India and Maldives

itinerary

18 days

This tour is meant to be an unforgettable honey moon, to discover the outstanding natural and cultural diversity of South India, combined with a wonderful extension in one of the paradise islands of the Maldives. During this trip you will have the opportunity to admire some of the most famous and renowned temples and architectures of Tamil Nadu and simultaneously you will be immersed into the cultural and spiritual heritage of its people. The journey will start from Chennai (Madras) and will end on one of the Maldives Islands, the lush Hanimaadhoo. On the way to Mahabalipuram, a rich port build by Pallava Dinasty, you will visit another interesting project of Dakshinachitra a NGO engaged in the preservation of arts, tradition and architecture of South Asia. In Pondicherry also you can have direct and original exposures to the local reality, visiting the activities of the International community of Auroville, such as renewable energy projects, organic agriculture etc. On the way to Kumbakonam, you will visit Chidambaram, the India only temple dedicated to Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose (the Cosmic Dance of bliss). Near Chidambaram you will discover the activities of another local NGO called EKTA, working in support of women’s rights and empowerment. The Airavateswara temple of Kumbakonam and the Meenakshi temple in Madurai will be your next visits. From Madurai you will reach the ancient Jew town of Cochin via Periyar forests of Thekkady, one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. From here you will be transfered to Hanimaadhoo island. Maldives have changed over the years and the private luxury islands are no longer the only option! Now we are able to offer you an alternative accommodation for eco-conscious travelers wishing to discover the traditional lifestyle and to dive one of the world’s most amazing underwater realms, without giving up to the quality and standard typical of Maldivian beach resorts. The eco-resort we selected follows the Ecotourism principles of uniting Sustainability and Conservation, involving the Local Community within its activities.
The newly founded Hanimaadhoo Conservation Center carries out activities of environmental supervision thought and developed to reduce the impact on one hand, and contribute to the monitoring of biodiversity and to the Local Community economy, on the other one. Here you will have the chance to concretely contribute to the process, for example joining the “conservation snorkeling” within a monitoring framework. You can join the center activities to discover its daily marine research efforts to carry out programmes within the structure and get involved by the marine biologists in their scientific work. The staff don’t simply watch dolphins and mantas, they monitor them with tourists help! Thanks these activities they are able to gather biologically-significant evidence showing short and long-term population dynamics and behaviors of these wonderful species. Travelling with us you will not only enjoy a pearl of the Indian Ocean but will concretely contribute to Conserve Maldives learning tons of biological and ecological facts on the wildlife that inhabits this environment.
The resort is located within an almost pristine forest on the local island of Hanimaadhoo, in the preserved deep North of Maldives. This 4 star Eco resort is well connected to Male International airport by numerous daily 45 minute flights. The dense vegetation allows not only privacy, but the opportunity to experience untouched nature and the genuine, natural Maldives along with all the amenities expected from a charming accommodation option.
A half mile private sandy beach and a turquoise lagoon frame the hotel
inviting you to experience an authentic and relaxing holiday at outstanding value.

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JOURNEY OVERVIEW AND PROGRAM DETAILS

1° Day: Arrival chennai

Chennai- Mahabalipuram
Upon arrival at Chennai International Airport, you will be welcomed by our representative and you will transfer to the hotel for some rest. Visit to an interesting project of Dakshinachitra a NGO engaged in the preservation of arts, tradition and architecture of South Asia. 2 hours guided tour to discover the ancient palaces of the city. Possibilità di fare un’ esperienza diretta di forme di arte o artigianato.
Overnight at Mahabalipuram (D)

2° Day: Visit Mamallapuram

Mahabalipuram
After breakfast full day for the discovery Mahabalipuram. Mamallapuram dates back to the Tamil Pallava dynasty in the 7th-9th century. The structures here, mostly carved straight out of granite, are among the oldest existing examples of Dravidian (South Indian) architecture. In the morning you will have a guided visit of sea Shore temple, five rathas and Thirukadalmallai temple. The Shore temple is the oldest structure in the area, build c. 700 AD. However, unlike Mamallapuram’s other monuments, the Shore Temple is a building (not carved from rock) and the bulk of the current structure is a reconstruction after it was struck by a cyclone. The Five Rathas (Pancha Pandava Rathas), literally chariots, dating from the 7th century are sculptures complemented by some enormous stone animals, including a large elephant. Thirukadalmallai, the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was also built by Pallava King in order to safeguard the sculptures from the ocean.
Afternoon you will have free time to explore the village, walk on the beach or just unwind in the beautiful swimming pool of the resort…
Overnight in Mahabalipuram (B).

3° Day: Transfer to Pondicherry

Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry
TRansfer to Pondicherry. With its seafront promenade, wide boul¬evards, enduring pockets of French culture and architecture, and a popular ashram, Puducherry, the original name of the city, is unlike anywhere else in South India. Remains of French connection make this place distinct from other places in India. The former French colony was settled in the early 18th century as a colonial enclave and it retains a mildly Gallic air superimposed on a typical Indian background. Pondicherry is enriched with its architectural marvel and cultural wealth. Today a guided tour will allow you to discover the main tourist attractions. You will visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram, where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother spent their time for the upliftment of society, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Bharti and Bharthidasan Memorial museum. In its credit it has the birth-place of Subramanya Bharathy, the great Tamil poet and also the birth place of world famous film director M. Night Shyamalan. Later you will have free time to explore the city, beaches and promenade. You might walk along the seashore, which is always clean, charming and amazing with its beauty.
Overnight in Pondicherry (B).

4° Day: Visit Auroville

Pondicherry- Auroville- Pondicherry
Early morning transfer to Auroville. During the day you will have an introduction to life in Auroville, exploring a variety of sites and the soul of Auroville – Matrimandir. Lunch at visitor centre. After you will visit another project, a women’s empowerment initiative called WELL paper (Women’s Empowerment through Local Livelihood). The project was initiated in 2005 in South India as a tsunami relief effort, to provide alternative livelihood to affected families from the local areas. It gradually developed into a social enterprise model for women from neighbouring villages of Auroville and Pondicherry. The two main goals of WELL Paper are to provide self-empowerment and livelihood for women and to develop and promote products made of recycled materials.
Overnight in Hotel Pondicherry (B/L).

5° Day: Visit Chidambaram

Pondicherry– Chidambaram- Kumbakonam
Departure to Chidambaram. Here we will 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 advocates and lobbies for gender sensitive policy changes to further the interest of women and address gender based violence in particular. In particular you will visit the Nambikkai Centre, which host 30 girls, providing them with maximum opportunity to explore their creative skills in different disciplines, sports, dance, music, etc. This Centre also acts as a drop-in centre for women and children in need. Lunch will be prepared by women of a local village.
In the afternoon you will visit Chidambaram temple, famous to be the only Indian temple of Shiva Nataraj. After the temple visit to Kumbakonam. On the way visit Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple. The name Gangaikonda Cholapuram means the city of the Chola King who captured the Ganges. This religious village, which served as the capital for nearly 250 years, still holds the remains of the Chola Kingdom and the structures of architectural values.
Overnight in Kumbakonam (B/L).

6° day: visit a Kumbakonam

Kumbakonam
After breakfast, visit to Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple, which means ‘the Chola who conquered the Ganga’. Today you will visit Kumbakonam and Dharasuram village, located 3 km from Kumbakonam, is known for the Airavateswara temple constructed by the Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century A and is an exquisite symbol of the supremacy of Chola architectural style D. The temple is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage monument. Airavat is the holy White Elephant and the temple is dedicated to the Lord of Airavat. Evening performance of Bharathanatyam with traditional vegetarian dinner.
Overnight at Kumbakonam (B).

7° day: Visit Tanjavur temple

Kumbakonam – Tanjore – Madurai
Early morning departure to Madurai. On the way visit to Brihadishvara Temple in Thanjavur. Thanjavur, otherwise known as Tanjore, is a city of Chola rulers and it gained popularity during the Chola period between 11th and 14th centuries. According to a local legend, Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan, an asura ruler, who was killed by Lord Vishnu and Sri Anandavalli Amman for devastating the neighbourhood and was granted his last request that the city be named after him. The Great Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola built this famous Brahadeshwara temple or the Big Temple. This temple showcases the Indian architectural brilliance and is a favourite pilgrimage spot for many visitors visiting Tanjore. After lunch transfer to Madurai. Afternoon visit and sightseeing Madurai: Sri Meenakshi Temple. Palace, Alagar Koil. Madurai is a temple town of India which attracts people from several different part of the country for religious purposes. The enormous temple complex is dedicated to Shiva, known here as Sundareshvara and his consort Parvati or Meenakshi.
Overnight in Madurai. (B)

8° Day: Transfer to Periyar

Madurai – Periyar
If you wish you can have an early morning visit to Meenakshi temple. After breakfast transfer to Periyar- (5hrs drive). Arrive and proceed to Hotel in Thekkady. Periyar Tiger Reserve, sprawled over an area of 777 Sq.km, is one of the 27 tiger reserves in India and it is considered an example of nature’s bounty, with great scenic charm, rich bio diversity and providing veritable visitor satisfaction. People oriented and park centred community based ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. These programmes are conducted by local people responsible for the surveillance of the vulnerable parts of the reserve. Spend some time to relax and walk around.
Overnight in Peryar. (B)

9° day: Transfer to Kochi

Periyar-Kochi
After breakfast go for nature walk (max 5 person in a group). Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, generally 4 to 5 km. in length. This is an interpretive programme offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands. The programme starts at 7.00 am and lasts for about 3 hours. A maximum of 5 persons can go for trekking at a time along each nature trail, accompanied by a trained tribal guide. The Nature walk is the right programme to feel nature, hear her whispers and smell her flowers. After lunch transfer to Cochin (approx. 4 hrs drive). Arrive in Cochin and check into Hotel in Fort Cochin. Fort Cochin is a jewel in the crown of Kerala with its European heritage and true cosmopolitan temperament. A leisurely walk through its streets is one of the best ways to discover all that the city has to offer – its natural harbour and historical sites. Free for walks around…
Overnight in Cochin. (B)

10° Day : Visit Kochi

Fort Kochi
Morning: Join our guide for a half day guided tour of Fort Cochin exploring the Jew town, Synagogue, Spice Markets, Dutch Palace, St Francis Church, Chinese Fishing nets. Return to the hotel by afternoon. Rest of the time free for shopping, cycling or just pure history walks (Jewish Synagogue is closed on Fridays and Saturdays; Dutch Palace is closed on Fridays). In the evening attend a cultural art performance at the theatre of Greenix village. The Village, Kerala’s only cultural art village is a pioneer establishment in the promotion of art & culture since 2006. The village covers an area of 45,000 sq. ft. and is dedicated to present various facets of Kerala’s rich culture. The evening cultural programme (starts at 5 pm and ends at 7,30 pm.) comprises of 7 different art forms: traditional Welcome dance of Kerala, Mohiniyattom, the classical dance of Kerala, Bharathanatayam, the south Indian classical dance; Martial arts of Kerala, Kalaripayattu; Demo as well as the episode of Kathakali; Theyyam, a temple ritual; final programme with a fusion of all the dance forms.
Overnight in Kochi. (B)

11° Day: Backwaters at Kumarakom

Fort Kochi-Kumarakom-Kochi
Early morning transfer to Kumarakom (1hr drive) for a daily cruise in backwaters. Kumarakom is about 10kms from Kottayam and it is one of most beautiful backwater stretches of Kerala. Besides the tourism activities in the backwaters, the Kumarakom bird sanctuary which extends over 14 acres is a major tourist attraction. Agriculture, fishing and tourism are the major economic activities of Kumarakom. Hence, it is declared as a Special Tourism Zone by Government of Kerala in 2005. Today you will experience a daily responsible tourism initiative, called “Village life experience”. It is a half-day tour package, to give you an authentic experience of village life. This is a good example of an itinerary linking the community-based tourism products and services, as envisaged by the Responsible Tourism programme (Government of Kerala). View the village life while on boat cruise. After lunch return to Cochin. Rest time or possibility of Ayurvedic treatment. Return to Cochin for an evening walk.
Overnight in Cochin. (B/L)

12° Day: Transfer to Maldives

Kochi – Maldives
Transfer to Cochin airport and for your international flight to Male. Arrival at Malé international airport. Resort representative will meet you at the International airport and transfer to domestic airport for a flight to Hanimaadhoo Airport and then with car to the resort. Check in in the resort and take rest after the journey.

13° Day: Relax on the beach

Hanimaadhoo
After breakfast discover the beautiful atmosphere of the eco-resort. Discover all the facilities available such as the well equipped fitness center, the private beach, the saltwater swimming, the SPA, the Conservation Center and diving center. Take some time to plan or organize your week in the Maldives.
Overnight in Hanimaadhoo island. (B/D)

14° DAY: CONSERVATION SNORKELING CORAL HOUSE

Hanimaadhoo
After breakfast join the resident marine biologist for a snorkeling trip to the coral house. You will have the chance to concretely contribute to the activities of the Coservation Center, while joining this “conservation snorkeling” within a monitoring framework. In this way you can join the activities of the center as to discover our daily marine research efforts to carry out programmes within the structure and get involved by the marine biologists in their scientific work. The Conservation Center has developed a series of ‘responsible activities’ for tourists (such as snorkeling, dolphin watch, etc.), so that a double goal can be pursued: “fun” for the tourists and environmental monitoring. After the tour relax on the beach or explore on your own the activities of the resort.
Overnight in Hanimaadhoo island. (B/D)

15° DAY: BIKE CULTURAL TOUR HANIMAADHOO ISLAND

Hanimaadhoo
In the morning you start at the discovery of the cultural diversity of Hanimaadhoo island by bicycle. Hanimaadhoo island is authentic and locals warmly welcome all visitors. During this cycle tour you will discover the tradition and cultural of the people living in the island. You will have the chance also to get to know specific environmental education programs in collaboration with the local school. Rest of the day feel free to relax on the beach or go for snorkeling.
Overnight in Hanimaadhoo island. (B/D)

16° DAY: Free time to relax

Hanimaadhoo
Spend these days to explore the island, rest on the beach or snorkel. You can also join the dive center or the Spa if you wish to organize on your own any extra activities.
Overnight in Hanimaadhoo island. (B/D)

17° DAY: Free time to relax

Hanimaadhoo
Spend these days to explore the island, rest on the beach or snorkel. You can also join the dive center or the Spa if you wish to organize on your own any extra activities.
Overnight in Hanimaadhoo island. (B/D)

18° day: Transfer to airport

Hanimaadhoo – Malè
Transfer to Male International Airport for your international flight.

Activities

  • visit the beautiful and majestic temples of Tamil Nadu
  • see one of the biggest Banyan trees in the world at the Theosophical society
  • visit children projects in Chennai and Chidambaram
  • explore traditional architecture, crafts and culture of South India in Dakshinachitra
  • experience the International community and sustainable projects of Auroville
  • visit the ex-French colony of Pondicherry
  • experience a Bharathanatyam dance performance in Kumbakonam
  • visit the famous Meenakshee temple of Madurai
  • go for nature walk in the Wildlife Sanctuary of Peryar
  • explore the ancient city of Fort Cochin
  • cultural performances and activities
  • historical and archaeological sites sightseen
  • relax on the beach, equipped with straw covered umbrellas and loungers for sun bathing
  • discover the marine diversity with snorkeling tours, guided by the resident marine biologists
  • unwind at the saltwater swimming pool
  • discover the environmental activities of the Conservation Center
  • experience the night fluoro snorkelling boat trip
  • pamper yourself at the Spa, where treatments are combined with a spiritual and meditative experience to achieve total wellbeing of body and mind

INDIA E MALDIVE WHEN TO GO

The climate in most of Tamil Nadu is essentially tropical. It is hottest in April, May, June with the temperature going over 40°C. It is coolest in December, January, but not really cold anywhere except in the hill stations (Ooty, Kodaikkanal, Yercaud), where night temperatures may drop below 5°C. The monsoons (rainy season) arrive in October and continue till the end of December. The best time to visit is between July-September and January-March; great occasion to visit Tamil Nadu is January during the festival of Pongal.
The Maldives enjoy a year-round tropical climate, subject to the influence of the monsoons, winds that blow in different directions according to the seasons. December to May is considered to be the best time to visit Maldives. There are two seasons: the dry season of the “Iruvai”, monsoon from the Northeast, from December to May, and the rainy season of the “Hulhangu”, monsoon from the Southwest, from May to November. The wind that brings the rains blows from the southwest towards the northeast, whereas the winter monsoon (which brings the good weather) blows from the northeast to the southwest, bringing the dry season with little rain. Temperatures average 28°-31° all year round. The water temperature is always pleasant, around 27°-29°.

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