Tamil Nadu is the homeland of one of humanity’s living classical civilisations, stretching back uninterrupted for two millennia and very much alive today in the Tamils' language, dance, poetry and Hindu religion. On this 10 day tour through the deep south Indian state you will see famously spectacular temples, fire-worshipping devotees, splendid mansions and cool forests . . . a place proudly distinct from the rest of the country and very welcoming.
Arrival in Chennai
On arrival in Chennai, formerly known as Madras, you will be met at the airport by one of our tour representatives and taken to your hotel for an overnight stay. The capital city of Tamil Nadu is sited on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and has played a crucial role in the traditional, historical and academic growth of the country. It is considered the cultural hub of South India which is famous for its affluent heritage in classical dance, music, architecture, sculpture and crafts.
Chennai to Mahabalipuram
Today you are driven the 50 miles to Mahabalipuram - the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom based at Kanchipuram, where you can wander round the town’s great, World Heritage listed temples seeing the carvings. Take an excursion to Kanchipuram to visit the Ekambaranatha Temple, Vaishnavite Vaikunta Perumal Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Kamakshi Temple, and Kailasanatha Temple and see a stunning sunset. Overnight in Mahabalipuram.
Sightseeing in Mahabalipuram
After breakfast enjoy a sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram then the evening is 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 the 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
Chidambaram and Kumbakonam
After breakfast begin the five hour drive to Kumbakonam stopping on the way at Chidambaram Nataraja temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, and has the bejeweled image of Nataraja. There are many beautiful sculptures on the walls of the temple and its enclosures. It was built in commemoration of his victory over the kingdom abutting the Ganges. Overnight at Kumbakonam.
Tanjore and Karaikudi
Today you visit Kumbeswarar temple then drive on to Tanjore to see the Brihadeeswar temple before ending the day in Karaikudi. The Hindu Brihadeeswara Temple is dedicated to Shiva and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples". It's the largest temple in India and one of the country's most prized architectural sites. Later, continue your drive to Karaikudi and check into your next hotel and the rest of the evening is free for you to go out and explore.
Karaikudi to Madurai
After breakfast there may be time for you to see more of Karaikudi meeting some of the friendly locals before making the one and a half hour drive on to Madurai. On arrival check into your next hotel and the rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own and visit some of the places of interest.. One popular option today is to check out the colourful and bustling local markets in the town. Overnight at Madurai.
Sightseeing in Madurai
Today after breakfast at your hotel visit the Meenakshi Temple, Gandhi Memorial Museum, Tirumalai Nayak and Koodal Azhagar Temple. In the evening, re-visit the Meenakshi Temple to witness the evening prayer ceremony at this holy place. Another option today is to visit the Ramanathaswamy Temple - Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga - which is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of God Shiva temples. Overnight in Madurai.
Madurai to Trichy
Spend some more time this morning revisiting some of the sights in Mandurai before beginning the two and a half hour drive to Trichy, a distance of around 100 miles, with lots of interesting sights to see along the way. On arrival at Trichy you have a guided tour seeing Srirangam Rock Fort and the stunning Thiruvanaikkaval Temple. The rest of the day and evening is free for you go out and explore on your own and possibly try one of the local restaurants.
Trichy to Chennai
Enjoy some more free time this morning in Trichy after breakfast then check out of your hotel to begin the six hour drive back to Chennai During this journey you will see lots of the fascinating Tamil Nadu countryside and watch as the local people go about their every day business. On arrival in Chennai check in to your final hotel of the tour and enjoy the rest of the evening going out and seeing more of the sights.
Sightseeing in Chennai
Today you have a memorable tour of this colourful city which was formerly known as Madras. During an action packed day you visit Fort St George, St. Mary's Church and a museum, Kapeeleshwara Temple, San Thome Cathedral, Government State Museum and the National Art Gallery. You will also be taken for a drive past Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world. Tonight why not finish your tour in style with a traditional meal at a local restaurant.
End of tour
Today your wonderful tour around Tamil Nadu in the south of India comes to an end. Possibly time for some more sightseeing or shopping for souvenirs before heading to the airport to catch an onward flight and see more of the sub-continent or begin your journey back home. This adventurous trip around one of India's most colourful and historic regions is guaranteed to leave you with so many great memories.