South Indian Golden Heritage Circuit
The Cauvery Delta, having miles and miles of lush green paddy fields, is also a repository of arguably, the finest temples of South India. Join us in visiting Kumbakonam, Thanjavur and Madurai (The Golden Heritage Circuit) where the size of the temples will make you wonder if these were built by humans. The temple towns will astound you with the old lanes and bye lanes, the aromatic street food, and the whiff of camphor, flowers and incense in the air will take you to another world.
The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future.Wendell Phillips
- Destination: Tamil Nadu
- Location: Kumbakonam-Thanjavur-Madurai
- Google Map Co-ordinates: 10.8050° N, 78.6856° E
- Nearest City (Airport): Madurai
- Nearest City (Railway Station): Madurai
- Duration: 7N/8D (Flexible)
- Level: Easy
- Guide: Available
- Price: On request
The old temples of Kumbakonam with their colourful Gopurams, built by the Chola Kings are of great historical importance. You will visit the greatest temples of South India. Kumbakonam is also know for its unique set of temples, the Navagraha temples, a set of nine temples each dedicated to one planetary deity. Also an ancient commercial centre, it is renowned for its trade in foods, particularly rice and betel leaves, and for its hand-spun silks and bell-metal pots.
Thanjavur was the capital of the Chola kindom. As per folklore, the city is named after the demon Thanjan who was killed by Lord Vishnu. The Brihadeeswara temple here is the highlight of the city and is on the World Heritage Listing. Thanjavur paintings originated here. These are characterized by rich and vivid colors, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces or very rarely precious and semi-precious gems. Do check on how the Kings promoted art, culture, dance and music here.
Madurai, which is mentioned during the Sangam era (6th to 3rd century BC), is one of the oldest cities of India. The Meenakshi Temple is one of the finest temples in India, and also one of the oldest, having a mention in Tamil Literature as early as the 7th Century. It is spread over 14 acres of land and has Gopurams that are visible from any part of the city. This is where Lord Shiva performed the Cosmic Dance, the Tandava. Also visit the Thirumala Nayak Palace in the vicinity. This was built in 1636 CE and is a national monument.
Visit Rameshwaram, one of the most significant pilgrimage centres of India, via the Pamban bridge, a spectacular engineering wonder, 2.3 kms long, built on the sea, having a double-leaf bascule section midway, which can be raised to let ships and barges pass through. The colour of the sea is sure to blow you off. Spend time at the Ramanathswamy temple built in the 12th century. It is believed that a visit to this temple would wash away the sins and one can attain salvation.
Get to stand at the end of landed territory at Dhanushkodi, around 20 kms away from Rameshwaram. It is known as the lost city of Tamil Nadu. It was a popular port town but was destroyed in 1964. You can gaze out at Adams bridge, the chain of reefs, sandbanks and islets that almost connects India to Sri Lanka.
The Saranpani, Kumbheshwara and Nageshwara temples at Kumbakonam are renowned Shiva and Vishnu temples. The temples at Darasuram and Gangaicondacholapuram with intricate designs, inscriptions and the majesty will make you wonder how complex the art of temple building is.
The Brihadeeshwara temple at Thanjavur also called the Big Temple is one of the biggest temple of India and is rightly said to be an architectural wonder. It will throw light on how an organized way of working could help build such a massive temple in just 6 years. It will also show how art is important to religion and the role of art forms in building the temple.
The Meenakshi Temple at Madurai, the street food which is probably the best in Tamil Nadu, and of course the colourful lanes and bye lanes of this temple city that is dotted with myriad small shops selling colourful clothes, household ware and small artifacts.
The amazing Pamban bridge with deep blue water beneath.
The temple at Rameshwaram, has 22 wells and it is believed that bathing with the water of each well gives one particular power.
Dhanushkodi that is a ghost city now and will give you an end of the world feel.
The Chettinad mansions, the colorful Athangudi tiles that are handmade, the Pillayapatti temple, the farmer’s market and of course the Chettinad cuisine.
- Day 1 / Trichy - Kumbakonam
- Pick up from Trichy station or Airport. We will go to Kumbakonam by Car. Stay at Kumbakonam.
- Day 2 / Kumbakonam
- Visit the Navagraha temples. Each temple is located in a different village, and is considered an abode of one of the Navagrahas. However, the majority of these temples are dedicated to Shiva.The Navagrahas, the nine planets, are believed to have an influence at the time of ones birth. They provide good and bad things to an individual. Praying at this Navagraha temples reduces the bad effects. Stay at Kumbakonam.
- Day 3 / Kumbakonam
- Spend the day at in the land of 18 temples, mostly dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu. Only a very dedicated traveler may visit all 18. The largest Vishnu temple is the Saranpani temple, that is in the form of a chariot and was built by the Chola kings in the 12th century. It is considered third in the line of Srirangam and Tirupati. The Kumbheshwara temple is the largest Shiva temple. It has a lingam, that is said to be made by Shiva when he mixed the nectar of immortality with sand. The 12th century Nageshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the guise of the Serpent King is the most sacred one. In the Tamil month of Chittirai ( Apr-May), for 3 days in a year, the sun’s rays fall on the lingam. The current belief is that every 12 years, water from the Ganga flows into the tank and a festival is celebrated that year. Nearby are the temples of Darasuram and Gangaikondacholapuram. The Airavateswara temple at Darasuram, is one of the Great Living Chola temples and although it is smaller than others, it is a storehouse of art and architecture having exquisite carvings. The Brihadeeshwarar temple at Gangaikondacholapuram is a testament to the Chola King who defeated Kings from the banks of the river Ganges. The palace, temple and the lake built there is an embodiment of the valour. Stay at Kumbakonam.
- Day 4 / Kumbakonam-Thanjavur: 40 km/60 min
- The Brihadeeswara temple dominates Thanjavur. It covers 44 acres and was built around a moat. Built out of Granite, the Vimana above the Sanctum Sanctorum is the highest in South India. The massive temple took only 6 years to be built. Inscriptions record the names of dancers, musicians and poets denoting the importance of development of arts. The dome of the temple weighing around 80 tonnes was hauled from a place 4 kms away and is an architectural wonder and a stamp of super human effort. The statue of the Nandi bull, is created from a single piece of rock, weighs 25 tonnes and is 6 metres long and 3 metres high. Stay at Thanjavur.
- Day 5 / Thanjavur-Karaikudi: 105 km/2.5 hours|Karaikudi-Madurai: 90 km/2 hours
- See the grandeur of Chettinad mansions with wide courtyards, spacious rooms, the unique Athangudi colourful tiles and the sharp tasting, renowned Chettinad cuisine. The Chettiars, a traditional business community of Tamil Nadu were probably the first community, which had a structured method to become an entrepreneur. They are one of the first from India to have taken banking business to South East Asia. Stay at Madurai.
- Day 6 / Madurai
- Spend the day at the Meenakshi Temple. Our guide will keep you engrossed with the story of Madurai, the legend of Meenakshi, the history of the temple and take you to many a gems within the temple like the hall with thousand pillars where on striking each pillar you would hear a unique sound, the sacred pool with a golden lotus and the innumerable small shrines. Also visit the Thirumala Nayak Palace in the vicinity. This was built in 1636 CE and is a national monument. Stay at Madurai.
- Day 7 / Rameshwaram
- You will reach Rameshwaram, taking the Pamban bridge. Spend time at the Ramanathswamy temple built in 12th century.It is believed that a visit to this temple would wash away the sins and one can attain salvation. This temple has 22 wells called Teerthams and a person washes himself with the water of each of these wells. Go to Dhanushkodi, around 20 kms away, the lost city of Tamil Nadu. It was a popular port town but was destroyed in 1964. You can gaze out at Adams bridge, the chain of reefs, sandbanks and islets that almost connects India to Sri Lanka. We will go back to Madurai by car. Stay at Rameshwaram.
- Day 8 / Departure
- Start early morning from Rameshwaram. You will reach Madurai by noon. The car will drop you to Madurai airport or railway station for your flight or train back home.
- Accommodation with breakfast.
- Guided tours along with transportation.
- All applicable government taxes, toll fees, parking charges, etc.
- Transportation: Pick up and drop from Madurai airport or railway station in an AC vehicle.
- Entry tickets to monuments etc.
- Tips & Gratuties.
- Any expense that is not mentioned in the Inclusions list above. These will have to be paid at actuals directly by the guests.
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