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Lagoon and mountains in Kerala

TOUR WITH A THEME
Thronged by Hindu pilgrims, Tamil Nadu is full of extraordinary temples, symbols of Dravidian architecture. After Pondicherry, a former French possession, you will visit the most beautiful temples of South India. Then it will be Kerala, the India of the gentle pleasures of life. Located in the extreme South-West of the peninsula, between the Ghats and the Oman Sea, Kerala is often compared to a terrestrial paradise. Lush greenery, coconut trees and rice plantations furrowed by channels and hills covered with spices and tea plantations. This journey will let you discover the different aspects of Tamil Nadu and Kerala: temples, religion, hills, the sea and backwater channels.

Info Techniques
- 13 days
- Discover tour
- 2 days walk


Highlights
- House-boat on backwaters
- Old Cochin
- The mountains of Kerala
- The most beatiful temples of Dravidian culture


Dates
20/12/06 - 01/01/07
07/02/07 - 19/02/07
21/02/07 - 05/03/07
14/03/07 - 26/03/07
11/04/07 - 23/04/07




Itinerary

D1: Chennai / Pondicherry
Arrival in Chennai early in the morning. Transfer to Pondicherry (3h). Towards the end of the afternoon, stroll in the old French town. Standard hotel – a/c rooms.

D2: Pondicherry
Visit to Pondicherry, ancient French possession. Visit to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Samadhi of the "Mother." Visit Ashram paper factory: hand-made paper and envelopes. And we will enjoy the market. Standard hotel – a/c rooms in Pondy.

D3: Pondicherry / Chidambaram / Tanjore
Departure for Chidambaram, 2h by bus, visits to Nataraja temple, the dancing Shiva, built in the 10th century during the reign of the Cholas. Undoubtedly one of the oldest temples of South India.
Then we continue towards Tanjore (3h by bus). Tanjore, situated on the Cauvery Delta, was the capital of the Cholas, the most prominent kings of South India; visit to Brihadishwara temple where you will be able to experience the religious fervour of the Hindus, their capacity of union with the atman ( the universal sou) Ideal Resort hotel, bungalow with swimming pool. A/c cottage.


D4: Tanjore / Madurai
Departure for Trichy (1h30), visit to the amazing Srirangam temple, built on an island in the middle of the Cauvery River; proceeding to Madurai (2h30), to visit the Meenakshi temple: a true Holy City inside the city. Chentoor hotel; 2 star hotel; a/c rooms.

D5: Madurai / Kodaikanal
Discover the town of Madurai, undoubtedly the most vibrant in South India; departure in the middle of the afternoon for Kodaikanal (3h by bus.) Elephant valley. Eco-lodge accommodation, bungalow.

D6: Kodaikanal
Day of excursion around Kodaikanal, a superb site built around a lake, we are on the cliffs of the Western Ghats between Coromandel and Malabar, 2,100m high. Elephant valley. Eco-lodge accommodation, bungalow.

D7: Kodaikanal / Periyar
Mountain road in minibus (4h) up to Periyar, enjoying a splendid view. Periyar is an animal reserve at 1,000 m altitude known for its elephants (nearly 1,000) and its tigers. Visit to Kumily spice market; dinner in town. Hotel.

D8: Periyar
Periyar is a famed natural reserve in Thekkady, a few hours drive from Munnar, located at an altitude of 1000m and situated across a lake, the Periyar Lake, named after the river that flows into it. We will have a walk in the Reserve Parks with trained forest guides, who may be able to help us spot some of the wide variety of animals that live here. Afternoon: sightseeing at a spice-garden. Hotel.

D9: Periyar / Kottayam
Trip to the pier where Ketuvallams are awaiting us: boats formerly used for the transport of spices, they are now comfortable and finely decorated. Crossing the lake while partaking of lunch on board, it is a superb ride on the backwater channels. Night on board.

D10: Allepey / Cochin
The boats bring us in the early morning to Allepey. We reach Cochin (1h30): visit a city which spreads out over a group of islands. Cochin is the main port from which foreign ships loaded with spices leave. The graceful Chinese fishing boats are displayed at the edge of the water. Stroll in the old city built by the Portuguese nearly 500 years ago. Kathakali performance, dinner in an Old Portuguese house. Fort Abad Hotel -

D11: Cochin
Visit to the Dutch palace, the Jewish quarter and the St-Francis church. Free afternoon to discover the antique dealers and the wholesale spice district. In the evening, departure by train for Chennai. Night aboard the train. 2nd class a/c sleeper.

D12 : Chennai / Mahabalipuram
Arrival in the early morning in Chennai. We reach Mahabalipuram (2 hours). Visit to the temples spread out over the hills, the famous bas-relief depicting Arjuna's Penance, and the five rathas. Ideal Resort hotel: bungalows with swimming pool.

D13: Chennai Airport
Transport to the airport, then flight.