14 Nights 15 Days The enchanting south India Tour

(Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry – Thanjavur – Karaikudi – Madurai – Periyar – Alleppey – Kochi)

Overview

The enchanting South India have a lot to offer in terms of architectural beauty and mythological significance. These temples were commissioned by the erstwhile rulers of South India in veneration of their favorite deities. Most of these temples have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 12 days long ‘South India Temple Tour’ will cover prominent temple cities of Tamil Nadu such as Chennai, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Madurai, and Thanjavur.

Tour Highlights

  • Visit the ancient temples of South India
  • Enjoy the backwaters of Kerala
  • Regional south Indian food
  • Guided tours to all excursions
  • Overnight on a stunning houseboat
Download Tour Dossier

From GBP 2800

  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
BEST TIME TO VISIT
GOOD TIME TO VISIT
AVERAGE TIME TO VISIT
For Reservations or Booking Assistance Toll Free +44 07977215887
ou can also email us at info@zigitours.com
  • Itinerary
  • Tour Map
  • What To Carry
  • Gallery
Day 1   Chennai

Day 1 Chennai

Namaste.Welcome to India! You are met by our representative in the arrival area of the airport after you clear all immigration and customs formalities. Depart for your hotel where you will check in for your stay (Standard Check inn at 14:00Hrs).

Chennai, formerly known as Madras, serves as the capital of Tamil Nadu and is the fourth largest city in India, with over six million inhabitants.

Upon arrival at the hotel, check-in to your room.

Overnight in Chennai

Day 2     Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram

Day 2 Chennai – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram

After buffet breakfast at the hotel, you will proceed for a sightseeing tour of Chennai.

Your tour will start with the visit to, Fort St. George (Closed on Fridays & Public Holidays), which is presently, is being used by the Tamil Nadu Government. From the British hold of centre, you will proceed to Mylapore, which was inhabited in the 16th century by the Portuguese; visit the San Thome Church, named for the Christian disciple (“Doubting Thomas”) who lived and taught here in the first century.

Also visit Kapaleeswarar Temple, honoring Shiva, dates back to the 13th century AD and is the biggest temple in Chennai. You will also drive past the Marina Beach, the second longest in the world, stretching for several miles.

Afternoon you will be driven to Mahablipuram enroute visit Kanchipuram.

Kanchipuram is a busy pilgrimage centre, humming with activity around its extraordinary temple precincts. The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram with a four-storeyed tower and octagonal shikhara is a commendable piece of creativity. Also famous here are the world-renowned Kanchipuram hand woven silk & cotton fabrics.

After visiting Kanchipuram, you will be driven to Mahabalipuram for overnight stay.

Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) built in the 7th century, is an ancient Pallava port. Today it is the site of several antique sculptural marvels. Declared as the world heritage site by UNESCO, Mahabalipuram boasts of some of India’s most sublime rock-cut art. The only shore temple, which remains here, is the spectacular two-spired shrine, which is unique in that it houses both Vishnu and Shiva in its sanctum.

Overnight in Mahabalipuram

Day 3     Mahabalipuram

Day 3 Mahabalipuram

Breakfast at the Hotel later proceed for the sightseeing tour of the city covering Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance & the Cave Temple.

The Shore Temple: Though known as the land of Seven Pagodasm, there is only one remaining today. The five-storied Sore Temple on the sea beach was built by the Pallava King Raja Singha at the end of seventh century in pure Dravidian sculpture. This temple was the last work of Pallava dynasty.

Arjuna's Penance- This skilfully carved rock of 29X7 metre, is the largest vas - relief sculpture in the world. It gets its name from the figure of an ascetic who is believed to be Arjuna, the hero of Mahabharata, doing penance to obtain a boon from Lord Siva. However, there are others who think that the figure is actually Bhagiratha who entreated Siva to let the river Ganges flow over the earth.

Mandapams/Cave temples: Krishna Temple is the oldest temple. The rectangular Ganesh Mandapam was also built carving out of a whole rock and is worshipped still daily. You can also see Ganesa Ratha, Varcha Cave, Old Light House, Krishna's Butter Ball, Gopi's Churn, Valayankuttai Ratha, Kodikal Mandapam, etc.

Overnight at Mahabalipuram

Day 4   Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

Day 4 Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry

Today you will be driven to Pondicherry. Upon arrival check-in at hotel

Pondicherry has a rich French cultural heritage, having been the capital of the French colonies in India since the 17th century.

Afternoon you will proceed for sightseeing tour of Pondicherry - visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram, located on Rue de la Marine, is the most popular attraction in Pondicherry.

Option: - Heritage Walk of the French Quarters in Pondicherry

The old town of Pondicherry has a unique charm, which captivates the hearts of visitors. To experience the spirit of Pondicherry, it is essential to walk through the old town and closely observe the nature of its architectural traditions. Take a stroll along the lanes and by lanes of Pondicherry's French Quarter (Ville Blanche or 'White town'). Many streets still retain their French names, and French style villas are a common sight. In the French quarter, the buildings are typically colonial style with long compounds and bright red and yellow walls and full of bougainvilleas.

Overnight at Pondicherry

Day 5      Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Tanjore

Day 5 Pondicherry – Chidambaram – Tanjore

After buffet breakfast at hotel, you will be driven from Pondicherry to Tanjore, en-route stop at Chidambaram, the capital of the Cholas from AD 907 to 1310;. It is one of Tamil Nadu’s most important holy towns.

After visiting Chidambaram, continue your drive to Tanjore. About a thousand years ago, Tanjore, or Thanjavur was the capital of the powerful Chola dynasty. Today, it is the little town set amidst the lush
green rice fields of the Cauvery delta. Magnificent temples still bear witness to the splendour of Chola architecture. Upon arrival, proceed for check-in at your hotel.

Afternoon is at leisure.

Overnight at Tanjore

Day 6   Tanjore

Day 6 Tanjore

After breakfast proceed for Tanjore sightseeing, which will start with visit to Brihadeeshwara Temple, built in the 10th century by Raja Chola. It is considered to be artistically the most perfect of Dravida temples. Besides the temple, you will visit the Palace most of which is in ruins housing the Tamil University Museum, the Art Gallery, the Saraswati Mahal Library which houses palm leaf & paper manuscripts.

Option: - See Veena, bronze making and Tanjore painting while in Tanjore

When in Tanjore ask to be taken to one of the houses where they continue making these wonderful instruments. It is said that the Veena is one of the three celestial musical instruments - along with flute and Mridangam - finding references from Vedic times. You can watch hand carving this traditional instrument and speak to the owner whose family has been making Veenas for generations. For those not familiar with the instrument, a Veena is about five feet in length consisting of a large resonator (kudam), a wooden bridge (kudurai) and a tapering hollow neck (dandi). And it is unique to Tanjore because the instrument is made from a particular strain of matured jack fruit tree found only here. The best part of this tour is that it can be easily done after the visit to the Big Temple. From here we proceed to a local house to see a demonstration of bronze idol making- a process which has not changed much since the Chola times.

Overnight at Tanjore

Day 7     Tanjore – Karaikudi

Day 7 Tanjore – Karaikudi

Today you will be driven to Karaikudi for overnight stay.

In the afternoon visit the Chettinad residences that dot the region and built over the last 200 years. They initially started as simple single storied buildings, but steadily grew in size and ornamentation to huge intricate structures that will astonish even the most seasoned traveller.

It will be a special Chettinad cuisine dinner on a banana leaf at The Bangala.

Chettinad cuisine originated from the Chettiar community in Chettinad region. It is one of the spiciest and the most aromatic in India. Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of a variety of spices used in preparing mainly non-vegetarian food.

Overnight at Karaikudi

Day 8    Karaikudi – Madurai

Day 8 Karaikudi – Madurai

Today you will drive straight to Madurai. Upon arrival proceed to check in at your hotel

In the afternoon visit Thirumalai’s Nayaka Palace. This Palace was built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian Architect.

Overnight at Madurai
Today you will drive straight to Madurai. Upon arrival proceed to check in at your hotel

In the afternoon visit Thirumalai’s Nayaka Palace. This Palace was built in 1636 by King Thirumalai Nayak with the help of an Italian Architect.

Overnight at Madurai

Day 9   Madurai

Day 9 Madurai

Morning is at leisure.

In the afternoon enjoy rickshaw ride and local market of Madurai, later proceed to visit The Meenakshi temple which remains a major religious centre attracting pilgrims the year round, a riotously baroque example of Dravidian architecture with gopurams (towers) covered from top to bottom with a breathless profusion of multi-colored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures.
In the evening, you will proceed you will witness the evening Aarti ceremony in which Lord Shiva is carried in a palanquin accompanied by musicians, temple singers and priests to the temple of his consort Parvati to spend the night.

Note: Foreigners (Non Hindus) are not allowed inside the inner sanctum of the temple.

Overnight in Madurai

Day 10   Madurai – Periyar

Day 10 Madurai – Periyar

After buffet breakfast at the hotel you would be driven from Madurai to Periyar, which is also known as Thekkady.

Upon arrival proceed to check in at your hotel.

Optional – In the morning, in this Programme we give you the opportunity to try a new and unforgettable experience, off the beaten tracks of the very traditional elephant walk.

Five elephants live in this farm, under the attentive care of their Mahouts. A very particular relationship is here created between these wonderful pachyderms and you, and we offer you the opportunity to spend a rare and special moment with them. Located just outside of the city, nestled within the cardamom, coffee and pepper plantations, the surrounding itself is already very peaceful.

During this 1.30 hour, you will get the chance to feed your new friend, do a walk within the plantations, and then give him his bath.

Overnight in Periyar

Day 11   Periyar

Day 11 Periyar

Breakfast is at the hotel. In the morning proceed for a guided walk through for spice plantation to see the cultivation of cardamom, pepper, vanilla and coffee.

In the evening proceed for common boat ride at the Lake Periyar.

The Periyar Tiger Reserve and National Park - Established in 1934 as the Nelliampatty Sanctuary, the park was enlarged in 1950 and is India's southernmost tiger reserve. Since boat travel is the only means of transport in the park, large areas can be covered in a short time.

Overnight at Periyar

Day 12   Periyar – Alleppey

Day 12 Periyar – Alleppey

After breakfast in the hotel, you will be driven from Periyar to Alleppey.

Climb aboard the traditional Kettuvallams (rice boats) converted into houseboats with bedrooms and attached toilets. Originally these boats were used as ferries to carry rice. Cruise through the backwaters of Kerala. The backwater cruise through the narrow canals that criss-cross a typical Kerala Village, rich with green paddy fields and verdant coconut trees and is a thrilling experience. Lunch and dinner will be served on board.

Overnight at Alleppey onboard a houseboat.

Day 13     Alleppey – Kochi

Day 13 Alleppey – Kochi

After breakfast you will be driven from Alleppey to Kochi.

Cochin (Kochi) is spread across islands and promontories in a stunning location between the Arabian Sea and the Backwaters. The city was founded in 1341 when a flood created a natural safe port which became the principal harbour for Malabar coast’s spice trade. Cochin was on the main trade route between Europe and China.

Optional - In the morning do a walking tour of Alleppey followed by Lunch. Explore the village areas in this walk.
Or
Optional - In the evening enjoy a sunset cruise in the Cochin Harbour. See the cantilevered Chinese fishing nets and the beautiful coastline from the motor boat.

Overnight at the Hotel

Day 14    Kochi

Day 14 Kochi

After breakfast at the hotel begin with the sightseeing.

First you will first proceed to Mattancherry and visit the oldest Jewish Synagogue (Closed on Fridays Saturdays & All the Jewish holidays) in India, built in 1568; it was destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt by the Dutch a century later.

You will also visit The Dutch Palace (Closed on Fridays)- which was built in 1555 and its coronation hall and murals at Ramayana are noteworthy features.

Continue your drive to Chinese fishing nets. The cantilevered fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour mouth. Chinese traders are believed to have originally introduced them in the 14th century although, today parts of the nets are known by Portuguese names. Your next stop will be St. Francis Church, originally named after Santo Antonio and dedicated to him as the Patron Saint of Portugal; St. Francis Church is the first church to have been in the new European influenced tradition.

In the evening, you will be taken to a Kathakali dance center where you will witness the most elaborate of the dance forms in southern India. Here you will witness the artists readying themselves up with the make up for the final performance. Kerala owes its transnational fame to this nearly 300 years old classical dance form, which combines facets of ballet, opera, masque and the pantomime

Overnight at Kochi

Day 15   Kochi

Day 15 Kochi

Today after breakfast you will be transferred to the International flight for your onward journey with a bunch of enthralling and mesmerizing memories of your tour.

Travel Insurance

Yes. All Zigi Tour’s guests are required to purchase travel insurance prior to their India tour. Your leader will record your insurance details on the first day.We have negotiated very special rates with our colleagues at Holiday Extras – with no upper age limits and no medical declaration for UK tours.

To obtain a quotation simply call them on 0800 2800 104 – Please ensure you quote our special price code Q4228

Dust Masks

Unfortunately pollution is a global phenomenon. It is advisable to carry dust masks if you are sensitive to dust or may have conditions like asthma, etc.

Charcoal Tablets

They’re an incredibly effective way of stopping diarrhoea and preventing dysentery (Delhi Belly). It quickly absorbs the toxins or pathogens that are causing the problem and keeps you strong.

Passport Pouch

A pouch to keep your personal belongings like passports, loose money, personal medications, Photo ID, etc. is strongly recommended.

Camera

India is a place of endless eye candy and spectacles that you won’t see anywhere else. Naturally a camera comes in handy.

Personal water filter

We provide complimentary mineral filtered water for our tours. It is strongly advised to consume only packaged drinking water or carry water purification tablets.

Power adapter

It is important to carry international travel adapters to charge your electronic items such as laptops , phones, toothbrush, tablets, etc

Electrolytes

It is important to stay hydrated. Electrolytes can be easily added to a bottle of water to get an extra boost of hydration.

Sunscreen

A good sunscreen is strongly advised to protect your skin from tropical weather.

Travel Backpack

Travel back pack comes in handy whilst you are on a day tour or just venturing out. It can be stored to keep your belongings such as camera, tablet, water bottle, snacks, etc