Drive to Mahabalipuram visiting Kanchipuram enroute.
Kanchipuram (64 kms from Madras) is the ancient capital of the Pallavas famous as a city of 1000 Temples and still has 124 shrines. The first temple dedicated to Shiva was built in the 7th and 8th century and has paintings on the walls. Temples of Ekambaswara, Kailasanatha, Sri Kamakshi and Varadarajaswamy are of interest. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silks. Overnight Mahabalipuram.
Morning city tour. The city of Mahabalipuram is famous for the seven pagodas. Here on the seashore is an interesting group of ancient rock hewn temples which are the examples of Dravidian style of Architecture. Later drive to Pondicherry. Overnight Pondicherry.
The capital of French India before independence, Pondicherry traces its origin to Saint Agasthya, the revered sage of the south & excavations near-by reveal that a Roman settlement existed here 2000 years ago. It was the theatre of many a battle between the British. Later drive to Thanjavur. Overnight Thanjavur.
The beautiful Chola Temple of Brihadeeshwara is capped by a monolithic cupola made of a single granite block weighing 80 tons which was taken to the top with the help of a 6 km long ramp, an old technique used by the Egyptians for building pyramids. Its bronzes and handicrafts make Tanjore one of the highlights of a visit to South India. Later drive to Trichy. Overnight Trichy.
Morning city tour. Trichy was the citadel of the Chola dynasty in the medieval period. In the 18th century it witnessed the Carnatic wars fought between the French and the English. Lord Robert Clive's house is still there to see and so is the Danish Church. The Rock-Fort is the landmark of Trichy. A climb of 434 steps leads to the ancient temple of Ganapati on top and a further climb to a Shiva temple. Later drive to Madurai. Overnight Madurai.
Morning city tour. Visit the great Meenakshi Temple dedicated to the consort of Lord Shiva with its towering gopurams (rising high above the surrounding country side). Later, visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace - A gracious building in the Indo saracenic style, famous for the Stucco work on its domes & arches. Also visit the Alagar Hills and Tirupara Kundran Rock temple. Overnight Madurai.
Morning drive to Periyar. The earliest sanctuary to be set up in 1934, it extends to 777 square kms & forms part of the high mountain ranges, the Western Ghats. Wild life can be seen while cruising on Periyar Lake in a motor boat. Amongst the animals which can be seen are elephants, wild boar, sambar, tiger, leopard, wild dog, langur monkeys, etc. Overnight Periyar.
Drive to Alleppey. Embark a rice houseboat. The coastal town of Alleppey on the Arabian Sea is the Venice of the East, for the numerous canals that meander through the town. Bathing in the backwaters on the Vemband Lake is refreshing. This town holds a thrilling event of snake-boat race every year in August. It is also known for its cashew nuts, coir trade, rice, pepper crops & coconuts. Night on board.
Drive to Cochin. Overnight Cochin.
Morning city tour. Cochin is the natural harbour created by the famed underwater Malabar mud-banks whose quality ensures that the rougher the seas are outside the calmer the waters are within the Harbour. Vasco-de-Gama placed it on the world map. It has a Jewish synagogue, Portuguese churches, mosques and Hindu temples. Watch the Chinese Fishing Nets. Overnight Cochin.
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Transfer to Cochin airport.