16 Day Temples, Backwaters & Beaches

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The blue hills and mystical temples of the culturally rich southern portion of the Indian subcontinent will provide a trip that will start at the serene and holy temples of the south and run its course through golden beaches and tranquil backwaters, providing a tour to rejuvenate and remember forever.



HIGHLIGHTS

  • Enjoy the architectural marvels of the temples of Madurai with Hindu iconography and stories told by the guide.

 

  • Laze on the beach and travel on cruises along the backwaters talking to old fishermen and learning about their daily life.

 

  • Visit holy sites and get immersed in the calm of the temples and churches.

 

 

Day by Day plan

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  • Day 1: Arrive in Chennai

    A Wild Voyager representative will receive you on arrival at the airport and transfer to the hotel.

     

    The city of Chennai, formerly Madras and originally Madraspatnam, has its roots in a warehouse built by the British on the beachfront in 1639. In 1654, the Fort St. George was established and eventually, village after neighbouring village was added to the territory to form the modern city we know today. In the days of the British Raj, Madras served as the capital of all of South India.

     

    Overnight will be in Chennai.

     

  • Day 2: Sightseeing in Chennai

    Proceed for city tour of Chennai in the morning after breakfast.

     

    The Neo-Gothic San Thome Basilica is one of the only three basilicas in the world said to contain the relics of an apostle of Christ and is an important Christian pilgrimage. Built over the tomb of St. Thomas, the original building was said to have been established by the apostle himself.

     

    Founded in 1644 by the British East India Company, Fort St George was the engine of trade and commerce that transformed a beachfront hamlet into a modern city. Fittingly, it is now the seat of the legislative assembly of the state of Tamil Nadu. The Fort Museum located in the oldest surviving building of the fortress is of particular interest to tourists and has an impressive collection of exhibits spread over ten galleries.

     

    Rippon Building: Another pride of Chennai city, this 100-year-old building was named after Governor Lord Rippon, the father of self-government in India. The Chennai Corporation and its council are functioning in this building.

     

    The buzzing Kapaleeswarar Temple with its proud 120 feet tall exquisitely engraved Gopuram is one of the finest examples of Dravidian architecture. Inscriptions from the 13th century and highly ornate stucco work adorn its walls. It’s also the site for the spectacular annual Arupathimoovar festival, during which a gigantic wooden chariot carrying the main deity is pulled along the roads by hundreds and thousands of frenzied devotees, followed by a procession of Gods involving sixty-three idols on palanquins. Students of cinema may recall this festival from French master Louis Malle’s Cinema Verite´ venture, Phantom India. 

     

    Central Railway station: A red, massive British structure is another landmark of this metro, has been the gateway connecting the state with the rest of the nation. This Railway station forms part of the city’s treasure of heritage buildings, worth a visit. Visitors must take platform tickets.

     

    Overnight will be in Chennai.

     

  • Day 3: Chennai to Madurai by rail

    Drive to the railway station to board the train to Madurai after a leisurely breakfast. Reach and transfer to hotel.

     

    The ancient temple town of Madurai traces its history as far back as the 3rd century BC and finds mention in the writings of Greek explorer Megasthenes.

     

    The breathtaking Sri Meenakshi Amman temple, a mini-city in its own right, dominates the Madurai skyline. One of the finest living examples of Dravidian art and architecture, its towering gopurams loom over the city, every inch of its outer surface crowded with multicolored carvings of gods, goddesses and beasts of mythology. One of the highlights of your luxury holiday in exotic South India.

     

    In the evening visit the great Meenakshi Temple dedicated to the consort of Lord Shiva. Witness evening Aarati.

     

    Overnight will be at Madurai.

     

  • Day 4: Sightseeing in Madurai

    Breakfast will be served at the hotel.

     

    Proceed for sightseeing of the temple town.

     

    Thousand Pillar Museum: Located inside the temple and has a variety of collections.

     

    The spacious Gandhi Memorial Museum chronicles in loving detail the history of India’s independence movement. The museum organizes regular seminars on Gandhi and his principle of non-violence or ahimsa.

     

     Located a few minutes from Madurai, the Vishnu Temple is one of the most important temples of South India and is unique in the layout of its three altars, arranged as they are one on top of one another. Each altar shows the Lord Vishnu in a different posture. The seated Vishnu on the middle altar, Koodal Alagar, is the main deity of the temple. The temple’s exterior too, covered with beautiful carvings depicting celestial beings, is well worth the traveller’s time.

     

    Built by King Thirumalai Nayak in 1636, the eponymous Thirumalai Nayak Palace fell to ruin after the king’s demise and was restored only partially by the British. Still, the present day structure gives the visitor a good idea of its grandeur in its heydays. Look out for the intricate stucco work on its arches and pillars and the astonishing Sorgavilasam or Celestial Pavilion, a 1300 square meter free-standing structure, unsupported by any pillar or girder. 

     

    The giant Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam reservoir is fed by a Vaigai River through an invisible maze of underground channels. During Teppam (tr.The Float Festival), hundreds of boats chockfull of devotees crowd the reservoir in a race to reach the temple at its center.

     

    Thirupparankundram: located south of Madurai at a distance of 11 Km is the celebrated cave to Lord Subramanian (Lord Siva’s son) he is said to have married Devayana, daughter of Indra, in this place and performed several of his miracles. 8th Century Pandyas Rock cut Cave is also here and can be visited.

     

    Overnight will be at Madurai.

     

  • Day 5: Madurai to Thekkady, by Road

    Proceed to Thekkady after breakfast. Reach and check into the hotel.

     

    Enjoy the scenic beauty & the marvelous waterfalls, high mountains with the low flying clouds passing by. Visit Tea Plantations and also see how tea is processed.

     

    National Park, one of India’s major wildlife reserves. Look out for the Asian elephant, antelope, the Indian bison, the elusive Bengal tiger, the dhole or wild dog, and the extremely rare and endangered Nilgiri Tahr, a species of ibex native to the region.

     

    Birdwatchers may be rewarded with sightings of greater hornbills, darters, herons, egrets, owls and brightly coloured kingfishers.

     

    Overnight will be at Thekkady.

     

  • Day 6: Sightseeing in Thekkady

    Breakfast will be served at the resort.

     

    Not to be missed, a bamboo rafting excursion down the river. The raft offers a great opportunity to watch animals, particularly elephants, as they come down to the waters to cool off in the daytime. You may also be able to spot sambars, barking deer, mouse deer, wild pigs, porcupines, lion-tailed macaques, the Malabar Squirrel and sloth bears. Tigers and Leopards are usually hard to come by on the banks during the day. 

     

    You could also try a jungle walk with a highly experienced guide. This is a unique programme where tourists get the chance to get deep into the forest the least obtrusive way - on foot, maximising the chances of wildlife sightings. These walks can be customised depending on how long the guest wishes to spend in the park.

     

    The local spice market, reputed to be the largest in Asia is also worth a visit. Spices make for a unique and imaginative gift for friends and family back home.

     

    Overnight will be at Thekkady.

     

  • Day 7: Thekkady – Munnar, by Road

    Drive to Munnar after breakfast.

     

    Check-in to the hotel and relax.

     

    At 1600 meters above the sea level and located at the confluence of three mountain rivers, Munnar is blessed with stunning panoramic views and temperate climate that made it a highly popular summer destination with British settlers in the days of the Raj. Munnar’s soil and climate is ideal for tea and the nearby slopes are dotted with plantations. Munnar serves as a trailhead for trekkers hiking to the 2695m Anamudi Peak, the highest point of South India. Munnar is at its stunning best when its hillsides burst in stunning blue with the blooming of the rare, fragile Blue Kurinji flowers every twelve years.

     

    Overnight will be at Munnar.

     

  • Day 8: Sightseeing in Munnar

    Proceed for the sightseeing tour after breakfast.

     

    Built by the British in 1910, Christ Church is known for its beautiful stained glass windows. On the church grounds, plaques erected in memory of British tea planters tell their own poignant story.

     

    The tiny hill station of Devikulam, only seven kilometers from Munnar is a delight for birders, anglers and nature lovers. Its rolling green slopes, panoramic views and the crystal clear waters of the Sita Devi Lake make it among the most picturesque highlights of your exotic holiday in South India.

     

    From the picking of leaves to the teacup, the Kundale Tea Plantation provides an in-depth insight, a fascinating insight into what goes into producing the world’s most popular drink. Sundays are a great time to visit as the local planters gather for their weekly get together and swap plantation tales. The plantation’s lake makes for an idyllic picnic spot.

     

    Neelakurunji flowers: No special tour will need to be taken to see this Munnar attraction. But if you are planning a trip solely to view the spectacular blue blooms, which cover the entire mountainside, you will have to wait until 2018 as the 'Neelakurinji' only blooms every 12 years.

     

    A high vantage point that offers panoramic views of the plantations all around, Pothamedu is yet another popular hiking destination in the vicinity.

     

    Overnight will be in Munnar.

     

  • Day 9: Munnar to Cochin, Athirapilly Water Falls enroute

    Breakfast will be served at the hotel.

     

    Proceed to Cochin thereafter visiting Athirapilly en route.

     

    Athirapilly is the site of Kerala’s largest waterfall, roaring down from a height of 1000m above sea level. Surrounded by verdant green forests and crisscrossing river systems, Athirapilly is a highly successful elephant and bird conservation hotspot.

     

    Continue drive to Cochin. Reach and check into the hotel.

     

    The ancient port city of Cochin or Kochi comprises a cluster of islands and peninsulas in a serene saltwater lagoon. Ferries connect the islands to Ernakulam town on the mainland. Dotted with lakes and gently swaying palm groves, Kochi’s otherworldly beauty, coupled with the lure of spices and seafood, draw scores of travellers every year to this natural harbour.

     

    Overnight will be at Cochin.

     

  • Day 10: Sightseeing in Cochin

    Breakfast will be served at the hotel.

     

    Proceed for a sightseeing tour of Cochin.

     

    Kochi’s famed Chinese fishing nets are perhaps one of the most iconic and oft-photographed sights of Kerala. Mounted on teak and bamboo poles and supported by large stone counterweights, they hang gossamer-like all along the Fort Kochi seafront. Their origins are obscure with some claiming they were imported by the Portuguese from Macau while according to others,  the credit goes to Chinese traders from the court of Kubla Khan himself.

     

    The Old Cochin area is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, and the Paradesi Synagogue built in 1568 is a must-see treasure of this eclectic corner of South India. Known for its distinctive tiled roof and bell towers, the synagogue’s interiors feature intricately hand-painted blue and white Chinese willow tiles of which no two are alike. Elegant Belgian chandeliers adorn its central area. An exquisite oriental rug and gold crowns received as gifts from visitors are also on display.

     

    Also of interest is the intriguing International Pepper Exchange that deals in the global trade of black pepper.  Nearby are Vasco Da Gama Square, the Santa Cruz Basilica that counts among India’s oldest churches, St. Francis Church where Vasco Da Gama was originally interred, VOC Gate and Bastion Bungalow, all of which, according to local records, go back to between the mid-fourteenth and early fifteenth century.

     

    In the evening proceed for Kathakali dance presentation.

     

    Overnight will be at Cochin.

     

  • Day 11: Cochin to Kumarakom, cruise from Kumarakom

    After a leisurely breakfast proceed to Kumarakom.

     

    Check into a traditional houseboat and go on a leisurely backwater cruise along the lake.

     

    Barely 16 km from the city of Kottayam, Kumarakom is located by the Vembanad, Kerala’s largest freshwater lake, and is one of the important venues for Kerala’s famous boat races. During the festival of Onam, hundreds of traditional boats, some seating as many as fifty highly vocal rowers, steak down the lake amidst much fanfare, competing for top spot.

     

    Lunch will be served on the boat freshly prepared by the crew.

     

    In the evening the boat will anchor by the lush paddy fields and enjoy the tranquility of the water around.

     

    Dinner would be laid out in the boat. Spend the night on a houseboat.

     

  • Day 12: Alleppey to Kovalam, by road

    Breakfast will be on board.

     

    Cruise through the backwaters watching the children going to school and the village markets opening.

     

    Disembark the boat at the finishing point where your driver will be waiting for you to drive to Kovalam.

     

    A tranquil bay with three stunning crescent-shaped beaches of white sand, Kovalam is the beach lover’s paradise and idyllic traditional fishing village rolled into one. In spite of gaining popularity as a tourist spot, the life of the fishing communities nearby seem to follow centuries-old mores, untouched by the hurly-burly of the modern world. Highly recommended for the view is the short walk up to the quaint lighthouse atop a hill.

     

    A day’s excursion from Kovalam will take you to Kanyakumari, the mystical and breathtakingly beautiful southern extremity of India.

     

    Reach and check in at the resort. The day will be free to explore and relax at the beach.

     

    Overnight will be at Kovalam

     

  • Day 13: Sightseeing in Kovalam

    Breakfast will be in the hotel.

     

    Spend the day at leisure.

     

    Overnight will be in Kovalam.

     

  • Day 14: Sightseeing in Kovalam

    Enjoy a relaxed breakfast at the hotel.

     

    Enjoy sun and sands.

     

    Overnight will be in Kovalam.

     

  • Day 15: Sightseeing in Kovalam

    Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel.

     

    The day will be free to relax and enjoy time at the hotel.

     

    Overnight will be in Kovalam.

     

  • Day 16: Kovalam to Trivandrum, by road

    Drive to Trivandrum after a leisurely morning breakfast.

     

    Proceed for the short sightseeing tour of Trivandrum.

     

    After lunch, a Wild Voyager representative will transfer you to your flight home.

     

    TOUR ENDS.

     
     

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