The Diamonds of the South Tour will start out in Chennai, with its antique and traditional areas and hidden beauties. Continue to Kanchipuram, ruled by many different kingdoms and empires, it has a lot of history to offer. Next you will visit the town of Mahabalipuram, known as an important seaport in history and you will find many ancient sanctuaries listed as UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Among them are the rathas temples, mandapas cave sanctuaries, the Descent of the Ganges and the Shore Temple, famous for its thousands sculptures of Shiva. You will also be taken to Thiruchirappalli, also known as Tiruchi or Trichy. With a mix of culture and religion, this city will show you many different historic locations, temples and monuments.
During this tour you will also visit the cities Pondicherry, Tanjore and Madurai. In Pondicherry you will have the opportunity to see many different temples, churches and statues with unique architecture as well as their famous beaches. Tanjore will offer you the beauty of the Great Living Chola Temples, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Monuments and in Madurai you will get to experience the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
At the end of the tour you will visit Periyar, famous for itsnature and backwaters as well as Alleppey and Cochin, known for their tropical climate and sea.
Day 1 Arrival in Chennai
Start this exciting tour by arriving in Chennai the first day. On arrival, get transferred from the airport to the hotel to check in. Have the rest of the day free to relax and regain all energy, and in the evening there will be the possibility to explore the nearby markets of Chennai. Enjoy an overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 2 Chennai sights
Begin this lovely morning with a tasty breakfast at the hotel and then prepare for an exciting city tour of Chennai, visiting all the main attraction. Start with a visit to the first British fortress in India, Fort St. George. This fortress was founded in 1644 and was initially meant to act as a trading post, but later came to be the origin of the modern Indian Army. Next continue on to the beautiful Kapaleeshwar Temple, a temple built around the 7th century CE for Lord Shiva. Having a great historical meaning, this temple is also built in a typical Dravidian architectural structure. Lastly continue on to make a visit to the National Art Gallery to enjoy some of the oldest historical pieces of South India and then enjoy some free time for lunch.
In the evening visit the famous Vivekananda House, also known as the Ice House or Castle Kernan. This house is an important place for the Ramakrishna Movement of South India. Swami Vivekananda visited this house in 1897 and stayed for a few days to spread his knowledge and the building today houses an exhibition on Indian Culture and Swami Vivekananda’s life.
Later head back to the hotel to enjoy a filling dinner and then get a good night’s sleep.
Day 3 Temples of Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram
Sea shore temple
This morning enjoy a warm breakfast at the hotel and then prepare to continue on to explore the next sights of this tour, the temples of Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram. First visit the town of Kanchipuram where the temples Kailasanthar Temple, Ekambareshwarar Temple, Vardajaranperumal Temple and the Sakkiswarar Temple are located. These temples all date back to ancient times and the Kailasanthar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the oldest structure in the town of Kanchipuram.
Continue on to Mahabalipuram and on arrival check in to a hotel. In the evening, enjoy the sights of the famous Sea shore rock-cut temples which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under “Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram”. These temples and caves are believed to have been built between 630 and 728 AD and are influenced by the Dravidian architectural structure.
In the evening, enjoy a good night’s rest back at the hotel.
Day 4 Pondicherry Sights
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Begin this morning by getting reenergized with a breakfast and then prepare to continue on to Pondicherry. On arrival, check in to the hotel and unwind. After some rest, prepare for an exciting sightseeing tour of Pondicherry.
First visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, an ashram which was founded by Sri Aurobindo to teach the newly created form of yoga he called Integral Yoga. With this method a man can strive for spiritual realization which not only liberates consciousness, but also transforms his nature.
Continue on to explore the Pondicherry museum which houses many different historical artefacts such as sculptures from Pallava, Chola and Vijaynagara Temples, Buddha images and bronzes, arms and weapons.
Next on visit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a popular attraction in Pondicherry. This church is more than 100 years old and was built by French missionaries as the first ever basilica in Pondicherry. This beautiful structure is an inspiring place to enter, with its stained glass windows, tranquil ambience and art pieces.
Lastly visit the nineteenth century lighthouse of Pondicherry, which was the first adequate lighthouse built to help guide the ships arriving to Pondicherry. Finished in 1836, it is an impressive structure to visit and admire.
Later, head back to the hotel and enjoy a dinner and a good night’s rest.
Day 5 Tanjore awaits
Wake up refreshed and enjoy a warm breakfast at the hotel and then continue the journey of this tour to the city of Tanjore. On arrival, enjoy a full-day excursion to the Ranganath Temple, Jambukeshwar Temple, and Srirangam Temple.
In the afternoon, visit the Tanjore Royal Palace, and the Nandi Bull. The Nandi bull is the name of the bull which serves as the mount of Shiva and as the gatekeeper of Shiva and Parvati.
Later check in to the hotel and enjoy a flavorful dinner at the hotel and a good night’s sleep.
Day 6 Madurai journey
Get reenergized with a morning breakfast served at the hotel and prepare to head off to Madurai. En-route, make a stop at the city of Trichy to enjoy the sights nearby such as the Rock Fort. Within the rock fort there are two rock-cut temples which will also be visited, then continue to Madurai. On arrival, check in to a hotel and get a good night’s rest.
Day 7 Exploring Madurai
Sri Meenakshi Temple
Start this lovely morning with a hearty breakfast at the hotel and then prepare for a full-day tour of Madurai. The sights of this day include a visit to the Gandhi Museum to enjoy historical artefacts followed by exploring the Alagar Koyil, a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Continue on to visit the temple of Mariamman and the impressive structure of the Vaigai Dam.
In the evening, continue the exploring of the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal palace which was constructed in 1636. Built by the king Thirumalai Nayak who ruled Madurai from 1623-1659, it was also his residence during his ruling.
Lastly, visit the famous temple of Meenakshi to attend a prayer ceremony. This temple is believed to have been built between 1623 and 1655 CE and is the landmark of Madurai, representing the history and heart of the city. Dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort Shiva, this temple is famous for its intricate detail and sculptures within the temple.
Then head back to the hotel and have a good night’s sleep.
Day 8 Nature of Periyar (Thekkady)
Begin this beautiful morning with a warm breakfast served at the hotel. Next on prepare to continue the journey of this tour to Periyar. On arrival, check in to the hotel and unwind. In the afternoon, enjoy a Jeep Safari in the Periyar Wildlife Tiger Reserve. Explore the wildlife animals such as elephants with the peaceful and blossoming nature.
In the evening, enjoy some free time and if there is desire, there is the chance to enjoy a boat ride in the Periyar Lake. Enjoy an overnight stay at the hotel and prepare for tomorrow’s adventures.
Day 9 Unwinding in Kumarakom
Start off this morning with a filling breakfast at the hotel and then check out from the hotel to travel on to Kumarakom. On arrival, check in to a hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at own leisure. In the evening enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Day 10 Kumarakom leisure
This peaceful morning starts with a relaxing breakfast meal at the hotel and the rest of the day is free for own activities. Take this time to unwind and relax, or explore the nearby sights such as the Bay Island Driftwood Museum or the Bird Sanctuary. In the evening, enjoy a sumptuous dinner at the hotel and a good night’s rest.
Day 11 Exciting Alleppey cruise
Enjoy this morning with an energizing breakfast and prepare to board a cruise which will travel on to Alleppey. During the cruise, enjoy both a lunch and dinner meal, and explore the sights while passing through the backwaters. Enjoy this peaceful and majestic scenery and later the night will be spent on board.
Day 12 Journey to Cochin
The Jewish Synagogue
Begin this morning with a tasty breakfast on the boat and prepare to disembark at Alleppey. On arrival, drive to Cochin and check in to the hotel. After some rest, get ready for an exciting tour of the city.
Start with a visit to the famous Mattancherry Palace, later known as the Dutch Palace, which was constructed around 1555. It was built as a gift from the Portuguese to the Raja of Cochin, and the palace today houses many exhibits of historical artefacts and Hindu art.
Continue on to visit the St. Francis Church, the oldest church in India. Built by the Portuguese in 1503, it is a beautiful architectural structure to witness and one of the top attractions in Cochin. Next on visit the Jewish Synagogue which is the oldest active synagogue in India.
Lastly enjoy the sights of the famous Chinese Fishing Nets, another popular attraction of Cochin. Admire their unique structure and how the impressive technique works to lower the nets into the water.
In the evening, head back to the hotel and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Day 13 Exploring the sights of Cochin
The Hill Palace
Start this morning by getting reenergized with a morning breakfast and continue on to enjoy this last tour day with more sightseeing of Cochin. Make a visit to the top attractions such as the Marine Drive, Fort Kochi and Hill Palace. The Hill Palace is the largest archaeological museum in Kerala and used to be the administrative office of the Rajas of Cochin.
Continue on to visit the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica and Pallipuram Fort. The Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is located within Fort Kochi and is one of the eight basilicas in India. It is described as one of the most impressive and finest churches in India. The Pallipuram Fort is the oldest existing European forts in India and was built by the Portuguese in 1503.
In the evening, return to the hotel and enjoy the last overnight stay of this tour.
Day 14 Departure day
Enjoy this last day with a filling breakfast at the hotel and then prepare to check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport. At the airport, connect for an onward destination.
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