• Excellent service. Excellent People - Ann Sharkey, UK
  • Very well organized trip. Our driver Ashok was excellent. - Laura Berick, US
  • Thank you for looking after us so well. All guides and representatives were outstanding - John Basil Petrof, Canada
  • Shall recommend your services to all my friends. All the best - John Cody, Australia
  • Very professional people. All guides and reps were good. No force shopping which I liked the most - S. Holland, Canada
  • Thank you for taking good care. All my group members were happy and pleased with your services.- Julien Brian, Australia

Highlights of South & North India (15Nights/16Days)

Places covered : Chennai - Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry - Tanjore - Madurai - Periyar - Houseboat - Cochin - Delhi - Jaipur - Agra - Delhi

Day 01 Arrive Chennai

Arrive Chennai during early morning.

CHENNAI: (formerly known as Madras) the capital of Tamil Nadu lies along the coast of the Bay of Bengal developed after 1639 when the British East India Company established a fort and trading post at the small fishing village of Chennai. Over the past three and a half centuries, the small fishing village has grown into a bustling metropolis which is especially known for its spaciousness which is lacking in other Indian cities. This characteristic is exemplified by the long esplanade called the Marina and which is lined by impressive buildings which remind the casual visitor of the long and inseparable association the city has had with the British. Even elsewhere in the city, one cannot fail to notice the dominant British influences in the form of old cathedrals, buildings in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, wide tree lined avenues.

Meeting and assistance on Arrival and transfer to the Hotel.

Afternoon: city sightseeing tour includes a visit to the Government Museum and Art Gallery, to see the art and bronze gallery (closed on Fridays and public holidays) and also a visit to the famous 16th century Kapaleeshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, sacred to Tamil Shivadieties. Non-Hindus are only allowed up to the outer courtyard. Later drive past Fort St. George, Marina Beach and San Thome Cathedral.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 02 Chennai-Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram (141 kms 3 and half hrs)

Morning, leave for Mahabalipuram by surface en-route visiting “KANCHIPURAM” which is one of Hinduism's seven most sacred cities. This "Golden city of a Thousand Temples" dates back to the early Cholas in the 7th century A.D. Only around 70 temples of the original 1000 old temple complex are still intact and the most famous of them is the Kailasanatha Temple built with sandstone in the early seventh century A.D. Kanchipuram is famous for its silk weaving.

MAHABALIPURAM: The history of Mahabalipuram dates back to two thousand years, it contains nearly forty monuments of different types including an "open air bas relief" which is the largest in the world, for centuries it has been a centre of pilgrimage, it figures in the early annals of the British search for the picturesque in India in the 18th century, today it attracts shoals of foreigners in search of relaxation and sea bathing, and most strange of all, it has an atomic power plant for neighbour. A small library has been written on it. Over its history and that of its monuments a number of scholarly controversies rage. Mahabalipuram was already a centre of pilgrimage when, in the 7th century Mamalla made it a seaport and began to make temples fashioned of rock. It was through Mahabalipuram that many Indian colonists, who included sages and artists, migrated to Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka's national chronicle, the "Mahavamsa" testifies to this fact.

On arrival in Mahabalipuram, check-in at the hotel.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 03 In Mahabalipuram

Morning visit Mahabalipuram which occupies a stunning position on a rocky outcrop between the beach and a lagoon. Built by the pallava rulers in the seventh century the complex comprises of 14 cave-temples, nine monolithic "Rathas", three stone temples and two relief sculptured rock panels. These two rock-panels give a graphic description of Arjuna's penance when he prayed for the powers of Shiva and form the largest Bass Relief in the world. Particularly of interest is the shore temple built on the water's edge with an east-facing altar designed to catch the rising Sub, this has now been declared a World Heritage Site.

Rest of the day free.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 04 Mahabalipuram- Pondicherry (132 kms 3 hrs)

Morning, leave for Pondicherry by surface.

PONDICHERRY: Like most ancient .cities, the origin of Pondicherry lies hurried in legends. It could, have been the mythical 'Podhigai' said to have beech the sacred abode of the legendary Sage Agusthia or and it could be the now forgotten 'Vedhspuri' a settlement of scholars well-versed in the vedas. Excavations in the Arikamedu area near Pondicherry have brought to light the remains ofa trading port whichhad connections with the Grecko-Roman world more than a century before the down of the Christian Era. Having remained the capital of the erstwhile French India, the legacies in Pondicherry have a special flavour not found anywhere in the Indian sub-continent. The French town-sense, neatly laid roads, wide and vibrant beach promenade French colonial history, the eventful life of Joseph Francois Dupleix (whose magnificent statue watches Goubert Avenue pensively from its southerncorner), the Mansion of Ananda Ranga Pillai 'the Diarist', architecturally handsome churches and public buildings of a bygoneera, all add up to the French connection package.

On arrival in Pondicherry, check-in at hotel.

Afternoon: Half day sightseeing of Pondicherry whose association traces its origin to Saint Agasthya, the revered sage of the South. Visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram - the final resting place of Sri Aurobindo, a Saint-cum-Yogi who synthesized yoga and modern science. It is also the final resting place of the 'Moter'. Also visit the museum (which has rooms furnished with period furniture of French India) Church of Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 05 Pondicherry- Tanjore (171 kms 4 hrs)

Morning, leave for Tanjore by surface.

TANJORE: About a thousand years ago, Thanjavur was the capital of the powerful Chola dynasty. Today, it is the little town set amidst the lush green rice fields of the Cauvery delta. Magnificent temples still bear witness to the splendour of Chola architecture. Thanjavur is an established centre of learning and its Saraswati Mahal Library instituted by the Maratha ruler Serfoji, hasan extensive collection of over 30,000 manuscripts, palm leaf inscriptions and books.

On arrival in Tanjore, check-in at the Hotel.

Afternoon visit Chola temple of Brihadishwara. The temple 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 bronze and handicrafts make anjore one of the highlights of a visit to South India.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 06 Tanjore- Madurai via Trichy (200 kms 5 hrs)

Morning: leave for Madurai by surface en-route visiting Trichy. Visit ancient temples dedicated to Lord Ganapathi, 434 steps cut out into the rock side and interspersed with shrines, lead to the temple and yet another flight leads to the temple of Lord Shiva. The ascent is climaxed by magnificent view of the sacred Kaveri River. Visit Srirangam, a massive temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu which contains within its walls a bazaar, as well.

MADURAI: More than 2500 years old ancient city, situated on the banks of the river Vaigai Madurai is believed to have been built by the Pandyan King Kulasekara. Legend has it that drops of Maduram (nectar) fell from Lord Shiva's locks when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him. Madurai's history can be divided into four periods, beginning over 2000 years ago, when it was the capital of the Pandyan Kings. Apart from a brief period it fell to the Cholas, Madurai remain with Pandyan till the decline of the empire. The 200year old reign of the Natakas marked the golden era when art, architecture and learning scaled new heights.

On arrival in Madurai, check-in at the Hotel.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 07 In Madurai

Morning: city tour visiting Great Meenaskhi Temple Dedicated to the consort of Lord Shiva with its towersing Gopurams, rising high above the surrounding township. Later visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace - a gracious building in the Indo-Saracenic style, famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches.

Afternoon free.

Evening witness the Pooja Ceremony at Meenakshi Temple.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 08 Madurai- Periyar (142 kms 3 and half hrs)

Morning: leave for Periyar by surface.

PERIYAR: best known for its wildlife, is a must-see for all visitors to Kerala. The Periyar Lake lies at the heart of the sanctuary which is a veritable paradise for all wildlife lovers. Where else can one view the animals in their natural surroundings while cruising on the lake, or better still come within a few feet of a herd of wild elephants and still be at ease! The majestic gaur, deer, wild boar and the distinctive Nilgiri langur are often spotted along the lake as also water birds.

On arrival in Periyar, check-in at the Hotel.

Afternoon: Two hours boat trip on the lake are the usual way of touring the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Periyar Wild Life Sanctuary is one of the most important and frequently visited in India. Trips along the large artificial lake surrounded by dense forests is by itself value for money besides offering the opportunity to view wild life specially elephants, wild boar, etc.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 09 Periyar-Kottayam (118 kms 2 and half hrs)

Morning: leave for Kottayam by surface.

On arrival in Kottayam board house boat.

Full day cruise on the backwaters. The backwater cruise takes off through a network of canals with a backdrop of villages and coconut trees on the shores.

Overnight at House Boat.

Day 10 Allepey- Cochin (63 kms 1 and half hrs)

Disembark at Allepey and drive to Cochin.

COCHIN: Queen of the Arabian Sea. Believed to be the finest natural harbour in the world. With ferry rides commanding its breath taking view. As you cruise around man-made islands with lush green lawns sloping down to the water's edge. Cochin is the oldest European settlement in India. Recording a history of visitors who came, saw and stayed for hundreds of years. Layered impressions - Chinese, Arab, Jewish, British, French and Portuguese are contained within its environment.

On arrival in Cochin, check-in at hotel.

Afternoon: Half day tour of the satellite towns of Kochi (Cochin) and Ernakulam comprises visits to the Dutch Palace (closed on Fridays), the Jewish Synagogue - (which remains closed on Saturdays) St. Francis Church and the Santa Cruz Basilica. While driving along the coastline, at the Harbour's mouth, one can also view the unique and still-in-use "Chinese Fishing Nets" which were introduced by the Chinese traders in the 14th Century. The tour ends in the Fort Kochi area where you can walk through the historical Dutch and Portuguese buildings. Some parts of this nearly 500-year-old Fort are still amazingly well preserved. Also visit Jew Street which is famous for the antiques.

Evening: enjoy Kathakali Dance Performance. Kathakali is a ritualized dance form native to Kerala; elaborate costumes and makeup, as seen here, are the norm. Male dancers portray both male and female roles.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 11 Cochin-Delhi (Flight)

In time transfer to Airport to connect flight for Delhi. On arrival meet & greet at the Airport and transfer to hotel.

DELHI: one of India's fastest growing cities has spread far beyond the "seven cities" created between the 13th and the 17th centuries. It has sprawled over the west bank of the Yamuna and now straddles the river. Remnants of the past survive cheek -by-jowl with skyscrapers, residential colonies and bustling commercial complexes. Delhi has some of the finest museums in the country. Its boutiques and shopping arcades offer access to a wealth of traditional and contemporary crafts from all over the country. It has speciality restaurants to please the gourmet, open parks and gardens ablaze with flowers, and in the winter months particularly, a variety of cultural events. Its many-layered existence is tantalizing and can entice the curious traveler into a fascinating journey of discovery.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 12 In Delhi

Full day city tour of Delhi visiting imposing modern Lakshminarayan temple, Raj Ghat (memorial to Mahatma Gandhi), Drive past the India Gate (war memorial dedicated to the lives of laid down by the Indian soldiers), the president's residence - formerly the Viceroy's Palace, parliament House and the Secretariat buildings, - an interesting blend of the Victorian and 20th century architecture. Visit the 12th century Qutab Minar, gracefully hand-carved for its entire height of 234ft, and the iron pillar, which has withstood the ravages of time and not rusted even after 1500 years. Visit the mausoleum of emperor Humayun - a forerunner of the Mughal style of architecture.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 13 Delhi- Jaipur (260 kms 5 hrs)

Morning: Proceed to Jaipur by surface.

JAIPUR: Built by Sawai Jai Singh, the city of Jaipur is amongst the first of India’s planned cities. The ancient heart of the Pink City still beats in its fairy tale palaces; rugged fortresses perched on barren hills and broad avenues. Jaipur has a timeless appeal in its colorful bazaars that delights for its Rajasthan handlooms and trinkets. Beautifully laid out gardens and parks, attractive monuments and marvelous heritage hotels, once the residence of Maharajas, are worth admiration that makes a trip to the pink city a memorable one.

On arrival in Jaipur, check-in at the Hotel.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 14 In Jaipur

Morning: visit of Amber Fort with elephant ride. Amber is a classic, romantic Rajasthani Fort Palace. The rugged, time-ravaged walls of the Fort may not look beautiful from the outside, but the interior is a virtual paradise. Miniatures painted on the walls depict hunting and war scenes, apart from festivals. Precious stones and mirrors are embedded into the plaster. A major attraction at Amber is the Elephant Ride all the way up to the Fort entrance. This journey on caparisoned elephants is bound to enrich your memories with the Royal lifestyle of the Maharajas and leave you with a truly unforgettable experience. Inside the Fort visit the Jag Mandir or the Hall of Victory. Inside the Jag Mandir is the famed Sheesh Mahal - a room with all the four walls and ceiling completely embedded with glittering mirror pieces, which were specially imported from Belgium during that period. En-route to Amber Fort, you will have a brief photography stop at Hawa Mahal - the Palace of Winds.

Afternoon: - city tour of Jaipur which begins with a visit to the Maharaja's City Palace, the former Royal residence, part of it converted into a museum. A small portion is still used by the Royal family of Jaipur. Built in the style of a fortified campus, the palace covers almost one-seventh in area of the city. One of the major attractions in the museum is the portion known as Armoury Museum housing an impressive array of weaponry-pistols, blunderbusses, flintlocks, swords, rifles and daggers. The royal families of Jaipur once used most of these weapons. Later visit the Jantar Mantar, which is the largest stone and marble crafted observatory in the world. Situated near the gate of the city palace, the observatory has 17 large instruments, many of them still in working condition.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 15 Jaipur- Agra (240 hrs 5 and half hrs)

Morning: proceed to Agra by surface en-route visiting “FATEHPUR SIKRI” Situated around 40 km from Agra built by Emperior Akbar in 1569 and abandoned after 15 years due to scarcity of water. This was the capital of the Mughal emperor Akbar between 1570 to 1586. Fatehpur Sikri’s sprawling structure is made of red sandstone and combines both Hindu and Muslim architecture. The main entrance to this walled city is through the 175 feet Buland Darwaza. The finest monuments within this area are the Diwan-I-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Panch Mahal, Jama Masjid and Panch Mahal.

AGRA: On the right bank of the River Yamuna, Agra reigns over a glorious past created by warriors as skilled in art and architecture as they were on the battlefield. The city’s historical origins before the Mughal conquest are dim and it was practically founded by the Mughal Emperor Babur. To the lover of art and to the traveller seeking the wonders of India, Agra is the goal of a pilgrimage, its shrines being the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

On arrival in Agra, check-in at hotel.

Later visit Taj Mahal which is the seventh wonder of world, built by Shahjahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz Mahal by the banks of river Yamuna. After her untimely death, Shahajahan had her mortal remains buried in this mausoleum. And after his own demise he was placed to rest next to his beloved queen in the same mausoleum The Taj has been called the most extravagant monument ever built for the sake of love. The great monument took almost 22 years to build and
was completed in 1653. Around 20,000 workers from all over the country and central Asia were recruited to translate this dream into a reality. (TAJ MAHAL IS CLOSED ON FRIDAYS).

Overnight at hotel.

Day 16 Agra-Delhi (205 kms 4 hrs)

Morning: visit the Agra Fort. The foundation was laid by Emperor Akbar in 1565 and continued till the time of Shahjahan. The high red stone monument stretches for around 2.5 kms, dominating a bend in the river Yamuna northwest of the Taj Mahal. The palace is a notable for its smooth blending of Hindu and central Asian architectural styles. The Diwan-i-Am (the hall of public audiences), the Diwan-i-Khas (the Hall of Private Audience), the Khas Palace (the private palace was used by emperor as a sleeping chamber), the Sheesh Mahal (palace of Mirrors), the Shah Jahani Mahal (Shahjahan’s Palace), Jahangiri Mahal (Jahangir’s Palace) and the Akbari Mahal (Akbar’s palace) are the fascinating palaces inside the fort.

From the rear of Diwan-i-Khas a door leads to Mussaman Burj, a two storey pavilion, where Shahjahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in his old age. From here he caught the last glimpses of Taj Mahal before he died.

Afternoon drive to Delhi to connect flight for onward journey.


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