India's Great Divide is the Vindhya Mountains. They run from east to west, separating the fertile river valley of the Ganges called the Ganga, from the Deccan Plateau which occupies much of the peninsula of India. It also separates the north, where the predominant languages are Sanskrit - based (brought in by the Indo Iranian herds people about 3,500 years ago), from the Dravidian tongues brought in by a long headed race from the Mediterranean about a thousand years earlier. The South India's coastal plains are backed by the mountains rimming the wedge of the Deccan plateau. On these plains lie the best beaches in South India. On the rimming mountains, the western and eastern ghats are the tea, coffee and spice lands. Beyond these mountains, in the wedge shaped plateau, are great old cities supported by rich farm lands and a culture that has its roots in the almost historical Kumari Continent from where, they claim, civilization spread across the world. The south is gracious, graceful, Old India.
The delightful south; almost untouched by invasions throughout its history, the Indian heritage is more intact here than in other regions of the country.
States of South India:
- Andhra Pradesh
Day 1 : Chennai
Arrive Chennai On arrival, assistance and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 : Chennai
Full day excursion of Tirupati - it is one of the most important and among the richest temples of South India. It is famed for the shrine on the - Seven Hills - of Tirumala which attract millions of pilgrims from all over India. Picturesquely situated amidst sacred waterfalls and tanks, the shrine presents a fine example of early Dravidian art. In front of it is the -Hall of Pillars- from where an attractive stepped way leads to the temple.
Day 3 : Chennai - Mahabalipuram
Drive to Mahabalipuram enroute visiting Kanchipuram - it is the ancient capital of the Pallavas famous as a city of 1000 Temples and still has 124 shrines. The first temple dedicated to Shiva was built in the 7th and 8th century and has paintings on the walls. Temples of Ekambaswara, Kailasanatha, Sri Kamakshi and Varadarajaswamy are of interest. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silks.
On arrival, check in at hotel. Afternoon visit Mahabalipuram - it is famous for the seven pagodas. Here on the seashore is an interesting group of ancient rock hewn temples which are the examples of Dravidian style of Architecture.
Day 4 : Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry
Drive to Pondicherry - this erstwhile French colony on the east coast of South India merged with the rest of the country in 1954. Legend says that Pondicherry is the place where St. Agasthaya settled down. Enroute visit Tiruvannaamalai - a pilgrim centre with an ancient temple of Lord Shiva.
Day 5 : Pondicherry
Morning visit Aurbindo Ashram, the city of dawn, which is 10 kms north of Pondicherry. This ashram promotes Aurbindo's ideas in bringing about a synthesis of Yoga and modern science, so as to unite the spirit and matter. Afternoon visit Auroville - a unique experiment in international living and in creating a new environment where men and women of all nationalities live together in harmony.
Day 6 : Pondicherry - Tanjore
Drive to Tanjore enroute visiting Chidambaram also called as Thillai, which has the famous Nataraja temple with the root of the sanctum-sanctorum covered with golden plates is located in the centre of the town covering an area of 40 acres. In this temple, postures from the Bharatnatayam form of dance are depicted in sculpture. Natraja is Lord Shiva as a cosmic dancer.
On arrival, check in at hotel. Afternoon visit Tanjore, once the capital of Chola Kings, has the Brahadeswara temple (or the big temple of God). The temple tower rises to a height of 15mts from a square base of 29 mts and then tapers off, making a total of 66mts.
Day 7 : Tanjore - Trichy
Drive to Trichy and check in at hotel. Afternoon visit the city. Trichy, short name of Trichurapalli, situated on the banks of Kaveri River is a blend of history and tradition as well as pilgrim centre. Visit the famous Rock fort and its temple at a height of over 23mts. Also visit Srirangam and Jambukeshwar Temple.
Day 8 : Trichy - Madurai
Drive to Madurai and check in at hotel. The ancient city of Madurai some 2600 years old is laid out in the banks of Vaigai as a lotus flower with the Meenakshi temple in the centre. Afternoon visit the city - Meenakshi temple, King Tirumala's Place, Great Tank and Gandhi museum.
Day 9 : Madurai
Full day excursion of Rameshwaram - the most sacred temple town of India is an island hallowed by the epic Ramayana, where Lord Rama is said to have visited before going to battle of Srilanka. Legend has it that Lord Rama sent Hanuman to Mount Kailash to bring a Lingam for worship when he set foot after defeating Ravana. As Hanuman did not return when the auspicious hour was approaching, Sita made a sand Lingam so that worship could be performed in time, which is where the present day Ramanatha Swamy Temple stands close to sea on the eastern side of the island. One of the twelve Jyotirlingam shrines is also well known for its magnificent corridors and the massive sculptured pillars lining them. Lunch at local restaurant.
Day 10 : Madurai - Trivandrum
Drive to Trivandrum and check in at hotel. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 11 : Trivandrum
Excursion of Kanyakumari - is the land's end of India where the water of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet. An important pilgrim centre of India, it is famous for the Amman Temples - a symbol of unity and sanctity - dedicated to the virgin Goddess, Kanya Kumari. To its South - East lies the famous Vivekananda Rock Memorial, a blend of all the architectural styles of India.
Day 12 : Trivandrum - Chennai
Transfer to airport to connect flight for Chennai. On arrival, assistance and transfer to hotel.
Day 13 : Chennai Departure
Morning city tour visiting Gandhi Memorial, Kala Kshetra, Mylapore temple and Marine beach. Check out at 1200 hrs. Transfer to airport to connect flight for onward journey.