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Art History of South India Temple Holiday Tour
Duration: 11 days
Location: India
Price: $1,275
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Tamil Nadu is the host of many of India’s greatest temples and we will visit some of the most ancient, monumental and most important temples of South India. These South India Temple Holidays are for people who want to delve into Hinduism and Temple art and architecture of South India.

The Great Temples of Tamilnadu – South India Temple Tours

‘The Last Classical Civilisation’ is how acclaimed author and unabashed India-phile Michael Wood has referred to the Tamil culture of India’s south. With a heritage distinctly different from that of India’s north, Tamil Nadu is home not only to some of the most fertile land on the planet but also to some of its most impressive temple architecture and its richest traditions.

On this trip we explore the state in depth by travelling along the shores of the Indian Ocean through Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry before heading inland via several UNESCO World Heritage sites towards ancient Madurai whose Dravidian heritage goes back over 2500 years.

Detailed Itinerary of Great Temples of Tamilnadu South India Temple Tours

Price per person on twin sharing basis. Accommodation in luxury air conditioned hotels with a three star rating or higher. For hotel list, please write to us. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included. Transport in a luxury air conditioned SUV/Sedan/Mini Bus. Looking for 5 star accommodation? Contact us. Please read the Indian Expeditions Booking Terms and Conditions

Day 1 & 2: Chennai on the South India Temple Tours

South India Tours Temple ChennaiWe will visit Fort St George, the first fort built in India and explore Chennai’s colonial past. We will take a walk through Chennai’s busy gold and saree market and learn how to bargain the Indian way. We visit some of Chennai’s most prominent temples, some of which date back to many centuries ago. You will be mesmerized with the Chennai Egmore museums exquisite collection of bronze sculptures from as early on as the 5th century. We will attend an Indian Classical music concert and explore the trail of the Apostle Doubting Thomas and visit the St Thomas Basilica, where the apostle is said to have been originally buried.

Talk: Orientation, Art history of South India. Performing Art: Classical Concert. (depending on tour dates, please check with travel manager.)

Day 3 on the South India Temple Tours: Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram)

South India Temple Holidays Mahabalipuram

We will explore the ancient 5th century port, Mahabalipuram and be amazed by ancient, exquisite rock sculptures. Here we will relax in an exquisite beach resort, and dine on some fine sea food.

Talk: Pallava and Chola art.

Day 4 on the South India Temple Tours: Chidambaram

South India Temple Holidays Chidmabaram TempleOne of the most ancient and most important temples in South India, the Tillai Nataraja Temple  has influenced worship, architecture, sculpture and performance art for over two millennium. The temple has 9 gateways, and four of these have gateway towers or gopurams each with 7 storeys facing the East, South, West and North. We will spend the afternoon exploring this fascinating structure that is steeped in legend and folklore.

Talk: Influence of the Chidambaram Temple

Day 5 and 6 on the South India Temple Tours: Kumbakonam

South India Tour KumbakonamKumbakonam dates back to the Sangam period and was ruled by the Early Cholas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas. It rose to be a prominent city between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, when it served as a capital of the Medieval Cholas. The town reached the zenith of its prosperity during the British Raj when it was a prominent centre of European education and Hindu culture; and it acquired the cultural name, the “Cambridge of South India”.  We spend 2 days exploring Kumbakonam and sites nearby.

Day 7 and 8 on the South India Temple Tours: Tanjavur

South India Temple Tour ThanjavurWe arrive post lunch and take a stroll through some of Thanjavur’s streets. Here, we will enjoy a 10th century Chola theme dinner, recipes of which have been taken from ancient rock inscriptions and manuscripts. We will visit the “Big Temple,” the magnificent Brahadeswhara Temple built in the 11th century, regarded as one of India’s most magnificent ancient structures. We will go on an orientation drive and visit a Vedic and Sanskrit school and commune, and interact with professors and students. We will view age old methods of bronze casting and attend a classical dance program, where you will have a chance to interact with traditional dancers and musicians

Talk: Orientation, Art history of South India. Performing Art: Classical Concert. (depending on tour dates, please check with travel manager.) 

Day 9, 10 and 11 on the South India Temple Tours: Madurai

South India Holidays MaduraiMadurai is one of the worlds oldest cities. The city is built around the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which acted as the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai. Madurai is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular streets around the temple. Vishwanatha Nayak (1159–64 CE), the first Madurai Nayak king, redesigned the city in accordance with the principles laid out by Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: śilpa śāstra, also anglicised as silpa sastra meaning rules of architecture) related to urban planning. We will explore the bylanes of this ancient city and witness vibrant and mysterious rituals in the awe-inspiring Madurai Meenakshi Temple. You can catch a Tamil movie and attend a talk on Tamil cinema and its influence on everyday life.

Talk: Madurai.

Trip Lead on the South India Temple Tours

South India Tour Private Guide V.N Seetharam is considered by many as one of the best South India tour guides they have ever encountered. Acknowledged by academicians from across the globe  as one of the worlds leading experts in Indian Architecture, Sculpture, Indology and culture, Seetharam makes for a fantastic travel partner. It is his bookseller roots that have made Seetharam a cultural historian of our times, much appreciated for his insights on prose, poetry, literature and scriptures alike. For decades together and all of the 90′s Seetharam dominated the book business in India with his exclusive and rich treasure, popularly known as “The Bookshop” in Chennai. The press adored his niche motley of books and tagged it as one of the best collections in India.

Today Seetharam has hundreds of fans who once visited his bookshop, admired his passion and are coming back for South India Tours with him as the trip lead.

Too many temples? Want to tone it down for a more leisurely holiday? Check out our Art History of South India or The Western Ghats Holidays if wildlife is your thing.

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