Temple Tours in South India
A 20 night spiritual journey covering many of South India's most sacred temples beginning with a visit to Sai Baba Ashram in Whitefields, just outside of Bangalore, then to Thirupati and onto the many other famous temples in Kanchipuram, Thanjavur, Madurai, Rameshwaram including the Shiva temples near Ettumanoor and of course Guruvayoor Temple.
The below itinerary is only a pilot programme to give you an idea on the destinations which could be covered within a certain period. It will be our pleasure to customise the programme to suite your interests, budget and duration. Please feel free to contact us for any such customisation and prices.
DAY 01 – BANGALORE
On arrival, you will be met by our meet & greet service and transferred to your Hotel. Rest of the day to explore this garden city. Overnight at the Hotel.
Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka and best known internationally as an IT hub that rivals Silicone Valley.It is easy to see why it is the favourite of the Tecchies with its salubrious climate, its tree-lined avenues and its trendy downtown. A city of striking contrasts. Bangalore today is Asia's fastest growing cosmopolitan city. The Vidhan Soudha is a major attraction which presently functions as the state legislative assembly and a marvelous example of Neo-Dravidian architecture.
DAY 02 – BANGALORE
Full day for exploring this wonderful cosmopolitan city.Also visit Whitefields to visit Sai Baba Ashram and other establishments. Overnight at the hotel.
The Cubbon Park in the heart of the city, Lal Bagh (famous for the blooming red roses), and the Bangalore Palace are some of the other must see attractions of this garden city. The Tipu's Palace and the adjoining fort are fine examples of Indo-Islamic architecture that also offer a glimpse into the Mughal lifestyle of the day. Besides, one can also visit the Aquarium, which is the second largest in the country.
DAY 03 – BANGALORE-PUTTAPARTHY
After breakfast drive to Puttaparthy. On arrival, check in at the Hotel. Later visit Ashram. Overnight at the Hotel.
Sai Baba or ‘Bhagawan’ as he is known to followers explains the scriptures of the world in simple and easily comprehensible terms that can be grasped and practiced by anyone irrespective of age, gender, faith and nationality. Ever since He declared His Divine Identity and Mission at the tender age of 14, Bhagawan has tirelessly been engaged in teaching and transforming humanity. Though Bhagawan’s teachings are primarily concerned with spirituality, it also extends to other spheres of human knowledge and activity. These teachings of Bhagawan, primarily in the form of His Divine Discourses delivered to varied groups of audiences in various places over the past several decades since 1953, have been compiled in several volumes of ‘Sathya Sai Speaks’. Apart from this, Bhagawan had also written series of articles for the magazine ‘Sanathana Sarathi’ that were compiled and published as the ‘Vahini’ series. The undercurrent of all of Bhagawan’s teachings is the principle of love. He has often stated that the essence of all His teachings is contained in the simple yet powerful canons – “Love All, Serve All. Help Ever, Hurt Never”.Though Sai Baba is no more,his mission is being taken over by Sai Baba Trust and maintains to the virtue of the public.
DAY 04 –BANGALORE-TIRUPATI
After breakfast drive to Tirupathi, one of the most ancient and sacred pilgrimage spots in India. The main attraction here is the world famous Sri Venkateswara temple which is believed to receive more pilgrims than even Jerusalem and Mecca. Overnight at the Hotel.
One of the major attractions in Tirupati is the world famous Sri Venkateswara Temple. As a large number of devotees visit this temple everyday, be prepared to wait for almost twenty hours before you can get the darshan of the deity. The other shrines that you can visit while on a trip to Tirupati are Sri Govindrajaswamy Temple, Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple, Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple, and Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple. You can also visit Tiruchanur, where the temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi is situated.
DAY 05 – TIRUPATI - CHENNAI
Morning after Darshan & breakfast, checkout from the hotel & drive to Chennai referred to as the “Gateway to South India” from where a journey into the rich heritage of the country starts.. Overnight at the hotel.
Chennai - There are several tourist attractions worth visiting in and around Chennai. Marina Beach is the second longest beach in the world. The St. George Fort, built in 1653, is currently used as the state government's secretariat. Santhome Cathedral was built around 14th/15th century and is another colonial structure worth visiting. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kapaleeshwar Temple is the oldest temple in Chennai. Another important temple in the city dedicated to Lord Krishna is Parthasarathy Temple. Adayar Banyan Tree is one of the largest tree in the world. It measures 238ft from north to south and 250ft from east to west. The total area exceed 59,500 sq ft. This tree is a unique specimen. It has been the centre of many notable gatherings of the Theosophical Society and thousands of visitors have rested in its shade.
DAY 06 – CHENNAI –KANCHIPURAM- MAHABALIPURAM
After breakfast, checkout from the hotel & proceed to Mahabalipuram the world heritage site famous for the monolith temples dating back to centuries.Enroute visit Kanchipuram,known as city of thousand temples.Also visit the renowned Handloom units popular for Kancheepuram Silk..By early evening arrive at Mahabalipuram to check into a Beach hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Kanchipuram - Kanchipuram, an ancient city known as “the city of thousand temples”, is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim centres for the Hindus. There now remain about 126 temples and a few more in its outskirts. Today, apart from its temples, this small town is also known for its thriving handloom industry. Ekambareswarar Temple - The eleven-storey structure which is adorned with beautiful sculptures is one of the tallest temple towers in South India. The ancient mango tree in the courtyard is revered by childless couples. They faithfully strung small cradles to the branches of the tree and leave with the hope that their desire for an offspring will be fulfilled.
Dedicated to Siva, Kailasanatha is one of the earliest temples. It was built by the Pallava king, Rayasimha, in the late 7th century, though its front was added later by his son, King Varman III. It is the only temple at Kanchi which isn't cluttered with the more recent additions of the Cholas and Vijayanagar rulers, and so reflects the freshness and simplicity of early Dravidian architecture. Fragments of the 8-th century murals which once graced the alcoves are a visible reminder of how magnificent the temple must have looked when it was first built. The temple is run by the Archaeology Department and is very interesting, Quite unusually, non-Hindus are allowed into the inner sanctum.
DAY 07 – MAHABALIPURAM
Morning go for a sightseeing of Mahabalipuram.Visit Shore Temple,Arjuna’s Penance,Five Rathas,Tiger Caves etc.Rest of the day at leisure on the beach. Overnight at the hotel.
The temple town of Mahabalipuram is famous for its various temples and other attractive features. This 7th century city of the Pallavas is considered pioneer in the Dravidian architectural style. The city was earlier called Mamallapuram and was a famous trading port of Pallavas. The attractions are the Arjunas Penance, Five Rathas, Shore temples & the tiger caves
Mahabalipuram - It is among the most outstanding examples of Dravidian art and architecture. The monuments are floodlit at night and so it is possible to enjoy their beauty even after sunset. Arjuna’s Penance - This skillfully carved rock is the largest bas - relief sculpture in the world. There are nine rock cut cave temples. The Mahishasuramardhini cave, contrasting the goddess fighting a demon on one side, and Lord Vishnu's cosmic sleep on the other, is a particularly remarkable one. Five Rathas -These rock-cut temples are rated as excellent example of Pallava art. Shaped in different styles, the fort of the rathas are supposed to have been scooped out of a single rock formation.
DAY 08 – MAHABALIPURAM-THANJAVUR
After breakfast, drive to Thanjavur .Enroute visit Chidambaram and Kumbakonam Kumbakonam is one of the Oldest towns in Tamilnadu.After breakfast,visit Darasuram Iravadeeswarar Temple (UNESCO Monument),Mahamaham Tank etc.The village of Kumbakonam has many handicrafts units and vessel making centres.Evening for local visits. Overnight stay at Thanjavur.
Chidambaram Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram, 78 km south of Pondicherry and 60 km north of Karaikal in Cuddalore District, the east-central part of the Tamil Nadu state of southeastern India. The Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarmas, as being the chief architect of the temple renovation. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava/Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods.
DAY 09 – THANJAVUR
After breakfast, go for a local sightseeing of Thanjavur.Visit the Big Temple.The Palace,Art Gallery are also attractions here.Afternoon you may opt to visit the local villages around Kumbakonam,Swamimalai etc.You may also visit the local artisans who makes amazing scultures.Overnight at the hotel.
Thanjavur rose to the glory during the later Chola reign between the 10th and 14th Centuries and became a centre of learning and culture.Thanjavur is still the centre of all the classical arts and music.The Big Temple and the other famous temples in the district are known all over the world. It is the headquarters of Thanjavur district, the 'Rice Bowl' of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is also famous for its distinctive art style, which is usually a combination of raised and painted surfaces.Tanjore paintings are deeply rooted in tradition and still innovative within limits. This art is sacred and dedicated.The Raja Raja Chola Art Gallery has some fine pieces of stone and bronze sculptures from the 9th and 12th centuries.
DAY 10 – TRICHY - MADURAI
Morning after breakfast, drive to Trichy.After sightseeing of TRichy,continue the drive to Madurai - The city is among the oldest in India, a flourishing seat of art and culture since the Sangam period. Evening you may opt to visit the Meenakshi Temple for closing ceremonies.Overnight at the hotel.
Tiruchirapalli - Trichy is a fine blend of tradition and modernity built around the Rock Fort. Apart from the Fort, there are several Churches, Colleges and Missions dating back to the 1760s. The town and its fort, now in Trichy were built by the Nayaks of Madurai. This city has given great Tamil scholars whose contributions to the Tamil literature have been very significant. Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), situated on the banks of river Cauvery, is famous for the Ranganatha temple at Srirangam, Rock Fort, Sri Jambukeshwara Temple, Tiruvannaikaval, Srirangam, Museums & Art Galleries.
The city of Madurai is originally built around the Meenakshi temple. Though there are many temples in the city, Meenakshi temple outdoes all with its sheer magnificence and splendor of architecture. You can marvel the temple's flawless Dravidian Architecture and be a part of devotees who throng the temple from all over India. If you wished to have a bird's eye view of the city, you could also climb the southern Gopuram of the temple see to get a great view of the city.
DAY 11 – MADURAI
Morning visit Meenakshi Temple for prayers.After breakfast,full day to explore Madurai and by evening you will enjoy the glorious temple architecture of Meenakshi temple followed by the amazing closing ceremony of the Temple.You may also visit the flower market to feel the local life around the temple. Overnight stay at Madurai.
Madurai or the "city of nectar" is the oldest and second largest city of Tamil Nadu. This city is located on Vaigai River and was the capital of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. The Pandyan king, Kulasekhara had built a gorgeous temple around which he created a lotus shaped city. Mythology says when city was being named; Lord Shiva blessed the city and its people. On the auspicious occasion some Divine nectar ("Madhu") fell from the matted locks of Shiva and hence the city was named "Madhurapuri". This sacred town of south attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from India as well as abroad. Madurai is synonymous with The Meenakshi Temple, Tirumalai Nayak Palace, Mariamman Tank, Koodal Alagar Temple, Gandhi Museum and Government Museum.
Meenakshi Temple - In the Ashta Shakti Mandapam inside the temple, the sculpted pillars tell the story of the beautiful princess of Madurai and her marriage to Lord Siva. The pillars of the Mandapam are decorated with scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. The life of Madurai revolves around the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. This magnificently carved temple is the main attraction of Madurai and its huge Gopurams towers over the city. Meenakshi temple has a thousand pillared 'Mandapam'. Precisely there are 985 pillars and each of them is delicately and exquisitely carved. Among these are the musical pillars, which produce music when tapped. Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a single granite rock. The temple has been a hub of Tamil culture and has been sponsoring literature, art, music, and dance in the region for a long time.
DAY 12 – MADURAI – RAMESHWARAM
Drive to Rameshwaram.Evening for Temple Darshan.Overnight at the hotel.
Rameshwaram is a sea swept sacred island of great tourist potential. A hotspot pilgrim destination, Rameshwaram is nestled in the Gulf of Munnar at the very tip of Indian peninsula. Some of the most visited sites in the regions include: Ramanathaswamy Temple, Kothandaraswamy Temple & Dhanushkodi, Adam's Bridge & Gandhamadana Parvatam.
DAY 13 – RAMESHWARAM - KANYAKUMARI
Morning after breakfast, proceed to Kanyakumari named after the Goddess Kannyakumari Amman who is the popular deity of the area.Early evening visit Vivekananda Rock and watch sunset. Overnight at the hotel.
Legend has it that the Goddess Parvati in one of her incarnations as Devi Kanniya did penance on one of the rocks of this land's end to obtain the hand of Lord Shiva. Kannyakumari is the one of the sacred place for Hindu religion. This is the place where three oceans joined together. Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Later visit Vivekananda Memorial. Kanyakumari is the only place in India where one can enjoy the unique experience of watching the sunset and moonrise simultaneously on a full moon evening. Explore, Gandhi Memorial, Swami Vivekananda Rock memorial, Kumari Amman Temple & Tiruvalluvar Statue.
DAY 14 – KANYAKUMARI - KOVALAM
Morning after breakfast, check out from the hotel & proceed to Kovalam. Enroute, visit the Sucheendram Temple & Padmanabhapuram Palace. Overnight at the hotel
Sucheendram Temple, 13 Kms. Away from Kanyakumari, has a beautiful gopuram, musical pillars and an excellent statue of the Hanuman, apart from a valuable collection of art from different periods. Padmanabhapuram Palace, a magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, is a fine specimen of Kerala's indigenous style of architecture. The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. The Palace will be closed on Mondays.
Kovalam was a small, sleepy village. It lay in humble obscurity along the picturesque coast of Kerala. Then around 1930, this little village was unexpectedly shaken out of its lethargic slumber and thrust on the international tourist map. The vendors of holiday dreams along the sea had discovered the fabulous silver sands and palm-fringed shores of Kovalam. From then onwards, there was no looking back.
DAY 15 – KOVALAM – TRIVANDRUM-KOVALAM
Full day City Tour of Trivandrum, to explore Padmanabaswami Temple, Zoological Park, Napier Museum, Sri Chitra Art Gallery etc. Trivandrum, the capital of the state of Kerala, is a beautiful seaside city built on seven hills. The city gets its name from the word, Thiruvananthapuram meaning the city of Ananth or the abode of the sacred serpent Ananth, on which Lord Vishnu, the presiding deity of the town, reclines. Evening at leisure at the Beach. Overnight at Resort.
Being the capital city of Kerala, Trivandrum is surrounded by seven hills and endorses ancient and modern style of architecture. Visit, Napier Museum, which houses a rare collection of archaeological and historic artifacts, bronze idols, ancient ornaments, a temple chariot, ivory carvings and life-size Kathakali dancers; Sree Chitra Art Gallery, which display a century old world famous paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Kuthiramalika Palace Museum, with rare specimen of workmanship in traditional Travancore style of architecture has exquisite woodcarvings.With the recent findings,Sree Padbanabhaswamy Swamy Temple at Trivandrum has a store of treasures amounting to Twenty Billion US Dollars and still one more cellar is yet to open for accounting.Visit to this temple during evenings are nice as it is lit for evening ceremonies.
DAY 16 – TRIVANDRUM – VARKALA –KUMARAKOM
Morning after breakfast, checkout from the hotel & proceed to Kumarakom via Varkala. Visit the Papanasam temple.Later visit Ambalapuzha Temple before checking in at Kumarakom. Overnight at the hotel.
Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year old Janardana Swami Temple which is an important Vaishnavaite shrine in India and is often referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the South). The temple is located close to the Papanasam beach, which is considered to have holy waters which wash away sins, and is also an important Ayurveda treatment centre. The temple has an ancient bell removed from a shipwreck, donated by the captain of the Dutch vessel which sank near Varkala without causing any casualties.
Another major landmark in Varkala is the Sivagiri Mutt, established by the social reformer Sree Narayana Guru. The hill-top mausoleum of Sree Narayana Guru is one of the most famous monuments in Kerala. The adjacent hills house the East-West University of Brahmavidya and Sree Narayana Gurukulam.
It is believed that a Pandyan King was instructed by Lord Brahma to build a temple at this very place to redeem him of his sins. But several other mythsabound on the birth of Varkala. Another legend goes like this - when a group of pilgrims approached Saint Narada and told him that they had sinned, Narada threw his valkalam ( a loin cloth made from the bark of a tree) and it landed at this scenic village and hence, the place came to be known as Varkala. Narada told the pilgrims to pray for their redemption at Papanasam, which literally means redemption from sins.Papanasam Temple, it's a temple situated near agasthiyar falls, it is believed that after taking bath in this river, going to this temple is alleged to give you relief from all your sins. The place is called Papanasam because of this.
Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna swami temple is one of the most five temples in Kerala. In olden days Ambalapuzha was known as Chempakassery. Poojas and worship patterns at Mannarasala, the abode of serpent Gods, are different from most other temples. It is important to visit and worship the main deities as well as the Upadevathas, Chitrakudas, Valia Amma at the Illam etc.
DAY 17 – KUMARAKOM
Day at leisure.You may opt to have a rejuvenating Ayurvedic Massage.You may also opt to visit the local village temples around your hotel.Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 18 – KUMARAKOM - COCHIN
Morning after breakfast, checkout from the hotel & proceed to Cochin. On the way visit Etumanoor, Kadathuruthy & Vaikom Shiva temples.Visiting three Shiva Temples in a day is considered as a great prayer. Late evening reach Cochin. Overnight at the hotel.
The Siva temple in Etumanoor is famous for its murals, especially the paintings of Nataraja in the Gopuram and the golden elephants- Ezharaponnana. The elephants, seven large ones and a small one, are well known. Though actually eight in number, these are only considered as seven and a half. These were presented to the Lord by Sri Karthika Thirunal, Maharaja of Travancore. The Ezharaponnana Ezhunnallathu festival here is in Kumbhom (Februvary- March). On the eighth day of the festival, the golden elephants are taken out of the temple in a procession, which attracts thousands of devotees.
DAY 19 – COCHIN
Early morning proceed to Chotanikkara Temple for darshan. Later proceed to Cochin for sightseeing.On the way back you may also visit Sree Poornathrayeesha Temple at Tripunithura.Evening you may visit Ernakulam Shiva Temple and also Trikkakkara Temple dedicated for Mahabali,only one of its kind in this region. Overnight at the Hotel.
Cochin - Known as the queen of the Arabian Sea is one of the most interesting cities of India and has one of the finest natural harbors in the world. St Francis Church, built in 1510 by friars brought to India by Vasco da Gama, is the first European church built in India and is the site where da Gama was buried. The Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568, Chinese hand-painted tiles are one of the attraction.
Cochin City Tour - St Francis Church, built in 1510 by friars brought to India by Vasco da Gama, is the first European church built in India and is the site where Vasco da Gama was buried. The Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568, Chinese hand-painted tiles are one of the attraction. This, the only Synagogue in India has a nostalgic past of a Jewish Diaspora. The "Dutch Palace" was built in the 1550s; the palace contains excellent mythological murals and a rare example of traditional Keralite flooring - a subtle mix of burnt coconut shells, lime, plant juices and egg whites - which gives the effect of polished marble.
DAY 20 – COCHIN – GURUVAYOOR - COCHIN
Morning drive to Guruvayoor temple for darshan.Also visit the Elephant Camp at Guruvayur where all the Temple elephants are kept. Later return to Cochin. On the way visit temples like Triprayar,Koodalmanikyam and Kodungalloor temples etc. Overnight at the hotel.
Guruvayur is also called the Bhoolokavaikunta - the heaven on Earth! The square Sreekovil is the sacred sanctum Sanctorum of the temple, housing the main deity of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord MahaVishnu. It is at this temple that Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed his well-known Sanskrit devotional poem 'Narayaneeyam'. The temple is renowned for its healing powers. Several offerings are made to the deity here from the simple 'Archana' (offering of flowers) to the expensive and elaborate 'Udayastamana' pooja or 'Thulabharam' where a devotee is weighed against offering of bananas, sugar, jaggery or coconuts.
DAY 21 – COCHIN DEPARTURE
Like all good things, your spiritual trail comes to an end but you will always carry with you memories of this unique and unforgettable experience. Today, you will be assisted and transferred to Cochin International airport for your flight home!!
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Package Cost Includes :
* 20 Nights stay at designated hotels as per itinerary
* Daily breakfast at all the hotels.
* English speaking local guides at Bangalore, Chennai, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram, Tanjore, Trichy, Madurai, Trivandrum & Cochin
* All transfers and sightseeing as per attached itinerary by excellent Chauffer driven Aircon Vehicles
* All monument entries and park entry fees.
* Driver allowance, Parking, Fuel, etc.
* All taxes including government service tax
Package Cost Excludes :
* Any meals other than those specified
* Any sightseeing unless otherwise specified
* Any train/ air fare which are not included in the package.
* Any Camera fee, Guide fee other than those specified, Ride etc.
* All expenses of personal nature like soft/ hard drinks, Telephone/ Fax, Laundry, Tip etc.
* All other services not mentioned under package cost includes section.
* Rates are valid till 31 March 2012 except between 15 Dec 2011 and 15 Jan 2012