Exclusive South India Tour for Women

Discover the beauty and lifestyle of South Indian women through their cuisine, traditions and dress while indulging your senses

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Day 1 : Arrive Chennai – Mahabalipuram (2 hours)

On your arrival at Chennai Airport you will be welcomed by our tour executive and transferred to Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast which faces the Bay of Bengal. On arrival at Mahabalipuram, check in your hotel and relax.

Overnight Mahabalipuram

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Day 2 : Mahabalipuram

After breakfast, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Mahabalipuram, begin by visiting one of the oldest temples in south India. It belongs to the early 8th century AD and is a good example of an early temple constructed in a Dravidian style. The tour continues with a visit to the Five Rathas, where each of the five temples are created in a different style but resemble chariots. They were found hidden by sand 200 years ago and excavated. Four of the Rathas are supposed to have been taken from a of a single rock formation. Arjuna’s Penance, the world's largest bas carving and wonderful depictions of Hindu mythology. The huge whaleback shaped rock contains figures of Gods, Demigods, men, beasts, birds and in fact represents creation. Just to the northwest visit the Ganesh Ratha which is a shrine to Ganesh the elephant god and nearby is a huge boulder known as Krishna’s butter ball. This boulder does not move but seems to balance quite precariously. The Mandapas which are also nearby and scattered over the main hill are amongst the earliest of the rock cut temples.

Afternoon at leisure to have a massage, walk on the beach or browse the many textile and handcraft shops.

Overnight Mahabalipuram

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Day 3 : Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (2.5 hours)

Morning drive to Pondicherry which has a fascinating history closely tied to the French and their imperial aspirations in India. The French connection has survived Pondicherry’s union with the Indian republic through language, food and the many visitors and residents of French origin. On arrival check in your hotel and later visit the Aurobindo Ashram and the French Quarter. In the evening you can wander in the markets or stroll along the beach promenade. With the fusion of Indian and European culture the aromatic incense, perfumes and candles produced by various departments within the Ashram make for great gifts and special mementos of your time in South India. There are also great book shops covering a wide range of subjects

Overnight Pondicherry

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Day 4 : Pondicherry – Kumbakonam (4.5 hours) – Tanjore (45mins)

Wake up early to enjoy a cycle tour through Pondicherry. This tour is held from 7 to 9 AM, when the air is still fresh and the city just awakes. The tour will be from Muslim area to the seashore via Gourbet Market and the historical city hearing tips and stories from daily life and local culture of this unique city in India. Later start your drive to Kumbakonam. Enroute visit the famous UNESCO Monuments at Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram. In Darasuram, you have the opportunity to visit the Silk weaving Unit. Most of these units are in people’s houses close to the temple. In Kumbakonam, you can visit the Bronze statue making unit, for which this area is famous. Continue a short distance to Tanjore and visit the Brihadeeswara Temple, which is also a UNESCO Monument

Overnight Tanjore

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Day 5 : Tanjore – Trichy (1.5 hours)- Chettinadu (2hrs)

After breakfast travel through the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu to Trichy. On arrival at Trichy, visit Amma Mandapam on the banks of the Cauvery River with views of the Rock Fort Temple and Sri Rangam Temple. You will be excited to put Mehandi on your hands. Mehandi is the traditional art of painting the hands with a paste made from the powdered, dried leaves of henna plant. Mehandi is often viewed as Women’s practice and it is applied as a means to cool down the body. Late afternoon drive to Chettinadu

On the way you will be able to visit a most unusual village temple deep where offerings to the gods are presented in the form of brightly painted terracotta animals- horses, bullocks and elephants. Continue towards Kannudakathan, arriving for lunch at your accommodation. The people of this region are the Chettiars, a banking and merchant sub-caste who, over several centuries, made their fortunes trading with empires to the east and west. The intermingling of influences is dizzying- Burmese teak, Italian marble, British steel and a myriad of architectural styles are used and blended in these colossal buildings (some of which are over 40,000 sq. ft.) and you will not only get the chance to explore some of these buildings, but to stay in one too.

While the men of Chettinadu Region earned money by crossing the seas, the “AACHI”, the senior most female in the house controlled the finances of the household. The arts and crafts of Chettinadu occupies a distinct position in South India folklore. Wood Carving, Silver embellishment, palm-leaf baskets, hand-made tiles, architectural styles, woven saris, refined cuisine and egg plastering are the most visible contributions to the Indian arts and crafts.

Overnight Chettinadu

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Day 6 : Chettinadu

Visit the local markets and the temples, observe the local craft of tile-making at Athangudi, Wood carving and Hand weaving of Kandangi sarees at Karaikudi. Kanadukathan is a perfect place to slow down, walk the quiet streets and meet the local people. You will also enjoy the bullock cart ride in the streets of this region.

Overnight Chettinadu

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Day 7 : Chettinadu – Madurai (2 hours)

Leisurely start your drive to Madurai, which is popularly known as the city that never sleeps. On arrival visit Gandhi Museum and later check in your hotel. Be prepared for getting the Gastronomical experience in the evening. After lunch proceed to visit the Nayak Palace and later enjoy the Madurai food safari tour where you will be taken to different restaurants to taste the local flavor and also visit a couple of road-side eateries. This tour will take around 3 hours from 6-9pm using various forms of local transport to travel between your food sampling activities

Overnight Madurai

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Day 8 : Madurai

Morning enjoy Vanakkam Madurai - a private, interactive walking tour. This walking tour starts at 6AM and extends up to 2 hours. It is a unique and genuine experience to immerse you in the culture and everyday life of an Indian City. Escorted by one of the members in the Vanakkam Madurai Team, you will indeed get synchronized with the place and the people. You will understand what you see every day, when walking in an Indian City – the society on the whole, different roles of people, age old traditions that are still alive, habits of the people, street vendors, local homes, markets. These are explained and introduced in a very interesting and involving way. You will be totally away from popular tourist attractions and you will not be visiting any monuments or do any regular touristic activities. Rather you will see the daily life of the citizens in the old traditional area of Madurai.

Wearing a sari is an art and there are many ways of putting one on. The sari has been considered a most elegant dress for Indian Ladies. A long piece of cloth is draped around the waist and worn with an accompanying body-fitting top (blouse). We shall engage a person to wear a saree for you. You can visit a saree shop and select saree on your own and a blouse. You can also purchase matching bangles that suits your saree. This could well be one of the highlights of your tour.

Conclude your morning visiting the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple, where the Goddess Meenakshi is worshipped After lunch we head to the doll making unit and the weaving unit at Vilachery near Madurai.

Overnight Madurai

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Day 9 : Madurai – Periyar (4 hours)

Today bid goodbye to Tamilnadu and drive to Kerala, abundant in nature and popularly known as “God’s Own Country”. The hills around Periyar are also a superb growing environment for many of the spices for which Kerala is famous. On arrival check in your hotel and later visit a local spice garden. A guided walk around one of these gardens will give visitors an insight into the history of the spice trade, as well as the many uses of these health-giving plants in traditional and modern medicine as well as their more well-known culinary uses. The wonderfully pungent aromas of some plants are obvious as soon as you start to walk around the garden, while others reveal their properties only when tasted. Others still- such as vanilla- require quite a lot of processing before they attain their familiar aroma and appearance. The production techniques and farming practices which are used to grow the various spices will also be touched on. There are also many great places to purchase spices to take home if you wish. In the evening watch the tribal dance performance or a Kalaripayyat - martial arts demonstration.

Overnight Periyar

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Day 10 : Periyar – Alleppey (5hrs)

Descend from the hills to the backwaters , wide canals that meander inland from the coast where trade has occurred for generations. The lush green landscape is perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation. Settle in to your resort on the edge of the backwaters Ayurveda massage and Yoga classes are available here.

Overnight Alleppey

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Day 11 : Alleppey

Day at leisure for massages and pampering. Late afternoon head out on a motor boat to enjoy the sunset over the backwaters

Overnight Alleppey

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Day 12 : Alleppey – Cochin (2 hours)

Enroute to Cochin you can visit a local School, Coir yarn / Coir Mat processing unit, match stick making unit, church, a local tea shop, paddy fields / fish farm area.

After lunch complete your short drive to Cochin. On arrival check in at your hotel and in the evening watch a traditional Kathakali dance performance. Kathakali is a form of dance/drama which originated in Kerala around 400 years ago. Elaborate costumes, spectacular makeup and a staggering array of ‘moves’- hand gestures and facial expressions- make this one of the most striking of all India’s traditional dance forms. The evening’s entertainment begins with the application of the actors’ makeup and most people like to arrive early to see this taking place. After a process lasting around an hour, the actors are ready to commence their performance. There follows a brief explanation of the history of Kathakali and the significance of the various gestures and expressions, before the actors reappear. A typical performance will last around 90 minutes and will portray a famous scene from one of the great epics of ancient Hindu literature, the Mahabharata or the Ramayana. Kathakali is a striking art form and seeing a performance while you are in Kerala is likely to be one of the most unforgettable moments of your trip.

Overnight Cochin

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Day 13 : Cochin

Your tour of Fort Cochin will be done partly on foot and partly by auto rickshaw. The various historical sites and markets are spread out allowing you the opportunity to see some of the local life between sightseeing stops. The Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568 AD. The Great Scrolls of the Old Testament, the copper plates in which the grants of privilege made by the Cochin rulers were recorded and the exquisite Chinese hand-painted tiles are interesting features here. Later visit Dutch Palace and the Chinese fishing nets, which still use the same design as passed down by the Chinese migrants in the 16th century

Have the afternoon at leisure to explore antique shops, walk along the waterfront or book in for a facial or massage Your final dinner will be a special seafood meal, making the most of all the fresh ingredients at hand

Overnight Cochin

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Day 14 : Cochin departure

No planned activities today, there are plenty of places to explore around Cochin until we transfer you to the airport for your flight home or on to your next destination within India. We can arrange extension tours to the Taj Mahal and Rajasthan, Mumbai or any other part of India to continue your discovery of this multi- faceted country.