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India Pilgrimage

 

India Pilgrimage

On the foot steps of St. Thomas

15 Days / 14 Nights

Site: Cochin, Kumarakom, Periyar, Madurai, Trichy, Tanjore, Mahabalipuram, Chennai

Minimum of 25 pax
Valid from : October 2017 till March 2018
Except from 20th Dec 2017 till 10th January 2018

USD 969 im DZ
Price / person in 3 star hotel

USD 1132 im DZ
Price / person in 4 star hotel


Package Inclusions:

  • Double Room on sharing basis.
  • Half board during the stay.
  • All transfer and sightseeing by air-conditioned by Indian made Mini Coach for 10 – 14 Pax and Indian Made Large coach above 15 Pax.
  • Services of English speaking accompanying Tour Manager from arrival till departure. (Tour Manager will not stay in the same hotels)
  • Kathakali Dance Show in Cochin
  • Boat Ride in Periyar
  • Rickshaw Ride in Madurai
  • Entrances to the monuments as per the program.
  • Day cruising on Backwaters
  • Lunch during Day Cruising on board houseboat.
  • Currently applicable taxes

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Cochin
On arrival in Cochin you will be Greeted and Escorted by our representative to your hotel. Rooms will be available from 1200 Hrs.

Cochin is located in the state of Kerala, a state that boast of literacy rate of about 92-93 %. The population of the extended metropolitan area is 1.5 million people. It is one of the smallest states in India.

Later enjoy the tour focuses on Cochin, a city still influenced by the medieval presence of Portugal, Holland and England. Most amazing are the Chinese fishing nets along Vypeen Island. Traders brought these cantilevered fishing nets from the courts of Kublai Khan. The tour includes the Jew City with the Jewish Synagogue (built in 1568). The hand-painted floor tiles came from Canton by a Rabbi who also had trading interests.

Later visit St. Francis Church, the Mattancherry Palace ("Dutch Palace"), and the unique Chinese fishing nets near the mouth of the Arabian Sea.

Tonight you will attend the colorful Kathakali Dance Drama at a local theatre

Day 2: Cochin / Malayatoor / Cochin
After breakfast take an excursion trip to Malayatoor (50kms / 02 hrs). There are approximately about 200 steps to climb up. It will take about 45 minutes one way to climb up the steps.

After visit of Malayatoor, drive back to Cochin. Overnight in the Hotel

Day 3: The arrival of St. Thomas
After breakfast visit to Kodungallur to visit Mar Thoma Church. This Orthodox Church features the blending of Protestant Reformation ideal with eastern forms. The form of Christian faith is not American faith, but India faith. Continue to the St. Thomas Church alleged to be founded by St. Thomas. One may visit the Muringoor Divine Retreat Center and here experience some insight into the strong Christian traditions that have grown to an alleged 30 millions in India. The Cranganore region is also known for the earliest advent of Islam into India, and arguably its first mosque.

Overnight in the hotel

Day 4: Cochin / Kottayam / Kumarakom
After breakfast, drive to Kottayam. This picturesque place was already in 1908 AD center of the Christians of the Syrian Church. It is one of the oldest orders of the Catholic Christian Church in India. You will see a lot of churches in this area. In the vicinity are the shrines of: St. Kuriakose Elias Chavara, the founder of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate and Sister St. Alfansa in Parananganam, considered very sacred by the people.

Later transfer to the jetty and enjoy a short Cruise through the backwaters. These backwaters are unique to Kerala, and found nowhere else in the world. You will sail past thatched houseboats with modern conveniences in the waterways and canals for 900 km (600 miles) of cruising in a labyrinthine water world. Today the canals connect villages in a self-supporting ecosystem teeming with aquatic life. Board down at the jetty and continue drive to Kumarakom. On arrival check in at the hotel.

Overnight in the hotel

Day 5: Kumarakom / Periyar Wildlife Park
After breakfast drive to Periyar.

Periyar National Park, which is a unique wildlife sanctuary and is about 780 sq. km centered at around artificial lake fed by the Periyar River.

Rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in the Hotel

Day 6: Periyar
After breakfast visit a spice site to witness their natural habitat. Begin your ascent into the gorgeous Western Ghats of India. Here is one of India's finest Wildlife Parks set amist a stunning lake.

This afternoon, cruise on the lake in a boat to watch the wild animals, i.e., elephants, water birds, etc. The state of Kerala is a small strip of land pressed between the Western Ghats and the western Arabian Sea. There are three distinct regions. First, the distinct sandy coastal region with Massive coconut groves, paddy fields, and enormous backwaters of the Arabian Sea Second, the midland region of reddish hills and valleys that grow most of the agricultural crops Third, the Western Ghats of peaks, ridges and ravines where grow the sandalwood, tea, coffees, rubber plantations and black pepper (India's back gold)

Overnight in the hotel

Day 7: Periyar / Madurai's Disneyland Temple
Depart the spice lands for the pass into Tamil Nadu, the state in which remnants of the ancient Dravidian tongue is still spoken. Descend the mountain pass and continue to a city that has been a cultural and learning center as another of India oldest cities. The spectacular Sri Meenakshi Temple is an example of baroque style of a Dravidian structure covered from top to bottom with breathless profusion of colors of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. Indians insist nothing is like it outside of Disneyland.

It is dawn to dusk in a series of celebrations. After early dinner, drive by rickshaw to Meenakshi Temple to watch the night shows of Lord Shiva, temple musicians, singers and priests.

Return to the hotel. Overnight in the hotel

Day 8: Madurai / Trichy
After breakfast drive to Trichy.

TIRUCHIRAPALLI - The name Tiruchirappalli might have been derived from Tiru-chinna-palli meaning "holy little town". It has a long history dating back to the centuries before the Christian era when it was a Chola citadel. During the first millennium AD, it changed hands between the Pallavas and Pandyas many times before being taken by the Cholas in the 10th century AD. When the Chola Empire finally declined, Tiruchi passed into the hands of the Vijayanagar kings of Hampi and remained with them until their defeat, in 1565 AD by the forces of the Deccan Sultans. The city has a number of historical monuments, the Rockfort and Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam being the most prominent ones. Tiruchirapalli is also famous for the number of Christian churches -- it is said to have the highest number of chapels in India.

On arrival in Trichy, transfer to hotel.

Later in the afternoon enjoy visit of Trichy including following:

Rock Fort Temple - Rockfort temple stands tall on a magnificent hill which is believed to be 3500 million years old. This temple dates back to 7th century. This hillock forms the landmark of bustling Trichy town. There are two temples here one for Siva and the other for Vinayagar known here as Ucchi Pillayair, Ucchi means zenith. The deity here sits and watches the whole Trichy town from the summit. The uchipillayar temple is very small; one has to climb about 400 steps to reach the summit. One can have a panoramic view of the whole town from the top of the hill.

Sri Rangnathaswamy Temple - This superb temple complex at Srirangam, about three km from the Rock Fort, is surrounded by seven concentric walls with 21 gopurams and is probably the largest in India. Most of it dates from the 14th to 17th centuries, and many people have had a hand in its construction, including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagars. The temple complex is very well preserved, with excellent carvings throughout and numerous shrines to various gods, though the main temple is dedicated to Vishnu. (It remains closed from 1200 hrs till 1500 hrs).

Overnight in the hotel

Day 9: Trichy / Tanjore Via Vailankani
After breakfast drive to Vailankani. It is a small seaside town on the Corromandal Coast. Roman Catholics revered the story of a special healing miracle. A small Hindu boy carrying milk was stopped by a lady asking for milk. The boy gave it and continues to his customer, apologized for being late and having less milk. Checking, they Discovered the milk was in full quantity. The old Hindu and boy returned to the tank and the Banyan tree. Today is called "Matha Kulam", or Our Lady's Tank. A feast was established which today lasts for 9 days and draws 1 & 1/2 million pilgrims. The shrine was elevated to a Basilica on Nov. 3, 1962 by Pope John XXIII.

Later drive to Tanjore. On arrival transfer to the Hotel

Day 10: Tanjore Christian Pilgrimage
After breakfast visit Tanjore. Here is one of the most famous of all centers for Christian pilgrimages. The late Pope John Paul IV had chosen, out of 24 worldwide shrines, as the most important shrine of Mariam.

The local Danish Schwarz Church is one of the oldest in India. Visit the Bronze Museum, the Sarasvati Hall Library (a great collection of manuscripts), and see the most magnificent Indian temple, Brihadisvara Temple. Its main temple is Chola, 14 stories high (the tallest in India) and is topped with an 80 ton granite stone.

Overnight at the hotel

Day 11: Tanjore / Mahabalipuran
After breakfast drive to Mahabalipuram. On the way enjoy a boat ride on the mangrove fields in Pichavaram Lake

Later drive to Pondichery and enjoy visit of Notre dame des Agnes and basilica in Pondicherry.

Continue drive to Mahabalipuram, up on arrival transfer to the Hotel

Overnight in the Hotel

Day 12: Mahabalipuran
After breakfast visit the historical sites of the sea side resort of Mahabalipuram: "City of Seven Pagodas". The ancient Pallava port of Mamallapuram and its 7th century rock hewn monuments, magnificent rock temples and carvings transport you to the yesteryears. Visit the. Five Rathas (chariots) ceremonial chariots, rock cut monoliths, named after the 5 Pandavas heroes of the Mahabharata epic and Draupadi their wife.

Next proceed to 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

Also visit Bhagiratha's Penance which is a bas relief (27m X 9m) sculptured on the face of two enormous adjacent rocks. It depicts the penance of Arjuna alongwith myraid characters from the Mahabharata, realistic life size figures of animals, gods and saints watching the descent of the river goddess Ganga to Earth.

Rest of the day is free on the beach. Overnight in the Hotel

Day 13: Mahabalipuran / Chennai
After breakfast drive to India's 4th largest city, Chennai (8 million people), one of its oldest ancient cities it was formerly called Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu. It is sometimes dubbed as the "Hollywood of India". Twenty years after his arrival at Kerala, living traditions report it was here in 72 AD that St. Thomas was murdered after returning from a short trip to China.

Arrive Chennai and transfer to the Hotel. Rest of the day is free.

Overnight in the Hotel

Day 14: Chennai
After breakfast, today you will visit sites that commemorate his presence and death, the Little Mount (Place where the mortally wounded St. Thomas sought refuge), St. Thomas Mount (Where Thomas was to have been speared), St. Thomas Cathedral (stands over the place identified as his burial site) A beautiful stained glass window depicts the story of Thomas. Optional is a visit to St. Mary's Church, the oldest surviving English church in Chennai.

Also visit Fort St. George, a testament of the legendary British East India Company where memorabilia of both British and French presence exist. Visit the Cathedral of St. Thomas (remnants of St. Thomas are reportedly kept here).

Rest of the day is free.

Overnight in the hotel

Day 15: Chennai / Back Home
In time transfer o the airport to connect flight for onward journey

 

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