Explore India’s rich southern heritage on this 17-day small group journey, enjoying incredibly mountain scenery, stunning beaches and some of the country’s top cultural highlights. Experience the bustling streets of Mumbai, the world famous beaches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Goa, and the majesty of the second largest mosque in India at Hyderabad. We continue our adventure with stops at the scenic hilltown of Ooty for a historic railway ride through the forested hills and Madurai to visit the majestic Meenakshi Amman Temple, symbol of the Tamil people. We end our tour at the stunning temples of Mahabalipuram. This journey can be perfectly combined with our 15-day India’s Northern Heritage tour. Please contact Bestway Tours & Safaris for details.
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour|
|1.||Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)||2.||Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram|
|3.||Elephanta Caves||4.||Churches and Convents of Goa|
|5.||Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai||6.||Nilgiri Mountain Railway|
|7.||Great Living Chola Temples|
|Price (From)||:||US$ 2975|
|International air not included|
Day 01: Arrive Mumbai
Namaste! We are warmly welcomed at the airport in the traditional Indian way with hands clapped together and transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax.
Overnight: Hotel President (5 Star), Mumbai (2 nights)
Day 02: Mumbai
We start our day with a visit to the Gateway of India, Mumbai's most famous monument. Here we embark on our excursion to the Elephanta Caves*, located on an island in the Sea of Oman. The caves contain a collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva. Here, Indian art has found one of its most perfect expressions, particularly the huge high reliefs in the main cave. We return to Mumbai by motor launch and explore the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai*, visiting the Prince of Wales Museum and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus*, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. Our Next Stop is at Mani Bhawan, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed here during the Freedom Struggle. The house is now converted into a Museum. From here we leave for the Jain Temple and Hanging Gardens, the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, the bustling Crawford Market and drive past Haji Ali, the tomb of a wealthy Muslim merchant. We end our tour at the Dhobi Ghat, the world's largest outdoor laundry. The word Dhobi Ghat is used all over India to refer to any place where many washers are present. (B)
Day 03: Mumbai/Goa (Flight)
Today we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Goa, a state in western India with a famous coastline stretching along the Arabian Sea. Its long history as a Portuguese colony prior to 1961 is evident in its whitewashed 16th-century churches and fragrant spice plantations. Goa is also known for its sandy beaches, ranging from popular stretches at Baga and Palolem to laid-back fishing villages such as Agonda. On arrival in Goa, we are met by our local host and transferred to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax along a sandy stretch of sea shore.
Overnight: Vivanta by Taj Fort Agurada (5 Star), Goa (2 nights) (B)
Day 04: Goa
Although best known for its miles of palm lined beaches along the Arabian Sea, Goa has a rich heritage as well. The Churches and Convents of Goa*, the former capital of the Portuguese Indies, illustrate the evangelization of Asia. These monuments were influential in spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art in all the countries of Asia where missions were established. We visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus, built in the 16th century, where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are enshrined, and the Se Cathedral, which is the most imposing church in Old Goa. Its vaulted interior overwhelms visitors with its sheer grandeur, and the cathedral’s five bells are some of the biggest in Goa. The remainder of the day is free to relax on the beach or enjoy the bazaars of Goa. (B)
Day 05: Goa/Hyderabad (Flight)
We are free to experience Goa’s acclaimed beaches in the morning. Afternoon we take a short flight to Hyderabad, the state capital of Andhra Pradesh. On arrival in Hyderabad, we are transferred to our hotel. This 400-year-old heritage city is dotted with mosques, tombs, temples, forts, treasuries, armories and caravansaries. In the evening, we enjoy dinner at a restaurant offering world famous Hyderabadi food.
Overnight: Taj Banjara (5 Star), Hyderabad (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 06: Hyderabad
Our full day exploration of Hyderabad starts with a visit to the jewel of the city and a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, the Charminar. A ceremonial gateway oriented towards the cardinal directions, it was built to celebrate the foundation of Hyderabad in the year 1591. Next we visit the Mecca Masjid, a glorious mosque that took 78 years to build. Probably the greatest edifice of the Qutub Shahi period, this mosque is the second largest in India and reputedly the seventh largest in the world. Mecca Masjid can accommodate 10,000 worshippers quite comfortably. We then drive by Husain Sagar Lake, a large artificial lake built around 1550 with a statue of the Buddha on an island. We visit the Salar Jung Museum, one of the three National Museums of India, which offers a collection of sculptures, paintings, carvings, textiles, manuscripts, ceramics, metallic artifacts, carpets, clocks and furniture from all over the world. We end our morning with the Qutb Shahi tombs, an outstanding example of an Indo-Muslim dynastic necropolis. In the afternoon, we visit Golconda Fort. This legendary fortress is one of the largest in South India and governed the trade and destiny of the region for over seven centuries. Its extraordinary acoustical system is unparalleled in the architectural history of the Deccan and perhaps even in the military architecture of India - a clap below the dome of the entrance can be heard at the highest point of the fort almost a kilometer away. (B)
Day 07: Hyderabad/Bangalore (Flight)
Today we are transferred to the airport for our flight to Bangalore. On arrival, we are welcomed and transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon, we explore Bangalore, visiting the imposing granite Vidhana Soudha, which houses the legislature of the state government, Cubbon Park’s 3000 acres of verdant tranquility, Tipu Sultan's Palace, one of the most remarkable Islamic buildings in the city, and Lal Bagh Garden, India's most beautiful botanical garden, which features rare trees brought from as far away as Persia, Afghanistan and France. Bangalore is famous for its shopping scene, and the evening is free to peruse the many street stalls and stores.
Overnight: Vivanta by Taj M.G Road (5 Star), Bangalore (1 night) (B)
Day 08: Bangalore/Mysore (Drive)
After breakfast, we drive to Mysore. En route we visit Srirangapatam, the island fortress that was once the capital of the warrior-kings Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore. On arrival in Mysore, we check in to our hotel. In the afternoon, we visit the Maharajah's Palace, Shri Chamundeswari Temple and the Nadi Shiva's Mount. Mysore has never failed to mesmerize with its rich heritage, magnificent palaces, beautiful gardens, imposing buildings, broad shady avenues and sacred temples.
Overnight: Radisson Blu Plaza (5 Star), Mysore (1 night) (B)
Day 09: Mysore/Ooty (Drive)
Our adventure continues as we drive to Ooty. The verdant hills, lush valleys and pristine natural beauty of this hill resort offer a perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy nature. On arrival in Ooty, we check in to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to rest or explore the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’.
Overnight: Taj Savoy (Heritage), Ooty (2 nights) (B)
Day 10: Ooty
Today we explore Ooty, visiting the Botanical Gardens, as well as Lamb's Rock and Dodabetta Peak, which both provide stunning views of the surrounding tea estates. Later we board our steam train to enjoy a trip from Ooty to Coonoor, affording spectacular views of the verdant scenery. The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-kilometer long metre-gauge single-track railway in Tamil Nadu, was completed in 1908. Scaling an elevation of 326 to 2,203 meters, the railway represented the cuting-edge technology of the time. It travels through pristine rain forests and meticulously manicured tea gardens, crossing streams and ravines on countless bridges. After our unique rail journey, we return to our hotel. (B)
Day 11: Ooty/Kodaikanal (Drive)
A scenic and refreshing drive brings us to the peaceful hill station of Kodaikanal, located at the top of the Palini Hills. Upon arrival, we take a boat ride on Kodaikanal Lake, which gives us stunning views of the surrounding landscape. This evening, we spend some time with the local people.
Overnight: The Carlton (5 Star), Kodaikanal (1 night) (B)
Day 12: Kodaikanal/Madurai (Drive)
After breakfast, we drive to Madurai, the second largest city in Tamil Nadu. At the heart of this 2,500-year-old city is Meenakshi Amman Temple, a Dravidian-style complex that includes 14 gopurams (gateway towers) and two shining golden shrines. Each aspect of the temple is intricately carved, and the entire complex boasts an estimated 33,000 sculptures. The temple is a significant symbol of the Tamil people, and though the current reconstruction was built in the 1600s, references to the temple can be found in Tamil literature that is thousands of years old.
Overnight: The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai (5 Star), Madurai (1 night) (B)
Day 13: Madurai/Thanjavur (Drive)
Our adventure continues as we drive to Thanjavur and check in to our hotel. Thanjavur is popularly known as Tanjore. In the afternoon, we explore the Brihadisvara Temple, one of the Great Living Chola Temples*. This stunning temple is more than 1000 years old and one of the largest in India. Set among its vibrant decorations are the names of dancers, musicians and poets, reminding us of the significant role the monument played in 11th century Indian art. We end our tour of Tanjore with a visit to the Tanjore Palace & Museum, which has an eclectic collection of regal memorabilia dating mostly from the early 19th century.
Overnight: Sangam Hotel (4 Star), Thanjavur (1 night) (B)
Day 14: Thanjavur/Pondicherry (Drive)
Following breakfast, we drive to Pondicherry. This former French Colonial city in Tamil Nadu didn’t come under Indian rule until 1954. Its main attraction, the ashram at Auroville, is actually outside of town. This colony is an experiment in human unity, and hosts people from more than 50 nationalities in its cash-free settlement. In Auroville’s International Town, we will visit the Matrimandir, a famous monument representing a lotus flower that took almost 40 years to build, only being completed in 2008. We will also explore the 400-year old Manakula Vinayagar Temple, which has several frescos telling the life story of a half human and half animal lord.
Overnight: The Promenade (Boutique Hotel), Pondicherry (1 night) (B)
Day 15: Pondicherry/Mahabalipuram (Drive)
We drive on to Mahabalipuram. On arrival, we check in at our hotel. In the afternoon, we visit the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram*. Carved out of the coast in the 7th and 8th centuries, this group of ancient archaeological wonders is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its stunning rathas, temples in the form of chariots, and mandapas, intricately decorated cave sanctuaries. A highlight is Rivage temple, which contains thousands of sculptures celebrating Shiva.
Overnight: Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove (5 Star), Mahabalipuram (2 nights) (B)
Day 16: Mahabalipuram/Kanchipuram/Chennai/Mahabalipuram (Drive)
Following our morning meal, we continue to Kanchipuram, capital of the Pallava Dynasty and one of the seven sacred cities of India. Ancient Kanchipuram, the city of a thousand temples, is one of the most sacred pilgrim centers for Hindus. About 126 temples remain in the city, which was under the control of the Cholas as far back as 2nd century B.C. and a Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries. In the afternoon, we tour Chennai. We visit the National Art Gallery & Museum, which contains some of the best collections of bronzes in the country, including the famous icon of Natraja. We continue to India's oldest surviving British church, St. Mary's Church, built in 1680. We end our tour with a visit to People’s Park, beautiful Marina Beach and the clock towers before returning to our hotel. (B)
Day 17: Mahabalipuram/Depart Chennai (Drive)
After a memorable journey through incredible India, we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight. This tour can be perfectly combined with our 15-day India’s Northern Heritage Tour. Another great option is to extend our journey with one of Bestway’s India holiday vacation packages to other parts of the country. Please contact Bestway Tours & Safaris for details. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Departure Dates & Prices
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This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 08 participants
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