The Splendor and Temples of South India

A tour of 14-nights

Day 1, Depart The Americas.

Day 2, Delhi. Depart Europe. Arrive late at night. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight: Delhi.

Day 3, Delhi. OPTIONAL
· Day trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal and Fathepur Sikri.
· Car for half day sightseeing/shopping.
· Car for full day sightseeing of Old and New Delhi.
Overnight: Delhi.

Day 4, Hyderabad. Hyderabad was founded in 1591 by Sultan Muhammed Kuli. The city gives travelers fascinating glimpses of past splendors, the legacy of its four hundred year old history. The historic Golkonda Fort has a varied history, with the first part being built 1,000 years ago. Famous features of Golconda include its system of acoustics, palaces, factories, water supply and the famous Rahban Cannon. Overnight: Hyderabad.

Day 5, Hyderabad. Continue Hyderabad City Sightseeing. Depart by air to Bangalore at 1700 hours. Arrive Bangalore at 1800 hours. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight: Bangalore.

Day 6, Bangalore. Bangalore - a flourishing city, industrial center and garden spot all in one. Leave for Mysore by road. (approximately 3 hours traveling time). Arrive and Check-In to the Mysore Hotel. Mysore - City of Palaces and Oriental splendor. Principal residence of the royal family. Visit the Maharajah’s Palace - a synthesis of Hindu and Muslim styles. The Bull Temple, the monolithic deity being the 16-foot Nandi or celestial Shiva's bull, a marvelous work on granite. Somnathpur with its exquisite Hoysala Temple built in the second half of the 13th century at the confluence of the rivers Kaveri and Kabini. Overnight: Mysore.

Day 7, Mysore. Full day visit to the Temples at Belur and Halebid. The 800 year old Belur Temple stands in a perfect state of preservation and is an outstanding testament to the skill of Hoysala craftsmen. Halebid is a sister temple dedicated to Shiva. Here too, the sculptor’s art is remarkable with details endless and exquisite: frieze upon frieze of gods, goddesses, animals and humans. Overnight: Mysore.

Day 8, Mysore. Leave by road for Bangalore airport (app 3 hours travel time) to arrive in time to take the flight to Kochi at 1130 hours. Visit the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555 and renovated by the Dutch in 1663; a Jewish Synagogue in Jew Town – the first Jews came to Kerala about 600 BC. Visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. Kathakali Dance performance at a local theatre. Overnight: Cochin.

Day 9, Cochin. Drive to Alleppey (2 hours). We will live, cook and eat on our very own Houseboat. During the day, the boat will cruise along Kerala’s backwaters through the beautiful canals lined with paddy fields and coconut groves on either side. Enjoy magnificent scenery all along the leafy waterways that meander from town to town, revealing fresh treasures and admire what history and religion have left in towns and villages along the way. Overnight: House Boat.

Day 10, Periyar. Your House Boat experience ends with the boat coming to a halt at Kumarakom around 0930 hours. We will then drive to Periyar (approx. 3 hours). Periyar is spread out over an area of 777 sq. km. on the Tamil Nadu border. A boat ride on the lake will allow us to view a variety of small animals, water birds and hopefully elephants, otters, sambar, wild boar, barking deer and gaur. Overnight: Periyar.

Day 11, Periyar. Leave for Madurai, (approximately 5 hours traveling time). The "Temple City" was the capital of the Pandya kingdom but it was during the reign of the Nayaks (10th to the 18th century) that the magnificent Meenakshi Temple and other buildings were constructed. Visit the Madurai Temple, believed to have 33 million sculptures. The Meenakshi Nayakkar mandapam hall has 110 pillars and a lamp holder with 1,008 lamps. Experience the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal for a Sound and Light Show. Overnight: Madurai.

Day 12, Madurai. Visit the Meenakshi Temple this morning. Afternoon – Depart by air for Chennai at 1325 hours to. Arrive at 1415 hours. Transfer to the Chennai hotel. Afternoon - sightseeing of Chennai. A city which has strong Dravidian relics, and which has a strong colonial past, including Fort St. George, completed in 1653, which was the first church consecrated on Indian soil. Overnight: Chennai.

Day 13, Chennai. Full day sightseeing of Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram. Mahabalipuram, a tiny village by the sea dwarfed by a dream world of awesome Tamil art, an open air museum of sculpture in living rock, including Arjuna’s Penance or the Descent of the Ganga, the world’s largest bas-relief, 764 ft. by 288 ft. (27m by 9m). Also, Kanchipuram "The Golden City" with 125 shrines, all centuries old, dating back to the early Cholas of 200 BC. Overnight: Chennai.

Day 14, Chennai. Brief city tour en route to the airport, then your flight to Mumbai. Breakfast at the Orchid Hotel. Mumbai City tour. Lunch at a City hotel. Transfer to the airport for flight to Aurangabad. Overnight: Aurangabad.

Day 15, Aurangabad. Three hours from Aurangabad lies Ajanta - a series of caves, hewn out of rock by Buddhist monks who found sanctuary here and left a legend for posterity. These 30 caves with 24 monasteries and 5 temples have wall paintings and sculpture of an aesthetic appeal that is timeless. The craftsmanship astounds scholars and art lovers even today. Some of the most exquisite paintings depict the life and teachings of Buddha as well as his earlier life as a prince. The Ajanta caves are like chapters of a splendid epic tale in visual form. Natural light brightens the caves at different times of the day leaving visitors awe-struck by the sheer brilliance of those ancient masters who created this marvel of art and architectural splendor. Overnight: Aurangabad.

Day 16, Aurangabad. One hour from Aurangabad, Ellora represents to the world the finest and greatest in terms of sheer magnificence of Indian sculpture. The awe-inspiring, mammoth Kailash Temple is carved out of solid rock. It is dedicated to Mount Kailash of the Himalayas, the abode of Lord Shiva. This monolithic structure is a very rare phenomenon that demanded the most careful planning, based not on what was added but what was removed! Ellora is a repository of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religious expression, a sheer volume of information in carved pageantry. Thirty-four shrines synthesize Indian religion and Indian passion for sculpture. The Ramayana and Mahabharata are also depicted here in carvings as also the many-faceted personality of Lord Shiva. Ellora is a priceless page out of history. Fly to Mumbai, and transfer to the International Airport.

Day 17. Arrive into Eurpoe this morning or the America this evening.

Registration: Please read and understand our Terms & Conditions, and then use our registration form to register.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: E-mail or contact Deepak Singh, Spiritual Journeys, Inc., 262 Upland Road, Cambridge, MA 02140. USA. Ph: 508-358-4267.