Destinations Covered: Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Trichy – Tanjore – Karaikudi – Madurai – Periyar – Alleppey – Cochin
The Pongal festival, a four-day harvest festival held in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India to celebrate the first harvest. We visit a local town to get to know rural life, friendly people and visit it as a countryman with traditional clothes; saree for women and vetti (lungi) for men. We prepare together Pongal dish type boiled sweet rice with cereals, dried fruits, sugar cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking) in a clay pot on top of a boiled wood stove until it is flooded from the narrow mouth so that The festival is successful and the sun god is happy. We will contemplate the typical southern dance and dance shows and also some acrobatic shows as well.
Highlights of Tour
Visit Famous St Francis Church & Jewish Synagogue
Watch Kathakali Dance Show
Demonstration of ‘Kalaripayattu’
visit Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore
visit The Brihadeeswara Temple and Thanjavur Palace
Enjoy Pongal Festival in Madurai
Boat trip on Lake Periyar
DAY 1: Arrival Chennai
Upon arrival in Madras (Chennai), you will be met and transferred to the hotel.
The first British settlement in India, Chennai was established in 1639 by the East India Company in the rural fishing settlement called Chennaipatnam. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu as it was called before today in Chennai, full, huge, industrial metropolis, a manufacturing center and there are many who relate it as the name “Detroit of the South” because of hosting many IT companies of India and abroad. This gateway to southern India is also known as the “Cultural Capital of India” for its deep-rooted traditions and ancestral heritage. The city was known as Madras until 1996 and later the name was changed to Chennai.
DAY 2: Chennai – Mahabalipuram – Chennai
Breakfast. In the morning visit to Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, an ancient temple that is more than 300 years old and the Basilica of Santo Tomé, which houses the tomb of Saint Thomas the Apostle. Also, visit the Government Museum (closed on Fridays)
In the afternoon, visit the cultural centers of Cholamandal de Los Artistas village and Dakshina Chitra (closed on Tuesdays), local craft center. Later visit the monolithic sanctuaries of Mahabalipuram and the rock-carved cave temples, which are scattered in a landscape full of rocks and rocky hills. Later I return to Madras (56kms, 1½ hours approx.).
DAY 3: Chennai – Trichy – Tanjore
Breakfast. In the morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Trichy. Upon arrival, you will be received in Trichy. Tiruchirappalli, commonly known (to make it easy to pronounce it) as Trichy, is located along the banks of the Cauvery River. We visit the Temple of Srirangam, Lunch at a local restaurant. We continue on the road to Tanjore. (57 km, 1-2 hours approx.) Also known as Thanjavur is derived from “Tanjan”, an asura (giant) in Hindu mythology who was killed by the Hindu god Neelamega Perumal – Lord Vishnu.
DAY 4: Tanjore – Karaikudi – Madurai
Breakfast. In the morning visit Tanjore visiting the Brihadeeswara Temple and Thanjavur Palace. Then exit by road to Madurai (210kms, 5 hours approx.) Visit Karaikudi en-route Karaikudi.
DAY 5: Madurai
Breakfast. In the morning it is time to put on your typical clothes and get lost in the streets of South India. For women, there will be saree (8-meter cloth) decorated with bright colors (don’t be nervous and there will be staff to help you ponder it) and for men, there will be vetted (known as lungi in northern India) that a long non-sewn fabric is rolled up part below the waist to the ankles and often bend it to the knee in hot weather and when they work. The shirt accompanies it. Dressed like this we go to a local town where we welcome the local people of the town with folk music and dance.
Pongal is a harvest festival, a traditional occasion to thank the sun god and nature, for the celebration of the life cycles that grains give us. This is traditionally the month of weddings too. We clean the house, throw away old things, and make Kolam (known as Rangoli in northern India) with rice powder. They are the drawings like different flowers, designs, and so on that, we do right at the entrance of the house on the floor to welcome. Kolam has a lot of value since that gives the woman/girls of the house the opportunity to show her crafts and also Kolam has that power to convert a bad mood to good. Our first and main duty as a human being is to thank the sun god for being is the first god that human beings know. We will contemplate the preparation of Pongal sweet rice dish with various exotic herbs and spices. We cook it in ceramic (clay) pots that women decorate with jasmine flowers for the longevity of her husband’s life. They use rice (from the first harvest), lentils, jaggery (natural sugarcane extract), dried fruits such as acajú, and so on. The pan is the cylindrical type with smallmouth with reason to boil the rice and the mixture until it is flooded from the pot and that is the moment when the festival becomes successful and he hears that voice in chorus Pongalo Put it from around the world. That end is not yet an end there are shows scheduled to offer the pass to know the SOUTH OF INDIA through its charming Carnatic music and dances with a very moving rhythm. The festival has finally arrived and we return to the city to visit Thirumalai Nayak Palace, built in 1636 AD, by Tirumalai Nayak, In the afternoon visit the Meenakshi Temple, one of the holy and biggest temple complexes in South India. Attend the evening prayer ceremonies consisting of religious songs, Carnatic music (traditional southern music), fires, incenses, camphor in the Meenakshi Temple.
DAY 6: Madurai – Periyar
Breakfast. In the morning departure by road to Periyar (also known as Thekkady) (150kms, 4-5 hours approx.), Originally the hunting ground of the Maharaja of Travancore today is an example of nature’s generosity, with great landscape charm and rich biodiversity. The reserve is now home to Asian elephants, sloths, sambar, Indian bison or the gaur, wild dogs, leopards, spotted deer, flying Malabar squirrel, scraping deer, and Nilgiri tahr, as well as about 260 species of birds. More than 2000 species of flowering plants grow here, including at least 150 different types of orchids. Transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon enjoy a boat trip on Lake Periyar with the opportunity to see the animals on the banks of the river that leave us a glimpse while killing thirst. Then we embark on a walk through the spice garden (with naturalist) to know the various locally grown spices. The one that attracts attention first is the persistent aroma in the air. The aroma can be clove, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, or cardamom and sometimes a fragrance that combines the aromas of two or more spices. One of the main species produced in the area is cardamom. The variety, Cardamom Small (small cardamom), botanically known as Elettaria cardamom, is the one grown mostly here. Kerala produces and contributes more than 65 percent of the national cardamom.
DAY 7: Periyar – Alleppey
Breakfast, In the morning departure by road to Alleppey (130kms, 4 hours approx.)
Coastal town and entrance gate to the spectacular Backwaters (backwaters) of Kerala. Upon arrival, board the Houseboat (houseboat) built with wood, strong coconut fiber ropes, and other natural materials. Enjoy typical Kerala meals prepared by the chef on board.
DAY 8: Alleppey – Cochin
Breakfast, In the morning departure by road to Cochin (65kms, 1½ hours approx.)
In the afternoon watch the “Kathakali” show. This ancient dance that is more than 500 years old is performed by male dancers accompanied by music, telling a story using their eyes, facial muscles, hands, and feet. Also contemplate the demonstration of ‘Kalaripayattu’, considered the oldest of the martial arts and whose nerve center in Kerala. Much more than a fighting system organized in techniques, martial arts in India is a spectacle.
DAY 9: Cochin
Breakfast. In the morning walk through the Jewish City road and continue your tour visiting the Dutch Palace (closed Friday and national holidays). Later, visit the Church of San Francisco, First European Church of India. In the afternoon, cruise along the shores of this port city to see the Chinese fishing nets, the beautiful sea, and watch the sunset.
DAY 10: Cochin (Departure)
Breakfast. In the morning transfer to the airport for your flight to home country
Accommodation on twin/double sharing at the hotels mentioned above or similar.
01 nights’ accommodation on twin/double sharing at AC Houseboats
Meal Plan on Breakfast at Hotels except in Alleppey Houseboat on Full Board
All transfers, tours, and excursion as per itinerary using air-conditioned AC Vehicle
Local English Speaking Guide
Kathakali Dance Show
demonstration of ‘Kalaripayattu’
All taxes, tolls, parking fees, and service tax.
Any airfare (International or domestic).
Passport and Visa fees for India.
Any Lunch / Dinner is not Include
Any Monument Entrances ( Tickets)
Any meals OR options not mentioned in the itinerary/cost inclusion.
Any item of personal nature and Gratuities.
Additional nights for participants, which are offered at additional cost to individual participants.
All personal expenses such as medical expenses, laundry, drinks, telephone and fax services, and all other services not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary.