Which is called the Gate of Tamilnadu
10 days South India round trip Tamil Nadu - Kerala Backwaters from € 975
Visit the shore temples in Mahabalipuram
UNESCO World Heritage Site!
An entertaining mixture of impressive buildings, an overwhelmingly beautiful landscape and palm-fringed dream beaches - all of this awaits you on our tour through South India!
The southern tip of India is framed by the Coromandel Coast in the east and the Malabar Coast in the west. In between are the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Tamil Nadu - "Land of the Tamil language" - is around 130,000 square kilometers about the size of Greece and has more than 72 million inhabitants.
Chennai, formerly also called Madras, is the largest city and capital of the state. Your tour begins here with a city tour.
Tamil Nadu is an ancient cultural land and looks back on a long history. The region had its greatest political and cultural heyday under the Pallava, Chola and Pandya dynasties between the 6th and 14th centuries.
Unique structures were built during this time and still amaze the visitor today: the various rock and shore temples in Mahabalipuram, the Brihadisvara temple in Tanjore, the Ranganatha temple in Trichy or the Minakshi temple in Madurai.
A special feature is the area around Pondicherry, which as a union territory does not belong politically to Tamil Nadu. Here you visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, which is very popular with Indians and Europeans.
Your journey continues through the mountains in western Tamil Nadu to the state of Kerala.
Kerala extends as a narrow strip along the Malabar coast. With an area of almost 40,000 square kilometers, it is only about a third the size of Tamil Nadu, but with more than 33 million inhabitants it is more densely populated.
"Land of Coconut Trees" is the meaning of Kerala. In addition to the coconut palms, the much sought-after pepper then and now grows in Kerala. The green Malabar coast is therefore also called the "pepper coast".
The valuable pepper lured the Portuguese to the coast. Vasco da Gama was the first European to go ashore in Kerala in 1498, and in 1503 the Portuguese built the first European fortress in Cochin. You will visit the old port city of Cochin (Kochi) and visit, among other things, the oldest synagogue in India.
In Kerala it is green and growing everywhere: rice, coconuts, cashew nuts, rubber, tea, pepper, cinnamon, curry, turmeric, betel nuts, cocoa and many other spices.
On the drives through Kerala and when visiting the Periyar National Park, you will get a good impression of this lush tropical paradise!
An unforgettable experience is the trip with a houseboat through the backwaters of Kerala, a magical water landscape of rivers, canals and lagoons, which stretches over 1,900 square kilometers between the Malabar coast and the mountains in the east!
Finally we recommend:
Bathing extension on the Malabar coast
e.g. Mararikulam a little south of Cochin
Our travel module gives you a free choice when booking your flights from / to Germany! But of course we are also happy to help you book your flight.
Day 1: CHENNAI (MADRAS): CITY TOUR
Arrive in Chennai on your own.
You will be met at the airport by the local tour guide and drive to your hotel in Chennai, where your room will be available from 2 p.m.
The former Madras has been officially called Chennai since 1996. But the names Madras and Chennai have always been used side by side since the city was developed around the British Fort St. George in the 17th century, and it has remained so to this day.
You take a city tour of Chennai. The capital of the state of Tamil Nadu is the fourth largest city in India with around 5.5 million inhabitants.
During the city tour you will visit the typically South Indian colorful Kapaleshvara Temple, where the divine couple Shiva and Parvati are worshiped.
There are also Christian churches in Madras, of which almost 9 percent are Christian. On the city tour you will see the St. Thomas Basilica. This is where the bones of the apostle Thomas rest, who, according to tradition, died in Madras in 72 AD.
You can also see (from the outside) the former British Fort St. George.
It was built as early as 1640 and is the nucleus for the city of Chennai (or Madras). St. Mary's Church is located on the site of Fort St. George. It was consecrated in 1680, making it the oldest Anglican church in Asia.
The huge courthouse was built in 1892 in a very unique mix of European, Indian and Islamic elements. Its impressive dome is considered a symbol of Madras.
The 13 km long city beach of Madras, the Marina Beach, is popular with the residents and is populated by thousands of people on public holidays.
Day 2: Chennai - Mahabalipuram - PONDICHERRY
Daily stage approx. 200 km (approx. 4 hours)
On the east side of South India you drive from Chennai along the Coromandel Coast to Mahabalipuram, also called Mamallapuram, which is located directly on the coast (approx. 60 km).
Mahabalipuram was the most important port city and the second capital of the Tamil Pallava dynasty, which flourished in southern India between 575 and 897 AD.
Some of the most important buildings of South Indian temple architecture, which have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, were built here between the 5th and 8th centuries.
The temples were then inland. However, after the coastline has shifted over the centuries, the temples are now located directly on the beach.
You visit the "Five Rathas", temples with richly decorated figures, each carved from a single boulder. Ratha means "chariot" and these five temples, unique in India, are reminiscent of old temple or processional floats.
The incomparable coastal temple (Shore Temple) is probably the last remaining temple of a huge complex, which is said to have extended 10 km. The ruins of these buildings are likely to be in the sea today.
In addition to the temples, the bas-relief "Descent of the Ganges" (also called "Penance of Arjuna") is of great cultural and historical importance. With an area of 27 m in length and 9 m in height, it is perhaps also the largest bas-relief in the world. It shows scenes from the Indian Mahabharata epic:
the goddess Ganga (Ganges), who descends on earth and the penitential walk of the king Arjuna. In addition, animals and many figures from everyday life and the rich Hindu imagery of gods and saints are depicted, a masterpiece of stonemasonry!
You can see other very beautiful bas-reliefs in the various mandapas, rock halls open at the sides with richly decorated outer sides and columns.
Then continue your journey through South India. Your journey continues along the beautiful coromandel coast to Pondicherry (approx. 140 km).
Pondicherry was founded as a French colony in the 18th century and only ceded by France to the Indian Union in 1956. Even today, many buildings are reminiscent of the colonial era and there are streets that make you feel more in Europe than at the southern end of the Indian subcontinent.
Day 3: PONDICHERRY: SRI AUROBINDO ASHRAM
In 1926 the philosopher, guru and yogi Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual partner Mirra Alfassa founded an ashram in Pondicherry. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram developed into an important meditation center to this day, which "mother" Mirra Alfassa directed until her death in 1973.
She also founded Auroville as an exemplary "city of the future", in which people of all skin colors, nationalities and religions live together peacefully. Today Auroville is a suburb of Pondicherry, where many foreigners also live.
In the afternoon you have time for a stroll through the partly French-looking Pondicherry. Notre Dame des Anges church was built on the model of the pilgrimage church in Lourdes.
Day 4: Pondicherry - Chidambaram - TANJORE (THANJAVUR)
Daily stage approx. 180 km (approx. 4 hours)
Today's stage of your South India trip takes you from the Coromandel Coast inland to Tanjore, which is actually called Thanjavur.
On the way you visit a temple complex in Chidambaram that is important for all of South India.
The Nataraja temple in Chidambaram is dedicated to God Vishnu, who, according to pious tradition, performed a cosmic dance in Chidambaram.
The depiction of the dancing Shiva in a stylized circle of flames is one of the world's most famous depictions of Hinduism today.
The worship of the dancing Shiva goes back to the 7th century. The present temple was built by the Chola kings from the 11th century. The sanctuary is surrounded by four rings of walls, crowned by four colorful and figurative gopuram (gate towers), which rise up to 40 m high into the sky.
The Nataraja Temple is now one of the most important Shiva shrines in India and Chidambaram is one of the holiest places in India.
Then your journey continues to Tanjore, the ancient capital of the Chola dynasty. The Chola Empire (approx. 9th-13th centuries) was once one of the strongest and historically most important powers in Southeast Asia.
You will visit the Brihadisvara Temple. Built around 1000 AD, this temple is the culmination of the architecture of the Chola Empire and one of the greatest temples ever built in India!
The main tower rises over 16 floors 66 m in height with abundant figure decorations. An 80 t monolith completes the tower. In the courtyard lies a black granite bull: Nandi, Shiva's mount. 4 m high and 5 m long it is the second largest nandi figure in India.
NOTE: Like most Hindu temples, the Brihadisvara Temple can only be viewed from the outside, where most of it can be seen. Only Hindus are allowed to enter the interior.
Then visit the Thanjavur Palace, which was built in the 16th century. Except for a few rooms, the large complex is pretty dilapidated. But the almost 60 m high tower and the huge audience hall are still impressive today.
Day 5: Tanjore - Trichy - MADURAI
Daily stage approx. 160 km (approx. 3 hours)
Your next destination is a large city with around 780,000 inhabitants and a name that can hardly be pronounced: Tiruchirappalli, which is why it is usually only called "Trichy" for short (approx. 60 km).
You will visit the famous landmark of the city, the Rock Fort, which rises imposingly on a 83 m high rock.
437 steps have to be climbed before a fantastic view rewards you for the effort. From up here you can see the whole city, the River Cauvery and the huge complex of Ranganatha Temple.
On the island of Srirangam in the river Cauvery visit the temple city of Ranganatha, built in the 13th-17th centuries. With an area of 960 x 825 m, it is the largest Vishnu shrine in South India.
The outer wall is adorned with 21 magnificent gopuram (gate towers), the highest of which is more than 70 m high! Seven courtyards are grouped around the actual temple. In the outer courtyards there are accommodations for pilgrims, storage rooms and an entire bazaar.
Then your journey continues to Madurai, the cultural capital of the state of Tamil Nadu (approx. 100 km).
The "secret capital of South India" has around 1.3 million inhabitants. Charming little streets and colorful markets await you.
It is one of the oldest cities in South India and has been a center of scholarship and devout pilgrims for many centuries.
Minakshi, Shiva's wife, is the city's patron saint. The overwhelming Minakshi Temple was built in her honor.
With its immense abundance of figures, bright colors and more than 10,000 pilgrims daily, the Minakshi Temple is one of the great highlights of any trip through South India!
Day 6: MADURAI: MINAKSHI TEMPLE & CITY EXPLORATION
Today you will visit some outstanding attractions in Madurai.
Mariamman Teppakkulam is the largest temple pond in India. The 305 square meter pond served as a water reservoir for the city and is still used today for ritual acts by pilgrims. In 1646 King Thirumalai Nayak had a temple built in the middle of the pond.
The palace of King Thirumalai Nayak from 1636 is huge. At a height of 23 m a huge dome arches over the throne room, 12 m high columns support the roof, the inner courtyard measures 84 x 50 m.
The most famous building in the city is the incomparable Minakshi Temple, the main parts of which were built in the 17th century. The whole, rectangular temple area (300 x 500 m) is enclosed by walls. Inside is the actual temple (200 x 250 m), also surrounded by walls. On each side a gate opens the entrance to the temple.
These gate towers (gopuram) are unique monuments of South Indian architecture: they rise up to 50 m high into the sky, colored figures of gods, demons, dwarfs, giants and other beings cavort on up to nine floors. You can hardly get enough of the variety and fantasy of the representations.
The Minakshi Temple is one of the most important and largest temple complexes in India.
In the evening you will experience a Hindu ceremony here in which Lord Shiva visits the temple of Minakshi to go to sleep.
Accompanied by colorfully decorated temple elephants and swarms of flower sellers, musicians and priests, an image of Shiva is carried through the temple. A great experience!
Day 7: Madurai - PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK
Day's stage approx. 140 km (approx. 3 hours)
Today you leave the state of Tamil Nadu and drive to Kerala.
Kerala is the country "where the pepper grows". Spice plantations, on which pepper, curry, nutmeg and ginger bulbs are grown, line your way into the green Cardamon Hills to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Periyar became the Periyar National Park in 1982. You have the opportunity to take a boat on winding canals and the dammed lake through the jungle of the Periyar National Park (booking and payment (approx. EUR 20 p.p.) on site).
With a little luck you can spot many animals. Especially in the dry season (December - April) the animals come to the shore to drink: monkeys, nilgiri, red deer, elephants and maybe even a tiger.
There are more than 240 species of birds and 112 species of butterflies here. Periyar is a small paradise and with its tranquility, its water and the many palm trees it is typical of the landscape of Kerala.
When visiting a spice plantation, you will see how the pepper and many other spices such as turmeric and curry grow. The air is full of bewitching aromas!
Day 8: Periyar - KERALA BACKWATERS (HOUSEBOAT)
Daily stage approx. 160 km (approx. 3 hours)
Passing the tea and spice plantations typical of Kerala, your journey through southern India continues to the famous Kerala backwaters, which stretch about 60 km south of Cochin along the Malabar coast.
Rice barges used to be the only means of transport in this inaccessible area.
Here you get your houseboat, called "Kettuvallom" in Kerala, a comfortably converted, Keralian rice barge. It offers space for 2-6 people with a separate bedroom with shower / toilet, an open lounge and a kitchen in the back of the boat.
Kerala dishes with vegetables and fresh fish are on the menu. The English-speaking boat guide, who is also a cook, takes care of your physical well-being.
A sun deck invites you to linger while you leisurely drive through the beautiful backwaters, a water garden made up of 41 rivers, canals and countless large and small lagoons.
In the evening the boat is at anchor. The fishermen light their lamps on their boats so that small lights float over the water. A colorful sunset brings the day to a close - life can be so simple ...
Day 9: Kerala Backwaters - COCHIN (KOCHI)
Daily stage approx. 50 km (approx. 1 hour)
At sunrise you will be woken up by the chirping of birds. During breakfast on board there is a lot of activity on the water and on the bank when the fishermen start their work.
Unfortunately, the traditionally leisurely trip with the houseboat ends today. But the next highlight of your South India tour through the historic Cochin awaits you.
Cochin - also known as Kochi - with around 1.2 million inhabitants is not only the largest but also the most historically important city in southern India on the Malabar coast. Picturesquely located on various islands and peninsulas, the beginnings of the old seafaring town go back to the times of the first Portuguese explorers Pedro Alvarez Cabral, Vasco da Gama and Francisco D'Albuquerque.
Since 1500 they traded from Cochin along the Malabar coast, which is still famous for its spices and deserves the nickname "Pepper Coast".
The Portuguese did not stay alone for long.
The Dutch and British soon followed, as well as many other people from the most diverse cultures and religions, who were attracted by the increasingly important trading center.
To this day, Cochin is characterized by a colorful mixture of people and cultures, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians live together quite peacefully.
You explore the old town, which is located on the tip of a peninsula. In 1503 the Portuguese built Fort Manuel, the first European fortress on Indian soil, in the oldest district of Kochi Fort.
On the shore you can see tall wooden structures that are used to lower large nets into the sea.This fishing technique originated in China and was brought to India by Chinese traders in the time of Kublai Khan.
In the shade of old trees you can see pretty houses from the times of the Dutch and English.
The St. Francis Church is almost by the sea. Founded in 1503 by Portuguese Franciscans, it is the oldest church in India. Vasco da Gama was buried here in 1524 before he was transferred to Lisbon in 1538.
It is not far from the church to Mattancherry Palace. It was built by the Portuguese in 1555 and later converted by the Dutch as a residence for the Raja of Cochin. This is where the second name "Dutch Palace" comes from. The wall paintings from the 16th to 19th centuries are well worth seeing. Century
Behind the Mattancherry Palace is the Jewish city and the synagogue. It dates back to 1567. The floor is covered with hand-painted Chinese tiles.
Afterwards you stroll through the old Jewish quarter, in which there are many antique shops. A little to the south is the Mattancherry district, then and now an important trading center for spices. Everywhere in the narrow streets there is a smell of cinnamon, cloves, pepper and other spices.
In the evening you will experience a Kathakali dance performance. Performers with lively painted faces and elaborate costumes tell stories from the ancient Hindu epics. This type of dance has been practiced in Kerala for more than 1500 years.
Day 10: COCHIN (KOCHI)
Unfortunately, your wonderful round trip through the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in southern India ends today.
Drive to the airport in Cochin.
Onward journey or flight home on your own.
We are happy to help you with this on request.
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