27 September 2016
This wonderful 12 day tour does just what it promises . . . brings out the best of Tamil Nadu. This stunning area of southern India is famous for its grand temples, panoramic hill stations, beautiful sandy and sunny beaches, impressive traditional monuments, great natural waterfalls, exotic wildlife and colourful cultural and religious festivals. The tour begins and ends in the buzzing city of Chennai and is a great way to discover this fascinating region of the sub continent.
On arrival at Chennai you are met by a tour representative and taken to your hotel in the capital city of Tamil Nadu which is situated on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. It has played a very crucial role in the traditional, historical and academic growth of India, representing the different elements of the highest variety of the Dravidian civilization. Chennai is also considered as the cultural hub of South India, which is famous for its affluent heritage in classical dance, music, architecture, sculpture, and crafts. Overnight Chennai.
Today after breakfast at your hotel you have a great day exploring Chennai. Visit Fort St George, St. Mary's Church and a museum before stopping at the impressive Kapeeleshwara Temple. Next stop is San Thome Cathedral, then it's on to the Government State Museum followed by the National Art Gallery. Later drive along Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world, where you may want to return later to relax and enjoy a swim. Overnight in Chennai.
Today you leave the city for the 50 mile drive to Mahabalipuram - the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom based at Kanchipuram. Here you can wander around the town’s great, World Heritage - listed temples and see the amazing carvings, which are best viewed at sunset. Then there's a treat when you join an excursion to Kancheepuram to see the Ekambaranatha Temple, Vaishnavite Vaikunta Perumal Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Kamakshi Temple, and Kailasanatha Temple. Overnight Mahabalipuram.
After breakfast, join a sightseeing of Mahabalipuram, then enjoy an evening at leisure. Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is an ancient historic town and was a bustling seaport. By the 7th Century it was a Port city of South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th centuries, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at Mahabalipuram.
Today you drive to Kumbakonam and on the way visit Chidambaram Nataraja temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements and a unique feature of this temple is the bejeweled image of Nataraja. There are many beautiful sculptures on the walls of the temple and its enclosures and it was built to commemorate a victory over a kingdom next to the Ganges. Overnight at Kumbakonam.
After breakfast, visit Kumbeswarar temple then travel on to Tanjore to visit a whole range of temples which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples. This is the largest temple complex in India and one of the country's most prized architectural sites. There is a big statue of Nandi the sacred bull, carved out of a single rock, at the entrance. Brihadeeswarar Temple, also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple', turned 1,000 years old in 2010. Overnight at Karaikudi.
Today after breakfast at your hotel you leave Karaikudi and its famous temple complexes and make the 50 mile trip to Madurai where on arrival you check in at your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this interesting town with its many temples and go shopping for souvenirs at the bustling local markets. In the evening try some of the local cuisine at one of the nearby restaurants where you can sample idlis, the famous southern Indian dish. Overnight at Madurai.
This morning you can have some leisure time on your own before being taken to visit Tirumalai Nayak, and Koodal Azhagar Temple. The rest of the day is also free. Madurai has a rich heritage and is located on the banks of the Vaigai River and its great temples like to flaunt their architectural brilliance. It is famously called 'The City That Never Sleeps'. Later there is a treat in store when you are taken to witness the evening prayer ceremony at Meenakshi Temple.
Spend some more time lapping up the spledour of Madurai this morning before beginning the two and a half hour journey to Trichy and check in at your next hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own. One of the most famous landmarks in the area is Rockfort Temple which sits at the top of a massive rock outcrop that soars from the surrounding plains. It has a 100 pillar hall and the views from the summit are fantastic. Overnight at Trichy.
Today after breakfast at your hotel there may be time for some more sightseeing in Trichy before beginning the 300 mile, six hour journey, back to Chennai. When you arrive in the big city you check in at your hotel and the rest of the day and the evening are free for you to go out and see more of the sights and try some of the local food, which has been rated by National Geographic magazine as the second best in the world. Overnight at Chennai.
Today is your last full day of the tour so make the most of it. There is so much to see and do in the city, which was formerly known as Madras, and you can go shopping at sparkling boutiques as well as seeing some more of the sights. Among the city's greatest assets are its people, who are infectiously enthusiastic about their home town. Here you can enjoy a sunset saunter along the beach and classy contemporary restaurants and swanky bars and clubs well into the night.
Today your wonderful tour of southern India comes to an end. Possibly time for some more last minute sightseeing or shopping for souvenirs before you are picked up from your hotel and taken to the international airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey back home. Tamil Nadu is a fascinating region of India which gives tourists a warm welcome at any time of year.
Category B fr £804pp
Category A fr £908pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated