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Welcome to India and the start of your holiday! Arrive Chennai, included transfer to hotel. An afternoon tour of the city includes a vist to St George Fort, built in 1653 and St Mary’s Church, the oldest British church in India.
En route to Pondicherry visit Kanchipuram, one of sacred cities in India and the seaside town of Mahabalipuram, famous for its shore temple. The city is also famous for handwoven silk. In Mahabalipuram, the huge rock-cut sculptures and mandapams (pillared pavilions) date from the 5th to 8th centuries. Drive south to Pondicherry, a former French colony which exudes a Mediterranean aura - whitewashed residences, ornamental gardens and excellent French-Indian restaurants. Enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour which includes the enormous Brihadishwara Temple.
Continuing south, you’ll arrive at Tanjore. Also known as Thanjavur, Tanjore is an ancient fortified town, with a glorious history dating back more than 1500 years. Thanjavur was the ancient capital of the Chola kings whose origins date back to the beginning of Christianity. Our city tour includes the enormous Brihadishwara Temple. Built by Raja Raja in 1010, the World Heritage protected temple has a dome weighing an estimated 80 tonnes which was hauled into place along an earth ramp in a manner similar to that used for the Egyptian pyramids.
A short drive to Trichy. Trichy has been ravaged by war through the centuries. A lasting legacy is the Rock Fort and its temples. Enjoy some exploration of the fort and temples on our afternoon tour.
This morning, we arrive in Madurai. A bustling city jam-packed with rickshawallas, pilgrims and traders and resembling a seemingly continuous bazaar. Madurai is yours to enjoy.
Enjoy a sightseeing tour. Highlights include the Sri Meenakshi Temple built in 1560 and the city’s busy bazaars. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the city further.
The journey continues to Periyar which has south India’s most popular wildlife sanctuary and home to sambar wild boar, elephant, bison, antelope, langur and a small tiger population. Kumily, close to the sanctuary and where you’ll stay, is a pretty town dotted with small spice and handicraft shops.
There is plenty to do in and around Periyar. Perhaps enjoy a boat ride on Lake Periyar to spot herds of wild elephants or visit the nearby tea estates and spice plantation. Afternoon at leisure.
Continue to Kumarakom. Perched sleepily amongst a tangle of lush tropical waterways known as the Keralan backwaters, Kumarakom is technically an island on Lake Vembanad. An ideal place to relax and be at one with natural surroundings, you’ll enjoy two nights here. Check out the wonderful bird sanctuary.
Enjoy your free day to relax.
This morning, you’ll board a traditional Keralan rice boat for a journey through the backwaters in and around Allapuzha (Alleppey). The boat will cross shallow, palm-fringed lakes and cruise along peaceful canals where copra and cashews are loaded onto local boats. The on-board cook will prepare locally-inspired food. Relax, read and catch some sun as the boat plies it’s route.
Disembarking at Allapuzha, enjoy a short drive to Kochi (Cochin). The city of Kochi perfectly reflects the eclecticism of Kerala. One can see winding streets with mosques, a 16th century Jewish synagogue and Jewish community with ancient roots and 500 year old Portuguese cottages! Enjoy the remains of the day your way.
This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour, including a walking tour of Fort Cochin. With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps watch famous Keralan dancers perform.
Hotel check-out and included onward transfer to airport.
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