January 15-24, 2016
Day 1 Jan 15 Fri: Arrive Chennai (Madras)
Upon your arrival in Chennai you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. ITC GRAND CHOLA (Executive Club)
Day 2 Jan 16 Sat: Kanchipuram Excursion / Mammalapuram
Proceed to Kanchipuram, one of the seven sacred cities of India. Visit three of the best temples—Kailasanatha and Ekambareshwara (dedicated to Lord Shiva) and Vaikuntaperumal (dedicated to Lord Vishnu). In the afternoon, tour Mammalapuram, where you will visit the seventh century rock hewn monuments. The shore temple, the only surviving one of seven, is a unique example of a temple built of rock quarried elsewhere and carried to shore. (BD)
Highlight - Kanchipuram is famous for its silk sarees. Visit a weavers house to see how a Kanchipuram silk saree is woven.
Day 3 Jan 17 Sun: Chennai / Madurai
This morning enjoy a brief tour of Chennai which takes you to Victoria Art Gallery, Bronze Gallery and Chennai Museum. The Fort St. George, San Thome Cathedral and Kapaleeswarar Temple complete your visit. Fly to Madurai, arrive and check in at your hotel. In the evening, visit Meenakshi Temple again for the evening prayer ceremony. HERITAGE MADURAI (Luxury Villa) (BD)
Day 4 Jan 18 Mon: Madurai / Kumarakom - Surface (280 kms / 8 hrs)
In the morning visit the Meenakshi Temple, Tirumalai Nayak Palace, Mariamman Tank and Koodal Alagar Temple. Later drive to Kumarakom, to experience the backwaters and waterways, with the rich culture and active lifestyle of the region. COCONUT LAGOON (Heritage Bungalow). (BD)
Day 5 Jan 19 Tue: Backwaters Cruise
Cruise along the canals and lagoons, which create and maintain the ecological balance in this region. Take advantage of a free afternoon to experience an Ayurvedic therapeutic massage or just relax. (BD)
Day 6 Jan 20 Wed: Kumarakom / Cochin Sightseeing
Drive to Cochin.Check in at the hotel upon arrival. In Cochin, visit the Portuguese church built by St. Francis in 1562, the Jewish Synagogue, the famedMattancherry Palace, and learn about the Chinese fishing nets. Enjoy an evening presentation of the colorful Kathakali dance drama. TAJ MALABAR (Superior Charm Heritage Wing) (BD)
Day 7 Jan 21 Thu: Cochin / Bangalore / Shravanabelagola / Chikmagalur
Morning fly to Bangalore. Upon arrival you will take a brief tour of Bangalore, Visit LalBagh Botanical Gardens, the Mysore Arts and Crafts Center, the Bull Temple, and the colorful bustling markets. Later, depart for Chikmaglur, en route visiting Shravanabelagola. THE GATEWAY (Standard garden View). (BD)
Day 8 Jan 22 Fri: Chikmagalur / Belur / Halebid / Mysore
Visit Belur this morning. The Chennakesaya Temple with its intricate sculptures is an outstanding example of medieval Indian art. Continue on to Halebidu, to see the Hoysaleshwara Temple, covered with a succession of friezes, the tableaus of everyday life in ancient times. After sightseeing, drive on to Mysore. WINDFLOWER HALL (Studio Room). (BD)
Highlight - Visit a sandalwood oil factory in Mysore.
Day 9 Jan 23 Sat: Mysore Sightseeing / Bangalore / Mumbai
Explore Mysore, visiting the City Palace, a Hindu Temple and a monolithic sculpture of the bull Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Visit the island fortress and Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatnam before continuing on to Bangalore. Fly to the cosmopolitan city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) where you are and transferred to hotel TAJ PRESIDENT (Superior Charm). (BD)
Highlight - In between Bangalore and Mysore, visit Channapatna Wooden Toys factory in Channapatna. The city is famous for its wooden toys and lacquer ware.
Day 10 Jan 24 Sun: Elephanta Caves & Mumbai Sightseeing
Cruise across the harbor to explore the amazing Elephanta Island and its famous caves, with carvings and sculptures dating back to 550 A.D. In the afternoon, embark on a tour of Mumbai. Visit the Gateway of India, the Hanging Gardens and the Malabar Hills where Mumbai's rich and famous live, the Prince of Wales Museum, Dhobi Ghat, Marine Drive, the Gandhi Memorial Museum and Jain Temple. Later tonight you will be transferred to airport for flight back home. (BD) Rooms will be available until departure.
Day 11: Mumbai / Aurangabad
Fly to Aurangabad, you will be met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel.Today enjoy a full day excursion to Ajanta, one of India's most impressive archaeological sites. Here Buddhist art attained its peak. The frescoes and wall paintings reveal a fascinating lifestyle. Thirty caves are carved out of a rocky gorge dating back to the 3rd century. The ornate facades and interior chambers are illuminated at all times of the day. (B)
Day 12: Ellora Caves Excursion / Mumbai
Tour the Ellora group of rock cut caves. The most magnificent is the Kailashanatha Temple (Cave 16), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple has actually been sculpted out of a single mountain, and it depicts Mount Kailasa (the sacred abode of Lord Shiva). This evening transfer to the airport for your flight to Mumbai, arrive and connect your onward flight. (B)