CULTURAL SOUTH INDIA TOUR

In dramatic contrast to the North India is lush, peninsular South India, noted for its fiery cuisine, high culture and stunning temple architecture. These are the sultry Indian tropics, replete with swaying palms and sunny beaches. Tamil Nadu is renowned for its grand temples, many of which are UNESCO world heritage sites and the purest of the classical Indian dances- Bharatnatyam. French heritage is alive and vibrant in the union territory of Pondicherry.

Enjoy one of world's finest beaches –Kovalam, a smooth tablecloth of blond sand lapped by an incredibly clear sea and backed by a belt of coconuts sheltering a fishing village. Nowhere is there more temple togetherness than in Madurai. The shore temples of Mahabalipuram stood in superb isolation and supported by their myriad gods, goddesses, legendary beasts. Visit Pondicherry which is, after all these years, mistily French. Temples of Aihole, Hampi and Pattadakal are a lesson in Hindu temple architecture. The Cultural South India Tour will show you all this along with cultural and backwaters charm of Kerala.


Duration: 13 nights/14 days
Destinations: Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry- Tanjore-Trichy-Madurai-Cochin-Kumarakom-Alleppey-Kovalam-Trivendrum.

Cultural South India Tour highlights : 

Mahabalipuram-india-Tour

Detail Itinerary :- Have early morning breakfast in the hotel and proceed for Goa airport to board flight for Chennai. Arrive at Chennai airport. You will be met by Optima Travels' representative to receive you at the airport and you will be taken to Mahabalipuram directly. After getting refreshed for a bit, move for enjoying sea- shore of Mahabalipuram.

Return to hotel in the evening. Overnight stay will be in the pre-booked hotel.

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Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Shore Temples and beach.

Mahabalipuram-india-Tour

Detail Itinerary :- Morning, after the breakfast and getting freshened-up, proceed for local sightseeing of Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram was developed as a port city in 7th century by the famous Pallava dynasty kings. Mahabalipuram is worldwide recognized for its shore temples and monolithic rock cut temples, famously known as Rathas. There is only one remaining shore temple is a spectacular two-spired shrine which is unique in a sense that it houses the shrines of Vishnu and Shiva. This is indicative of religious synthesis between two prominent sects- Shaivites and Vaishnavites. The monolithic Rathas, five in numbers and named after legends of Mahabharata, are exemplary masterpieces of Pallava art and architecture. Besides these, the Mahishamardhini Cave, the Krishna Mandapam and Varsha Mandapam also have beautiful reliefs depicting Vishnu reclining on the coils of seven headed serpent, Krishna as incarnation of Vishnu lifting mount Govardhana to protect his kinsman from the wrath of Indra respectively.

Return to hotel in the evening. Overnight stay will be in the pre-booked hotel..

Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Pondicherry beach, Old Churches and Oroville.

Pondicherry-india-Tour

Detail Itinerary :- After early morning breakfast, check out from Mahabalipuram hotel and drive to Pondicherry. On arrival at Pondicherry, check in at the designated hotel. Relax a bit and enjoy the serene beaches of Pondicherry.

Pondicherry was earlier a French colony and its immense influence can be seen in the red kepis of the police officers, French spelling on signboards and traffic signs and some buildings and old stones. French is still widely spoken language. But the most exotic experience will be of the synthesized culture that has evolved over time and that is unique of Pondicherry. Pondicherry is now known as Puducheri.

Return to hotel for overnight stay.

Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Chidambaram Temple, Gangaikondacholapuram, Darasuram and Kumbakonam.

Chidambaram-india-Tour

Detail Itinerary :- Have relaxed breakfast in the Pondicherry hotel, check out from the hotel and proceed for historical city of Tanjore. En route visit Kumbakonam, Darasuram, Gangaikondacholapuram and Chidambaram temples etc.

Chidambaram: Chidambaram temple is very historical, expansive and unique temples of Tamil Nadu. Built in over 40 acres, 108 classical postures of Nataraja (dancing Shiva) engraved on gopurams of the temple and 1000 pillared hall of the Rajsabha measuring 103 metres long and 58 meters wide make it a treat to eyes. The Rajsabha was the place where the Pandya and the Chola dynasties' rulers used to celebrate their victory. Yearly famous classical dance festival is organized here. The dance festival of Chidambaram is very famous and attracts tourists from all parts of the globe. This is the occasion when the visitor happens to see the glorious aspects of South Indian art and culture.

Gangaikondacholapuram: This also a very renowned and revered temple. It was built by the Chola king Rajendra and is almost similar to the big temple of Tanjore.

Darasuram: The Darasuram temple is also a fine example of Chola architecture. The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and was built by Rajendra Chola. Kumbakonam: It is one of the oldest temple cities of Tamil Nadu was capital city of the Chola empire in 7th century. There are four famous temples here dedicated to Sarangapani, Kumbeswar, Nageswara and Brahma. The Kumbakonam is famous for Mahamaham festival which is celebrated here once in every 12 years. Also, this place is known as the Cambridge of South India, owing to its prominent place in the field of learning.

Arrive at Tanjore and you will be taken to the designated hotel to check in. Have rest and spend night in the Tanjore hotel.

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Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Brihadareeshwar Temple and Tanjore Palace.

Brihadareeshwar-inida-Tour

Detail Itinerary :- After having breakfast in the morning in the hotel, move out to explore Tanjore. Tanjore was the capital city of the Chola dynasty of Tamil Nadu during 10th-14th century. The monuments and glorious culture of the Cholas are still amply visible here. Other than that, monuments related to the Pallavas, the Pandyas, the Nayak and the Marathas are also found here.

Sri Brahadeeswara Temple: This spectacular piece of art and architecture, 216 feet high with 14 intricately sculpted storeys, was constructed by Rajendra Raja Chola-I in 10th century. The construction of Brihadeeswar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, took 6 years for completion. 64 divine 'lilas' (plays) of Lord Shiva have been embossed upon the walls of the corridor which connects the western and the northern ends. Frescoes, a well developed art form in ancient India, is also visible here in the ceilings of the corridors and also in the ceilings of the many sub-shrines. They are an invention of the Cholas and the painting, which are about 1000 years old are still brightly colourful.

Tanjore Palace: The Tanjore Palace is a masterpiece which depicts the architectural brilliance of two different dynasties- the Nayakas and the Marathas. The Nayakas built this palace around 1550 AD. Later on the Marathas made some additions into it. But the most striking feature of Tanjore Palace is the Sangeet Mahal, a perfect music hall and marvel of the engineering skills of the ancient builders. Two of the palace towers, the armory and the observation towers are visible from all parts of the city.

Return to hotel for overnight stay.

Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Srirangam, Sriranganathswamy Temple and Ranganathar.

Srirangam-india-Tour

Detail Itinerary :- Have early morning breakfast and check out from the hotel to proceed for historical city of Trichy or Trichinapally. Check in at the hotel, relax a bit and thereafter proceed for sightseeing of Tiruchirapally which is situated on the bank of river Cauvery. The city was a Chola citadel from Sangam age the pandyas, Pallavas held sway over this region for short periods. The Nayaks of Madurai built the town and the historic rock fort which played a vital role in carnatic wars in 18 century. On arrival, check in at the hotel. Later proceed to visit Trichy.

Srirangam has special distinction of being the largest temple complex. Watered and protected by rivers Kavery and Kollidan, this 600 acre island town is encapsulated within the 7 walls of the Sriranganathswamy temple. It has got 21 'gopurams' out of which the Rajagopuram is the largest in South India. The shrine here is located since time immemorial. This shrine was later on added on to and expanded by the Cholas,the Cheras, the Pandyas, the Hoysalas- the Vijayanagar kings and the Nayakas of Madurai. Rock Fort temple tops on a 83m high outcrop. This temple was built by the Pallavas as a small cave temple, but the Nayaks made use of its naturally fortified Position. Non-Hindus are not allowed into the Vinayaka Temple at the summit.

Return to hotel for overnight stay.

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Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Meenakshi Temple and Vaniyur Mariamman Teppakulam.

madurai-meenakshi-temple

Detail Itinerary :- Leisurely enjoy your breakfast in the Trichy hotel. After having sumptuous breakfast, leave for Madurai. Arrive at Madurai, check in at the designated hotel, relax a bit and proceed for leisurely sightseeing which includes Vaniyur Mariamman Teppakulam and Meenakshi Temple. Madurai: Madurai is a more than 2500 years old historical city. The ancient city of Madurai was established as capital city by the Pandyan king Kulsekhara. Its antiquity is described by the story of fall of a drop of Madhuram (nectar) from Lord Shiva's lock. Madurai's history can be divided into four periods, beginning over 2000 years ago, when it was the capital of the Pandyan Kings. For a short span, Madurai was captured by the Cholas but ahain recovered by the Pandyas and remained with them till their decline. The 200 years long reign of the Nayakas had been the golden era of Madurai when it emerged as art, architecture, learning and cultural centre South India and more specifically Tamil Nadu.

In the afternoon visit Tirumalai Nayak Mahal. This Indo-Saracenic building was constructed in 1523 and was originally four times larger than it's today. Sound and light show on the life of the Tirumalai Nayak and the story of the Silapathikaram are conducted daily.

Vaniyur Mariamman Teppakulam: In Hindu worship, water, river and water tank ('kund') have great importance. So, naturally the enormous temple tank, fed by Vaigai river and embellished by a Mandapam at the center enshrining Lord Vigneshwara, is worth watching. A colorful float festival is held in this tank every year.

Meenakshi Temple: The antiquity of the shrine dates back to more than 2500 years but it has been brought in the present form during the reign of Vishwanath Nayaka and Thirumalai Nayaka. A splendid example of Dravidian school of temple architecture, Meenakshi Temple has 45-50 metres high 12 'gopurams' and 1000 pillars in the 'mandapam'(hall). Every pillar is intricately engraved and is different in the content of engravings. This temple is the city's main attraction.

Return to hotel for overnight stay.

Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Relaxed evening visit of local spice market.

Madurai-spice-market-india

Detail Itinerary :- After breakfast in Madurai hotel, check out and proceed for Cochin, in the state of Kerala. Our representative will meet and greet you. You will be taken to the designated hotel. After your smooth check in at the hotel, our representative will explain the finer aspects of the tour and instruct the driver accordingly. Refresh and relax for some time in the hotel and thereafter proceed on for visiting buzzing marketplace of Cochin.

After enjoying local market and culture fine points,return to your hotel for overnight stay.

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Cultural South India Tour highlights :  St. Francis Church, Kochi Fort, Santa Cruz Cathedral, Jewish Synagogue, Dutch Palace, Chinese fishing nets.

Santa-Cruz-india

Detail Itinerary :- After relaxed breakfast in Cochin hotel, move on for sightseeing tour of Cochin. Cochin port has a rich legacy of heritage and cultural linkages with rest of the world. Hence Cochin was aptly termed as "Queen of Arabian Sea. Your sightseeing will include St. Francis Church, Kochi Fort, Santa Cruz Cathedral, Jewish Synagogue, Dutch Palace, Chinese fishing nets and evening sunset cruize.

After sightseeing of Cochin, return to your hotel for overnight stay.

Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Cruise through backwaters; Stay in luxury houseboat; Sumptuous seafood of Kerala on the houseboat.

Kerala-houseboat-india

Detail Itinerary :- Have breakfast in the Cochin hotel and check out from Cochin hotel to proceed for Kumarakom. On arrival at Kumarakom, enjoy the scenic beauty of Kerala Backwaters and at noon, board the reserved luxury houseboat. On the houseboat itself, you will be served lunch, dinner, breakfast and high tea etc and most enjoyable part is it will be cooked all in front of you. Leisurely enjoy the pleasantly scenic pathways, green lagoons, villages, emerald green paddy fields and exotic natural surrounding while houseboat cruises through the backwaters. While you are relaxing in the houseboat, it is cruising along the backwaters of Vembanad Lake and heading towards Alleppey.

Overnight stay will be in the luxury houseboat.

Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Sun bath at Kovalam beach & Ayurvedic Massage.

Kovalam-beach-india

Detail Itinerary :- Have delightful and delicious breakfast in the houseboat. By that time, you shall have arrived at Alleppey. Check out from the houseboat and proceed for Kovalam (190 kms/4.5 hrs). Kovalam is famous worldwide for its exquisite beaches, ethnic surroundings and Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy and massage. On arrival at Kovalam, check in at the pre-booked Kovalam hotel. Kovalam has three adjacent crescent beaches, where tourist can enjoy fun-filled time with dear ones surfing the cool breeze as well as playing with the warm waves of the sea water. Have lunch, rest and relax on the alluring beaches of Kovalam.

Overnight stay will be in Kovalam hotel.

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Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Kavadiar Palace, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Napier Museum and Art Gallery.

Kerala-houseboat-india

Detail Itinerary :- Trivandrum is the new name of Thiruananthapuram. Trivandrum used to be capital and centre of Travancore princely state. Recently it has been in news related to treasure of Padmanabhswamy temple. Enjoy breakfast in the hotel and sunbath at Kovalam beaches. Early in the afternoon, proceed for Trivandrum for half-day sightseeing which comprises Kavadiar Palace, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Museum and Art Gallery.

Later in the evening, return to Kovalam hotel for overnight stay.

Cultural South India Tour highlights :  Sun bath at Kovalam beach & Ayurvedic Massage.

Kovalam-india

Detail Itinerary :- The day is free for your leisure activities like sun-bath at Kovalam beach and/or rejuvenation by Ayurvedic massage. Relax on the beach and enjoy Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapy.

Overnight stay is planned in Kovalam hotel.

Cultural South India Tour highlights : 

Detail Itinerary :- Have your delicious breakfast in the Kovalam hotel and relax on the beaches of Kovalam. Early noon, depart for Trivendrum to board flight for your onward destination. In this way happy journey of Kerala tour comes to an end giving you lots of remarkable memories and experience to relish in forever.

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