Day 1 : Arrival at Chennai Airport
A very warm welcome from the MJ Tours & Travel crew! We will head straight for our first beach town, the world famous town called Mahabalipuram (or Mamallapuram) for a night stay at a lovely hotel. Mahabalipuram is 70 km south of Chennai on the coast. Mahabalipuram is home to world-famous monuments and sculptures from the Pallava Dynasty (Pallava Dynasty: second to ninth centuries CE).
Day 2 : Mahabalipuram
In the morning, we have an opportunity to witness the fabulous temples and sculptures, in the town which has been classified as a UNESCO world heritage site. Highlights include The Shore Temple, known to be the most ancient temple in South India and dedicated to Lord Shiva; (most Hindus are either followers of Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu) the Pancha Pandava Rathas, temples in the form of chariots; Arjuna's Penance, a giant open air relief; Krishna Mandapam, the cave sanctuary; and the giant natural rock know as Krishna's Butter Ball. No it will not roll away! All in all a feast for the eyes. The Five Rathas village is also home to many sculpture shops. Most of the sculptors will have trained in the government sculpture college on the East Coast Road 2 km from Mamallapuram. Here you can play a game: 'Spot the perfect Buddha'. The perfect Buddha could be the size of your fist or greater than life size, but you will know it because it has the perfect balance of masculine and feminine features (some Buddhas are too masculine; other too feminine). After lunch we will relax on the lovely beach...don't forget your sunblock! (Note the fishermen's boats: they go out very early in the morning and come back with their catch to the Mamallapuram fish market). We will stay one more night in Mahabalipuram.
Day 3 : Pondicherry
It's going to be another great day and let's enjoy the coastal drive down to Pondicherry which is 100 km from Mahabalipuram. It's another amazing destination with a rich colonial past (Dutch, Portuguese, English and French). It became part of India in 1954, but retains a French flavour. After lunch we will visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Spiritual seekers come here from all over the world to visit Mira Alfassa's grave. She was called ‘Sweet Mother’ by her devotees. The garden is open to all for meditation. The ashram also houses a library where Sri Aurobindo & The Mother's complete works can be found. Then we will spend some quiet time on the sea front which is nice and breezy. Around Christmas and New Year, there are a whole series of beautiful rangolis (chalk patterns) done on the road running along the beach. If you're here then, get your camera ready... the rangoli pictures are amazing and there are so many of them! Let's move to our hotel for a night stay in Pondicherry. Note the layout of the streets: 'Pondy' is a planned city like New York with streets running north to south and east to west. (A real exception in India!)
Day 4 : Pondicherry
A day to see some cooking Indian style! First we will go to the very colorful market nestled in the old town to buy the spices and vegetable ingredients themselves guided by our local chief cook. Note this is interesting in itself as in India service in a shop is never impersonal, as you will see. Then we will start cooking and we will enjoy our own meals in the lovely garden behind the house. In the evening we will visit the Manakula Vinayaka temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha and participate in Pooja (rituals) happening here. We will stay here for one more night in our pleasant hotel.
Day 5 : Auroville
In the morning a trip to the Auroville, an experimental township founded by ‘The Mother’ - in 1968. Nestled in the heart of the city, the ‘Matrimandir’ is a truly extraordinary building. This temple is in the form of a huge sphere, it is called ‘the soul of Auroville’ and symbolizes the ‘Divine Mother’. The Matrimandir took 37 years to build, from the laying of the foundation stone at sunrise on 21 February 1971 - the Mother’s 93rd birthday - to completion in May 2008. It features a spherical dome, surrounded by 12 meditation rooms, called ‘petals’. If you prefer take a trip to Auroville Beach for a dip in the sea. On the return journey, we will stop at a restaurant on the beach for a lovely lunch. (We all know the French take their food very seriously, and this has spread to Pondy). In the late evening, we will catch a train that goes up to the Colonial Kochi. It will be an overnight journey. As any seasoned traveller will tell you, Indian trains are unlike any other in the world. The cabinet at the centre even has its own Minister for Railways. The rail network (a legacy of the British) is a very important part of the country's infrastructure.
Day 6 : Auroville
Once we reach Kochi, we will check into a lovely heritage hotel and relax until lunch and we could walk around the Fort Kochi, the Chinese fishing nets and St Francis church. A mix of old houses built by the Portuguese, Dutch and British in these colonial periods line the streets of Fort Kochi. Chinese fishing nets is a traditional fishing method used by most of the coastal areas in China and St Francis church is the memorial of Vasco da Gama who travelled to India three times. Incidentally Vasco da Gama died while he was visiting Fort Kochi and was buried here. (He was the first explorer to reach India after thousands of lives and dozens of vessels were lost trying to find a route. He was Portuguese). We will head back to the hotel for a night stay in the heritage hotel.
Day 7 : Kochi (Fort Kochi)
After breakfast we will visit the Mattancherry Dutch Palace and there we will be witnessing the Rajas life history. Mattancherry Dutch Palace was gifted by the Portuguese as a present to the Raja of Cochin around 1555. It is depicting Hindu Temple art, Portraits and exhibits the Rajas of Kochi. The glory of the palace rests on the large number of murals, executed in the best traditions of Hindu temple art, which are religious, decorative and stylized. The murals have been painted in rich warm colours in tempera technique. We will also visit the Paradesi Jewish Synagogue; it is the oldest active synagogue in the British Commonwealth of Nations. It was constructed in 1568. There said to be seven synagogues earlier but this is the only one remains in use. Paradesi means refugees or immigrants. We will go back to the hotel and get ready for a traditional Kerala Kathakali show. We will try and be there at about 5:30 p.m. to look at the stunning make up session, followed by the dance show. We will sleep in Fort Kochi for one more night at the nice heritage hotel.
Day 8 : Fort Kochi
Kerela has lots of beaches, but you cannot get better beaches than Cherai Beach. Let us move to Vypin Island, explore the island along the seashore and then going to Cherai beach. It is 45 minutes drive from Kochi. It's a very beautiful and scenic beach and less crowded. We will be on the seashore enjoying the sun except the evening when we will walk around get the feel of Cherai beach and Vypin Island. We will stay for a night at a lovely resort in Cherai beach.
Day 9 : Mararikulam
From today you will sure of getting through some wonderful beaches. We will move to Mararikulam, which is famous for the excellent Marari beach which is 55 km from Vypin Island. Marari beach is well connected by road and train. Cochin is the nearest Airport which is about one hour journey. We will not do much here but relax for the day. In the evening a pleasant surprise! We go for a fishing boat ride. Marari beach is very clean and safe for swimming.From today you will sure of getting through some wonderful beaches. We will move to Mararikulam, which is famous for the excellent Marari beach which is 55 km from Vypin Island. Marari beach is well connected by road and train. Cochin is the nearest Airport which is about one hour journey. We will not do much here but relax for the day. In the evening a pleasant surprise! We go for a fishing boat ride. Marari beach is very clean and safe for swimming.
Day 10 : Alleppey
Onward to Alappuzha on the Keralan coast. Here you will enjoy the relaxing and rejuvenating experience of staying in a fully fitted house boat as you travel through the stunning Kerala Backwaters on Vembanad Lake. Kerala is a 'God's Own Country' and Alleppey Beach is a must visit beach of Kerala. There is a carnival celebrated between 25th December to 31st December and you can go for a Camel Ride during the Carnival. You will have the experience of sleeping on water as you sleep in the houseboat for a night.
Day 11 : Varkala
We will travel to Varkala which is 120 km from Alleppey. Varkala is an attractive beach destination and it's the only place in southern Kerala where cliffs are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea. You can see numerous water sports and Ayurveda centres with Spa facilities available on this cliff. Varkala is also famous for an amazing 2000 year old 'Janardana Swamy Temple'. Janardana Swami is a form of Lord Vishnu. Vaishnavism (followers of Vishnu) is one the major branches of Hinduism. It (this form of Hinduism) is focused on the veneration of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. The rituals that the Brahmin priests perform at these temples are unchanged for many centuries. Varkala is also known as the place in the south where cremations are performed - 'Dakshin Kashi' in Malayalam, the equivalent of Benares in the North. The temple is located close to the Papanasam Beach which is considered to have holy water that washes sins away. There is a wonderful Ayurvedic centre here too. Let us move around Janardana Swamy Temple and for a contrast spend some quiet time on the beach with the amazing cliff views watching the sunset, we will then stay in Varkala for a night. In the evening, we are invited by a local family for dinner.
Day 12 : Trivandrum / Kovalam
Get prepared for travelling to one of the most popular beaches in Kerala and Kovalam is 60 km from Varkala. We will spend some quiet time on the Kovalam beach and in the evening we will visit 'Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple' located in Trivandrum which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is considered to be the richest temple in the world. Unfortunately the entry to this particular temple is restricted to only those who profess the Hindu faith. Devotees have to strictly follow the dress code, which means the men have to remove their shirts and they have to be wearing dhoties(kilt-like garment for men). The Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is a short drive away, not so far. At this Zoo, you are able to see animals such as; Tigers, Lions, Crocodiles, Bears and Monkeys etc. We will sleep in Kovalam for a night in a pleasant hotel.
Day 13 : Kovalam
In Kerala there are plenty of beaches with panoramic views and stunning scenery, but Kovalam Lighthouse Beach will be topping the list. It is a very clean beach and is well maintained, it is also ideal for those who wish to sunbathe. There is a variety of boat-rides available on Lighthouse beach which brings some excitement for the tourists. If you feel like 'getting away from it all' there are two more beaches which we can head towards if you wish to see a little more of Kerala. Hawah and Samudra beaches are adjacent to each other and they are preferred by the tourists who want peaceful holidays and to sunbathe in peace with no hassle. Water sports on these two beaches are highly recommended especially during sunrise. We will spend some quiet and relaxed time on these beaches and also experience a Kerala Ayurvedic Massage to sooth and invigorate.
Day 14 : Transfer to Trivandrum Airport
It's time to say bye and get transferred to Trivandrum Airport which is 12 km from Kovalam. We hope you had a relaxing as well as interesting holiday with MJ Tours and Travel. Happy journey!
From 999 per person based on 8 people
- Above quoted rate is Per Person
- Accommodation in 2 or 3-star hotels with breakfast included and twin-share rooms
- AC taxi with English-speaking driver
- Private English-speaking guide
Package does not include:
- The Flight tickets
- Visa Charges
- Lunch and Dinner
Depending on your arrival and departure time you may have to pay for the additional nights stay.