South Indian Beat

South Indian Beat

Overview

A fascinating journey through India's tropical south, do experience the diversity in scenery, architecture, culture and most importantly the people. 

Tamil Nadu the most leading feature is the prevalence of Hinduism, which has given rise to a unique style of temple architecture found in this state alone. The most magnificent is the great temple in Madurai. This temple is not only a spectacular architectural feat, but still provides the focus for daily life. 

Flanked by the Arabian Sea in the West, the towering Western Ghats in the East and networked by 44 interconnected rivers, Kerala is blessed with a unique set of geographical features that have made it one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia. A long shoreline with serene beaches, tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, lush hill stations and exotic wildlife, are just a few of the wonders that await you once you crossover to the other side. And what's more, each of these charming destinations is only a two hour drive from the other - a singular advantage no other place on the planet can offer. 


Trip Duration - 12 days
Grade - Cultural & Heritage
Accommodation - 11 nights hotel stay
Category - Premium

day image Upon arrival at Chennai International airport, meet and assistance by our office representative, followed by a transfer to your hotel for a check-in. After some rest and depending on your arrival time, be introduced to the “Capital of the south” during an orientation tour. Explore the diverse neighbourhoods and sense its role as a keeper of South Indian artistic and religious traditions... Pass though the excellent British-built Government Museum, the Roman style San Thome Basilica and the majestic colonial Fort St George. Finally take a sunset walk along the long stretch of Marina Beach. Return to your hotel for your overnight.

day image Start your day with an easy guided walk in the heart of the bustling Mylapore, zigzag though the very beat and pulse of this neighbourhood, learn about Tamil Nadu myriad customs and Hindu traditions. Visit the impressive Kapaleeshwarar temple, with its rainbow-coloured gopuram and pillared mandapas. Your journey will lead in these characterful market streets with a chance to be predicted your future from a fortune teller or to enter into a sacred Brahmin family house. Return to your hotel , after breakfast, check-out and drive to your next stop, the seaside town of Mahabalipuram, port of the Pallava kings in the 5th to 8th centuries. Along the shore lies a stunning series of temples and sculptures, carved from the living rock 1,200 years ago. Unlike many Hindu temples, the rocks show scenes of everyday life. Check-in your hotel and later go visit with your guide the magnificent Shore temple, symbolising the heights of Pallava architecture and the maritime ambitions of their kings. Go explore the masterpiece of Mahabalipuram’s Rock cut caves representing the scenes of Hindu myths and finish by the site of the Five Rathas. Each of these temples were named after one of the Pandavas, the five hero-brothers of the epic Mahabharata. Tonight, enjoy a Seafood dinner in a terrace facing the sea shore. Drive back to your hotel for an overnight stay.

day image After your breakfast and your check-out, head to Pondicherry. Settled by the French in the 18th century, this colonial town retains a tranquil atmosphere with some French architecture aesthetic. Make a first stop at Auroville, situated outskirts of the town, this spiritual community was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and a French-born woman known as ‘the Mother’. Enjoy a lunch at Solar kitchen - the community Kitchen for the inmates and understand the unique living here, based on universal harmony. You will be taken through the visitor’s center and a few of the Auroville units which innovatively work on paper, textile, bamboo and stones. Pass by the Matri mandir (the meditation centre) and learn from those who choose to join, build and live this unique lifestyle. Reach Pondicherry and check-in at your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day free in the colonial streets. Take a hint into the lifestyle shops, wander in the bohemian chic atmosphere of the French quarter, go see the Ganesha temple around or search for inspiration at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram bookshop. Overnight at the hotel.

day image Early morning enjoy a bicycle tour through the French quarter and the Tamil quarter with a Storyteller. Pass by the white town (as the French quarter is popularly known as) with its heritage colonial buildings, keep biking toward the Tamil quarter and learn the anecdotes of the distinctiveness of Franco-Tamil culture, creating a fusion of diversity in the air of Pondy... Return back to your hotel for your breakfast. Check-out and Continue your journey to Tanjore, former capital of the mighty Cholas Empire. Enroute stop at Darasuram and see its famous Airavatesvara Chola Temple, UNESCO world heritage site, carved with vivid elephants and horses pulling chariots and dating from the 12th century. You will then be invited to meet the adjacent colony of silk weaver and discover the art of the Saree weaving, made out from their traditional wood machinery and tracing few generations. Arrive at Tanjore and check-in at your hotel for your, Overnight stay.

day image Breakfast at the hotel and check-out. This morning be immersed into the Chola Empire legacy during a visit of the world Heritage-listed Brihadeswara Temple, build in the 11th century by Raja Raja I (‘king of kings’). Enter through the Nayak gate, followed by two original gopurams with some elaborate stucco sculptures. Inside discover several shrines, including one of India’s largest statues of Nandi (Shiva’s sacred bull). Both west and north walls of the main building are lined with exquisite lime-plaster Chola frescoes. Continue your visits at the Thanjavur's Royal Palace, which preserves memories of other powerful dynasties from later centuries. Here, explore the Saraswati Mahal Library Museum housing over 30000 Indian and European manuscripts and the Art Gallery containing a collection of superb, mainly Chola, bronzes and stone carvings. It is time for your next enlightment, sneak into a small house and witnesse the Tanjore veena art making process, there an entire instrument is carved on a single block of Jackwood. Carnatic music played on these Veenas has won the hearts of millions of music lovers. Later on learn about the Tanjavur painting technique with gem stones inlay demonstration from the masters. Drive south to another vibrant city of Tamil Nadu, Madurai. Upon arrival check-in at your hotel. After some rest, leave the hotel by auto-rickshaw, take a visit of the temple and attend the night ceremony when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bed chamber of Parvati. Have a dinner on a roof-top with views on the Gopurams of the Meenakshi temple. Return to your hotel. Overnight stay.

day image After breakfast, Start your day with a guided walking tour and go deep into the real life of this Tamil rooted oldest city. Walk in the narrow streets flanked by flowers and bananas stands, interact with local people, watch people milking cows by hand and stroll down in the bazaars. Learn with your guide the 5000 years old legends of this busting city while having a meter tea from the corner tea stall. On your way pass by the biggest flower market in the southern region which transacts as much as 10 tons of flowers in a day, mainly the reputed Madurai malli (Jasmine). Followed by visit the sprawling Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, 17th century palace of the emperor of the Nayak dynasty and capture its hybrid Dravidian-Islamic style. Follow with a meaty feast at the local spot Kumar Mess and try their spicy Biryani before driving up hills to Munnar, the South India's largest tea-growing region. Upon arrival in Munnar, check-in. Explore your own in the evening at the in house plantations. Overnight stay at Hotel.

day image  After early breakfast, proceed to the trek point. Go on a Half-day trekking passing through the rolling hills and sculpted Tea gardens of Munnar. Gradual trek and hike through the tea plantations. View from top of the hill is spectacular. Trek duration is around 4 hrs. (Medium pace) Savour the Picnic hamper. Later visit the Tea factory at Lockhart estate and enjoy the tea tasting. On the way back visit at Srishti. This project is a venture of Tata Global Beverages for the rehabilitation of the differently abled. Enjoy some shopping time in this community centre. Back to hotel, Overnight stay at your hotel.

day image After your breakfast at your hotel and check-out, take a beautiful drive to Thekkady, down to the green mountains of the Nilgiris, rubber, coffee and cardamom plantations will follow. Check-in your hotel. Afternoon enjoy a boat ride at Periyar tiger reserve, visitors stand a better chance of viewing wildlife as the animals come to the lake frequently for drinking water. You may be able to spot herds of Gaur, Sambar and wild boars in the grasslands adjacent to the shores. A variety of avian fauna such as darters, egrets and kingfishers can be seen resting on dead tree trunks that stick out over the lake. Late in the evening enjoy a spice plantation tour, There are many factors that make the plantation experience a memorable one, it could be the unassuming beauty of the tiny flowers of the cardamom that grow at the base of the plant, the tantalising aroma of cinnamon or cloves, and the cool breeze that lovingly strokes the green plantations. Overnight stay at Hotel.

day image This early morning proceed with a nature walk and observe the flora and fauna in the remote areas of the National Periyar Park accompanied by a trained tribal guide. Return back to your hotel for your breakfast, check-out and drive east to Kumarakom. En-route stop at the plantation home to experience a typical Syriac Christian lunch, followed by a walk into the owner’s plantations. This ancestral home was built around 400 years back and is located in the midst of a lush green estate. Continue your tropical journey towards Kumarakom, a backwaters village located on the shore of vast Vembanad Lake – Kerala's largest lake. Check-in hotel, evening at the backwaters. Overnight stay at hotel.

day image Breakfast at the hotel. This morning visit at Aymanam Village, home of Arundhathi Roy’s novel ‘The God of Small Things’. Start your local immersion with a ride on a traditional canoe cruise through the narrow, winding canals and catch the scenic daily life of the bordering houses. Follow with a walk in the heart of this typical Kuttanad village surrounded by paddy fields and identify the snakes abodes, sacred to earliest habitants. Be invited to a Kathakali master house who will introduce you to this traditional theatre form, which adapts styles of ancient Sanskrit with visual presentations of human expressions. After check-out, drive to Fort Kochi, Check-in at the hotel. Enjoy a cultural evening at Greenix Village Cultural Center and discover the famous dance drama of Kerala, the “Kathakali” show. This dance can be characterized by grotesque gesticulations, amazing costumes and very extensive make-up. The stories are mostly taken from the epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Overnight stay at the hotel.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS - Go Local In Kerala
  • Heritage walking tours
  • Storyteller Bicycle tour in Pondicherry
  • Temples of Tamil Nadu
  • Auroville Experience
  • Local Arts and crafts
  • South Indian Cuisine
  • Hills & Plantations
  • Short Valley Trek
  • Periyar Tiger Reserve Boating
  • Nature Walk in the Periyar National Park
  • Country canoe ride in canals

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