the Commonwealth.
Cochin: End of South India Temple Tour. Transfer to the airport, good flight and welcome back!