High Points of South India with Riceboat + Goa

18 Nights / 19 Days
Chennai | Madurai | Periyar | Riceboat | Cochin | Mysore | Hassan | Goa | Mumbai

Day 1: Chennai

Flight to Chennai. On arrival in Chennai transfer to the hotel. Check in time is 1200 hrs.

Day 2: Chennai

Formerly Madras is now Chennai. The city traces its origin to 1639 when Francis Day a trader with the British East India Company, built a trading post – Fort St. George, near the village of Madraspatnam. Today Chennai is the fourth largest city of India with a population of 5,5 million people. Also called as "Hollywood of India" it is the center for making South Indian films.
After breakfast transport yourself to the yesteryears, the magnificent rock temples and carvings. Five Rathas (chariots) ceremonial chariots, rock-cut monoliths, named after the 5 Pandavas - heroes of the Mahabharata epic and Draupadi their wife. The Shore Temple by the sea surrounded by gardens designed according to descriptions of the original layout from ancient times. Built in sandstone in the 7th century. Bhagiratha's Penance is a bas- relief (27 to 9m) sculptured on the face of two enormous adjacent rocks, depicts, the penance of Arjuna, myraid characters from the Mahabharata, realistic life-size figures of animals, gods and saints watching the descent of the river goddess Ganga to earth. After sightseeing drive back to hotel.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3: Chennai - Madurai

After breakfast transfer to the airport to connect flight to Madurai. On arrival in Madurai transfer to the hotel.
Madurai is the cultural capital of Tamilnadu. Here, the Dravidian culture reached its zenith in art, architecture, palaces and temple buildings. Once the capital of powerful Nayaka kings, a bustling city packed with pilgrims, businessmen, bullock carts and legions of rickshaw pullers. Its narrow overcrowded streets seem to be bursting at the seams with activity. Southern India's oldest center for pilgrimage and learning.
Rest of the day free.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 4: Madurai

The Meenakshi – Temple an outstanding example of the Dravidian temple architecture from the Vijaynagar kingdom. Meenakshi, the fish eyed goddess and the consort of Shiva has a temple to the south and Sundareswarar (Shiva) a temple to the west. One of the biggest temples of India. Its nine "Gopuram"-Temple towers (23-30m ) have wonderful stucco images of gods, goddesses and animals from the Hindu mythology. After that visit the Thirumalai Nayak Palace, a palace in Indo-Saracenic style built in 1636, with huge domes and 240 columns rising to 12 m, a beautiful garden and a attached museum. The celestial Pavilion, an arcaded octagonal structure is curiously constructed in brick and mortar without any supporting rafters.

In the evening visit Meenakshi temple to watch the night ceremony. The temple is a hive of activity, colorfully decorated temple elephant, flower sellers and performances by musicians. At 21:30 hours, the image of Shiva is carried in a procession accompanied by musicians, temple singers and priests from his shrine. Enroute Shiva visits the other deities before entering Parvati's (Meenakshi) temple to sleep with her for the night.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 5: Madurai - Periyar

After breakfast drive to Periyar.
Periyar National Park : This unique wildlife sanctuary is about 780 sq. km centered around an artificial lake fed by the Periyar River.

This afternoon game viewing is on board boats, which carry you through the jungle along convoluted waterways and afford sightings of elephant, bison, deer and occasionally, tiger. Small animals include black Nilgiri langur, bonnet and lion tailed macaque, Giant and Flying squirrel. There are some 246 species of birds and 112 species of butterfly. There are trees more than 100 years old and over 50 m high.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 6: Periyar - Rice Boat

After breakfast drive to the jetty to board House boat (Kettuvallom).
Kettuvallom - The history of Kettuvallom dates back to the ancient trading days in Kerala. Before Christ, ships and traders frequently visited the famous coast of Malabar from all over the world. The Arabians, Chinese and the European ships ariving to the ancient port with gold and other precious articles, need to be transported to rulers and traders in return to the spices, silks, precious stones, ivory etc. The small cargo boats called Kettuvalloms are frequently used in the waterways for the above purpose. " Kettu" literally means to tie up and "Vallom" means " boats". The boats played a major role in the economic development of ancient Kerala, moving cargo and men from the very nook and corner of otherwise unreachable area, cutting across the length and breadth of the land.

Enjoy your overnight stay in Kettuvallom.

Day 7: Riceboat - Cochin

Get down of the jetty and drive to Cochin.
If Kerala is India's most beautiful state, which many tourists believe, then the lovely port of Cochin is its jewel. It has been variously hailed as Queen of the Arabian Sea, Venice of Orient, etc. Some choose to call it simply a museum city for its rich past and colorful present. Cochin displays a blend of peoples and architecture. It is one place where you can see a Jewish synagogue, Portuguese churches, Dutch architecture, a couple of mosques, Hindu temples and Chinese fishing nets all in one day.

On arrival in Cochin, transfer to the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 8: Cochin

After breakfast sightseeing of Cochin, a city till today influenced by medieval Portugal, Holland and England. You visit St. Francis Church, built in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscan friars where Vasco da Gama was buried for 14 years before his remains were transferred to Lisvon. His tombstone still stands. Nearby is the Mattancherry Palace or "Dutch Palace". The central hall on the Ist floor was the coronation hall of the rajas of Cochin. Other rooms depict scenes from the Ramayana and Puranic legends connected with Hindu gods. Amazing are the Chinese fishing nets. These cantilevered fishing nets line the entrance to the harbour mouth. They were introduced by traders from the courts of Kublai Khan. You also see the Jew City with the Jewish Synagogue , constructed in 1568, with hand-painted, willow-pattern floor tiles brought from Canton in the mid-18th century by a Rabbi, who had trading interest in that city.

Evening enthrall yourself with a special presentation of the colourfully costumed Kathakali Dance Drama. This mask dance form is originally from Kerala and 1500 years old. This classical dance has 24 mudras expressing the nine emotions of serenity, wonder, kindness, love, valor, fear, contempt, loathing and anger.

Overnight in hotel.

Day 9: Cochin - Bangalore - Mysore

In time transfer to the airport to connect flight to Bangalore. On arrival in Bangalore drive out for short sightseeing of Bangalore.

Bangalore the capital of Karnataka, famous as the `Garden City', was once a summer resort of the British Raj. It is one of the most attractive cities in India with its beautiful parks, avenues and impressive buildings. It is referred to as the `Silicon Valley' where most of the big electronic and computer companies have their centres.

Visit Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens. The gardens are said to be laid out by Haidar Ali and his son Tipu Sultan as a summer garden in the 18th century, has numerous flowers, hundred year old trees from many countries and the lotus Pond. There are over 1800 species of tropical, subtropical and medicinal plants and a Floral Clock. The Glass House holds temporary exhibitions. Then to Bull Temple in dravidian style with the huge monolith statue of Shiva's vehical, the sacred Nandi Bull, nearly 5 m high and 6 m long., in grey granite polished. Vidhan Sabha (legislative assembly) with its impressive facades and portals of pure sandal wood. Finally to City Museum that was opened in 1886, one of the oldest in the country. Has 18 galleries including Neolithic finds from the Chandravalli excavations, and from the Indus Valley, especially Mohenjodaro antiquities. Also antique jewelry, textiles, coins, art, miniature paintings and geology.

After sightseeing drive to Mysore. En-route visit Srirangapattnam, a fortified Island site in the Kaveri river, it has been the home to religious reformers and military conquerors. The fort was built under the Vijaynagar kings in 1454. 150 years later the last king handed over authority to the Hindu Wodeyars of Mysore. In the second half of the 18th century it became the capital of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan from where they ruled southern India before being finally defeated by the British.

Proceed to Mysore. Check in at the hotel.
Mysore is the former capital of the princely state is the second largest city in Karnataka. It is a beautiful city of stately palaces, gardens, parks and museums. Sandalwood and a centre for the manufacture of incense sticks. The city is famous for the scent of jasmine in the spring.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 10: Msyore

Morning an excursion to Somnathpur East of Mysore. This tiny village has one of the best preserved and the only complete magnificent Hoysala Temple (13th century) of approximately 80 Hoysala temples dedicated to God Keshava. Small but exquisite the temple has excellent ceilings which show the distinctive features of the late Hoysala style.

Afternoon visit Chamundi Hill. It has the temple of Durga (Chamundeswari) celebrating her victory over the buffalo god. She became the guardian deity o the Wodeyars. On the road to the top is the giant Nandi Monolith carved in 1659 (4,8m x 7,6m huge bull sculpture). Also visit the Maharaja Palace (1857): that was once the residence of the Wodeyars, Built in Indo-Saracenic style in grand proportions, with domes, arches and colonnades of carved pillars and shiny marble floors. One of the largest palaces in the country with some art treasures,

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 11: Mysore - Hassan

After breakfast drive to Hassan. On arrival in Hassan transfer to the hotel.
Afternoon proceed for a guided sightseeing tour of Halebid the last capital of Hoysala rulers in 11th/12th century. The Hoysalas were a mighty martial race, but did not let that interfere with their culture and fostering of some of the greatest masterpieces of the world.

The Hoysala rulers commissioned some of the most unique temples in the south as beautiful prayers to their gods to assist them on the battlefield. Victory imbibed art with an incredible intricacy. Hoysala temples are not huge like the usual temples in the south, but smaller by comparison and aptly perched on star-shaped foundations, every niche and corner studded with genius.

The Hoysalesvara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at Halebid is perched on a star-shaped base. Outside there is a Nandi Bull, the mount of Shiva, was never completed despite 86 years of labour.. Every centimeter of the outside wall of this temple and much of the interior is covered with an endless variety of Hindu deities, sages, animals and birds. The infant Krishna frolics, battle rage, Shiva and Parvati embrace, the demon king Ravana lifts Mount Kailasha and Shiva dances. 800 year old statues flaunt hairstyles seen even today.

A few kilometers further we reach Belur. The religious capital of Hoysala. Visit the ornamental gopuram of the Chennakesava Temple dedicate to Lord Vishnu, which appears unexpectedly around a bend. It took 103 years to complete.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 12 Hassan - Banaglore - Goa

After early breakfast drive to Bangalore. On arrival in Bangalore transfer to the airport to connect flight to Goa.
Goa was a Portuguese settlement and joined the Indian Republic only in 1961. Unforgettable Goa, is a blend of serenity and excitement down a 100 km coastline studded with some of the world's finest beaches. Create you own kind of holiday. Sun bathe in a quiet secluded spot, choose the exhilarating thrills of parasailing, speed boating, water-skiing, wind surfing and deep sea diving. Celebrate with the Goans a feast of its famous cuisine and a spirit of joyous fun. It also has the spiritual pilgrimage centre for Christians at Old Goa. Yet inland Goa, is predominantly Hindu .

On arrival in Goa transfer to the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel.

Day 13-16 Goa

Free to relax on the beach.

Day 17 Goa - Mumbai

After breakfast, in time transfer to the airport to connect flight to Mumbai. On arrival in Mumbai transfer to the hotel.
Mumbai is India's most cosmopolitan city, an ancient port and trading centre. This palm- fringed shore of the Arabian Sea was the British Empire's entrance to its `Crown Jewel'. Mumbai is also the centre for Hindi films. It is called Bollywood, with a credit of almost 900 films a year.

Day 18 Mumbai

After breakfast in the hotel, set out on a morning excursion to the rock-cut temples on the Elephanta Island. An hour's motor boat ride takes you 10 kms across the sea, north-east from Mumbai's harbour. Arrive the Island's beautiful and magnificent temple, wonders of the 7th century dedicated to Lord Shiva as the Creator, Preserver, Destroyer and in `Cosmic Dance'. After sightseeing drive back to Bombay.

This afternoon a short tour Mumbai city, rich blend of East and West. The tour includes the 26 mtr high British-built Arch "Gateway of India", Mumbai's landmark built to honour the visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Marine Drive dubbed as the Queen's Necklace is Mumbai's most popular promenades and a favourite sunset watching spot. The Kamla Nehru Park from where you have a picturesque view of the city, Hanging Gardens are so named since they are located on top of a series of tanks that supply water to Mumbai. Pass by the `towers of silence' the crematorium of the Parsis. Also visit Mani Bhawan a private house where Mahatma Gandhi used to stay when he visited Mumbai. It is now a museum and research library with 20,000 volumes.
Till departure, stay at your hotel.

Day 19 Mumbai - Home

Early morning transfer to the airport to connect flight to back home.

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