Caves and Temples of the

Enchanting South

The Taj Mahal, Palaces of Jaipur, Ajanta & Ellora Caves, Chennai, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram,

Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Trichy, Madurai, Periyar, Alleppey and Cochin

16 nights, 10 to 27 November, 2018

India’s recorded history goes back to 4,000 years, with remarkable examples of civilization well ahead of other countries. Throughout this period, reverence was shown to the many Gods her people worshipped, and the land was dominated by independent kingdoms. Reverence to the Gods led to gold and jewels and the finest of architecture bestowed onto them, and the independent kingdoms accumulated wealth not seen elsewhere. Thus she was a prime target for marauders, attracted by her wealth and attributes of her civilization. Forts for defense and palaces for residence were de-rigor for the independent kingdoms, and though many have not survived the ravages of time, those that have, were either too beautiful not to have been maintained or too well built and withstood the elements. Thus, there are some exquisite examples of architecture that we will not only see, but also live in – most perhaps only 200 to 400 years old, though some forts going back to at least 1,000 years.


Starting with North India, the world famous caves, we will then drive from one coast to the other, from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea, visiting breathtaking temples of ultimate grandeur - all that has made India famous.

This tour will be led by Adrianna Castelazo. Adrianna loves India and starting in the mid 1990s, has been all over the country more than 45 times. Deepak Singh will accompany her.


November 10 Depart Mexico
Depart this afternoon from Mexico for your journey from the Arabian Sea then across South India, from the Bay of Bengal on the East coast and back to the Arabian Sea on the West coast. Overnight: On board your aircraft.

November 11 Arrive Delhi
Our representatives will meet you as you exit customs and immigration at Delhi airport, and transfer you to your hotel. Overnight: Delhi.

November 12 Delhi - Agra
Depart at leisure by road for Agra (5 hrs). Spend the afternoon sightseeing in Agra. Overnight: Agra.

November 13 Agra - Jaipur
Visit the Taj Mahal at dawn. Return to hotel for breakfast, and then depart by road for Jaipur, stopping at Fathepur Sikri enroute. Overnight: Jaipur.

November 14 Jaipur
Spend the day sightseeing. Overnight: Jaipur.

November 15 Jaipur
Spend the day sightseeing. Overnight: Jaipur.

November 16 Jaipur - Aurangabad
Depart after a late breakfast in time to arrive at Delhi airport (5-6 hours) for your flight to Aurangabad (1750/1935). Transfer you to your hotel. Overnight: Aurangabad.

November 17 Ajanta Caves
Spend the day sightseeing the Ajanta Caves. O/N: Aurangabad.

The Ajanta Caves include paintings and 30 rock cut sculptures described as among the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian art, particularly expressive paintings that present emotion through gesture, pose and form. These masterpieces of Buddhist religious art influenced Indian art that followed. The caves were built in two phases, the first phase starting around the 2nd cent BC and the second phase built around 400–650 AD.

The Caves constitute ancient monasteries and worship halls of different Buddhist traditions carved into a 250 feet wall of rock such as depicting past lives and rebirths of the Buddha, pictorial tales from Aryasura's Jatakamala, as well as rock-cut sculptures of Buddhist deities. They are mentioned by several medieval era Chinese Buddhist travelers to India and by Mughal officials of Emperor Akbar. They were covered by jungle until accidentally "discovered" in 1819 by a colonial British officer on a tiger hunting party.

November 18 Ellora Caves
Visit Ellora Caves, then fly to Mumbai (1745/1845). O/N: Mumbai.

Ellora is one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments, and artwork, dating from the 600-1000 AD period. Ellora is home to the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world, the Kailash temple, a chariot shaped monument dedicated to Shiva. This temple excavation also features gods, goddesses, and mythologies found in Vaishnavism, Shaktism as well as relief panels summarizing the two major Hindu Epics. There are many videos saved on on this temple, one of which is here.

Over 100 caves here consist of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain caves representing deities and mythologies that were prevalent in the 1st millennium CE.

November 19 Mumbai – Chennai - Mahabalipuram
Fly to Chennai (1045/1235). Sightseeing in Chennai. Then drive to Mahabalipurram (1 ½ hrs). O/N: Mahabalipuram.

More than a city, Chennai (or Madras as it was earlier known), is a potpourri of impressions: a fistful of colour, a whiff of jasmine, the rustling of silk. It brings to mind the subtle, intricate variations of classical music, the evocative grace of Bharatanatyam and spontaneity of bronzed Dravidian faces. Stray images chase one another: bold colour drawn into the pleats of the Kancheepuram sari; a neat, swaying, ebony plait crowned with a spray of flowers; complicated and exuberant sculpture lacing temple walls. The gateway to the south and the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, Madras or Chennai is a vibrant metropolis and a combination of old world charm and modern day efficiency.

Visit San Thome Basilica, a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Santhome. Built in the 16th century over the tomb of Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. It was rebuilt as a church with the status of a cathedral by the British in 1893. This church is one of three churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus. The other two being St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain. Also visit St. Mary`s Church the oldest surviving Anglican church in India.

November 20 Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram

Kanchipuram is the ancient capital of the Pallavas famous as a city of 10 Temples and still has 124 shrines. The first temple dedicated to Shiva was built in the 7th and 8th century and has paintings on the walls. Temples of Ekambaswara, Kailasanatha, Sri Kamakshi and Varadarajaswamy are of interest. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silks. Later visit the magnificent rock temples and carvings in the beach town of Mahabalipuram. Five Rathas (chariots), ceremonial chariots, rock-cut monoliths, named after the 5 Pandavas. The Shore Temple by the sea surrounded by gardens designed according to descriptions of the original layout from ancient times. Built in sandstone in the 7th century. Bhagiratha’s Penance is a bas-relief (27 to 9m) sculptured on the face of two enormous adjacent rocks, depicts, the penance of Arjuna, myriad characters from the Mahabharata, realistic life-size figures of animals, gods and saints watching the descent of the river goddess Ganga to earth.

November 21 Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
Drive to Pondicherry (2 1/2 hrs). Overnight: Pondicherry.

Pondicherry was a French settlement that comprised Pondy, Yanam, Karaikal and Mahe. There is a strong influence of French culture on Pondicherry town, especially on its architecture, a result of the centuries-old relations this place maintained with France.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The ashram was founded in 1920 when Sri Aurobindo reached Pondicherry, a French colony and put in place his ideas of peaceful community. The ashram was run by his French companion Mirra Alfassa, known as the Mother. The ashram houses the samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the mother and is open to the public.

Pondicherry Museum has a very good sculpture gallery and a section of archaeological finds from the Roman settlement at Arikamedu. There is also a French section charting the history of the colony. The objects include the four-poster bed in which Dupleix is believed to have slept. There is also a superb collection of the snail shells from the Pondicherry Region.

Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Built in the Gothic style, this massive church is one of the most beautiful churches in Pondicherry.

November 22 Pondicherry – Chidambaram - Thanjavur
Drive to Tanjore visiting Chidambaram enroute (1 1/2 hrs then 3 hrs). Overnight: Tanjore.

The small town of Chidambaram is built around a great temple-complex is a highlight of Dravidian architecture and was built by the Cholas from 907 to 1310 AD. It has four large Gopurams with finely sculptured icons depicting Hindu myths.


November 23 Tanjoreakonam – Thanjavur
Depart for Trichy (1 hr). Onto Madurai (2 1/2 hrs). Overnight: Madurai.

Thanjavur was the ancient capital of the Chola kings whose origins, go back to the beginning of the Christian era. Power struggles between these groups were a constant feature of their early history, with one or other gaining the ascendancy at various times. The Cholas' turn for empire building came between 850 and 1270 AD and, at the height of their power. Probably the greatest Chola emperors were Raja Raja Chola, who held the throne from 985 to 1016, built the greatest of the empire's 74 temples, the Brahadeeswarar, with its soaring tower over the inner sanctum rising more than 62 meters (200 feet) with a single block of granite weighing 80 tons on its dome, and his son Rajendra-I whose navy competed with the Arabs for controls of the Indian Ocean trade routes and who was responsible for bringing Srivijaya under Chola control.

Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) is situated in center Tamil Nadu, was built by the Nayak rulers of Madurai around a rock fort, on the banks of the Kaveri (also Cauvery) river. It was a Chola citadel during the Sangam Age and was also briefly ruled by the Pallavas and the Pandyas. Today, Trichy is a blend of history, a pilgrim center and a thriving commercial city.

Trichy was and is famous for the Ranganatha Temple at Srirangam, 10 km away. The Rock Fort is the center of the city and is a remarkable 83 meter high structure dominating the landscape. The Uchi Pillaiyer Temple dedicated to lord Vinayaka or Ganesha has 344 steps, cut into the rock leading to the temple with the Tyaumanaswami Temple of lord Shiva half way up the hillock. Cave temples in the fort with sculptures date back to the 6th and 7th centuries. The Sri Jambukeswara Temple, at Tiruvankkaikaval, Srirangam is an island in the Kaveri river, north of Tiruchirapalli. The Ranganathaswami Temple here, built around 13th-14th centuries has 21 towers and stone pillars covered with fine carvings.

Situated on the banks of river Vaigai, Madurai is more than 2,500 years old and has a rich cultural heritage and history, and even as early as 550 AD, it was an important cultural and commercial centre. Madurai was the capital city for the great Pandya kings.

Visit the Meenakshi Temple & Tirrumalai Nayak Palace and Thirumohur (10 km). This place has its legendary origin in the distant past when Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) churned the ocean to get Amritham (nectar). In the evening visit the Meenakshi temple to attend ceremony every evening where the marriage of Meenakshi (Parvati) and Sundareshwara (Lord Shiva) is solemnized.


Novembar 24 Madurai – Periyar
Spend the morning sightseeing Madurai, and then depart by road for Alleppey, stopping for the night at Periyar (3 1/2 hrs). Overnight: Periyar. If time permits, opportunities of going for a boat ride at Periyar Lake.

Novembar 25 Periyar - Alleppey
Depart early for Alleppey (2 1/2 hrs). Upon arrival, board your house boat and spend rest of day in the backwaters of Kerala. See inner India, schools, places of worship, paddy fields, local village life all on the banks of the water as you slowly chug through. Overnight: On-board your houseboat.

Novembar 26 Alleppey - Cochin
After breakfast on board, disembark and drive to Cochin (1 1/2 hrs). In Cochin, spend the day sightseeing this historic city. Overnight: Cochin.

It is believed that spices originated from Cochin were presented to King Solomon by the Queen of Sheba. In 1000 BC Phoenicians, trading with Cochin, supplied the Pharaohs of Egypt with aromatic oils and spices which were used to preserve the embalmed bodies of the Egyptian Kings and Queens. After Rome conquered Egypt, the Roman galleys were carrying goods to imperial Rome where pepper, the most prized import, was worth its weight in gold.

St. Thomas arrived in the first century AD. The Jews arriving here in the wake of the Diaspora were given sanctuary and titles of land and established a flourishing trading community in Cochin.

For the next thousand years the spice trade was controlled by the Arabs who supplied these exotic wares through the Italian City State of Venice. Marco Polo in his travelogue writes about a flourishing trade between Cochin and China when he visited these parts. In order to break the Venetian stranglehold on this lucrative trade, the Catholic Majesties of Spain and Portugal financed independent explorations to discover a direct sea route to Cochin. Christopher Columbus under the patronage of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain began his journey by sea to Cochin; but eventually discovered the continent of the Americas. Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer (1498) directly established, for the first time, a sea route between western Europe and the Orient.
The Dutch in their quest for colonial expansion fought the Portuguese in a major sea battle in the Harbor of Cochin and established a Dutch trading port. In the 18th century, Cochin came under the British rule and became an integral part of their empire. Being naturally blessed with an all weather harbor it soon became the premier port and commercial hub of South India.

Visit the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, built by the Portuguese in 1555 and renovated by the Dutch in 1663. In the ancient rooms are 17th century murals that relate in vibrant color the story of the epic Ramayana. See streets of picture-postcard houses out of another age, in 17th century Dutch and traditional Kerala styles. Visit St. Francis Church, the oldest European Church in India. It has several antiquities including a wealth of records. These include a palm-leaf title deed the local Raja gave the Portuguese in 1503. See the Chinese Fishing Nets, unique to this part of Kerala and living symbols of a centuries-old Chinese influence on this coast.

In Cochin we will visit the Jew Town and the paradesi Synagogue which was built in 1568. This is the first Synagogue that came into existence in the Commonwealth and is also one of the oldest in the world. This Synagogue was built by Samuel Castiel, David Belila, Ephrahim Sala and Joseph Levi. It stands on the grounds of Maharaja of Cochin’s residence overlooking the Hindu Shrine demonstrating cordial relations of the Jews with the people of Kerala. In addition, we will visit some important Hindu religious sites.

Novembar 27 Cochin - Departure
Spend day at leisure, depart this evening for your journey home. Overnight: On board your aircraft.

* * * End of Services offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc * * *


US$ 5,250.00 per person. US$ 1,950.00 extra for a single room, if paid in full by 7 Jul 2018

US$ 5,450.00 per person. US$ 2,000.00 extra for a single room, if paid in full between 8 Jul and 31 Oct, 2018

US$ 5,750.00 per person. US$ 2,100.00, if paid in full after 1 Nov 2018

For group arriving, traveling and departing together, 2-people sharing one twin share room, minimum of twenty people in group, subject to availability. Single supplement is extra.

Payment by Installments: Available. Details depend on amount and date of first payment. Contact Deepak Singh for details.

HOTELS ENVISAGED (Room Type), or Similar:

Delhi: Pride Aerocity (Deluxe)

Agra: Courtyard by Marriott (Deluxe)

Jaipur: Radisson City Centre (Deluxe)

Mumbai: Leela (Premier)

Aurangabad: Vivanta by Taj Aurangabad (Superior charm)

Mahabalipuram: Intercontinental Mahabalipuram Resort (Resort classic)

Pondicherry: Palais De Mahe (Standard)

Tanjore: Ideal River View Resort (River Facing)

Madurai: The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai (Superior)

Periyar: Spice Village, (Standard Villa)

Alleppey: River Escape Muthoot HB, (AC 3BR)

Cochin: Vivanta by Taj - Malabar H/W, (Superior Charm Heritage)


• Hotel accommodation as above on double/twin-sharing room,
• Daily buffet breakfast at hotels, and lunches at local restaurant,
• All meals while on the houseboat,
• Rickshaw ride at Madurai,
• Kathakali Dance show in Cochin,
• Boat ride at lake Periyar,
• Domestic air in economy class: Delhi/Aurangabad; Aurangabad/Mumbai; and, Mumbai/Chennai,
• Spanish speaking local guide for sightseeing in all places as per program,
• All transfers and sightseeing/excursion by an air-conditioned 40-seat Volvo in South India (A/C vehicles elsewhere),
• All applicable taxes including mandatory government service tax,
• Entrances fee for entry into monuments as per the itinerary, and,
• The services of a SJI representative at all airport and hotel transfers.


• Beverages, mineral water, alcohol, laundry, telephone calls; or other items of personal nature,
• Any and all tips and gratuities,
• Increases in Airfares or Government imposed taxes or entrance fees,
• Still camera or video camera fees at the various monuments and museums,
• Services not specifically stated in the itinerary,
• Personal or travel insurance, departure Taxes or Visa Handling Fees,
• Any changes you may choose to make during your tour, and,
• International Air.

REGISTRATION: Please fill our Registration Form, save it, and then e-mail it back to us.

Additional Information: Please e-mail Deepak Singh (English) or Adrianna Castelazo (Spanish) or telephone Deepak Singh at +1-508-358-4267.