Temple Trails tour India
Day 01: ARRIVE CHENNAI
Upon arrival at Chennai Meet on arrival at Airport and transfer to the hotel. Rest of the day free at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: CHENNAI
After breakfast full day city tour of Chennai. Chennai, the capital city, popularly regarded as the ‘Gateway to the South’ represents a culture that is distinctly different from that of northern India. The places of interest are Kalakshetra, a school of art and music that encourages exponentsWz`x` of Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music, traditional weaving and designing; Fort St. George built in 1653 during British reign in India, now houses the Secretariat and Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu; St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in India with its premises; Sri Parthasarathy Temple built by the Pallavas in the 8th century AD; Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore also an eighth century Pallava Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva; St. Thomas Cathedral Basilica rebuilt in 1606 as a cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica; and Theosophical Society – the world headquarters of the Theosophical Society formed to encourage the study of comparative religion philosophy and science. Evening transfer to hotel.Overnight at hotel.
Day 03: CHENNAI – KANCHIPURAM – MAHABALIPURAM
After breakfast drive to Kanchipuram, 70 kms west of Mahabalipuram which is a city of thousand temples. One of the seven sacred cities of Hindus, it was the capital of the early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC. Kanchi was a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Apart from temples, the city is also famous for its silk weavers, who settled here some 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation. Later on we shall proceed to Mahabalipuram, driving south of Chennai on the coast which is the ancient port of Pallavas. The pallavas have created many marvellous monuments with sculptural panels, caves, Monolithic Rathas and Temples. Krishna Mandapam has a big bas relief, notable for its realistic representation. The world’s largest bas relief measuring 27m x 9m, whale back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demi-gods, men beasts, birds and representation of the entire creation. Shore Temple, one of the oldest in south dating back to 8th century AD is a good example of the first phase of structural temples constructed in Dravidian style. The Five Rathas are a group of five monolithic temples, each created in different style. Later Check in at the hotel. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 04: MAHABALIPURAM – PONDICHERRY (135 KM)
After breakfast drive to Pondicherry. In the afternoon city tour of Pondicherry. Although the French influence is gradually fading, Pondicherry retains a few Gallic accents. Pondicherry’s main sights are the Rai Nivas, the Sacred Heart Church and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The ashram retreat was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo after whose death the spiritual authority passed to one of his disciples, a French woman known as the Mother. The Mother was also instrumental in founding the city of Dawn Auroville, 10 km from Pondicherry. Its original charter aimed at creating a city of the future where people from India and abroad could live and work together in a spiritual environment. Evening transfer to hotel.Overnight at hotel.
Day 05: PONDICHERRY- CHIDAMBARAM (64 KM) – KUMBAKONAM (78 KM)
Morning after breakfast drive to Kumbakonam, en-route visit Chidambaram, the seat of the Cosmic Dancer; dedicated to Lord Nataraja. Spread over an area of 40 acres with a gopuram on each side, the temple is distinguished by the five sabhas or counts. The towering gopurams, the tallest one on the north is 42.4 m are carved on it with 108 dance poses of Bharatanatyam.
Further continue drive to Kumbakonam, one of the oldest towns in Tamilnadu and is famous for its Mahamaham festival. In the 7th Century it was the Capital of Chola Kings. Kumbakonam, the famous temple town of South India, is picturesquely located amidst the two rivers, Cauvery & Arasalar. On arrival check in at the hotel. Afternoon visit the temple of Kumbakonam. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 06: KUMBAKONAM – TANJORE (40 KM) – TRICHY (60 KM)
After breakfast drive to Trichy, en-route visit Tanjore. The home of Carnatic music, musical instruments, dance and traditional handicrafts, Tanjore (Thanjavur) is famous for the Brahadeeswarar Temple. The temple constructed more than a thousand years ago by the Chola King Raja Rajan is an architect’s marvel. The Art Gallery and the Saraswathi Mahal Library are also well known places of interest.
Further drive to Trichy. Upon arrival check into the hotel. After fresh-n-up visit Srirangam, which is an island, 5 kms from Trichy. Surrounded by the Kaveri water is a 600 acres island town enclosed within the seven walls on the gigantic Sri Ranganathaswami temple. There are no less than 22 gopurams, one of which is the tallest in India. The 72 m high 13 tiered gopuram dominates the landscape for miles around. The Rock Fort situated on the banks of the Kaveri River, Trichy’s most famed landmark is an 84 m high rock, one of the oldest in the world approx. 3,800 million years. The attraction is not for fort itself but the temple at the summit. 344 steps hewn out of rock lead to the top where are the inscriptions dating back to the 3rd century B.C.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 07: TRICHY – RAMESHWARAM
After breakfast drive to Trichy.
Early morning drive to Rameshwaram, the most sacred pilgrimage destinations of India. No pilgrimage is over without taking a trip to this holy island of Rameshwaram. Rameshwaram, as it is said, is the place where Lord Rama offered thanks to Lord Shiva in return for his support in defeating King Ravana. This makes Rameshwaram an important pilgrimage destination for devotees of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Situated in the Ramanathapuram of Tamil Nadu, Rameshwaram is home to some of the most fascinating temples in entire India. This island in the Gulf of Mannar is connected to the mainland at Mandapam by Indira Gandhi Bridge. Completed in the year 1988, this was considered as an engineering marvel, a feat unparalleled at that time.
On arrival check in at the hotel, after fresh-n-up full day temple tour including Ramanathaswamy, this magnificent temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas situated in different parts of India. Ramanathaswamy Temple also has its name in history books as it has the largest hallway anywhere in India. The construction of Ramanathaswamy Temple which was started in the 12th century was contributed to by many rulers. During its construction period, many dynasties came and fell and each of them put their input into the temple. The list of unique features in its construction seems to be endless. There is this huge hallway that is of approximately 1220 meters in length. Throughout the length of the hall, there are brilliantly carved pillars, the alignment of which will leave you totally mesmerized. The 54 meter tall Gopuram has become the symbol of divinity in the heart of many pilgrims; such is the beauty and presence of it.
Day 08: RAMESHWARAM
After breakfast proceed on full day temple tour of Rameswaram, visiting Sri Ramanathaswamy temple. The temple has 22 holy springs which are believed to have medicinal properties. After darshan, visit the Ghanthamathana Parvatham which provides fine views of the island.
Later, visit Dhanushkodi, it is one of the Tirthas in the island of Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, India. This is located beside the ghost town of Dhanushkodi at the eastern most tip of Rameswaram Island. Rama used his bow’s (Dhanush) end (Kodi) to break the bridge – Adam’s Bridge (hence the name). This bridge was used for his army to cross over to Lanka for the victorious war against Ravana Later, return to the hotel for overnight stay.
Day 09: RAMESHWARAM – MADURAI (170 KM)
Morning after breakfast drive to Madurai. Upon arrival check into the hotel. Evening free for own activity. Overnight stay at resort.
Day 10: FULL DAY IN MADURAI
After breakfast full day city tour of Madurai. Madurai, known as Athens of the East, is the second largest city on the banks of the River Vaigai. The city is believed to be more than 2500 years old. The city got its name from the drops of nectar (Mathuram) that fell from Shiva’s lochs when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him. Madurai where the people wake up at the chant of hymns is proud of the magnificent Meenakshi-Sundareswara Temple. Of its 12 gopurams, four of the tallest stand at the outer walls of the temple. The 48.8 m high southern gopuram is the most spectacular and have over 1500 sculptures. In the Ashta Shakthi Mandapam inside the Meenakshi temple, the sculpted pillars tell the story of the beautiful princess of Madurai and her marriage to Lord Shiva. Evening transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11: MADURAI – KANYAKUMARI (244 km)
After breakfast drive to Kanyakumari which would take 5 hours. Upon arrival check into the hotel.
In the afternoon go for sightseeing. Kanyakumari is the southernmost end of Tamil Nadu, the land’s end of India or the point where the three seas meet – the Bay of Bengal, The Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Later visit Kumari amman temple dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanyakumari (Parvati) who stands guard over the country. The temple is built at the spot where the goddess is believed to have waited for her consort Lord Siva. Gandhi Memorial, constructed at the spot where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were kept for public view in an urn before a portion was immersed into the three seas. Vivekananda Memorial built on the Vivekananda Rock where the great Philosopher guide Swami Vivekananda went into meditation that transformed him into one of the most charismatic spiritual leader.
Day 12: KANYAKUMARI – KOVALAM (100 KM)
Morning after breakfast drive to Kovalam visiting en-route Padmanabhapuram, (trivandrum 15 km short from Kovalam). The capital of Travancore until 1333, Padmanabhapuram is known for its fort which encloses, among other buildings, a palace and a temple. The palace has some important art relics while the Ramaswamy temple has exquisitely carved panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana.
Later transfer to Kovalam. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: FULL DAY IN KOVALAM
After breakfast full day free for your own activity or leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14: KOVALAM – DEPARTURE
Transfer to the airport to board the flight for onward destination.
Tour & services Ends.