Traveling off of the beaten tracks in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, South of India

Chinese_Fishing_Nets,_Cochin

Each region of India encompasses a different experience all together: a unique journey in itself! We would like to provide some itineraries to give you some ideas, including suggestions of tourist attractions to visit, allowing you to discover the regions of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, located in the southern part of India. The best time to enjoy a pleasant weather is between December and February.

Day 1: Departure from Montreal

Day 2: Arrival in Chennai (Madras) (IN THE REGION OF TAMIL NADU)

Arriving late at night at Chennai (Madras) airport, the door of South India, one of the oldest and the fourth largest city in India, still retaining the best of indian traditions. Upon arrival reception and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

Days 3-4: Chennai (Madras)

After breakfast, a historical city tour of Chennai : The Fort St. Georges built by the East India Company in 1640 where the state government headquarters are, the Church of St. Mary built in 1680, which is the oldest anglican church in India and the Santhome Cathedral. Continue your visit in a more traditional angle to discover the two most significant temples for Hindus: the Kapaleeswarar temple and also the Shri Parthasarathy. Finally arriving at Marina Beach, one of the longest beaches in the world, or Elliot’s Beach. Overnight at the hotel.

After breakfast, early in the morning, visit the traditional markets Ana Salai and Pondy Bazaar. If you wish to obtain designer items, visit the Ranganathan shopping street. In the afternoon, leave the chaos of the city and discover the Guindy national park where beautiful hiking opportunities await you. By late afternoon, back to Chennai and enjoy the T-Nagar night market. Overnight at hotel.

Days 5-6: Chennai / Kancheepuram / Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) – 141 Km

After breakfast, drive to Kancheepuram, known as the “Golden City” of the thousands temples. It is one of seven sacred cities of hindou and it used to be the capital of the Pallava dynasty. Visit the temples: Ekambereshwara, Kamakshiamman, Kailasanatha. Then drive to Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram. The city is considered the cradle of South India temple’s architecture and an open-air museum. Visit the temple of Arjuna’s Penance, with sculptures carved out of the rocks; “Krishna butter bull”, the very significant rock to the inhabitants of the region, the Mandapam, temple of the five Rathas (monolithic chars) with sculpture of Krishna. Overnight at the hotel.

After breakfast, stroll to the historical port of Pallavas, trading between the 6th and 8th century. Come and explore the caves to find tigers. Back in town, resting on the quiet Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) superb beaches. Overnight at the hotel.

Days 7-8: Mahabalipuram / Pondicherry / Auroville – 137 Km

After breakfast, depart for Pondicherry, a former French colony near the beach. Stroll on foot or by bike easily through the city to admire the French influenced architecture and the beautiful botanical garden. Visit the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and the well animated Hindu temple of Sri Vinayagar Manakula dedicated to Ganesh. The city of Pondicherry is also dotted with several temples and schools master of Sri Aurobindo. Finish the day with the discovery of artisanal paper factory. Overnight at the hotel.

After breakfast, spend your day visiting Auroville, ‘’City of Aurora’’, created by the Mother, the French companion of Sri Aurobindo master. Auroville is an international community gathering 33 nationalities, living self-sufficiently and being innovative in terms of protection of the ecology. Their main temple and meeting place is called the Matrimandir.

Days 9-10-11: Pondicherry / Tiruvannamalai – 97 Km

After breakfast, depart by road to Tiruvannamalai, through Nilgiri mountains chain. Beautiful tea plantations dotting the hills scenery will bring you into a state of tranquility. Stay 3 days (or more) hiking in nature, enjoying tea tasting and visit the various ashrams and holy temples of the region. Nights at the ashram.

Days 12-13: Tiruvannamalai / Madurai – 279 Km

After breakfast, depart by road to Madurai, the city is known as “City of Temples of South India” and is one of the oldest cities of India. It is a learning and pilgrim center since centuries. Its history dates back over 2000 years and was governed by Pandya, Maurya, Chola, Nayak and even by the English. In the afternoon, visit Madurai Meenakshi temple with its pointed towers that are visible for kilometers. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his companion Goddess Meenakshi. The important aspects of the temple are the golden lotus pond, the great hall of a thousand columns and the Art Museum of the temple. The Thirumalai Naikan palace, built during the 18th century, is a fine example of Indo-sarracenic architecture. It is quite remarkable on both the proportion and size of its huge passages arches supported by carved and painted columns that surround the large courtyard with trees. In the evening, watch the sunset ceremony of Shiva. Overnight at the hotel.

After breakfast, continue your tour of Madurai. Discovery other important temples: Koodal Azhagar, Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakkulam showing superb examples of Dravidian architecture. Learn more at the Gandhi Museum. Overnight at the hotel.

 

Day 14: Madurai / Periyar (IN THE REGION OF KERALA) – 137 Km

After breakfast, depart by road to Periyar. In the afternoon, boat ride on Lake Periyar to watch animals (wild elephants, monkeys, buffaloes, antelopes etc.) and birds on the lake. We also find the famous alpine goat. Then visit a spice market in Kumily. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 15-16: Periyar / Munnar – 109 Km

After breakfast, continue your drive to Munnar. Stay 2 days (or more) hiking in nature through tea, coffee and cardamom plantations dotting the hills. A true peace haven! Stay in one of many small villas with the locals. Even the small town of Munnar is a beautiful example of diversity, where we find a hindu temple, a mosque and a catholic church next to each other. Night in a villa.

Days 17-18: Munnar / Cochin (Fort Cochin) – 112 Km

After breakfast, go to the friendly city of Kochi, the largest natural port of India and “Queen of the Arabian Sea”, famous for its spice trade with many countries. Kochi assimilated the Christian, Jewish, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese and English lifestyles. City tour by bike: Bolgalty Dutch palace, built in 1555 with a large and remarkable Ramayana frescoes. Continue your visit by the Pardesi Synagogue and the Portuguese Church of St-Francis, built in 1510.
After breakfast, take a boat cruise in the Bay of Kochi, where we see the huge Chinese fishing nets lining the shore. Enjoy white sand beaches located in the surrounding islands. Dinner at the art center to attend a traditional Kathakali dance performance. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 19: Kochi (Fort Cochin) / Alleppey (Allappuzha) / Kottayam – 185 Km

After breakfast, depart by road to Alleppey, crossing very lush landscapes, and coconut plantations. Alleppey is known as the ‘’Venice of the East’’ and also for its “Backwaters” (inland lakes). Enjoy the unique experience of discovering the “Backwaters” aboard a houseboat partly made of straw. Your team will cook on board to make you delicious seafood in the comfort of your boat. You will go to Kottayam. Overnight on the boat.

Days 20-21-22: Kottayam / Varkala – 99 Km

After breakfast on board, continue your boat excursion up to Kottayam. Upon arrival, drive to Varkala. Rest at Varkala beach, located at the foot of the huge orange cliffs. It includes three long main beaches of 17 km. Why not learn to surf. It is also a good place to receive ayurvedic treatments at several centers and hotels. Ayurveda, the medicine with plants, actually comes from the Kerala region and is now known worldwide. Some small restaurants in Varkala also offer the opportunity to take cooking classes. The delicious southern cuisine is based on coconut and plenty of spices. Take a bike to explore the Hindu temples of the small town: Sivgiri Mutt temple and Janardnanswamy temple.

Day 23: Varkala / Trivandrum – 51 Km

After breakfast, take the road to the Kerala’s capital, Trivandrum. Take this opportunity to stroll through the Hindu temples and visit Padmanabhapuram castle. The city is also full of interesting art galleries, such as Sree Chirta, to do some shopping before you return. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 24: Trivandrum / Flight back to Montreal

(Ariane)

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