Arrival at Cochin
On arrival, you will be welcomed by Vacations International representative at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Relax and unwind as you wish. Overnight, stay at the hotel (Vehicle for transfer only)
Start your exploration of India with a guided city tour of the island of Cherai. Visit the 19th century Azheekkal Sree Varaha Venkateswara, Portuguese Fort, Evening – Your South India Tour Director or Vacations International Facilitator will pick you up from your hotel and accompany you to a local theatre where you get to experience Kerala’s ancient performing art, a Kathakali dance performance.
Cochin. (B, L, D)
Explore the fascinating port city of Cochin and marvel in its culture and architecture, visit Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays and Saturdays – will be facilitated on other days for some departures), St. Francis Church, and most photogenic of Cochin’s attractions, the Chinese fishing nets. In the evening you are driven to an experience that is the highlight of many of our guests’ time in Kerala.
Cochin - Backwaters cruise. (B,L,D)
In the morning drive to the backwaters. Backwater Arrive at Alleppey and you are assisted in boarding your houseboat.
Backwaters Cruise – Thekkady (Periyar National Park). (B,L,D)
In the morning drive to Thekkady and on arrival you are assisted with your check-in to your scenic nature resort. Afternoon – Visit a neighboring spice plantation where an experienced naturalist will guide you through scores of different spice plants and illustrate their medicinal and gastronomical properties.
In the morning drive to Lake Periyar and embark on a lake cruise on the spectacular lake. There is a break for Lunch after the cruise. Afternoon -you can choose to enjoy your scenic pastoral resort and its surroundings this afternoon, or you can opt to visit Elephant Junction. Later visit to Elephant Junction option where you can mingle with the trainers and other staff as they go about their daily Life to feed and assist in bathing the gentle giants, as well as experience elephant back rides.
Thekkady - Madurai
In the morning drive to Madurai and on arrival Madurai check-in to your hotel. Evening - Attend the iconic and impressive evening Palli Arai ceremony at the mammoth Sree Meenakshi Temple Complex with your guide.
In the morning proceed for a guided city tour of Madurai. By far the main attraction of Madurai is the great Sree Meenakshi Temple. Its Hall of a Thousand Pillars is a fabulous collection of elaborately sculpted and painted deities as well as other creatures from Hindu religious annals. After you leave the temple you are driven to nearby Thirumalai Nayak Palace. Constructed in 1636 A.D. by an Italian architect, the palace is an interesting confluence of Dravidian, Islamic and European architectural styles.
Madurai – Karaikudi (Chettinad)
In the morning drive to nearby Karaikudi and on arrival check-in at hotel. In the afternoon enjoy the famous banana leaf lunch, with its multitude of courses and dishes, will not fail to impress you. Afternoon - Enjoy a guided exploration of Chettinad. Karaikudi is the capital of the Chettinad region, a fascinating rural area made up of 76 villages and small towns. Another stopover will be at a handloom weaving plant where, again, an ancient set of skills is practiced even today.
Chettinad – Tanjore - Trichy – Mahabalipuram - Chennai
In the morning proceed to Tanjore by surface. you will be driving by cashew plantations. A brief stop at a rural roadside cashew roasting and shelling operation will provide great photo opportunities. The Great Living Chola Brihadishwara Temple Temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and your day will start with a guided visit to the most amazing example of these, the Brihadishwara. Afternoon drive to Tanjore Museum. The Tanjore Museum has a fascinating collection of ancient temple stone sculptures and lost wax process bronzes, gathered from all over the region. Later continue drive to Trichy and arrive at Trichy and you will stop for a photo opportunity at the ancient Tiruchirapali Rock Fort and Temple Complex. The complex is perched on an immense boulder that is 256 feet high. The Vinayak temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesh and built in 580 A.D., is located at the very summit. At the base of the boulder is the Manikka Vinayakar temple, a large and impressive Hindu house of worship, and a brief exploration of this is included. Evening - You are driven to the Trichy airport and assisted in boarding the late evening flight to Chennai. Arrive Chennai and transfer to Mahabalipuram for overnight stay.
Proceed for a guided city tour of exploration of the ancient port of Mahabalipuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit to The famous Pancha Rathas (Five Chariots) Temples, the Penance of Bhagirath (also known as Arjuna’s Penance), the Shore Temple, the massive bas-relief Descent of the Ganges and the eight Mandapams (Shallow halls carved out of sheer rock) are all located within the small coastal community. Late afternoon – Enjoy a guided walk down the beach as this allows you to mingle with the local fishing community and their colorful wooden boats. And also visit to 8th century Shore Temple, from which you are only a stone’s throw away.
Enjoy a guided excursion to Kanchipuram. Its many Gopurams (temple domes) can be seen from a long ways away as you approach the city. Kanchipuram history can be traced back for about three millenniums, and it was successively the capital of many South Indian dynasties. After touring Kanchipuram you will return to your resort in nearby Mahabalipuram.
In the morning as per your flight schedule transfer to Chennai airport in time for your outbound flight.