Itinerary August 2006:

Bangalore-> Chennai-> Kanchipuram-> Mahabalipuram-> Pondicherry-> Tanjore->  Trichy->  Madurai->  Rameshwaram Kanyakumari-> Trivandrum-> Bangalore

This Temple Tour is very common in South India and can be organised from any travel agency in Chennai.  A visit to Kalakshtra dance school can be arranged as an extra.

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Kanyakumari

“Kanyakumari (“Cape Comorin”) is a small town located at the confluence of the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. For a long time it has been a significant site in India both spiritually and more recently as a day tripping excursion from Kerala. Famous Indian poet and philosopher, though probably unknown to most foreigners, Swami Vivekananda spent long periods of time meditating here and resultantly has a large monument erected to him just off the shoreline.” *Source: Wikitravel

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Pondicherry
Pondicherry; Seaside town known for its Crepes, bicycles, french- speaking and impeccable roads

“Though very small, Pondicherry was the largest French colony in India. The city has a long and interesting history of trade and war. There is a strong French influence in the city, especially in the old quarters, with Rues and Boulevards lined with Mediterranean style houses and bakeries, although the city remains very much Indian. French is still understood, and the whole city makes for rather pleasant mix of East and West. It is also known as The French Riviera of the East (La Côte d’Azur de l’Est).” *Source: Wikipedia

Nearby points of Interest: Auroville.  Auroville was a vision of The Mother from Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. She envisioned a town where unity will be celebrated and all will have a spiritual vocation.

“Approximately 2200 people from 43 different countries live in the city. Although the official langage of Tamil Nadu is Tamil, the official local languages of Auroville are English, Tamil, French and Sanskrit. Tamil is the dominant language spoken at home, followed by French and German. English is the lingua franca.” *Source: Wikitravel

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Allepy, Kerala Houseboat
Kerala- Highlight of South India.  These traditional House boats often contain large flat- screen TV’s and a personal chef.  Kerala is well known for its delicious seafood oriented cuisine.
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Temple doorway, a common blue in India
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Man with bowl

Periya Covil literally translates as “Big Temple” and is the largest and most impressive temples in South India.  It is made of stone and is very peaceful.  It is not garish like some of the other large Temples in South India such as Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.  “The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples” * source: Wikipedia

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Periya Covil, Trichy
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Periya Covil, Trichy
Chennai highlights:  Kalakshetra

Famous for its World class “bharatanatyam” (South Indian dance).  Regular performances are given in its outdoor/indoor circular auditorium, they also tour globally.  They have guided day- time tours where you can see students practicing music and dance.  A must see.

“Built on 100 acres of land in southern Chennai in a distinctively simple style of architecture, the Kalakshetra Foundation is an important physical and artistic landmark in India and stands as an enduring tribute to its founders. Kalakshetra is a haven within the city – a sprawling campus of natural beauty beside the sea. Open spaces, spreading trees, buildings which are open to the light and the breeze, cultivate a spirit of reverence for learning and for the environment.” *Kalakshtra.in

More information: http://www.kalakshetra.in