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Temples of Southern India


IPU15C
15 NIGHTS
FROM £1,895
International flights quoted separately
Travel to Southern India to explore its culture & cuisine, starting from Chennai (Madras). Visit the ancient stone structures at Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry & pilgrimage shrine to 'Our Lady of Velankanni'. Seer the temples of Thanjavur & Trichy, take the train to the hill station of Ooty, drive to the palaces of Mysore & garden city of Bangalore. English speaking city guides, private driver & sightseeing included.
Temple Tour Southern India Chennai Mahabalipuram Ooty Bangalore
• 
Chennai (Madras)
• 
Bay of Bengal
• 
Mahabalipuram Port
• 
Pondicherry
• 
Velankanni
• 
Thanjavur
• 
Trichy
• 
Ooty Hill Station
• 
Mysore
• 
Bangalore
• 
Chennai (Madras)
• 
Bay of Bengal
• 
Mahabalipuram Port
• 
Pondicherry
• 
Velankanni
• 
Thanjavur
• 
Trichy
• 
Ooty Hill Station
• 
Mysore
• 
Bangalore
Day 1
You will be met at Chennai Airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel in the city, formerly called Madras and the state capital of Tamil Nadu.
 
Chennai is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and is a major commercial, cultural, economic and educational centre, as well as being famous for its Madras curry.
Day 2
This morning enjoy a half day tour of the thriving city of Chennai.
 
We start with a visit to ancient Fort St George that dates back to the 17th century and is filled with memorabilia. Here you can see St. Mary’s Church, the first Christian church consecrated on Indian soil. We also visit the splendid St Thomas Cathedral Basilica, where the apostle St Thomas is said to be buried.
 
Afterwards we drive along the marina to the ancient Kapaleeshwar Temple at Mylapore. This shrine to the Hindu god Shiva is over 2,000 years old and showcases the architectural splendour of the Dravidian period.
 
You afternoon is free for independent exploration or relaxation. Places of interest include the Victoria Art Gallery, the Bronze Gallery and Chennai Government Museum.
 
Note: All temples and museums are closed on Fridays.
Day 3
This morning your driver will introduce you to the beauty of Tamil Nadu state, as we leave Chennai and travel 1-hours to the ancient port of Mahabalipuram, with its huge casuarina trees and silvery sandy beaches. Here a group of temples were hewn out of rock along the Coromandel Coast during the 7th and 8th centuries by the Pallavas kings. These intricately carved structures, mostly in granite, are among the oldest surviving examples of South Indian architecture.
 
Now a World Heritage site, the Shore Temple is the oldest of these, but unlike the other monuments it is built - not carved from rock - and contains a Vishnu Temple and two Shiva temples (a 3-in-1 abode of the gods). More than one hundred stone relief figures of people, animals and gods can be seen in this area. You can admire the five Rathas (stone chariots) and the mythology associated with the 'Descent of the River Ganges' & the 'Penance of Arjuna' carved in stone.
 
Another curiosity in the town is Krishna's Butterball - a very large boulder balanced precariously on a small hill, that looks as if it could roll at any moment.
Day 4
Today we leave Mahabalipuram and travel 2.5-hours to the city of Pondicherry, fondly called "Pondy".
 
Pondicherry was a market place in Roman times and has been controlled by many kings, emperors and sultans in its rich history. During the colonial era it was a French territory, with occasional interuption from the British and Dutch until it was incorporated into the Indian Union. On arrival check into your hotel and relax.
Day 5
This morning enjoy a tour of the city of Pondicherry.
 
We start with a visit to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram - a spiritual centre that is the home to more than 1,500 followers from around the world. Afterwards we take a walk through the French Quarter with its old buildings, visit the Sacred Heart Basilica and stroll along the Promenade with its many interesting monuments. You can also see Government Park, the Manakula Vinayagar Temple and the Roman Rolland Library.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to explore independently and in the evening enjoy the many restaurants of this city.
Day 6
Today we travel 4-hours to the small town of Velankanni on the shores of the Bay of Bengal.
 
Once a port that traded with Rome and Greece, the town lost its importance as a trading centre and is now best known for its famous Roman Catholic Church. This afternoon is free for you to explore the town independently.
Day 7
Today enjoy a half day orientation tour of Velankanni, including a visit to its famous Roman Catholic church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health.
 
The Shrine of Our Lady of Velankanni, also known as the "Lourdes of the East", is one of the most visited religious sites in India. The church was founded in the 16th century after three apparent miracles - the apparition of Mary and Jesus to a slumbering shepherd boy; the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor; and the survival of Portuguese sailors assaulted by a violent storm at sea, who promised to erect a shrine. The chapel was dedicated on the feast of the Nativity of Mary (8 September), the day of their safe landing, and more than 500 years later this festival is still observed and draws nearly 2 million pilgrims each year.
Day 8
We travel 4-hours today from Velankanni to the town of Tiruchirappalli (known locally as Trichy).
 
Along the way we stop in Tanjore (now called Thanjavur), which is an important centre of Southern Indian religion, art and architecture. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples, which are UNESCO World Heritage monuments, are located in and around this city. Here we visit the famous towered Brihadeeswarar Temple. Enclosed in two courtyards, it has an exquisitely decorated shrine. We also visit the Tanjore Royal Palace and Museum, with its fascinating collection of 19th century royal artefacts.
 
We continue to Trichy and check into your hotel in this ancient city with many historic monuments and an important industrial and educational hub in Tamil Nadu.
Day 9
Today enjoy exploring Trichy with your guide.
 
Visit some of the museums and art galleries of the city, including the Rock Fort and Sri Jambukeshwara Temple - one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu.
 
Also visit the 600-acre island town of Srirangam that is enclosed within the 7 walls of the gigantic Sriranganathaswami Temple.
Day 10
Today transfer to Trincy Station in good time for the 4.15-hour journey by air-conditioned express train (first class) to Coimbatore.
 
You will be met at Coimbatore Station and transferred to your hotel.
 
Note: Because of the very short (2-minute) stops at each station, train travel in India is not recommended for the elderly or those travelling with children, where a road transfer will be substituted.
Day 11
This morning transfer 2-hours from Coimbatore to the tea producing region of Coonoor.
 
Here you will board the narrow gauge Toy Train for a scenic 1.5-hour journey to the beautiful hill station of Ooty in the Nilgiri Hills. Originally occupied by the Todas, this area came under the rule of the East India Company at the end of the 18th century. Today the town's economy is based on tourism and agriculture.
 
After enjoying a short local sightseeing tour, check into your hotel in Ooty.
Day 12
Today we travel 4-hours from Ooty to the city of Mysore, situated in the foothills of the Chamundi Hills in Karnataka state.
 
Mysore is famous for its many palaces and for the festivities that take place during the Dasara festival when the city receives a large number of tourists. Check into your hotel, with the balance of the day free for relaxation.
Day 13
This morning enjoy a half day tour of the city of Mysore.
 
We visit the spice market, Mysore Palace and the Chamundi Hill Bull Temple. After an afternoon at leisure, in the evening we visit the beautifully illuminated Brindavan Gardens.
Day 14
We drive 4-hours today from Mysore to the 'Garden City' of Bangalore.
 
Along the way we visit Srirangapatna - the Summer Palace of Emperor Tipu Sultan, situated on an island formed by the Kaveri River. The most famous of its temples is the celebrated Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple that dominates the town.
 
On arrival in Bangalore enjoy a short city tour. This includes a visit to the beautiful Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens that feature a glass house, the construction of which was inspired by the Crystal Palace in London.
Day 15
Today enjoy a tour of the "Garden City" of Bangalore.
 
Your tour will include a visit to the beautiful Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens that feature a glass house, the construction of which was inspired by the Crystal Palace in London.
Day 16
Transfer to Bangalore Airport for your flight home.
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