This is an innovative itinerary designed to discover the biological and cultural diversity of two South Asian countries: India and Sri Lanka. This itinerary will allow you to visit some of the most adored south Indian temples and the beauty of the Sri Lanka’s nature. During this journey you’ll have the opportunity to admire the temples and architecture of Tamil Nadu, while immersing yourself in the culture and the spiritual heritage of its people. The tour will begin from the ancient city of Mahabalipuram, a thriving port city of ruling Pallava, famous for its open-air sculptures. From here, you will visit an interesting project by Dakshinachitra an NGO committed to the conservation of the arts, culture and architecture of south Asia. Later, you will discover an ex French colony in Pondicherry, the ruins of which make this country different from the other places in India. On the way to Kumbakonam, you will visit Chidambaram, where there is the only temple of India dedicated to Shiva Nataraja (Shiva dance). Here, you will visit an interesting development project of a local NGO to support women and children. The Airavateswara temple in Kumbakonam and the Meenakshi temple in Madurai will be your next visits. From Madurai, you will take a flight to Colombo to discover of Sri Lanka, one of the most beautiful wildlife landscapes to be observed in south Asia. The island may be small but the variety of habitats and wildlife found here may belong to a much larger country than this. Your first destination will be the hill town of Kandy.
Before reaching the destination, you will have the opportunity to discover an interesting elephant conservation project in Pinnawela, famous for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world, having the opportunity to observe the elephant bath on the banks of the river. Near Kandy, you will be immersed in the lifestyle of a local village, discovering their farming practices.
The next destination will be Sri Lanka’s forgotten National Park, Gal Oya. With the largest lake in the country, the fauna is best observed with a boat safari, the only one possible in Sri Lanka, especially the elephant bath, you will have a unique and special perspective to watch the animals as they come to the water’s edge to drink.
Many small islands offer one of the best places in the world to see the Asian elephant in its natural habitat. At Gal Oya Lodge you will have the opportunity to meet Sri Lankan aborigines, the Veddas. Referred by the locals as the eighth wonder of the world, Sigiriya Rock Plateau and the fortress complex will show you its archaeological importance. Finally, Nilaveli beach will be your next destination. The beach is made up of fine, dusty white coral sand. Here you can observe the fauna, snorkel, see corals and relax on the beach. On the way back to Colombo, you will have the opportunity to discover the ancient ruins and temples of the capital Anurradhapura the city has breathtaking beauty.
1° DAY: ARRIVE IN CHENNAI
In the early morning arrival in Chennai (Madras). Transfer to Mahabalipuram to the hotel to rest. Later visit to Dakshinachitra, a center for the conservation of traditions, arts, handicrafts and architecture of south India. Two hour of guided tour to visit and explore the area. Possibility of a direct experience of arts and crafts. Return to Mahabalipuram.
Overnight stay in Mahabalipura (B).
2° DAY: MAHABALIPURAM VISIT
After breakfast, full day to discover Mahabalipuram. Mahabalipuram dates back to Tamil Pallava’s dynasty from the VII to the IX century. Here the structures, mostly excavated directly from granite, are among the oldest existing examples of Dravidian architecture (south India).
In the morning, you’ll have a guided visit to Shore temple and the Thirukadalmallai temple. The Shore temple is the oldest structure in the area, built around 700 AD. However. Unlike the other monumets, the Shore temple is a building (not carved in the rock) and most of the current structure is a reconstruction, because it was hit by a cyclone. After lunch transfer to Pondicherry. Stay in the hotel and in the evening walk around the city.
Overnight stay in Pondicherry (B).
3° DAY: TRANSFER TO PONDICHERRY
With its promenade and wide avenues, the culture and architecture of the former French colony, Puducherry, the original name of the city, has remained intact. Unlike anywhere else in southern India. The former French colony was settled in the early Eighteenth century as a colonial enclave and retains a slightly Gallic air, superimposed on a typical Indian background. Pondicherry is enriched with its architectural wonder and cultural fragrance. On this day, a guided tour will allow you to discover the main tourist attractions. It will allow you to visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother spent their time for the elevation of society, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Bharti museum and Bharthidasan Memorial. It is also the birthplace of Subramanya Bharathi, the great Tamil poet and also the birthplace of the famous director M. Night Shyamalan. Later, you will have free time to explore the city, the beaches and the promenade. You could walk along the sea shore, which is always clean, charming and surprising with its beauty. Overnight stay in Pondicherry (B).
4° DAY: VISIT TO CHIDAMBARAM TEMPLE
Departure from Chidambaram. Here you’ll visit an interesting development project of a local NGO called Ekta. The NGO promotes campaigns to end violence against women, facilitates networks for experiential sharing and collective action. It supports gender-sensitive political changes to other possible women interests and addresses gender-based violence in particular.
You will visit the Nambikkai center, which hosts 30 grills, and you’ll explore the creative skills in different disciplines, sports, dance, music, etc. The center also work as an insertion center for women and children in difficulty. Lunch will be prepared by the women of a local village.
After lunch, visit of Pichavaram the mangrove forest, which stretches over 2800 acres on the water with a group of small islands. On a traditional boat, you will gothrough the narrow mangrove bushes where the motor boat cannot reach. Since mangrove trees are dense, there are many birds present in this place, both indigenous and migratory birds are commonly seen.
In the late afternoon, you will visit the Chidambaram temple for the puja aarti. Transfer to Kumbakonam, known as the “temple city” or “the city of temples” given the number of temples that have been built aroung the city. Check in at the hotel. Overnight stay in Kumbakonam (B,L).
5° DAY: VISIT TO KUMBAKONAM
After breakfast, visit the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple.
The temple dates back to the Chola period. The name literally means “the city of the Cholas who defeated the Gangas”. Gangaikonda Cholapuram is part of the UNESCO world heritage site. After visit to Dharasuram village. The village, located 3 km from Kumbakonam, is known for the Airavateswara temple built by Rajaraja Chola II in the XII century b.C. and it’s a symbol of the Chola architectural style supremacy. The temple is a monument recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage. Airavat is the sacred white elephant and the temple is dedicated to the Lord of Airavat. In the evening on the traditional vegetarian dinner from Bharathanatyam. Overnight stay in Kumbakonam (B,D).
6° DAY: VISIT TANJORE
Early in the morning departure to Madurai. On the way, visit of the Brihadishvara temple in Thanjavur. Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore, is a city of Chola rulers and it has gained popularity during the Chola period between the XI and XIV century. According to a local legend, the name Thanjavur derives from Tanjan, an asura ruler, who was killed by Lord Vishnu and Sri Anandavalli Amman to devaste the district and was granted as a last wish that the city could bear his name. The great Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola built the famous Brahadeshawara temple or the Great Temple here. This temple shows Indian archietecture and is a favorite pilgrimage site for many visitors who visit Tanjore. After lunch, transfer to Madurai. Overnight stay in Madurai (B).
7° DAY: TRANSFER TO SRI LANKA
Flight from Madurai to Colombo. Transfer to Kandy and on the way visit the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela. It was built for babies orphaned elephants, the orphanage is now a breeding ground with its own flock. Home for more than 80 elephants, this is the place where you can see the little ones being fed artificially and the adults walking side by side playing in the river. You can help bathe the elephants and feed these wonderful animals. After the visit, check in at the hotel. Overnight stay in Kandy (B).
8° DAY: VISIT TO KANDY
After breakfast, we’ll go to Heeloya village. Welcomed by the people of the community. Enjoy the local refreshment and herbal tea. Walk in the village through gardens and rice fields. A local community guide will show you many local spices, fruits and vegetables in the village farmers’ home gardens. The destination is the village waterfall. Walk to a farmers house to try a traditional lunch with curry rice and organically grown vegetables. Proceed again to Kandy. Visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Overnight stay in Kandy (B,L).
9° DAY: TRANSFER TO GAL OYA PARK
In the morning transfer to Gal Oya National Park. Check in to an eco resort in the forest. Gal Oya National Park is the most intact park in Sri Lanka’s national parks. It includes the largest water bacin inland, Senanayake Samudraya lake. Many small islands offer one of the best places in the world to see the Asian elephant in its natural habitat. In the afternoon, a boat safari on the lake, where you can observe many wild animals and many beautiful birds. Overnight stay in Gal Oya (B,D).
10° DAY: MEETING THE “VANNIYALETTO” COMMUNITY
After breakfast, meeting with the Vedda (Vanniyaletto), the native population of Sri Lanka. “Vedda” or hunter is the name given to them by the Sinhalese, another ethnic group of the country, while in Tamil “Veden” is used. They call themselves “Vanniyaletto”, that is, the inhabitants of the forest. Visit of their village and representation of their lifestyle and cultural practices. You will go to the Mahiyangana temple, one of the temples where Buddha stopped during his first visit to the island and one of the most sacred places in Sri Lanka. Overnight stay in Gal Oya (B,D).
11° DAY: DISCOVER SIGIRYA
After breakfast transfer to Sigiriya. On the way, short stop at the statue of Buddha Avukana, near Kalawewa (large tank) built by King Dhatusena, father of King Kashyapa who built the Sigiriya fortress. Visit to the Sigiriya fortress, dating back to the Mesolithic, with more than 5,000 years. The ascent of this ancient fortress, also known as Lion Rock, features frescoes and graffiti.
12° DAY: TRANSFER TO NILAVELI BEACH
After breakfast, transfer to Nilaveli beach. The beach is made of fine and dusty white coral sand, here the sea water ARRIVA ALL’ALTEZZA DELLA VITA for hundreds of meters. The long stretch of beach starts from the hamlet of Uppuveli, just north of Trincomalee and continues through Nilaveli to Kuchchaveli after which the jungles of the north of the island take over. Facing the calm waters of the Indian Ocean, Nilaveli is a coastal tourist resort located about 20 km north-west of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. Nilaveli offers its tourists palm trees that sway over the golden sand, and has been considered one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka, inviting you to spend your days basking in the sun, including snorkeling, diving, fishing and enjoying life. Check in hotel and relax on the beach. Overnight stay in Nilaveli (B,D).
13° DAY: RELAX ON NILAVELI BEACH
You will spend these days of rest on the beach or snorkelling. Visit the Pigeon island, or you can organize any extra activities for yourself such as a visit to the beautiful Pigeon island. Pigeon island National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s two marine national parks. The national park is located 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli, a coastal city in the eastern province. The name oft he island derives from the rock pidgeon which colonized it The National Park contains some of the best remaining coral reefs in Sri Lanka. Pigeon island was designated as a sanctuary in 1963. In 2003, it was renamed as a national park. This national park is the seventeenth in Sri Lanka. The island was used as a shooting range during the colonial period. Pigeon island is one of several protected areas hit by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004. Overnight stay in Nilaveli (B,D).
14° DAY: RELAX ON NILAVELI BEACH
You will spend these days of rest on the beach or snorkelling. Visit the Pigeon island, or you can organize yourself any extra activities such as a visit to the beautiful Pigeon island. Pigeon island National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s two marine national parks. The national park is located 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli, a coastal city in the eastern province. The name oft he island derives from the rock pidgeon which colonized it . The National Park contains some of the best remaining coral reefs in Sri Lanka. Pigeon island was designated as a sanctuary in 1963. in 2003 it was renamed as a national parl. This national park is the seventeenth in Sri Lanka. The island was used as a shooting range during the colonial period. Pigeon island is one of several protected areas hit by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004. Overnight stay in Nilaveli (B,D).
15° DAY: RELAX ON NILAVELI BEACH
You will spend these days of rest on the beach or snorkelling. Visit the Pigeon island, or you can organize yourself any extra activities such as a visit to the beautiful Pigeon island. Pigeon island National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s two marine national parks. The national park is located 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli, a coastal city in the eastern province. The name oft he island derives from the rock pidgeon which colonized it. The National Park contains some of the best remaining coral reefs in Sri Lanka. Pigeon island was designated as a sanctuary in 1963. in 2003 it was renamed as a national parl. This national park is the seventeenth in Sri Lanka. The island was used as a shooting range during the colonial period. Pigeon island is one of several protected areas hit by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004. Overnight stay in Nilaveli (B,D).
16° DAY: VISIT OF ANURADHAPURA
Visit of Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka from the IV century BC to the XI century AD., the city has a breathtaking beauty. You will see Jayasri Maha Bodhi (the sacred fig tree), the statue of Buddha Samadhi, the stone sculptures in the Isurumuniya temple, the Ruwanweli statue and many other attractions of this lively 2,500 years old city.
Overnight stay in Anuradhapura (B).
17° DAY: TRANSFER TO COLOMBO AIRPORT
Transfer to Colombo and departure with an international flight.
The best time to partecipate inthis tour is between June and September. The climate is tropical, hot during the day. In summer (April-June) the temperatures can reach 43°-44° C, while in the early morning and in the evening reach 18°-24° C. The winter night temperatures vary between 2°-20° C, while the days are sunny and pleasant (October- March). The rains persist in the monsoon season (from mid-June to September) and the average rainfall is 1400 m.
Itinerary available for:
Private Trip (min. 2 people)
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