Day 01: Arrival / CochinLate night arrival. Meeting and assistance upon arrival as our representatives welcome you and escort you to your car.
Whilst the room keys and check-in is organized, our representative would introduce the tour to you and hand over the documents to you.
Welcome to India, or as we say 'atithi devo bhava' (the guest is an incarnation of God). Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you!
Day 02: ChennaiFollowing a leisurely breakfast we proceed on a guided tour of one of India's largest cities- Madras is the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The Tamillians are the proud inheritors of a rich cultural heritage, which is one of the main reasons for their beliefs of superiority over the hybridized culture of North India. Fort St. George (1653), built by the British, presently houses the State secretariat and the legislative assembly. The Fort has an interesting museum with fascinating collections of memorabilia from the early days of the British Raj. St. Mary's Church (1678-80), was the first English church and the oldest surviving in India. The High court building, built of red sandstone has an interesting archaeological section and a bronze gallery. The former has an interesting collection of all major and ancient south Indian dynasties. The bronze section has interesting collections of Chola (9th century) bronze art. The High Court, built in Indo-Sracenic style is supposed to be the largest judicial building in the world after the Court Of England. The Kapaleshwar temple is an ancient Shiva temple in typical Dravidian (south Indian) style. Near the temple, the San Thome Cathedral (originally built in 1504), is a Roman Catholic Church believed to have the remains of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Day 03: Chennai / Kanchipuram / Mahabalipuram / Pondicherry (205 Kms)After breakfast we will spend the day among picturesque villages, crashing coastline, and rock-cut temples offering a window on daily life in an ancient Indian kingdom. Visit Mahabalipuram, seaside capital of the Pallava kings, famed for its shore temples and remarkable, lifelike rock carvings of animals, deities and village life 1400 years ago. Good seafood and a fine beach are among the other attractions to sample in town, before continuing to Kanchipuram, the golden Pilgrimage City of silks and shrines. On our way we stop to watch some fishermen hollowing out canoes from tree trunks. You could also witness similar craft being hauled out of the sea and fishermen unloading their catch, watched by fish-eagles hoping, no doubt, for a share.
Kanchipuram, a Hindu Holy City and capital of the Pallava dynasty from the 7th to 9th centuries AD, is renowned for temples and silk, and you will see plenty of both. The temples range in date from the 8th to the 17th century. The latest building was impressive in its size, the height of its gopuram, the intricacy of its carvings and wealth of colour, but, the earliest temples, of golden sandstone, are more aesthetically pleasing, the only colour provided is by a flock of ring-necked parakeets.
Day 09: Cardamom HouseBesides experiencing a great, traditional accommodation in stunning natural settings, we also want you to experience a typical back of beyond unhurried Athoor village that has remained frozen in time. We suggest that you simply stroll through the village at your own pace, absorbing the atmosphere and watching as the rural life unfolds. On the track you will pass a Hindu Temple situated under a Banyan Tree, Continuing your stroll you will pass Banana Plantations, fields of Chilli and Groundnuts, and of course hundreds upon hundreds of Coconut Trees. The villagers whose Way of life is dependent on agriculture, are Very friendly and will welcome you. Some of the Cardamom House staff either hail from, or are living in Athoor and will ensure that they are there to help you, introduce you to people and help with the devilishly difficult Tamil language, Athoor is truly an unspoiled Indian Village waiting to be discovered.
Day 10: Cardamom House / Periyar (150 kms)After breakfast we will drive to Periyar.
Upon arrival check into the Spice Village Resort. Set in the heart of the Cardamom Hills of Kerala, Spice Village is an unprecedented tourist destination, offering a rare opportunity to enjoy South India's wildlife and beauty. The village lies just outside Periyar Tiger Reserve, and a stay here is the perfect way to appreciate and respect the environment. This is a place for everyone who loves nature: somewhere to fill your lungs with fresh mountain air, to savour the rich fragrance of cinnamon and cloves, to watch young elephants drinking at the water's edge. The resort itself provides every comfort the modern traveller could wish for - luxurious accommodation, mouth-watering cuisine, and an exclusive swimming pool.
Recreating the mood of the local tribal community, our architects have designed individual cottages amongst a landscaped spice garden. Each dwelling is thatched with elephant grass and offers simple luxury and privacy. Throughout the village, the atmosphere is relaxed and enchanting.
Day 06: Kanadukathan (Chettinad) After breakfast we will explore Chettinad. The place is rich in cultural heritage, art and architecture, and is well known for its houses, embellished with marble and Burma teak, wide courtyards, spacious rooms, and for its 18th Century mansions. Local legend has it that their walls used to be polished with a paste made out of eggwhites to give a smooth texture. We explore the temples of the region. Originally built to appease the Gods, the temples of Chettinad stand testimony to the spiritual beliefs of its denizens. The temples are more than rock and stone. Scattered over the whole place, each temple has its own tank called oorani where water lilies are grown, and used for holy rituals. Even today much of chettinad's daily tidings are centered around the festivities around the temple; which as inferred are much revered and frequented. Among the many famous temples, a few are Vairavan Kovil temple, Karpaga Vinayakar temple, Kundrakudi Murugan temple, Kottaiyur Sivan temple.
Day 07: Kanadukathan / Madurai (90 Kms)After a leisurely breakfast we will drive to Madurai
Upon arrival check in to the Hotel Taj Garden Retreat
Madurai is one of the oldest cities of southern India. It has been a center of pilgrimage, for centuries. The Meenakshi temple, the main architectural attraction here, is an excellent example of Dravidian architecture, with gopurams or multi pillared halls, covered from top to bottom, in a profusion of multicolored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures.
However, besides the temple, our tour includes a walk along the main street leading to the temple. The well-organized confusion caused by pilgrims in traditional clothes, pavement shops of all shades, holy men in robes of different colours etc add an unmistakable colour and atmosphere to this fascinating Temple City.
Day 08: Madurai / Cardamom House (70 Kms) Following a leisurely breakfast, we will drive to Cardamom House situated in stunningly beautiful surroundings on a hillside of the Western Ghats over-looking a monsoon dependent 400-acre lake. Cardamom House is owned and managed by Dr. Chris Lucas, a retired English physician, ably assisted by 6 Indian staff. All rooms have either twin or separate double-bedded accommodation, face south, and have modern western style bathroom facilities en-suite with solar heated hot water. The water comes from deep bore wells and is potale. With just two guests to each staff member we can assure that you will, be personally looked after and "spoiled rotten" during your stay. The meals are prepared using only the freshest produce purchased daily from the local markets and the house takes great pride in the variety of food that they serve.
Day 04: Pondicherry Following a leisurely breakfast, we will proceed on a tour of the city- Pondicherry. More than anything else, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived for the most parts of their lives, is a major attraction of this little city. The Pondicherry Museum is home to some of the most exquisite collections on architecture and sculpture. Pondicherry also has a pleasant beach alongside promenade and historical monuments. Some of the other interesting sites includes the Bharti and Bharthidasan Memorial museums and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Day 05: Pondicherry / Tanjore / Kanadukathan (Chettinad) (245 Kms)After breakfast we will drive to Kanadukathan (Chettinad) enroute we will visit Tanjore
Tanjore also known as Thanjavur(The rice bowl of TAMIL NADU). Proceed for sight seeing of Tanjore. Visit the famous Chola Temple of Brihadeeshwara - A WORLD HERITAGE MONUMENT. Its bronze and handicrafts make Tanjore one of the highlights of the tour to South India. The majesty of the palaces and art gallery attached to the temple is really awe-inspiring. It is also famous for the silk. From here we continue our drive to Trichy
From here we will drive to Kanadukathan (Chettinad). It is a region of the Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu. Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars (Nagarathar) a prosperous banking and business community. The region is well known for a few things. The food here is special. Many of Chettinad cook has melted the palates of international clientele, they woo: at their entrepreneurial restaurants. Chettinad food, now is one of the many reasons why people get to know Chettinad. Chettinad food is essentially spicy, with a standard full meal consisting of cooked dhal, eggplant (brinjal) curry, drumstick sambar, ghee for flavouring rice, and sweet meats like payasam and paal paniyaram.
Upon arrival, check into Chettinadu Mansion. This 100 year's old architectural marvel is situated in Chettinadu, one of the Hidden Treasures of Tamil Nadu. It's 126 rooms and sheer size of the marriage hall, tall pillars, beautiful balconies, and hidden lofts the size of a large room in the false ceilings are features typical of a by gone era of gracious living. Chettinadu Mansion is a Heritage Home bringing to its guests the living style of the Chettiars - the business tycoons of the South who made their livelihood in Burma in the last century. Chettinadu is equally famous for its astrological talents and of course the world famous Chettinadu Cuisine.