The perfect combination of contemporary attractions and rich historic culture, South India is the place to be for tourists who love to explore the unexplored. Famous for its incredible scenic beauty, South India is well-known for majestic temples, mesmerizing hill stations, cultural monuments and immaculate beaches. The intrinsic and delicate architecture is bound to rejuvenate the senses of every traveler. Book comprehensive South India tour packages from Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi and elsewhere from Excursion2India to make the most of your trip.
Itinerary Name: South India Cultural Tour
No. of Days: 16nights/17days
Day 1: Hyderabad: Arrive in Hyderabad and check into a hotel. Afterwards, head straight to Golconda Fort. Take a sightseeing tour of the Fort and enjoy lights & sound show in the evening. Enjoy a nice dinner at a restaurant close to Hussain Sagar Lake. Overnight in Hyderabad.
Day 2: Hyderabad: After breakfast, embark on a full day sightseeing of Hyderabad. Hyderabad has left behind a rich historical and cultural legacy and there are a number of monuments to explore. Some of the most interesting places to visit in Hyderabad are Charminar, Nizam’s Museum (Salar Jung Museum), Birla Temple, Chowmahalla Palace and Mecca Mosque.
Hyderabad is also a hub of flourishing Telugu film industry. Ramoji Film City has emerged as a tourist attraction of late in the city for those interested in films. You can choose to visit that.
Hyderabad is known for pearl related works. Anyone interested can buy pearl necklaces or ear rings or other ornamental pieces. Stay Overnight in Hyderabad.
Day 3: Hyderabad – Hampi: Check out after breakfast and leave for Hampi. This is a longish drive of close to eight hours. Check into a hotel on arrival. Spend the rest of the day at leisure in the comforts of the hotel.
Day 4: Hampi: After breakfast start on a full day sightseeing tour of the ruins of Hampi.
Hampi once served as the flourishing capital of the Vijaynagar Kingdom in the 14th and 15th Century. Hampi declined after its rulers lost in a war. Hampi was set on fire and the city was destroyed by the enemy forces. Hampi ruins are spread around the total extent of the Hampi city of that era. This is a large area of more than 25 square kilometer.
You can explore Hampi on a bike. It is best to hire local monument guide and decide on the spot what to see. A local Hampi map can prove quite handy in making decisions.
Important monuments which should not be missed in Hampi are Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, Krishna Temple, Chandikeshwara, Laxminarsimha and Uddana Veerabhadra Temples. Stay Overnight in Hampi.
Day 5: Hampi – Overnight train to Mysore: After breakfast head off on a full day sightseeing of Hampi ruins again. Keep your luggage the reception before starting your day as you have to catch overnight train to Mysore.
You should enjoy crossing Tungabhadra river in a coracle. Explore riverside ruins. This involves quite a bit of walking. Decide on the spot what to see using locally available Hampi maps and consultation with local guides. Return to the hotel in the evening, take your luggage and leave for Hospet railway station (the nearest railway station to Hampi). Catch overnight train to Mysore.
Day 6: Mysore: Arrive in Mysore in the morning and reach your hotel. Check into rooms if they are available early. If rooms are not ready in the morning hours, keep the luggage at the reception and get fresh in the hotel. Afterwards, embark on sightseeing trip of Mysore by visiting Somnathpura, a small town around 35km from Mysore. Somnathpura is famous for the 13th Century Chennakeshava Temple built by Hoysala ruler Narasimha III. The temple has three shrines – all dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Have lunch at a nice restaurant. Return to the hotel in the afternoon and check into your respective rooms. Overnight in Mysore.
Day 7: Mysore: After breakfast, start full day sightseeing tour of Mysore. Go on to explore Srirangapatnam and Devaraja Market. Visit Chamundi Devi temple built on a hilltop overlooking Mysore city. If interested, you can stop at Lalitha Mahal Palace for a lunch. This was a palace built by the Mysore rulers for the British Viceroy in 1921. The Palace has been converted to a hotel now.
Later, take a tour of the City Palace. This is one of the rare places where the ruling family still lives. Only a part of the Palace is open for tourists. Close to this is to St. Philomena’s Church, one of the largest cathedrals in India. The Cathedral, with the relic of the 3rd century Saint Philomena, is made in Gothic style.
Get back to the hotel, take some rest and start a guided walking tour towards 5pm in the afternoon. This highly interesting tour will enrich you with the knowledge of the history, culture and foods of Mysore.
If you, by chance, are in Mysore on Sunday or any public holiday you can see half an hour of show of over hundred thousand electric bulbs lit all over Mysore City palace in the evening. This is an amazing sight. Stay Overnight in Mysore.
Day 8: Mysore – Ooty: Start for Ooty after breakfast. This is hardly three hours drive. Check into a hotel on arrival.
Visit Connore and explore tea garden and tea processing plant there. Spend some time in Sims Park and board the UNESCO Heritage listed small gauge train to return to Ooty. The driver will receive you at the railway station in Ooty. This is almost 45 minutes ride.
Go on to explore rose garden and a botanical garden in Ooty. There are some nice view points as well. If interested, you can visit these places. Do not forget to try some homemade chocolates in Ooty.
Have dinner and drinks at one of the several restaurants in the city. Overnight in Ooty.
Day 9: Ooty – Madurai: After breakfast start for Madurai, a drive of more than six hours. Check into a hotel on arrival late in the afternoon in Madurai, a city more than 2500 years old.
Take a guided tour of the famous Meenakshi Temple, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Spread over more than six hectares, the temple was renovated in its present form by the Nayak rulers who ruled in and around Madurai during 16th to 18th century. Foreigners and non-Hindus are not allowed entry into inner sanctum (garbhagriha) where main idols are kept. However, they are allowed entry in every other part of the temple complex.
The Gopuram (main entrance to temple) is renowned for several statues carved over it. Spend some time at Aayiram Kaal Mandapam, a hall of thousand pillars. Each pillar in the hall produces a musical note if you knot on them properly. What is most remarkable of this temples is that whole temple complex has been carved out of a single stone.
Have dinner and take a highly deserved comforting sleep in your room. Overnight in Madurai.
Day 10: Madurai: Get up leisurely in the morning and after a sumptuous breakfast embark on a full day sightseeing of Madurai.
Start with a visit to Thirumalai Nayak Palace, an early 17th-century palace. The Palace, as we see today, was the main Palace where the king lived. Later, visit Alagarkoil Temple, built on a hilltop around 20 kilometers from Madurai city. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, whose idol is made in a reclining posture. The temple is enclosed by granite walls. Even floors of the temple are made in granite.
Close to Alagarkoil Temple is another hilltop temple Pazhamudhir Solai. This is an interesting place as the temple, dedicated to Lord Murugan, is noted for treating mentally disturbed patients. .
Thiruparankundram is yet another interesting temple. The temple, 2000 years old, is reverred highly by both Hindus and Muslims. Some 1st century caves can be seen on Samanar Hills. These are Jainese caves where beautiful carvings and scultures can be seen.
If time permits, visit St. Mary’s Cathedral, modeled on the Latin Cross. A walk in the local market can also be a great experience.
Have a nice dinner at your hotel. Overnight in Madurai.
Day 11: Madurai – Pondicherry: Check out after breakfast and start for Puducherry (or Pondicherry). This is a journey of around six hours. Check into a hotel on arrival in Pondicherry, a city on the east coast of India which remained a French colony till 1954.
Go on to visit Aurobindo Ashram, which was founded by Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) in 1926. This is visited by thousands of people from all over the world. Later in the afternoon take a stroll on the Seaside Promenade. This is one of the liveliest areas in Pondicherry. It is situated along the picturesque seafront with a rocky beach.
Enjoy some delicious sea food and spend Overnight in Pondicherry.
Day 12: Pondicherry: Get up early and go for a swim at the Serenity beach, some 10km from the main city. After enjoying the morning sun, return to the hotel. Have a nice breakfast and start a tour of Pondicherry.
Start with a visit to Pondicherry Museum, where you can see a fantastic collection of sculptures, handicrafts, and archaeological findings from the Arikamedu Roman settlement and items from the French colonial time. Later visit Aurovile, an experimental Universal township spread over 20 square kilometer where people from different nationalities and creeds live in peace and progressive harmony as one community. Take information about it at Visitor’s Center and go around it.
Later in the afternoon, go and visit Church of the sacred heart of Jesus, Arulmigu Manakula Vinaynagar Temple, Eglise de Notre Dame Des Anges, and French War Memorial. Spend the evening strolling on the Seaside Promenade.
Enjoy sea food at one of the many lovely restaurants. Overnight in Pondicherry.
Day 13: Pondicherry – Mahabalipuram: Check out from Pondicherry after breakfast and drive to Mahabalipuram, now officially called Mamallapuram. It is nearly two hours drive. Check into a hotel on arrival in Mahabalipuram.
Mahabalipurm continued to flourish till 8th and 9th Century under the Pallava rulers. Visit Shore Temple, located on the beach side. It has thousands of sculptures dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Afterwards, go on to see an amazing geological landmark, referred to as Krishna’s Butter Ball. This rock has stood intact on a slope in a unique balance. It attracts people to take photographs in different poses as if lifting the rock or pushing it.
Overnight in Mahabalipuram.
Day 14: Mahabalipuram: Spend another leisurely day in Mahabalipuram. Go for Chronicles India, a 7DX show organized by Tamil Nadu Tourism. The show gives a lot of details about the monuments and their History and about the Pallava dynasty and other rulers which ruled Mahabalipuram. It would not be a bad idea to go for it on the first day itself before you start exploring the monuments.
Go and visit rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave temples and sanctuaries), and giant open-air rock reliefs such as the famous Descent of the Ganges. There are quite a few ratha and cave temples. All these together with Shore Temple have got a place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Overnight in Mahabalipuram.
Day 15: Mahabalipuram – Kanchipuram – Chennai: Check out after breakfast and drive to Kanchipurm – a drive of less than two hours.
Located on the banks of River Vegavathy, Kanchipuram or Kanchi has seen reign of rulers from various dynasties – Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas, Vijaynagar, Carnatic Kingdom and then the British. All of them have left some or other footprints on the city.
Some 14 major Lord Vishnu temples are located here. The city is home to Kailasnatha Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ekambareswarar Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple, and Kumarakottam Temple. It is also the headquarters of the Kanchi Matha, a Hindu monastic institution founded by the famous Hindu saint Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th Century.
Make it a point to visit Kanchi Kudhil, which is a house showcasing ancient traditional lifestyle of a Tamil family. It is a small place located close to Kailasnatha Temple.
The city is also quite well known for its hand woven silk sarees, called Kanjivaram Sarees. Most of the city’s workforce is involved in the weaving industry. You can visit one of those.
After a tour of Kanchipuram, proceed towards Chennai. Check into a hotel on arrival in Chennai. Overnight in Chennai.
Day 16: Chennai – Onward Destination: Get up leisurely in the morning.
If interested, go on to visit Marina Beach and take a drive within the city on the East Coast Road. Marina Beach is supposed to be one of the longest beaches in the world. Driving on the road along the coast you can see Government Secretariat, Madras University, and many other British era buildings which are now being used as government offices.
Check out from the hotel and drive to the airport to catch a flight for onward destination.
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