||March 29 - April 6, 2018
Spiritual South India trail is a journey across the land of mysterious temples & healing power of nature in Tamil Nadu & Kerala. In one of The Navagraha temples dwells mysterious ‘The Palm Leaves Library’, depositing manuscripts with our past, present and future. Would you like to know yours? Let’s visit it.
The trail is dedicated to everyone, who would like to meet with traditional Ayurveda families, yoga gurus, astrologers, experts for spirituality, culture and history, whose ancestors practiced Ayurveda for centuries. God’s own country offers healing power of nature – the tranquil ocean coast, the lush green backwaters, the mountains covered by mists and myths, which add color and depth to its vibrant history. Ayurveda is lifestyle in Kerala. Spiritual South India will impress you with majestic temples in Tamil Nadu and enchants you by natural beauty of Kerala!
1st DAY: DEPARTURE FROM YOUR DESTINATION
2nd DAY: CHENNAI – MAMALAPURAM / Hotel Mamallaa Heritage
3th DAY: MAMALAPURAM – AUROVILLE – PONDICHERRY / Atithi Hotel
4th DAY: PONDICHERRY – CHIDAMBARAM – KUMBAKONAM / Paradise Resort
5th DAY: KUMBAKONAM – THANJAVUR – MADURAI / Germanus Hotel
6th DAY: MADURAI – MUNAR / Ecotones
7th DAY: MUNAR – COCHIN / Fort House Hotel
8th DAY: COCHIN – BACKWATERS ALLEPPEY / Lakes & Lagoons Housboat
9th DAY: BACKWATERS – VARKALA – TRIVANDRUM – CHOWARA BEACH
DEPARTURE OR YOU CAN CONTINUE WITH A YOGA RETREAT LOCATED DIRECTLY ON THE BEACH / The Travancore Heritage
DAY 1: DEPARTURE FROM YOUR DESTINATION
DAY 2: CHENNAI – MAMALAPURAM
Lonely Planet has named Chennai as the 9th best cosmopolitan city in the world and as one of the top ten cities in the world to visit in 2015. BBC named it among the “hottest” cities with a mixture of both modern and traditional values to live in for 2015. National Geographic ranked it as world’s 2nd best food city and Chennai was the only Indian city to feature in the list. Definitely city with its own flavor, taste and history! We will visit Fort St George – the oldest English fortress in India (1644), Chennai’s most impressive Hindu Kapaleeshwarar Temple; Christian Santhome Cathedral, is said to mark the final resting place of St Thomas the Apostle (AD 72); St Thomas’ Pole, at the beach end of the street on the cathedral’s south side, is said to have miraculously saved the cathedral from the 2004 tsunami. On the way to the hotel in Mamalapuram we will enjoy scenic views of Chennai on a drive along Marina Beach, but before sunset we will stop for evening meditation at Madam Blavatsky House in Theosophical Society.
DAY 3: MAMALAPURAM – AUROVILLE – PONDICHERRY
Mamalapuram was the major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom based at Kanchipuram. By the 7th century it was a port city of South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas. It has a group of sanctuaries, which was carved out of rock along the Coromandel coast in the 7th and 8th centuries: rathas (temples in the form of chariots), mandapas (cave sanctuaries), giant open-air reliefs such as the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’, and the Shore Temple, with thousands of sculptures to the glory of Shiva. Though known as the land of Seven Pagodas, there is only one remaining today. Arjuna’s Penance, carved rock, is the largest wall relief sculpture in the world. It gets its name from the figure of an ascetic who is believed to be Arjuna, the hero of Mahabharata, doing penance to obtain a boon from Lord Siva. A wander round the town’s magnificent, UNESCO World Heritage Site temples and carvings inflames the imagination, especially at sunset.
On the way from Mamalapurampuram to Pondicherry, we will visit Sri Aurobindo Society. As a vision, “Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity and harmony across cultures.” Pondicherry has a long and interesting history of trade and war. There is a strong French influence in the city, with Rues and Boulevards lined with Mediterranean style houses and bakeries. Bright plaster houses, neat narrow lanes and blue-enameled street signs mark the French Quarter. The Tamil Quarter of Pondicherry is a place where cultures not only meet but also melt. Rich markets and busy lanes give birth to a way of life found nowhere else in India. Pondicherry is a wonderful town to be explored by foot or on cycle. We will visit the Aurobindo Ashram, the French, Christian, Hindu and Muslim quarters, the incredible colorful main market, the beach promenade and the Ganesh Temple. At the end of the day we will have a cup of coffee at the Café or some French food at La Maison Rose, a treat that reminds you of old Europe.
DAY 4: PONDICHERRY – CHIDAMBARAM – KUMBAKONAM (THE NAVAGRAHA TEMPLES)
Early morning we will start the day with puja at the great Chidambaram temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva in his form of the cosmic dancer – Nataraja. It is said to be the birthplace of Shiva as the dancer and therefore one of the most important temples in India. The place where the temple is located is the center point of world’s magnetic equator and thus considered to be the center of the world. It is a great experience to witness one of the many rituals held daily in the temple, which is considered as the most important temple for all Shiva worshipers. Kumbakonam is known as “Temple Town”, it is famous for its temples and mathas (monasteries). There are around 188 Hindu temples in the town itself and several thousand temples around the. We could spend many days discovering temples, which are mentioned even in the oldest eposes Ramayana nd Mahabharata, but we will visit The Navagraha Temples, which are dedicated to nine planets of Vedic Astrology. The longest time we will spend at Vaitheeswaran Temple (Mars), where so – called “Palm Leaves Library” is situated. In Tamil Nadu it is called Nādi Astrology or Nadi Jyotisa. These Nadi leaves were obtained by the families of astrologers at the Vaitheeswaran Temple and have been passed down the years from one generation to the other. The Palm Leaves are ancient Manuscripts that were written thousands of years ago by sages to people living today. As unbelievable as it may seem, they actually contain specific information of our past, present and future, our names, names of close relatives and partners, names of secret lovers and even our thoughts and plans. They were written to provide helpful guidance in every field of life and to help experience our life on a much healthier and happier level than we normally would.
DAY 5: KUMBAKONAM – THANJAVUR – MADURAI
Chennai may be the capital of Tamil Nadu, but Thanjavur claims its heart and Madurai its soul. Thanjavur is an important place to see. Most of the great and still living Chola Temples are located in and around Thanjavur. The foremost and most impressive among the great temples, the Brihadeshwara temple (UNESCO Heritage) is located in the center of the city. We will explore its secrets and start the day with morning puja. Madurai is Tamil-born and Tamil-rooted, one of the oldest cities in India, a metropolis that traded with ancient Rome and was a great capital long before Chennai was even dreamt of. Visitors usually come here to see the Meenakshi Amman Temple, a labyrinthine structure ranking among the greatest temples of India. The colors, smells and the thousands of people doing their small and big ceremonies are simply a wonderful sight. Its easy to get lost in the many halls and simply marvel at the faith, the energies and the art covering walls and ceiling. The temple invites you to stay and marvel. This is one place one should not miss, while traveling South India.
DAY 6: MADURAI – MUNAR
Early morning we start the journey from Tamil Nadu to Kerala. The first experience will be in hilly Western Ghats region in Muduvankudi Ecotones Camps (Munnar area). Ecotones was born out of a passion to bring guests closer to nature. Guests can indulge in nature-oriented exploratory activities such as bird watching and nature trails or can just sit back and enjoy the scenic view. With activities such as cycling and guided nature walks, we hope to take people one step closer to nature and inculcate an interest for the natural world through observation and learning about its many intricacies. “The Road Not Taken” will take through small hamlets and village roads, which are lovely way to observe local life and people. Spice plantation trail is a solid 3 hour walk over hillocks and glens. You will find out about the local spices cultivated by the people of Muduvankudi: from early turmeric to the spicy and pungent Bird’s Eyes Chilli or kanthari, you will learn about how farmers grow black gold: pepper. The cardamom plantations transport you to different world, with lush emerald stalks and giant tree canopies. As you walk along, check out the multi-hued bird life all around you! From the ravishing ruby-throated bulbul and chattering Malabar hornbills to the metallic blue Malabar Whistling Thrush – the forest birds you will see around are sure to leave you enthralled. Come with us: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”
DAY 7: MUNAR – COCHIN
Cochin, heralded as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, was an important spice trading center on the west coast of India from the 14th century. Occupied by the Portuguese Empire in 1503 until 1530, when Goa was chosen instead. The city was later occupied by the Dutch and the British, with the Kingdom of Cochin becoming a princely state. In Cochin, you may explore the ancient harbor, with its rich colonial past, the old spice market at Mattancherry, the antique shops on Jew’s street, the Synagogue, the Dutch palace and of course, the famous Chinese fishing nets and St. Francis Church, where Vasco da Gama was buried.
DAY 8: COCHIN – BACKWATERS ALLEPPEY
After breakfast drive to Alleppey, we will proceed to boat jetty to board the Houseboat for overnight cruise. Alappuzha – still more romantically known as Alleppey – is the hub of Kerala’s backwaters, home to a vast network of waterways and more than a thousand houseboats. A backwater comprises of a unique web of rivers, lakes, bays, lagoons and canals extending into the villages and town of the city. This backwater journey through the narrow canals crossing exquisite villages of Kerala, embellished with lush green paddy fields, tall coconut grooves makes it a most spellbinding site. Float along and gaze over paddy fields of succulent green, curvaceous rice barges and village life along the banks. This is one of Kerala’s most mesmerizingly beautiful and relaxing experiences.
DAY 9: BACKWATERS – VARKALA – TRIVANDRUM – CHOWARA BEACH
A windbreak of palms runs over the beach, and beyond, is only the sand, the sea and the sky all whispering their special language. It is not just the sand and the sea. It’s the living environment that surrounds it. It is not the place for a raucous ‘beach holiday’. There are no real parties here. No noisy water scooter but for those seeking to undue the stress of the city life and experience a completely new place, it is the perfect spot. It’s time to relax in the coconut grove, explore the area and it’s fishing villages nearby on a bicycle or take a dip in the sea. The beach usually being nearly empty except for a few other guests and local fishermen.
7 nights’ accommodation in a DBL room (on twin/double sharing basis at the hotels mentioned above or similar), bed & breakfast basis, full board basis at Houseboat, all transfers, excursions & sightseeing as per itinerary, services of local English and Slovak speaking tour guide at every destination, entrance fees at World Heritage Monuments, all road taxes, parking fee, fuel charges and inter-state taxes, village visit with Ecotones, Chockramudi trek with Ecotones (2045m), representative for assistance at airports on all arrival & departure transfers, all currently applicable taxes and organization. Single rooms and upgrades are available upon request.
Airfare, personal health insurance, expense of personal nature like tipping, laundry, portage, telephone calls, camera/video fee at monuments, medical expenses, etc. Any other services not mentioned in the inclusions.