South India Temple Tour

Duration: 12 Nights / 13 Days
Routing:  Chennai –Tirupathi - Mahabalipuram – Kanchipuram – Mahabalipuram – Chidambaram –Thanjavur - Trichy – Madurai – Kanyakumari – Kovalam – Trivandrum

Trip Highlights
Chennai Fort St. George, San Thome Cathedral and the museums
Tirupathi Tirupathi Temple
Mahabalipuram Shore Temple, Five Rathas and Arjuna’s Penance
Kanchipuram Kailasanatha Temple, Sri Ekambaranathar Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple and Vaikunta Perumal Temple
Chidambaram Chidambaram Temple
Thanjavur Brihadeshwara temple, Thanjavur Palace and Museum.
Trichy Srirangam Temple & Rockfort
Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple
Kanyakumari Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the Temple of Virgin Goddesses
Kovalam Beaches
Trivandrum Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Shri Chitra Art Gallery and the Museum

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive Chennai
Arrive by International flight, after traditional Indian style ‘Swagat’ (Welcome) by Exceptional Escapes representative, he would assist you at the airport & transfer to hotel for check in.
Chennai (formerly known as Madras), is known for its cultural heritage & temple architecture. The region was served as an important administrative, military, & economic centre dating back to the 1st century. The first Westerners were Portuguese, who arrived in the year 1522 & built a port. It then passed on to the Dutch in 1612. In 1639 the British East India Company established a fort & trading post & since then this coastal centre of trade has drawn traffic from all over the world. Overnight Hotel – Chennai (B)

Day 02: Chennai – Tirupati (150 kms – 04 hours)
Post Breakfast Half day guided city tour visiting:

Fort St. George, the first bastion of British power in India & built in the year 1640 AD by the British East India Company.
St. Mary's Church, built in the year 1680 & oldest Protestant Church in the East.
Fort Museum has 10 galleries & displays armoury, old uniforms, crockery & silverware, coins, palanquins, paintings, letters, old prints, etc.
San Thome Cathedral, built in 1504, is said to house the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have visited Madras (Chennai) sometime during 52 AD.

National Art Gallery, established in the year 1857, is undoubtedly one of the country's finest museums. It has sections devoted to geology, archaeology, anthropology, botany, zoology, sculpture & numismatics. Government Museum has a fine archaeological section representing all the major South Indian periods including Chola, Vijaynagar, Hoysala & Chaulakya. The bronze gallery has a superb collection of Chola art especially the bronze statue of Ardhanareeswara, the androgynous incarnation of Shiva. Its most prized possessions are the relics from 2nd century AD Buddhist site of Amaravathi & the prehistoric antiques of South India.

In the afternoon drive to Tirupati. If time permit proceed for the Temple Darshan.
Overnight hotel – Tirupati (B)

Day 03: Tirupati – Mahabalipuram (180 kms / 05 hours)
Start your DAY with visit of Temple Darshan.

Post breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram, town of temples, sand & sea. It is world renowned for its beautiful Shore Temple & other temples. Most of the temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva & Vishnu. These structures were built by three successive Pallava Kings, between 630 A.D & 728 A.D The monuments are mostly rock-cut & monolithic, constitute the early stages of Dravidian architecture, wherein Buddhist elements of design are prominently visible. It is known especially for its rathas (temples in form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries) & giant open-air bas-reliefs & has been classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rest of the Day at leisure.
Overnight Hotel – Mahabalipuram (B)

Day 04 : Mahabalipuram Day Excursion to Kanchipuram (70 km - 02 hr) 
Post breakfast guided tour of Mahabalipuram:

Shore Temple; one of the oldest temples in South India. It belongs to the 7th Century AD & is a good example of the first phase of the structure of temples constructed in the Dravidian style. Designed to catch the first rays of the rising sun & to illuminate the waters after dark, the temple ended up with an unusual lay-out.

Arjuna's Penance; is the world's largest bas-relief. This huge whale-back shaped rock contains figures of gods, demigods, men, beasts, birds.
Rathas; monolithic temples fashioned as chariots. They remain an architectural mystery, for each is apparently a faithful reproduction of a structure built of wood. In fact, even the grain of the timber beams & rafters has been simulated in stone. Of the eight Rathas, five have been named for the Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic Mahabharata.

Later Day excursion to Kanchipuram; is one of the seven holy cities in the country. It was a city of learning for both Tamil & Sanskrit, & was believed to be visited by Hsuan Tsang. In ancient times it was called Kachi.  Once had over a thousand temples & today there are more than a hundred extant. It is also known for its temples & silk sarees.

Kailasanatha Temple; built in 8th Century AD. It is built in the typical Pallava style, with a pyramidal tower, a pillared hall & vestibule, enclosed by a wall.

Ekambaranatha; ancient temple is dedicated to lord Shiva. The 57 metres high Raj Gopuram is one of the tallest towers in South India. The 3000 year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yielding different variety of mangoes.

Kamakshi Amman Temple; built in 12th century AD, as an important Shakthisthalam, known as Parabrahmaroonpini. The main deity is seated on Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Eswara & Sadasiva.

Drive Back to Mahabalipuram.
Overnight Hotel – Mahabalipuram (B)

Day 05: Mamallapuram – Thiruvannamalai (170 Kms / 4 Hrs) drive
Post breakfast to Thiruvannamalai. Visit the Sri Arunachaleswarar temple – One of the five element of temple (Fire) and Sri Ramanshramam.
Overnight stay at Hotel - Thiruvanmalai (B)

Day 06: Thiruvannamalai - Chidambaram- Swamimalai - Tanjore (260 Kms / 5 1/2 Hrs)
Post breakfast drive to Chidambaram to visit Natarajar temple – One of the five element temple (Space), Swamimalai God Murugan temple. And then you will proceed to Tanjore.
Overnight at Hotel - Tanjore (B)

Day 07: Thanjavur – Trichy – Madurai (260 Km / 06 Hrs)
Post breakfast drive to Brihadeshwara temple, also known as the 'Big Temple', built by the Chola emperor Raja Raja I (985-1013 AD). It was the ancient capital of Chola kings. This is the Chola dynasties finest contribution to Dravidian art. This massive temple is 216 feet high topped by a huge monolithic cupola weighing over 80 tones. The architectural wonder of this temple is that the shadow of it's cupola never falls on the ground.Also visit Thanjavur Palace and Museum.

Post lunch drive Trichy covering Srirangam Temple & Rockfort, Trichy's most famous landmark, which has a Temple, perched on the outcrop of Rock. Srirangam is an ancient and most sacred temple of Vaishnavites and is situated in an island formed by river Cauvery and its tributary Kollidam.

Later continue drive to Madurai; also called the "city of nectar" is one of the oldest cities of India with a history dating back to 6th century B.C. and has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage for centuries. This sacred city attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from India as well as abroad.
Overnight at Hotel - Madurai (B)

Day 08: Madurai
Post breakfast guided visit of Madurai Temple: Meenakshi Sundareshwar temple; one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th and 18th centuries by Pandyan rulers. This 'living' temple is an example of Dravadian architecture with gopurams covered from top to bottom in a breathtaking profusion of multicoloured images of gods, goddesses, animals, mythical figures etc. There are two shrines, one dedicated to Sundereshwarar (Shiva) and the other to his consort Meenakshi (Parvati).
Rest of the day at leisure for independent activities.
Overnight at Hotel - Madurai (B)

Day 09: Madurai – Rameshwaram (170 Kms / 3 ½ Hrs)
Post breakfast drive to Rameshwaram. Later visit Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple, Dhanuskodi and Kothandaramaswamy Temple.

Rest of the day at leisure for independent activities.
Overnight at Hotel – Rameshwaram (B)

Day 10: Rameshwaram – Kanyakumari (330 Kms /07 Hrs)
Post breakfast drive to Kanyakumari en-route visiting God Murugan temple.

Evening at leisure on the beach shore.
Overnight at Hotel – Kanyakumari (B)

Day 11: Kanyakumari – Kovalam (120 Kms / 2 ½ Hrs)
Post breakfast visit the Temples:

Sri Vivekananda Memorial;Thiruvalluvar statue and Kanyakumari Amman temple. Later drive to Kovalam enroute you can visit Sucheendram Sri Thanumalayan temple (Huge Anjaneya Statue), Padmanabapuram palace and Thiruvanandhapuram Padmanaba temple.

Rest of the day at leisure on the beach shore.
Overnight at Hotel – Kovalam (B)

Day 12: Kovalam Day Excursion to Trivandrum (16 Km / 30 Mins / One Way)
Post breakfast day excursion to Trivandrum, located on the South-western tip of India. Famous for its long shorelines with glorious beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage, Trivandrum undoubtedly makes an ever-popular destination. We spend half a day here covering Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Shri Chitra Art Gallery and the Museum.

Later drive back to Kovalam.
Overnight at Hotel – Kovalam (B)

Day 13: Kovalam – Trivandrum (16 Km / 30 Mins)
Trivandrum Departure

Tour Concludes: Exceptional Escapes Manager will assist you with your transfer to the airport for boarding onward flight.

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