Day 1: Arrive Chennai
On arrival at Delhi airport assistance & transfer to hotel (check in/out time 12pm).
Later city tour of Chennai. Visit Fort St. George & St Mary`s Church inside the fort built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. Kapaleeshwarar Temple a holy shrine of Lord Shiva originally built by the mighty Pallavas and rebuilt in 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings. Vadapalani Murugan Temple one of the most frequented places of worship for Hindus in Chennai. Government Museum built in the Indo - Sarcenic style it houses a rich collection of works of Raja Ravi Varma. Dakshinachitra Museum, one of the living - history museums. Santhome Cathedral a historical and ancient pilgrim centre, which was built during the 14th to the 15th century AD by the then reigning Portuguese. Drive Pass Marina Beach a 13kms long natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2: Chennai - Vellore (140kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Vellore via visiting Kanchipuram an ancient city famous as city of thousands temple.
On arrival check in at hotel. Later visit Sri Lakshmi Narayani Golden Temple situated at the foot of a small range of green hills. This temple is gilded with 1500kg of pure gold, double the dome of the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Also visit 16th-century Vellore Fort & Jalakandeswarar Temple inside the fort features with many ornate sculptures. O/n at hotel.
Day 3: Vellore - Trichy (280kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Trichy via visiting Tiruvannamalai a Hindu pilgrimage town. At the foot of sacred Arunachala Hill is the vast, ancient Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, with intricately carved gopurams (towers). Shiva is worshiped as Arunachalesvara and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamalai Amman.
Continue drive to Trichy check in at hotel. Evening attend Arti ceremony at Temple. O/n at hotel.
Day 4: Trichy - Madurai (135kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple the largest functional temple in the world. The temple complex along with the surrounding area covers a total area of 156 acres, there are 22 gopurams including India`s tallest 72 meters, 13 storey high. Many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and rulers from Vijayanagar. Rock Fort Temple the 83m high Rock Fort is the only outcrop in the flat land of the city. The rock is one of the oldest in the world-approximately 3800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. Also visit Jambukeswarar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, it houses five concentric walls, and seven gopurams.
Drive to Madurai check in at hotel. Later visit Meenakshi Temple one of the largest temple complexes in India built between the 16th to 18th centuries. Apart from the estimated 33 million sculptures there, the temple is absolutely absorbing with the endless rounds of ceremonies, prostration of countless devotees and glittering market stalls. Thirumalai Nayakar Palace built in 1636 AD by King Thirumalai Nayak, the palace depicts the perfect blend of Dravidian and Rajput styles. Also visit Alagar Koil, Tiruparankundram Murugan Temple and Palamuthirsolai Murugan Temple. O/n at hotel.
Day 5: Madurai - Rameshwaram (170kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Rameshwaram check in at hotel.
Later visit Ramanathaswamy Temple one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples with world longest corridor and immaculate carvings on pillars. The lingam in the Rameshwaram Temple was installed by Lord Rama but, the construction was led by several rulers over the centuries. Inside the temple, there are two lingams Ramalingam and Shivalingam (only Hindu can enter temple sanctum). Lakshmana Tirtham constructed in the loving memory of Lord Lakshman, brother of Lord Rama. Several wonderful sculptures of Lord Lakshmana have been carved out from marble and the temple has the statues of lord Rama and Goddess Sita too which signifies the spirit of unitedness that exisited between them. Also visit to Adams Bridge the chain of reefs, sandbanks and islets that almost connects Sri Lanka with India. According to legend, this is the series of stepping stones used by the monkey army, lead by Hanuman to cross the ocean in a bid to rescue Sita from the clutch of Ravana. O/n at hotel.
Day 6: Rameshwaram - Thanjavur (250kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Thanjavur. Enroute visit Chettinad the region well known for its 19th-century mansions, whose wide courtyards and spacious rooms are embellished with marble and teak. Construction materials, decorative items, and furnishings were mostly imported from East Asian countries and Europe. The marble was brought from Italy, chandeliers and teak from Burma, crockery from Indonesia, crystals from Europe and wall-to-wall mirrors from Belgium. Many of these mansions were built using a type of limestone known as Karai. They were built by men who once traded in everything from salt to gems. But in the mid-20th century, most Chettiar families moved to cities. Their palatial homes were left in the custody of caretakers, who maintained them for those rare occasions, such as weddings or Pongal, the Tamil harvest festival, when the family came to visit.
Arrive Thanjavur check in at hotel. Later visit Brihadeshwara Temple, built in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in UNESCO world heritage site. The shrine is a 216 feet structure, the sanctum is dotted with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods and the statue of Nandi the Bull welcomes at the entrance. Vijayanagar Fort built by Nayaks and partly by Maratha rulers during the early 1550 AD. Thanjavur Art Gallery, located in the Thanjavur Palace has an exquisite collection of ancient sculptures and coins. Saraswathi Mahal Library another section of the Palace where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts are preserved. O/n at hotel.
Day 7: Thanjavur - Pondicherry (180kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Pondicherry via visiting The Great Living Chola Temples at Darasuram a storehouse of art and architecture with 85 feet high vimana. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deitys consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple. And Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple built in Tamil style of architecture with a square plan. The temple complex includes Nandi Mandapa, Alankar Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Mukha Mandapa and Ardha Mandapa. Also visit Nataraja Temple dedicated to the dancing posture of Lord Shiva at Chidambaram. Constructed during the 10th century when Chidambaram used to be the capital of the Chola dynasty, the architecture of temple represents the link between arts and spirituality. Arrive Pondicherry check in and O/n at hotel.
Day 8: Pondicherry - Chennai (160kms)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit Aurovil & Pondicherry Museum. Drive pass through stunning French Quarters, which include French consulate, Raj Nivas, Government Square, Churches & French schools.
Later drive to Chennai enroute stop at Mahabalipuram tovisit Monolithic Temples Five Rathas an excellent examples of the evolution of Dravidian style architecture. Krishnas Butterball a gigantic granite boulder resting on a short incline. 7th century Cave Temples cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style. Shore Temple built with blocks of granite in 7th century during the rule of King Narsimha-Varman II Rajasimha the temple complex consisting of two Siva temples and a carving of Anantasayana Vishnu. The Arjuna`s Penance an enormous rock-cut relief, one of the largest in the whole world.
Continue drive to Chennai and drop off to airport.
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