India’s deep south is a cultural kaleidoscope in its own right. This route will take one into the heart of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This route begins in the cultural capital of south India and the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai and heads to Mahabalipuram, the once vibrant ancient Pallava port from the sixth century. From Mahabalipuram it takes a detour into the French colonial quarters of Pondicherry from where it will emerge to find its way back in time to the 11th and 12th centuries in and around Thanjavur. The road then leads to the heart of Chettinad in Karaikkudi and proceeds to the ancient Tamil capital and the heartland of Tamil culture, Madurai. From Madurai, the journey will take you, to the serene tropical paradise in Periyar in the Western Ghats. It then emerges from the mountains in the historic metropolis of Kochi from where it traces its way back into the legendary backwaters in Kumarakom and then on the pristine beaches of Mararikulam. It will end back in Kochi.
Arrival in Chennai
Upon arrival in Chennai, our representative will provide assistance at the airport and will transfer the guests to the hotel. After the check-in formalities, they may choose to rest or to explore the city for the remainder of the day (if they arrive during the day time).
1 hour 30 minutes drive, 60 kms
The guests will check out from the hotel. After breakfast they will go on an orientation tour of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, visiting Fort St George, the Church of St Thomas and the ancient temple of Kapaleeswarar before heading to the long Marina Beach. Then they will drive to Mahabalipuram. Rest of the evening is free for leisure and they can relax at the beach in Mahabalipuram.
Following breakfast they will go on an excursion to Kanchipuram, the Golden city, one of the seven holy cities of India and the ancient city of the Pallava dynasty. Then they will rediscover Mahabalipuram, the bas-relief of the descent of the Ganga, the five Rathas, the Shore temple and monolithic temples all carved into the rock.
2 hour 30 minutes drive, 110 kms
After breakfast, the day will begin with a drive to the former French colony Pondicherry, now called as Puducherry. They will visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram , the churches of the Sacred Heart and the Lady of Angels, and the museum in the old colonial city. The clients will also stroll to the famous Promenade and the colourful market of the Tamil area.
4 hour drive, 200 kms
This day the guests will drive from Pondicherry to Tanjore after breakfast, en route they will visit shrines of Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram raised under the reign of the Cholas in the 11th century, in honor of Shiva. They will continue to Tanjore. In the afternoon, they will visit the museum and see the remarkable collection of bronze statues and other masterpiece of Dravidian art.
1 hour drive, 60 kms (one way)
This day will start with an excursion to Trichy, to visit the impressive fortress and the huge temple dedicated to Vishnu on the Srirangam Island in the river Kaveri. The temple is a true citadel surrounded by seven walls concentric enclosing more than twenty temples, the houses of the Brahmins, and a never-ending maze of stalls and shops. Later, they will come back to Tanjore to visit the Brihadeeswarar Temple, the masterpiece of Chola architecture.
3 hour drive, 130 kms
After the breakfast, the guests will drive to Chettinad renowned for its Art Deco palace, built in the late 19th century by Chettiars, noble merchant who made his fortune trading in teak and spices. Later, they will take a walk in the market Karaikudi, visit a tile factory in Athangudi stop in a textile workshop and walk in the pretty village of Kanadukathan.
2 hour drive, 100 kms
In the morning, the guests will drive to Madurai after breakfast, the ancient capital of the Pandya dynasty. They will visit the palace of Thirumalai Nayak and the great Meenakshi Temple, one of the liveliest and most fervent in South India, with its high Gopurams in bright colors, which depicts gods from across the Hindu pantheon.
3 hour drive, 150 kms
After breakfast, the guests will check out from the Hotel and drive to Periyar. They will stop in the village of Vilacheri artisans specializing in the production of masks and statuettes of clay or paper mache. En route, they will also visit a small spice plantation, the region is one of the world’s leading producers. Evening is free for leisure.
The day will be spent in exploring the Periyar. They will have bamboo rafting. The guests can hike into the nature reserve, take an elephant ride and also can have an introduction to Ayurvedic messages.
3 hour drive – 150 kms
After the breakfast at the Hotel, the guests will drive to Kochi. a city colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish between the 16th and the 18th century and built partly on land and partly on some islands. Evening is free to explore the city.
This day is dedicated to the visits of diverse city: the Church of St. Francis, the oldest European church in India, Chinese fishing district squares on the seafront, the Dutch Palace, with its beautiful murals narrating the great episodes of Ramayana and the synagogue from the 16th century. They can also stroll through Mattanchery between colonial houses, antiques and spice and booksellers. The evening can be spent at a performance of traditional dances of Kerala.
1 hour drive, 50 kms
Morning after breakfast, the guests can start the day little late and drive to Kumarakom. They will embark on a houseboat inspired by traditional rice barges to cruise in the heart of backwaters, a maze of channels between paddy fields and coconut groves. Lunch on board and then return to the hotel in Kumarakom.
45 minutes drive, 30 kms
In the morning, the guests can learn yoga, enjoy at the pool or try traditional treatments of Ayurveda. Later, check out from the hotel and drive to Mararikulam. It is a small oasis of peace, where life moves slowly around the activities of fishermen. It is characterized by long white beaches shaded by dense palm groves and the nearby backwaters. Rest of the day is free to explore the pristine beaches of Mararikulam and a wonderful resort where the guests can experience nature closely.
Breakfast at the hotel. Free day to enjoy the Hotel, the beach or a bike ride in the nearby village where fiber ropes of coconut used for making fishing nets are manufactured.
2 hour drive – 75 kms
The day will begin a little late, the guests can check out from the hotel in the afternoon and drive to Cochin. Later they will proceed to International Airport for their onward flight. At the airport they will be assisted by a Tushita representative.