Day 1: Arrival at Chennai Airport
A very warm welcome from MJ Tours & Travel as we start our 20 day itinerary with a drive along the East Coast Road to the popular sculpture town of Mahibilapuram for a nights stay in a pleasant hotel.
Day 2: Mamallapuram
After breakfast we commence sight seeing in Mahabilapuram (Mamallapuram) and there is a lot to see of ancient structures. We start by visiting the Sea Shore Temple and The Five Rathas. We will drive around the other places like Old Lighthouse, Krishna Mandapam, Arjuna Penance and Krishna Butterball. The beautiful Sea Shore Temple (on the sea shore, as the name suggests) was built in 700-728 CE and it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India. Five Rathas Temple (in the Five Rathas village) is also known as Pancha Pandava Rathas and is an example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture. Dating from the late 7th century. 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). As Mamallapuram is also a fishing town, our visit would not be complete without a boat ride into the Bay of Bengal from the fisherman's village, which we do after lunch. By about 5 p.m. we will drive back to Mahabalipuram to participate in Pooja (Hindu ritual) at Thirukadalmallai Temple (The main temple in the town). That temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu incarnated as Sthalasayana Perumal, a form of Vishnu reclining on Adhisesha, the serpent deities. We will stay here for one more night in our pleasant hotel.
Day 3: Kanchipuram
We will leave Mahabalipuram after breakfast and drive down to Kanchipuram (also known as Silk City and Temple City, because many men buy silk saris for their future brides here and the town also has many temples). On our way we will stop by and visit Thirukazhukundram, a must-see temple place. The Vedagiriswarar temple, also known as the Eagle temple, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is located on the top of a hill. It is truly amazing how people made all the steps from rock and the temple itself very high up, in the first millennium. The view from this temple of the town is wonderful to watch. The second temple at the foothills is dedicated to Parvathi, Shiva's wife, known here as Thiripurasundari Amman. The temple at the foothills has four towers (Gopurams) closely resembling the architecture of Tiruvannamalai Annamalaiyaar temple. We will then head towards Kanchipuram which is 70 km from Mahabalipuram. Kanchipuram has been ruled successively by the Pallavas, the Medieval Cholas, the Later Cholas, the Later Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Carnatic kingdom, and the British. We will check-in to the lovely hotel to refresh ourselves after the journey and by about 4 p.m., we will visit the Varadharaja Perumal Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and get blessed by the God. Let us drive back to the nice hotel for a nights stay.
Day 4: Kanchipuram
We will getup and visit two more beautiful temples called as Ekambareswarar Temple and Kamakshi Amman Temple. Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the five major Shiva temples or Pancha Bootha Sthalams (each representing one the five primary elements) representing the element - Earth. The Kamakshi Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Kamakshi, one of the forms of the goddess Parvati. As you may have noticed, each of the many gods in Hinduism can have several forms. We will drive around and visit some of the Silk Weaving machines where we will get to understand how the silk is woven into beautiful saris. In India, all the highest quality saris are made of silk. You could buy some silk items at a reasonable price as Kanchipuram is the house of Silk. After lunch we will leave to Varadaiahpalem which is 120 km far from Kanchipuram. We just get to another nice hotel and relax.
Day 5: Varadaiahpalem
We will visit the Amma Bhagavan/Kalki Bhagavan Ashram and meditate for a while. It is the title given to Vijay Kumar, an Indian spiritual guru. The title 'Kalki Bhagavan' is derived from traditional Hindu beliefs. Kalki is the name given to the tenth incarnation of Vishnu, who will appear on a white horse, wielding a sword. Bhagavan is a respectful form used to address spiritual teachers or guides. Kalki Bhagavan's movement has been using various names, such as Golden Age Foundation, Bhagavad Dharma, Kalki Dharma and the Oneness Organization. It has also been referred to in the Indian press as the 'Kalki Cult'. India has a huge variety of spiritual religions and movements, but it is often hard to get to these centres of spirituality. In the evening we will move to Tirupati for a night stay in another pleasant hotel. It is 95 km far from Varadaiahpalem.
Day 6: Tirupati
Now for a lovely surprise! We will drive up to Tirupati hill. Tirupati is famous for Venkateswara Swamy temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is one of the most important pilgrimage centers in the World, the temple draws millions of pilgrims and is the busiest pilgrimage center in the world. We will go in for a Darshan of Lord Venkateswara and it will consume minimum 4 hours to reach the main centre. (In Indian culture Darshan is often used to express just being in the presence of a guru). In the evening we will trek to the Kali Gopuram. There are about 3550 steps which are very challenging to climb up. Harder for the people who made the steps! The view from the top is just astounding. We will come back to the same hotel for another enjoyable night's stay.
Day 7: Madanapalle
We will get ready and leave to Madanapalle which is little town in the south of Andra Pradesh, 135 km from Tirupati. Jiddu Krishnamurti, a well known Indian philosopher, was born in this city. Krishnamurti was well known as the 'anti-guru' who said that no organized path could lead to liberation, that everyone had to find their own path. He died in the 1980s. We might go and visit Mother Meera and we will be given a darshan by her, if we are lucky. Mother Meera is born in 1960, and is believed by her devotees to be an embodiment (Avatar) of the Divine Mother (Shakti or Devi). We stay around for a further night's pleasant stay.
Day 8: Vellore
We will make a move towards Vellore which is 128 km from Madanapalle. Vellore is known for the beautiful Golden Temple, which is a spiritual park situated at the foot of a small range of green hills. After lunch we will visit the Golden 'Lakshmi Narayani' Temple dedicated to Lord Mahalakshmi. This temple is headed by the spiritual leader Sri Sakthi Amma. The temple is gold covered, has beautifully intricate work done by artisans specializing in temple art using gold. We will stay here for one night in another nice hotel.
Day 9: Tiruvannamalai
Now it's time to move to a very special place in spirituality: Tiruvannamalai which is 88 km from Vellore. In Tamil, Malai means mountain and Tiru means sacred. Annamalai, the holy mountain there, is another symbol of the Shiva lingam. We will visit the Annamalaiyar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It gets crowded during the Karthigai Deepam festival celebrated between November and December, on the full moon day. We will perform a pooja (ritual) in the evening at the Annamalaiyar temple. Yearly, millions of pilgrims are performing Giri Valam, during full moon days: they walk around the sacred mountain. We will do that lovely walk as well. Tiruvannamalai is home to the ashram of Ramana Maharashi, a Hindu saint . He promoted self enquiry in a non dual (advaita) way. He also promoted the path of devotion (bhakti) for his followers. Huge numbers of people from his ashram perform Giri Valam. We will get back to our new hotel for a quiet night's stay.
Day 10: Tiruvannamalai
After Ramana Maharshi got self-realized, as he was still young, decided to come and live in Arunachala, which refers to Lord Shiva and which is another name for Tiruvannamalai. More than a great philosopher, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi became an internationally known spiritual guide. We will get up early and spend a day in Ramanasramam ashram where Ramana lived from 1922 until his death in 1950. We will stay here in Tiruvannamalai for one more night.
Day 11: Chidambaram
It is time to travel towards another holy place 'Chidambaram'. Chidambaram is 175 km from Tiruvannamalai and we will get there in four hours. In the evening, by 5 p.m., we go for a visit to the famous Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva - A lot of Hindus are either followers of Shiva or else followers of Vishnu. The temple's earliest structures were designed and erected by Peruntaccan, a great temple architect. There will be special pooja performed in the evening, it is said that participating in this pooja will bring all your aspirations true. Natyanjali is a prominent festival celebrated during February every year when Bharatnatyam (female Indian Classical Dance) dancers from all over the country converge to present dance offering to Nataraja. Lord Shiva is captured in pose as Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava(Dance of delight) (Ananda=delight/happiness) in the golden hall of shrine Pon Ambalam (refers to golden hall in Tamil). We will stay for a night here at another pleasant hotel.
Day 12: Srirangam / Trichy
We will get transferred to Trichy which is 170 km from Chidambaram. Trichy is formerly known as Tiruchirappalli and is one of the ten cleanest cities in India. We will visit Srirangam which is one of the most popular temples in India, dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Lord Vishnu. (Remember what we said about Hindu gods having several forms?). We will also visit the Rock fort temple (Uchi Pillaiyaar Koil), perched atop the rock, dedicated to Lord Ganesh - the jolly elephant god. Nayaka Fort is not far away and it is worth looking at it. We will drive back to the hotel in Trichy for a night's enjoyable stay.
Day 13: Madurai
We will head to another wonderful Indian city: Madurai is another interesting destination. Madurai is 155 km from Trichy. The city is an incredible 2500 years old. It is one of the oldest cities in the world which has rich culture and contributed immensely to Tamil literature. Madurai is known as the 'temple town' and it has 14 temple towers with the tallest measuring 51.9 metres. In the evening we will visit Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva as Sundareswarar. We will slowly go back to the hotel for another refreshing night's stay.
Day 14: Madurai area
After breakfast we will visit the Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace, which was considered to be one of the wonders of the South. During 17th century Madurai had been a major trading centre which was visited by the Portuguese, Dutch and other Europeans. As such the king employed all these people and an Italian architect to design this massive palace. The design of the palace includes the architecture of Dravidian, Islamic and European style. The palace includes a grand courtyard surrounded with massive circular pillars and a throne room, covered by a dome that is 60 - 70 ft high. After lunch, we will move towards Samanar Hills, located 15 km from Madurai. This hill has caves where Tamil Jain (Samanar) monks lived. It contains many stone beds and sculptures as well as 2000-year-old Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions. We will enjoy the beautiful surrounding nature and the scenic viewpoint from there before returning to the hotel.
Day 15: Rameswaram
Today we go to a very important city spiritually: we will start our journey towards Rameswaram which is 170 km from Madurai. Rameswaram is situated in the gulf of Mannar, known as the Indian Peninsula. It is considered to be the one of the holiest places in India for Hindus beside Varanasi (Benares). In the evening we will visit the Ramanathaswamy temple closely associated with Rama and dedicated to the Lord Shiva. The temple has the longest corridor among the Hindu temples in India. In Ramayana, one of the great Hindu epics, Rama, the seventh incarnation of the God Vishnu, has been believed to have prayed to Lord Shiva in that temple to absolve any sin's he might have committed during his war against the demon Ravana in Sri Lanka. We will go to our hotel for a quiet rest and sleep.
Day 16: Rameswaram area
An interesting geographic fact: we will get ready and visit the Pamban Bridge which is connecting the mainland India to Rameswaram. Then we will head to the Dhanushkodi, a village at the southern tip of Rameswaram island. We will visit Adam's bridge which was a natural bridge between Sri Lanka and India. In the Ramayana, it is said that Lord Rama built that bridge, called Ram Setu then destroyed it later on, as requested by Vibishna. We will head back to the hotel for an enjoyable night's stay.
Day 17: Kanyakumari
Rise and Shine! We will get ready for a long journey and head to Kanyakumari early in the morning. Kanyakumari is located 300 km from Rameswaram and on the way, we will stop by for a visit of the Kattabomman memorial fort. Katta Bomman was a valiant warrior who fought against the British in the 17th century. Kanyakumari is mainly famous as a pilgrimage and tourist place. It is a unique geographical location in India as it is the tip of the peninsula, which is surrounded by the Laccadive Sea. We will relax through for a nights stay in another nice hotel.
Day 18: Kanyakumari
We will visit Kumari Amman Temple, Vivekananda Rock and Thiruvalluvar statue. Kumari Amman temple is a 3000 years old temple dedicated to Parvathi (known as the virgin god). Vivekananda was a saint who used this rock for meditating and he was a very popular English speaker too.It is said he gained enlightenment on the rock, and henceforth became a reformer and philosopher. Also according to legend it was on this rock that Goddess Kumari performed austerity. Thiruvalluvar is a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher whose contribution to Tamil literature is the Thirukkural, a work on ethics. Let us extend our stay here in this interesting place by one more night.
Day 19: Kovalam
Let us move towards Kovalam which is a very popular beach town and it's a coastal village located near Trivandrum. Kovalam is 83 km far from Kanayakumari and we will visit the popular Padmanabhapuram Palace on our way. We will check-in and relax until the evening. We will visit the Padmanabhaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, considered to be one of the richest temples in the world. We will drive back to the hotel for a night's restful stay.
Day 20: Kovalam beaches
It's a day to explore the beaches in Kovalam and spend some quiet time on the beach. Kovalam has 3 important beaches namely Lighthouse Beach, Samudra Beach and Hawah Beach. We will gather for a special farewell dinner and sleep through.
Day 21: Transfer to Trivandrum Airport
You will get transferred to the Trivandrum Airport. We at MJ Tours & Travel hope you had many enjoyable experiences in your tour and are left with your memories.
From 1360 per person based on 8 people
- Accommodation in 2 or 3-star hotels with breakfast included and twin-share rooms
- AC taxi with English-speaking driver
Package does not include:
- The Flight tickets
- Any international airfare and airport tax
- Visa Charges
- Lunch and Dinner unless stated otherwise
- Any personal, medical and evacuation insurance
- Drinks and personal expenses
Depending on your arrival and departure time you may have to pay for the additional nights stay.