This short trip is a quick travel, though a comprehensive experience of the magnificent temples of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is one place in India where the elaborate architecture and brilliant sculptures of its ancient temples, leave all its tourists spellbound with their awe-inspiring beauty. No wonder it is known as "the temple city of India". With almost all the temples built during ancient and medieval times, a visit to these temples provides you with a deep insight into brilliant architectural, sculptural and artistic skills of the engineers, architects and artisans of the bygone era. These temples also showcase the opulent and lavish tastes of the erstwhile royal kings, be it Cholas, Pallavas or Nayakas. Standing tall as the backbone of the Tamil culture, these temples are today, India’s precious jewels adding to its rich history and heritage.
With a mix of 4 star and 3 star hotels, the itinerary is specially designed keeping in mind a comfortable and hassle-free stay. A private sedan car (Toyota Etios or similar) with chauffeur at your disposal will add to the comfort level. There will be private English speaking guides to tell you the inside stories and history of the wonderful temples.
Arrive at Chennai in the morning. Private car will pick you from Chennai airport and transfer you to Mahabalipuram. The beauty of this place is not only due to the magnificent ancient architecture but the vast casuarinas trees, the silvery sandy beach the classical hand male crafts around have made them all to form what is a collective splendor.
Reach Mahabalipuram by noon. Check-in at the hotel. After a little rest head out for Mahabalipuram sightseeing in the afternoon. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage monuments of Mahabalipuram. Visit Shore Temple, the most famous monument of the town. It is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th Century CE. Afterwards visit Pancha Ratha. The Pancha Ratha are a set of 5 different monuments. Each one is called a ratha and is named after the Pandavas and their family. Then visit Cave Temples, located on the hillock of the town. They are cut and decorated with panels in the Mamalla style of the Pallava period in the 7th century.
Dinner & overnight stay will be at hotel in Mahabalipuram.
After breakfast take a day trip to Kanchipuram. The city was also a religious center of advanced education for Jainism and Buddhism between the 1st and 5th centuries. Out of the 108 holy temples of the Hindu god Vishnu, 14 are located in Kanchipuram. The city is well known for its hand-woven silk sarees. Visit Kailasanathar Temple which is the oldest structure in the town dedicated to lord Shiva. This Hindu temple in the Dravidian architectural style was built from 685-705 CE. The low-slung sandstone compound contains a large number of carvings, including many half-animal deities which were popular during the early Dravidian architectural period. Later visit Varadharaja Perumal Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Spread across 23 acres of land, it is not just one temple but a complete temple complex with many temples, pillared halls & pavilions and tanks. Later visit Ekambareswarar Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva. The temple complex covers 25 acres, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the southern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 58.5216 metres (192 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India.
Reach back Mahabalipuram by evening. Evening is at your leisure. Dinner & overnight stay at will be at hotel in Mahabalipuram.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
After breakfast check out from the hotel and head towards Pondicherry. The union territory of Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry; generally known as ‘Pondy’) was under French rule until 1954. Some people here still speak French (and English with French accents). Reach Pondicherry before noon. Check in at the hotel on arrival.
In the noon head out for sightseeing, visit Arulmigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple, dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha. The monumental interiors of the temple are decorated with forty incarnations and forms of Lord Ganesha, carved on the stone walls of the temple. Then visit The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an oriental specimen of Gothic architecture. It contains rare stained-glass panels depicting events from the life of Christ and saints of the Catholic Church. Later take a heritage walk of French Town. Explore the French Town by literally walking down the lanes of history. You won’t believe how much history you had walked past. Finish the day at the famous Promenade Beach, which is very good place for relaxing. Overnight stay will be at hotel in Pondicherry.
After breakfast check out from the hotel and head towards Thanjavur. Thanjavur (or Tanjore) is a temple site in the Tamil Nadu state of southern India. Thanjavur was the capital of the great Chola (Cola) king Rajaraja I, and it was he who commissioned the site’s magnificent temple. Reach Thanjavur by noon. Check in at hotel on arrival.
Then head out to visit Thanjavur Royal Palace & Museum, one of the ancient museums in the town which holds ancient items, images, paintings, sculptures. The most important fact is that this museum gives every detail about the earlier period. The paintings of the old Chola age, the sculptures and the statues of the Pallava dynasty and Chola dynasty enrich the place and make it significant. In the evening head out for pooja ceremony at The Brihadeeshwara Temple. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple is a perfect illustration of the great heights achieved in the field of architecture by the Chola rulers. It is one of the largest South Indian temples and an exemplary example of a fully realized Dravidian architecture. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.
Reach back at the hotel by late evening. Dinner & overnight stay will be at hotel in Thanjavur.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
After breakfast check out from the hotel and head towards Madurai. The cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, Madurai is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of India. Ruled by Pandya kings for the longest time in its history, it is called as the 'Lotus City' as it was planned and built in the shape of a lotus. Having trade ties with ancient Rome, the place holds a great cultural heritage.
On the way take a short trip to Tiruchirapalli and visit Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple dedicated to lord Vishnu. The temple occupies an area of 155 acres (63 ha) with 81 shrines, 21 towers, 39 pavilions. This temple is the largest temple compound in India and one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Temple is mentioned in Tamil literature of the Sangam Era 1st to the 4th century AD.
Reach Madurai by evening. Check-in at the hotel on arrival. Overnight stay will be at hotel in Madurai.
After breakfast head out for exploring Madurai. Start with a visit to the Madurai Flower Market. This flower market is one of the biggest in Tamil Nadu and transacts as much as 10 tons of flowers each day. Then visit the renowned Meenakshi Amman Temple. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500-year-old city of Madurai. It is one of the oldest and most important temples in India. Located in the city of Madurai, the temple has a great mythological and historical significance. Meenakshi Temple was nominated as one of the wonders of the world, but couldn’t make it into the list of ‘Seven Wonders of the World’. However, the temple is definitely one of the ‘Wonders of India’. Afterwards visit Gandhi Museum in Madurai, a memorial museum which was built in 1959 for Mahatma Gandhi. It is one of the five great Gandhi Museums in the country which depict the life of the Father of the nation and India's freedom struggle from 1757 until 1947.
In the evening enjoy the Food tour. Foodies will love this evening tour which will take you through the bustling Madurai street food scene. Go to several popular local food stalls and savor delectable south Indian flavors at a famous local restaurants. Later in evening head out for Pooja ceremony at Meenakshi temple. Overnight stay will be at hotel in Madurai.
After breakfast check out from the hotel and transfer to Madurai Airport. The private car will drop you at airport to catch your return flight.
To all the good things, comes an end. Bid farewell with the memories of amazing fun-filled 07 days of the Temple Run through the historic Tamil Nadu state of India, worth remembering for the lifetime!
Moods: Culture & Insight