Tamil Nadu Highlights and Coast

At a Glance

CHENNAI – MAHABALIPURAM – PONDICHERRY – TRANQUEBAR – VELANKANI – TANJORE – TRICHY – KARAIKUDI – MADURAI – COVELONG BEACH – KANCHIPURAM – CHENNAI

This is a very special tour that concentrates mainly on the temple architecture and the coastal wealth of beaches along with the showcase of the city life and the unique features in art and aesthetics. The wonderful experience begins at Chennai, one of the most classically and culturally gifted cities of India. Tamil Nadu, the state in focus is dotted with countless temples. The temple styles have evolved from the pre-Christian era till today.

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It began with the emergence of ornate halls to walled enclosures, from circumambulator paths to a thousand pillared halls like in Madurai temples. The temples at Karaikudi are scooped out of the rocks. The ones at Tanjore have large sculpted towers and gateways. On the other hand, the Coast of Tamil Nadu has several virgin beaches that drench you in placidity and refresh the souls never like before. The Marina Beach being the second longest in the world.

The exciting list of activities includes windsurfing, angling and a short dip to the coral reef at Muttukudu. Apart from such a happening string of movement, there are museums, speciality cuisine, forts, music and dance centres and so much more. On this unique tour, you will visit Velankanni, the renowned Basilica Shrine of “Our Lady of Health’ known as Lourdes of the East.

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Starting from £2847.00

International flights & VIP meet at aircraft door included - more Special Value inclusions listed below

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ASK A QUESTION

Tel: 0207 931 8273

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Freephone: 0800 1777 770

Special Value

  • A gift when you book your tour with us, a DVD film called ‘Mystic India’
  • International flights included
  • VIP meet at aircraft door on arrival
  • Useful gift is given to you on arrival
  • Private arrival and departure transfers
  • Private car & driver for all road transfers
  • Snack Hamper, with juice and water in your private car
  • Mobile phone to use while in India to keep in contact with our local office and your driver
  • Meals as per itinerary (B = breakfast) (HB = breakfast, lunch or dinner) (FB = breakfast, lunch & dinner)
  • Private guide for sightseeing in all major cities
  • Entrances to all monument and places of interest included
  • See the Shore Temples at Mahabalipuram
  • Take a walking tour of Pondicherry
  • Visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry
  • Heritage stay in Tranquebar
  • See the Basilica shrine of ‘Our Lady of Health’ in Velankanni
  • Tour of Tanjore and its temples
  • Visit Trichy’s Rock Fort and temple complex
  • Explore the Village of Karaikudi in Chettinad
  • Try the spicy Chettinad Cruise
  • Walk around the famous Meenakshi Temple
  • Visit the Thirumalai Nayak Palace in Madurai
  • Visit the Gandhi Memorial Museum in Madurai
  • Experience a domestic train journey from Madurai to Chennai
  • Relax beachside in Covelong
  • Visit Kanchipuram

This Tour features the following locations

CHENNAI: Chaotic streets, scorching heat and the sheer absence of world famous sights. You’d expect Chennai to be the poor cousin, the most ignored metro of India. But that’s because you haven’t heard of its magnificent traditions, beautiful customs, and super-friendly people. Any city that believes offering food to others to be a service is sure to be a treat for your taste buds. Authentic dishes such as rasam, kootu, and fish curry steal your heart, and that strong Tamil coffee is exactly what those caffeine dreams are made up of. Chennai has also managed to turn up the heat, with glitzy nightclubs, cosmo shopping malls, and multi-cuisine restaurants staying open till late, but it’s still all about meeting people, eating, drinking and exploring the local way of life.

MAHABALIPURAM: Full of UNESCO World Heritage-listed carvings and temples, Mahabalipuram site, was once a major seaport for the ancient Pallava kingdom, which was also responsible for much of the stunning architecture you see here today. Considered to look especially beautiful during sunset, these temples can truly take the breath away. Factor in all that coastal beauty and you have a hidden gem on your hands. It’s not all ancient and historic, though. Mamallapuram also has a popular traveller ghetto where you get all kinds of dishes, souvenir items, and shops. If you’re looking for a small, laid-back town that can be easily explored via a day tour from Chennai, this is where you need to be!

PONDICHERRY:  Ruled by the French till the year 1954, so you can still see the French culture having great significance here. It presents an intoxicating mix of French and sub-continental cultures, largely responsible for its boho-chic vibe and international acclaim. The fresh sea air, stunning secluded beaches, low alcohol prices, great cuisine and excellent yoga retreats don’t hurt its reputation either. The Old Town is known for its bougainvillea-lined teahouses, ancient cathedrals, 18th-century buildings, cobblestone streets and quiet enclaves, while the newer areas are chaotically Indian. Auroville, one of the greatest spiritual destinations on the planet, a place without borders, is also located just outside town.

TRANQUEBAR: Every weekend hundreds of local families from the neighbouring villages gather around the 400-year-old Fort located right next to Bungalow on the Beach where our clients stay. Ice-cream vendors, balloon sellers and snack stalls give an insight into the humble expression of how people like to celebrate life by the ocean in Tranquebar. The fort is the Danish fort after Kronborg located in Denmark. The Dansborg Archaeological Museum situated inside the fort holds a collection of curios and artefacts dating back to the Danes. It also has fossils of early centuries, coins, fish bones, Chinese porcelain and weapons. Rare paintings of Maratha kings and palm leaf manuscripts are also stored here.

TANJORE: Formerly known as Tanjore, Thanjavur presents the foundation blocks of one of the greatest civilisations of South India, one that was defined by its eloquent culture, artistic excellence and architectural legacy. The capital of the Great Chola Empire in its heydey, this bustling Indian town has a labyrinth of palaces, temples and memoirs of ancient civilisations that warrant exploration and deserve moments of your time. The best thing to do here is exploring the Great Chola Temples, UNESCO World Heritage Monuments that are solely constructed from granite, one of the hardest materials that most modern day architects with all their modern technology would want to avoid. The greatest of all temples is the Brihadishwara, a beautiful temple that is full of elaborate carvings, mesmerising artistry and beautiful frescoes. Other destinations worth exploring include Poompuhar and the Thanjavur Royal Palace. Thanjavur also gave birth to the Tanjore style of painting, and many masterpieces can be seen all over the city.

TRICHY: Located on the banks of Cauvery River, Tiruchirappalli (or simply Trichy) is the fourth largest city in the state, one of the oldest inhabited cities of India and one of the key tourist areas in the region. Its star attraction is the Rock Fort, an architectural marvel that hosts two stunning temples constructed in an 83 m rock. With settlements dating back to the second millennium BC, there is much to see and do here, and you can literally feel the presence of the ancients in this beautiful land, a unique energy reverberating in its 17th-century temples and churches. Like Thanjavur, Trichy celebrates Pongal with great fervour and visiting the city while it celebrates its most beautiful festival is an experience to be cherished.

KARAIKUDI: Karaikudi and 74 other villages were the homelands of the Nattukottai Chettiars. The Chettiars were a prosperous banking community who ventured overseas to do business in South and Southeast Asia in the 19th – 20th centuries. Their legacies are the charming houses of Chettinad built with simple materials; these houses have to be seen to be believed. Not yet discovered by mass tourism, Chettinad is a rural area certain to surprise even the most discerning traveller. To see these houses alone would justify a trip there, not forgetting the famous spicy Chettinad cuisine, different to what you will find in the rest of the state. Apart from the houses, Karaikudi offers extensive antique shopping opportunities, a weekly shandy village market, and some temples. Also visits the local craftsmen making the unique Athangudi Tiles which unlike ceramic tiles that are made with fire burnt clay, these Chettinad tiles are made only from the local sand then sun dried.

MADURAI: Madurai, the city that never sleeps! Madurai is essentially a temple town that might not boast of hedonistic attractions, but more than makes up with its incredible architecture. The temples found here are truly spellbinding, glowing examples of Dravidian architecture. As one of the oldest continually inhabited cities of India, this pilgrim town is also known for its rich cuisine, traditional shopping, and grand culture. Popular festivals such as the annual Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival or the Jallikattu, a game of taming angry bulls, are also known to attract a lot of visitors to the city. When you’re not exploring the city’s temples or enjoying its festivals, do spend some time at the Gandhi Museum, constructed in the memory of his assignation. The museum also hosts many of Gandhi’s personal belongings and hosts cultural programs in an open air theatre.

COVELONG: A fishing village 40 kms south of Chennai, it was once a port town developed by the Nawab of Carnatic, Saadat Ali. It was taken over by the French in 1746 and destroyed by the British in 1752. The Dutch built a fort in Covelong during the colonial times, where today stands the Vivanta by Taj Fisherman’s Cove, a luxury beach resort. An ancient Catholic church on the beach is another attraction. There is also a Dharga & temple near the beach.

KANCHIPURAM: One of the seven sacred cities in India was the historical capital of the Pallavas. Apart from the Pallava rulers the Cholas, Vijayanagar Kings, the Muslims and finally the British too ruled this part of Tamilnadu. It also became the seat of culture and religion for many centuries. This city is the centre of the fine and purely woven silk sarees. The famous Vaishnavaite temple here is Lord Varadharaja Perumal temples is also one of the 108 holiest Vaishnavaite temples.

What our clients say

We have just returned from our tour to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Thank you Mystic India and your team on the ground for a successful tour, everything went like clockwork. We will recommend you to our friends and family and look forward to our next trip which is planned for Sri Lanka.

Jaqueline and Vivian – Norwich, UK

 

Tamil Nadu Highlights and Coast

DAY 01 – FLY TO CHENNAI
Fly to Chennai with British Airways.

DAY 02 – ARRIVE CHENNAI
Arrive, meet & greet then transfer to your hotel.

This afternoon you are taken on a private guided tour of Chennai. Begin with a visit to Fort St. George, within the compound is a museum holding many remembrances of the East India Company and the British period. Later visit Mylapore, which was inhabited in the 16th century by the Portuguese; visit the San Thomas Church, named for the Christian disciple (“Doubting Thomas”) who lived and taught here in the first century. Also visit Kapleshwar Temple, honouring Shiva, dates back to the 13th century AD and is the biggest temple in Chennai. You will also drive past the Marina Beach, the second longest in the world, stretching for several miles.

DAY 03 – CHENNAI VIA MAHABALIPURAM TO PONDICHERRY (B)
After breakfast,
you will drive first to Mahabalipuram (1.5 hrs) for sightseeing of the shore temples, then later continue to Pondicherry (2 hrs).

Mahabalipuram is full of UNESCO World Heritage-listed carvings and temples, Mahabalipuram site, was once a major seaport for the ancient Pallava kingdom, which was also responsible for much of the stunning architecture you see here today. 

Arrive Pondicherry late afternoon then at leisure.

Pondicherry, a former French colony, presents an unusual combination of European culture and Indian traditions. Its history can be traced back to Agastya, the revered sage of the south who built his hermitage here in 1500 BC.

DAY 04 – PONDICHERRY (B)
After breakfast, you will take a private guided tour of Pondicherry. Visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram,  Pondicherry Museum and the Sacred Heart Church

DAY 05 – PONDICHERRY TO TRANQUEBAR (B)
After breakfast, you will drive to Tranquebar (3.5 hrs).

Arrive Tranquebar and rest of the day will be at leisure.

Tranquebar was a Fort established for the Danish for Pepper Exports. Wander through King Street past Lutheran Churches and Grand Bungalows of the Danish Governors and British Collectors. The historical Fort Dansborg in Tranquebar (Tarangambadi), a relic of the Danish era in India.

DAY 06 – TRANQUEBAR TO TANJORE (B)
After breakfast, you will drive via Velankanni (1.5 hrs) then onto Tanjore (2 hrs).

Velankanni, the renowned Basilica shrine of “Our Lady of Health’ known as Lourdes of the East. Our lady of Good Health, popularly called “Our Lady of Vailankanni” is in the small town of Velankanni (5000 residents) located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal.

Later continue to Tanjore, on arrival the rest of the day will then be at leisure.

Located on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur (Tanjore) has the distinction of having been the capital of the Cholas, one of the greatest dynasties of the south.

DAY 07 – TANJORE (B)
Take a private guided tour of Tanjore, visiting the 11th century Sri Brahadeeswara Temple.

Later you will continue with your guided tour of Trichy. Visit the famous Rock Fort, temple complex of Srirangam, dedicated to Vishnu and the Palace Museum.

DAY 08 – TANJORE TO KARAIKUDI (B)
Drive to Karaikudi (2.5 hrs). En route you can walk up the hill and see the Narthamalai Temple.

Arrive Karaikudi and rest of the day will at leisure.

Karaikudi is known as an ancestral home of Chettiyars. It is 80 kms away from Madurai. It is famous for its Chettinad Mansion, temples, old buildings, Gopura karai saris and Chettinad delicious tasty dishes.

DAY 09 – KARAIKUDI (B)
Take a private guided tour of Village Chettinad.

Today you will also see the Athangudi tile-crafters demonstrates their talents by creating several cement tiles using centuries-old techniques developed and famous in the Chettinad region. You will see the same tiles in the Chettinad Mansion museum floor.

DAY 10 – KARAIKUDI TO MADURAI (B)
Drive to Madurai (1.5 hrs).

Arrive Madurai and rest of the day will at leisure.

Madurai, the second largest city of Tamil Nadu, is an important cultural and commercial centre. With a history going back to the 6th century BC, it was once the seat of Tamil learning and still the place where the Tamil language is spoken in its purest form.

DAY 11 MADURAI (B)
Take a private guided tour of Madurai, visiting the great Meenakshi Amman Temple, and the Thirumalai Nayak Palace. Later visit the Gandhi Memorial Museum.

This evening you are taken back to the Meenakshi Temple to witness the nightly ceremony ‘Going to Bed Ceremony’ when the image of Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar) is carried from his shrine to join his consort Parvati (in the form of Meenakshi) at hers, in another part of the temple.  This ceremony is chaotic and noisy but we feel its not to be missed if travelling to Madurai. 

DAY 12 – MADURAI VIA CHENNAI TO COVELONG (B)
This morning take the train to Chennai 0645-1435, on arrival drive to Covelong (01 Hr)

Alternatively, we can arrange a flight to Chennai instead of the train.

On arrival in Covelong you are then at leisure

Located 40 kms away from the hustle and bustle of Chennai, Covelong is a dreamy village. The sea and the surf here are gentle and renowned for its fishing activities. In the fishing village, the swaying palms and the beautiful beach entice people from across the globe.

DAY 13 – COVELONG (B)
Today is then at leisure to relax at the hotel located right next to the beach.

DAY 14 – COVELONG (B)
Today is then at leisure to relax at the hotel located right next to the beach.

DAY 15 – COVELONG TO CHENNAI + KANCHIPURAM (B)
After breakfast and check out, transfer to Chennai. After leaving your luggage you will meet your guide for a tour of Kanchipuram located (1.5 hrs drive away). 

One of the seven sacred cities in India was the historical capital of the Pallavas. This city is the centre of the fine and purely woven silk sarees.

Return to Chennai later this afternoon then at leisure.

DAY 17 – COVELONG TO CHENNAI FOR YOUR HOMEBOUND FLIGHT  (B)
Early morning you will transfer to the airport for your homebound flight where India India bids you farewell until next time.

Tamil Nadu Highlights and Coast

Hotels

Our from price based on the following hotels twin/double share. Single supplement, triple share reductions or for alternative hotels, contact us to discuss your requirements further. We can design a tour just for you, based on your style and budget.


Tamil Nadu Highlights and Coast

Extensions

Here are some examples of extensions you can add to this tour. For other ideas and to discuss your requirements contact us. We can design an itinerary for you, based on your dates, duration, style, and budget.


From Chennai fly to the Andaman Islands

Discover India’ best kept secret. The Andamans Islands. Port Blair is the capital of the Union Territory. Havelock Island is a picturesque natural paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches fringed with green canopies of forests.

Tamil Nadu Highlights and Coast

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