SPLENDEURS DE L'INDE DU SUD

ITINÉRAIRE

inde - Tamil Nadu - Mahabalipuram - ShoreTemple - Voyages Personnalisés

This two states of the southern Indian peninsula are distinct in their physical and cultural landscape; Kerala’s tranquil backwaters and warm hospitality with hills covered in rich plantations of age old trade spices, and Tamil Nadu’s transitional landscape from mountains to plains peppered with beautiful temples, exquisite colonial testimonies and the rich past of the Chettiar.

APERÇU DU SÉJOUR
 

Chennai       01 nuit

Pondicherry   02 nuits

thanjavur     01 nuit

Chettinad     02 nuits

Madurai       01 nuit

Munnar    02 nuits

Kumarakom     01 nuit

House Boat    01 nuit

Cochin      02 nuits

ITINÉRAIRE DÉTAILLÉ

 

Day 1 :  Arrive in CHENNAI
Meals Included: None

On arrival at Chennai International airport terminal, our representative will receive you at the visitor’s lounge, with a paging sign bearing your name.You will then be escorted to hotel in a private vehicle.

Overnight in Chennai

Day 2  :  CHENNAI – MAHABALLIPURAM (1 hour drive) then MAHABALLIPURAM – PONDICHERRY (3 hour drive)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Today after breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram with enroute stop at Dakshinchitra Art Museum (closed on Tuesday). The name ‘Dakshinchitra’, literally means a ‘picture of the South’ and it provides an interesting insight into the art and architecture of the peninsula. The Dakshinchitra Art Museum features a reconstruction of traditional houses from different parts of South India. Explore different houses, recreated streetscapes, explore contextual exhibitions and interact with village artisans.

 

 

India - Mahabalipuram - ShoreTemple - Voyages Personnalisés

MAHABALLIPURAM
The tiny seaside village of Mahabalipuram would have been unremarkable along a boulder-strewn stretch of the East Coast Road, had it not been for the Pallava dynasty that left its legacy behind in stone. From monolithic chariots, rock-cut caves, shore temples and shrines, and a precariously balanced boulder left behind by the glaciers of the last Ice Age, Mahabalipuram is a study in architecture; recording the transition of dynasties and faiths, an evolution of sculpture styles and icons, a witness to changing influences and regimes.
Explore the 17th Century Mahabalipuram’s sculpture-rich landscape – from the ruins of the Shore Temple with hundreds of Nandi bull statues looking seaward, to the Krishna’s butterball, a glacial erratic precariously perched upon the bedrock. Continue on past Arjuna’s Penance – a beautiful narrative sculpted onto a single rockface narrating a story from the epic poem, Mahabharata, optimizing the rock fissures and cracks.

Then visit the ruins of the rest of the Panch Rathas remain in silent testimony to the skill of the carvers who created them. Named for the Pandava brothers who are the heroes of the Mahabharat epic, they are architecturally ambitious and significant for the level of intricacy they sought to replicate in stone. Finally, listen to the legend of the vanquishing of thebuffalo-demon, Mahishasura by Goddess Durga at the rock-cut mandapas or cave temples at the far-end of the town.

Inde - Mahabalipuram - Voyages Personnalisés

Lunch today will be at Mamalla Heritage.

After lunch continue your drive to Pondicherry and on arrival check into your hotel.

Overnight in Pondicherry

Day 3  :  PONDICHERRY
Meals Included: Breakfast,

While many cities in India read like a page out of history, Pondicherry is distinct in having captured the very essence of its colonial past, and it lives on in every street, and around every corner.An outpost of the French in a country of British rule, Pondicherry’s Gallic flavour is retained in the Creole cuisine, the canary-yellow architecture and the part-Indian, part-French road signs – and the cultural identity of its people is forged by Tamil ancestry and colonial assimilation. Another distinct flavour of Pondicherry is that of the Aurobindo Ashram, set up by Aurobindo Ghosh, a philosopher-poet and freedom fighter. Founded on principles of holistic lifestyle, the Ashram has drawn people from across India to live more community-centred and less material lives. Auroville, located a few kilometres away from Pondicherry, is a Utopian city based on similar ideals that has provided a refuge for like-minded people from around the world.

Inde - Pondicherry - Voyages Personnalisés

This morning visit Auroville, the “City of Dawn” conceived as a utopian, futuristic city by The Mother, Mirra Alfassa, where people from different religions and nations could live together in peace. Its most iconic landmark is a beautiful golden circle that was undertaken as a community project by others who shared the vision of utopia. The meditation centre reflects the Mother’s spiritual beliefs and a marble chamber with the largest manmade crystal in the world. Auroville is a tranquil community that engages in a wide variety of crafts from musical instruments to pottery, as also has cottage industries for textiles, aromatic products, cheeses, among others.

Inde - Auroville - Matrimandir - Voyages Personnalisés

On your return into the city, visit Aurobindo Ashram – a spiritual centre that has drawn followers from far and wide, and where the remains of Sri Aurobindo, a fiery revolutionist and philosopher-poet lie.

Spend the afternoon imbibing the quintessential colonial flavour of Pondicherry, a former colony of France. Walk through the canary-coloured town along streets bearing French names lined with structures erected by French historical personnages. Tucked away amidst the colonial quartier, White Town are a few distinct grey structures that belong to the Aurobindo Ashram – a spiritual centre that has drawn followers from far and wide, and where the remains of Sri Aurobindo, a fiery revolutionist and philosopher-poet lie.

Overnight in Pondicherry

Day 4  :  PONDICHERRY – CHIDAMBARAM (2 hour drive) then CHIDAMBARAM – THANJAVUR (3 hour drive)

Meals Included: Breakfast,

This morning after an early breakfast drive to Thanjavur with enroute stop at the Chidambaram temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which represents the element of ‘ether’ – among the 5 basic elements. The temple has influenced worship, architecture, sculpture and performance art for over two millennium, and renovations have been carried out successively by the Pallava, Chola, Pandya, Vijayanagara and Chera royals throughout the ancient and pre-medieval periods. Chidambaram is the birthplace of the sculpture and bronze image representation of Lord Shiva as the cosmic dancer, Nataraja that has since become notable as a symbol of Hinduism.

Lunch at the multi-cuisine restaurant at Saradharam hotel in Chidambaram.

India - Tanjore - Tamil Nadu - Voyages Personnalisés

After lunch continue your drive to Thanjavur and on arrival check into your hotel.

Day 5  :  THANJAVUR – KARAIKUDI  (4 hours drive)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

THANJAVUR
Named after a demon in Hindu mythology slayed by an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the city of Thanjavur (or Tanjore) is situated upon the delta of the river Cauvery. Thanjavur’s Brihadeeshwara Temple of exemplary architecture and the Maratha Palace that served as an official residence for an empire, are the two prominent landmarks of the city. Thanjavur has been a centre of art and culture for years, with distinct painting, music and dance traditions: Tanjore paintings with murals of Lord Krishna are sought-after artefacts, Carnatic music has been codified since the 16th Century, and the dance form, Bharatnatyam traces significant styles and modifications to the city.

Inde - Tanjore - Tamil Nadu - Voyages Personnalisés

After breakfast this morning, take in Thanjavur’s most visited landmark, the Brihadeeswarar Temple dating back to the 11th Century. Built by a ruler of the Chola Empire in accordance with a dream he had, the Brihadeeswarar Temple was intended to display the power and position of the emperor in the universal order, and today, it has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage monument, one among three ‘Great Living Chola Temples’. Of its sculptures, the most distinctones are those of over 108 dancing postures, evidence of the dance form Bharatnatyam tracing its roots to Thanjavur. The Museum within the complex also details the history of the Chola Empire and showcases certain artefacts from the era.

After lunch we drive to Karaikudi. On arrival you will check into your hotel. Spend rest of your day at leisure at Hotel.

Overnight in Karaikudi

Day 6 :   KARAIKUDI
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The region of Tamil Nadu encompassing the towns of Karaikudi and Devakottai is known as Chettinad. The Chettiars, the wealthy merchants of the South known for their business prowess made their fortunes in India and abroad. Though many of them have moved to larger metros, their legacy lives on in the ornate ancestral mansions with pillared hallways, marble floors, and other embellishments, that they return to for a few festivals during the year. The Chettinad region is also known for its fiery hot cuisine popularized by its famous “pepper chicken”.
Start your sightseeing with the town of Chettinad, hosting grand mansions with pillared hallways, marble floors, and other embellishments.
Visit a traditional local home to learn more about the customs and traditions that guide the design of these beautiful edifices. Most Chettinad mansions have a formal pillared hall which is usually the domain of the males in the house where they receive guests and business associates. Each pillar is created out of a single trunk! Burma Teak and Rosewood dominate in these mansions and create warm spaces for the family which are an architectural delight.

India - Tamil Nadu - Chettinad - Voyages Personnalisés

Follow this, with a visit to a tile factory where you can watch the process that went into the making of the ornate floors of the Chettinad mansion.

Overnight in Karaikudi

Day 7  :  KARAIKUDI – MADURAI  (3 hours drive)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast your drive to Madurai and on arrival check into your hotel.

Inde - Minâkshi Temple - Madurai - Voyages Personnalisés

The oldest city in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, has a history of global trade recorded by the Greek scholar and ambassador, Megasthenes. With a two thousand year old tradition of literary and art gatherings, Madurai is a stronghold of culture, often referred to as the Athens of the East. Madurai,  both in history and mythology is most for the Meenakshi Amman Temple, dedicated to Parvati and her husband Shiva, popular for its beautiful edifice, stunning architecture and festive nightly processions.
Then visit the Meenakshi Temple, famed for its many carved and painted halls, this magnificent temple of goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundaram, a form of Lord Shiva, has the tallest ‘gopuram’ or temple gateway in the world.

This will be followed by Thirumalai Nayakar Palace + Gandhi Museum
The Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, a once grand palace built in 1636 showcases the power and wealth of the Nayakas. This visit could help you understand the history of the Nayakas, a powerful, wealthy clan that still holds political sway in south India.

Optional – this evening visit the Meenakshi Temple to witness the closing ceremony, where the idols of Sundareshwar (an avatar of Lord Shiva) and his consort Meenakshi (an avatar of Parvati), are carried in a riotous procession, to be confined to the bedchamber for the night.

Day 8  :  MADURAI – MUNNAR (5 hours drive)
Meals Included: Breakfast

Continue this morning  the exploration of Madurai with a visit to the Flower Market; a walk through the local markets; where the fresh flowers for religious offerings, fruits and vegetables for household consumption, as also the many humble economies of artisans to traders provides an interesting insight into the routine simplicity of India.

Later drive to Munnar and on arrival check into your Resort.

Rest of the day at your leisure to explore your surroundings.

Dinner at the Resort – Overnight in Munnar

Day 9  :  MUNNAR
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The picturesque little town of Munnar nestled amidst acres of sprawling tea estates and verdant forests, was once the summer retreat of the British Government in South India, and still has a colonial charm. Its name meaning “three rivers” stems from its location at the confluence of three mountain streams. Besides tea, Munnar is also renowned for its spices like cardamom and pepper, and the local infusions of tea and spices offer a warm respite from the chilly mountaintop climate. Munnar’s rugged landscape offers good opportunities for walks and treks through the town and nearby villages.

India - Kerala - Munnar Tea Plantation - Voyages Personnalisés

No visit to Munnar is complete without experiencing the tea trail, from a visit to the lush, verdant slopes of a tea estate where you can get a glimpse into an industry that is over a hundred years old and learn the story behind your morning cuppa.

Follow this with a visit to the Tea Museum, which houses curios, photographs and machineries representing a turning point for the tea industry in the region, as also some colonial-style furniture. Don’t miss out on the tea-tasting demonstration, where you infusions of different tea varieties and an insight into the nuances of tea-processing await!

Also visitSrishti, the handmade paper crafts centre is an interesting detour. The paper is made out of a variety of materials like the leaves of eucalyptus, lemongrass, lantana and pineapple, and is then crafted into delightful objects from notepads to containers – a haven for the stationary shopaholic! What’s more the centre has a social conscience – it is a unique venture of a corporate giant – Tata, for the rehabilitation of the physically challenged dependants of its employees.

Overnight in Munnar

Day 10  :  MUNNAR – ALLEPPEY  (5 hours drive)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning after an early breakfast we drive to Palathuruty jetty. On arrival board your Houseboat for a cruise on the backwaters of Southern Kerala. These canals stretch endlessly like a spiders-web of water bodies. Thick foliage and tropical greenery lines these shores, within which lie a slice of Kerala’s old world charm that is completely cut off from contemporary influences.
The kettuvelloms (houseboats) of Kerala are giant country crafts, measuring up to 80 feet in length. It took great skill and meticulousness to construct these giants by tying huge planks of jackfruit tree wood together, without the use of a single nail. Today these goods carriers have been adapted to make the most exciting tourism product in India, the luxuriously furnished houseboat.

India - Kerala - House Boat - Voyages Personnalisés

Lunch will be served onboard and will consist of a variety of local dishes and delicacies from the south.
Cruise through spice and coconut plantations, local villages, and fishing communities. The gentle rocking of your houseboat has a meditative effect and you will enjoy a relaxed and leisurely journey onboard while looking out over the soothing countryside.

Overnight on Houseboat.

Day 11  : ALLEPPY– KUMARAKOM (1 hour drive)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Morning breakfast will be on houseboat. Later disembark at Palathuruthy and drive to  Phillip Kutty’s Farm.
On arrival walk through the farm located on the Backwaters accompanied by a family member.
The farm is run by the family who owns it and you can enjoy a delightful interactive session on Syrian Christian cuisine. The backwaters add their influence to the food at the farm with fish, duck, and poultry featuring prominently alongside farm fruit and vegetables.

India - Kerala - Phillip Kutty's Farm - Voyages Personnalisés

At 1.00 PM lunch prepared by your hosts in the family kitchen comprising of local dishes would be served.Return to your Resort in the afternoon and rest of the day at your leisure.

Inde - Kerala - Kumarakom - Voyages Personnalisés

Overnight in Kumarakom

Day 12  :  KUMARAKOM – COCHIN  (2 hours drive)
Meals Included: Breakfast

After leisure breakfast enjoying your resort,  drive to Cochin and on arrival check into your hotel.

A true melting pot in every sense, Cochin or Kochi, is one of the most dynamic, vibrant and energetic cities in South India. One of the most important trading posts on the Spice Route, Cochin sports several vestiges of its multi-cultural past – Chinese fishing nets mingle with Dutch Palaces, Sephardic Synagogues and Portuguese forts – all jostling for space along the shores of the Arabian Sea.

After lunch, visit thePalace of the royal family of Travancore, built by the Portuguese as a gift of tribute to the Raja of Cochin. Today it houses a small but exquisite museum of royal artefacts some of which are extremely unusual. Then stop off at the Mattancherry Spice Market and the Kochi International Pepper Exchange, a riotous warehouse where traders stake bids at the daily pepper auction. There is also a dry ginger depot that sells a product that finds good use in the Ayurveda industry.

Day 13  :  COCHIN
Meals Included: Breakfast,

Today, Cochin has a thriving arts and cultural scene and hosts the Cochin Biennale – a major art event in Asia, every winter. Several galleries, boutiques, and artisanal restaurants stand cheek by jowl with one another, especially in the Fort Cochin area, while the spice, fish and antique markets continue to flourish side by side.

This morning after breakfast take a leisurely stroll with your guide through the by-lanes of Fort Cochin which bears a marked European influence from Cochin’s British and Dutch colonial era. Fort Cochin is distinguished by its long line of Chinese fishing nets, which according to local legend, were introduced on the Malabar Coast by the emissaries of Kubla Khan’s court. Then stroll down to where the St. Francis Church stands, originally built by the Portuguese as a Catholic Church it later became Protestant under the Dutch and then Anglican under the British, until it became a part of the Church of South India in the post-Independence era. The Church’s colonial past is evident even today; there are men who operate the church’s enormous punkha fans by pulling on their ropes by hand!

Walk through the Jew town in Cochin – the legacy of a group of Jews that may trace their roots to king Solomon. With the Jewish synagogue at its centre, the Jew town comprises of lanes lined with colonial buildings with Jewish names and antique curio shops, lending it an old-world charm. The antique shops are replacing the old spice bazaar which were significant in driving the global spice markets, and the Cochin port bears witness to the history of the city.

India - Kerala - Cochin - Voyages Personnalisés

Lunch at a local restaurant

Sunset Harbour Cruise
This evening proceed on a cruise along Cochin’s coastline, to take in the sights of a city that thrives on a port economy. Watch the barges and boats bring ashore goods from far and wide, the Cochin lagoon open out into the Arabian Sea, and the quaint cantilever Chinese fishing nets against the backdrop of a splendid sunset.

Overnight in Cochin

Day 14  : COCHIN – Departure
Meals Included:  Breakfast

Today you will be transferred to Cochin airport for your flight for home.

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