The temples and cultures of Southern India - 14-Day Private Tour, including air

Detailed Itinerary, Trip Costs & Inclusions
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Departure from USA (New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco)Hotel
Category
 2008/19 DeparturesSilverGold
3/1 - 4/30$2769$3069
5/1 - 6/05$2299$2599
6/6 - 8/20$2579$2889
8/21 - 9/20$2299$2599
9/21 - 12/5$2769$3069
12/6 - 12/12$3049$3349
12/13 - 12/24$3159$3479
12/25 - 12/31$3049$3349
Single Supplement$1099$1279
Friday  Departures+$50+$50
Departs every  Wednesday & Friday

One child under 12, sharing parents' room, pays 75%, others pay adult rates.

Two accommodation categories are offered. Gold hotels are better located, offer more amenities and have superior standards of service. The Gold category features overland touring by air-conditioned cars, while the Silver category includes non-airconditioned vehicles.

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What’s Included:
Roundtrip air from New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles to Bangalore / Madras, domestic air transportaion in India, twin share accommodation, daily breakfast, transfers and tours by chauffeur-driven vehicles, entrance fees, and the services of local guides.
What’s Not:
All personal expenses and meals other than those indicated andtravel insurance.
Day 1
Leave the United States (Los Angeles or San Francisco) very early this morning for your flight to India, via Singapore. East Coast departures involve a transit stop in Europe and leave the previous evening.

Day 2
Arrive in Singapore around noon, where a hotel room for your transit stop has been booked for you. Leaving Singapore late this evening, arrive in Bangalore just before midnight. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel
.

Day 3
The morning is free for you to sleep in, relax and acclimatize yourself with India. Known as the India’s "garden city", Bangalore enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. This afternoon, get acquainted with your private chauffeur and enjoy a half-day tour of Bangalore.

Day 4
After breakfast this morning, start your journey to the medieval town of Hassan by chauffeur-driven car. On the way, visit a silk factory – the region is famous throughout India for its traditional, hand-spun silk textiles such as colorful saris. The highlight of the day would be a visit to the temples at Belur and Halebid. The exquisitely carved sculptures on the temple walls stand witness to one of the most artistically exuberant periods of Hindu cultural development. The wealth of sculptural detail found on the Hoysaleswara temples at Halebid is particularly striking - every inch of the outside wall is covered with an endless variety of Hindu deities, holy men and sages, stylized animals and birds depicting the life and times of Hoysala rulers. Overnight accommodation will be at Hassan.

Day 5
Your destination today is the ancient city of Mysore – famous for her sandalwood. En route, we take a small detour to visit Sravanabelgola: This is one of the oldest and most important pilgrimage centers in India for followers of the Jain religion. The site of the huge statue of Bahubali which is over 50 feet high and carved out of a single piece of rock, is said to be the world 's tallest monolithic statue. Arriving in Mysore by the early afternoon, you will immediately notice a lingering fragrance of sandalwood, jasmine, rose, musk and a hundred other scents wherever you go. Your tour of the city includes a visit to the former Maharaja’s Palace, which dominates the city skyline. Inside, it is an extravaganza of stained glass, mirror, gilt and colors. There are some beautifully carved wooden doors and mosaic floors and a gallery of historically interesting paintings. Our next stop is at the Sri Chamundeswari temple – a huge structure atop a hill with a seven-storied cupola (‘gopuram’). On the way to the temple, you come across a huge statue of Nandi the famous (Shiva’s bull) carved out of solid rock. It is always covered in garlands of flowers with a steady stream of devotees bringing in their offerings. Overnight accommodation will be at your hotel in Mysore.

Day 6
Another day of visiting temples in and around Mysore. The highlight of the day is a visit to the Sri Channakeshwara temple at Somnathpur, built in the 13th century during the Hoysala period. This star shaped temple is one of the most fascinating in India, with her walls being covered with superb stone sculptures depicting various scenes from Hindu classics such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavat Gita. Overnight accommodation will be at your hotel in Mysore.

Day 7
Leaving the temples behind we carry on to visit Ootacamund, or Ooty in short. Located at an elevation with beautiful scenery all around, this was a popular ‘hill-station’ for the British during the colonial times to escape the heat of the plains.

Day 8
We head south today, leaving Ooty to drive to the holy city of Madurai. After arrival there check in at your hotel and relax for a while, before visiting the Meenakshi Temple to watch the evening services. This huge temple complex in the heart of the town is an example of riotously baroque Dravidian architecture, with the gopurams covered from top to bottom with a profusion of multicolored images of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures.

Day 9
Spend the day touring the sights in and around Madurai today. Overnight accommodation will be at your hotel in Madurai.

Day 10
Once again we leave the temples behind and head west to the state of Kerala, our destination being a forest reserve – the Periyar wild life sanctuary, home to a variety of wildlife including elephants, wild boar, and leopards besides a large range of exotic birds. After arriving in Periyar check in to your lodge, and late in the afternoon travel by boat cruising down the lake, which meanders through the jungle covered hills that surrounds it. This is an ideal time to spot wildlife, as they converge on the lake at the end of the day to drink water.

Day 11
Take a guided walk through the sanctuary this morning, accompanied by a park ranger. Later, leave for Cochin – an ancient port city on the Arabian Sea – where overnight accommodations have been reserved for you.

Day 12
The state of Kerala is famous for her extensive network of backwaters, which forms an excellent system of inland navigation. This morning, take a boat excursion through the backwaters shaded by rows of coconut palms – slowly cruising by a fabulous landscape of green rice fields, whitewashed Christian churches and small villages. Cochin was a very important staging post on the shipping route between Europe and Asia, and the city bears witness to Portuguese, Dutch and British influences. Visit St. Francis Church where the great Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama was buried. India had long been a home to Jewish settlers, and in Cochin you can visit the Jewish quarter – where the oldest synagogue still standing dates back to 1568, with hand painted willow patterned floor tiles brought from Canton in the mid-18th century by a Rabbi who had trading interests in China. Nearby is the Mattancherry Palace, commonly known as the Dutch palace.

This evening seats have been reserved for you at a performance of Kathakali dance – which is a specialty of the region.

Day 13
A free day in Cochin this morning, until it is time to be transferred to the airport for your late afternoon flight to Madras. Change planes here and board your international flight out of India.

Day 14
Arrive in the United States today, with a change of aircraft in Asia for those flying to the West Coast and a transit stop in Europe for those flying to the East Coast.

 
 

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