Day 1: Arrive in Chennai (November 25)

Upon landing at Chennai International Airport, you’ll clear customs and immigration before being whisked away in a private vehicle to our meet-up hotel. If you are arriving in the middle of the night (e.g. some U.S. flights arrive between 2am and 3am), you’ll be able to rest as needed and join the optional group activities at various points during the first day. Some travelers may choose to arrive a day or two early to adjust to the time zone.

This first day is designed to help you settle in and prepare for the exciting journey ahead.

Optional brunch: For those who wish to enjoy a traditional South Indian vegetarian meal, the optional brunch will be a delightful introduction to the region’s rich culinary heritage.. You will have a lot of opportunities to pick delicacies from southern cuisine of India including a variety of dosas, idli, uttapam, pongal and the world famous filter-coffee.

Optional shopping: There will be time in the afternoon for shopping for dhotis and sarees in Chennai. We’ll travel together in the tour bus or in small groups by taxi to a few traditional Indian shops.

Stay in Chennai

Day 2: Trichy (November 26)

Day 2 is our longest drive and thus offers a light day for those still recovering from jet lag. The tour bus will depart from Chennai around 9am for 6-7 hour trip to Trichy

You will also visit Sri Rangam temple in Trichy in the evening and will have dinner in Trichy. If the schedule permits, you will also have a late evening visit to Sri Ranganathar Temple at Srirangam. Otherwise this visit will happen on the way back from Madurai.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, a suburb of Trichy. It’s one of the most important Vishnu temples in the world and is renowned for its size, architecture, and rich history. The temple complex is one of the largest religious complexes in the world.

Stay in Madurai

Day 3: Madurai Meenakshi Temple (November 27)

After breakfast at the hotel in Trichy, you’ll embark on the journey to Madurai where you’ll visit the Meenakshi Amman Temple and Thriupparankundram Lord Murugan Temple.

Madurai, often referred to as the “Athens of the East,” is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with a history dating back over 2,500 years. Located on the banks of the River Vaigai in Tamil Nadu, India, Madurai is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and strong literary tradition.

The Meenakshi Amman Temple, also known as Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, is the most significant landmark in Madurai and one of the most important Hindu temples in India. The temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture, renowned for its stunning gopurams (gateway towers) adorned with thousands of colorful and intricate carvings. There are 14 gopurams in total, with the southern tower being the tallest at about 170 feet. The “Hall of Thousand Pillars” is a notable feature of the temple, where each pillar features carvings of deities, mythical animals, and monsters

Stay in Madurai

Day 4: Tanjore and Kumbakonam (November 28)

After breakfast, you will proceed to Tanjore and Kumbakonam.

Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore, is an important city in Tamil Nadu, known as the “Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu” for its extensive rice production. The city was the cultural capital of the Chola dynasty, and the Chola rulers made significant contributions to Tamil literature, arts, and architecture. The most significant landmark in Thanjavur is the Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Big Temple. Built by the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I, the temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best examples of Dravidian architecture. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is famous for its massive Shiva Lingam and the gigantic Nandi statue.

You will proceed to Kumbakonam to visit the Shri Kumbeshwarar Temple & Sarangapani temples.

Stay in Kumbakonam

Day 5: Chidambaram and Tiruvannamalai – The Fire Element (November 29)

On Day 5 you will depart Kumbakonam and travel to both Chidambaram and Tiruvannamalai (5 Hours Drive total).

The city of Chidambaram is home to the Thillai Nataraja temple, dedicated to the Space element. The town is also associated with the concept of “Chidambara Rahasyam,” that the ultimate truth is an unfathomable mystery, symbolized by the divine dance of Lord Shiva. The temple’s architecture is also significant, with its gopurams (tower gateways) adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures and till today acts as the center for traditional South Indian arts, culture and learning.

The next stop is Tiruvannamalai, home to the 1200-year-old Arunachaleswar temple, one of India’s largest temples dedicated to the Fire element. A visit to this temple is believed to erase sins from past lives. The town is renowned for its deep spiritual energy and has been a magnet for saints, sages, and seekers of spiritual enlightenment for centuries. One of the most famous spiritual figures associated with Tiruvannamalai is Sri Ramana Maharshi, a 20th-century saint who achieved self-realization at a young age and spent his life teaching the path of self-inquiry.

Stay in Tiruvannamalai

Day 6: Tiruvannamalai and Arunachala (November 30)

Tiruvannamalai is also famous for the ritual of ‘Girivalam’ or ‘Giri Pradakshina’. It involves circumambulating the Arunachala Hill, a practice believed to cleanse one’s soul and help attain liberation. This practice will cleanse one’s negative karma in the soul and help attain liberation. This 14 km or 8 mile hike on your second day in Tiruvannamalai will take approximately 4 hours, culminating in a visit to Sri Ramana Maharishi’s ashram. 

Stay in Tiruvannamalai

Day 7: Tirumala Balaji and Varahaswami Temples and SriKalahasti, Air Element (Dec 1)

On Day 7 you will visit the Shri Jalagandeeswarar Temple on Vellore followed by the the Sri Padmavathi Amma and Shri Kodandaramasamy Temples in Tirupati.

After an early morning checkout in Tiruvannamalai, you will be driven to Tirupati. for darshan with Lord Balaji at the Venkateswara Temple and also visit Silathoranam arch.

You will then visit the famous Padmavati Temple and a prerequisite before visiting Lord Venkateshwara (Balaji).: As the abode of Goddess Lakshmi, the temple is considered a symbol of prosperity and wealth. You will visit and receive grace and blessings for wealth, success, and well-being.

Stay in Tirupati

Day 8: Tirumala Balaji and Varahaswami Temples and SriKalahasti, Air Element (Dec 2)

After an early morning checkout in Tirupati, you will be driven up the seven-hills overlooking the city of Tirupati to Tirumala for darshan with Lord Balaji at the Venkateswara Temple and also visit Silathoranam arch.

Tirumala Balaji, also known as the Venkateswara Temple, is one of the most revered and visited Hindu temples in the world. Located in the hill town of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh, India, the temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, a form of Lord Vishnu. The temple is believed to be around 2000 years old, with references found in ancient texts. It has been patronized by many great kingdoms and rulers who have contributed to its wealth and grandeur. The deity of Lord Venkateswara is unique as it is believed to be self-manifested, not human-made. The idol is adorned with precious ornaments and the world’s largest emerald.

The Varaha Swami Temple in Tirumala is dedicated to Lord Varaha, the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This temple holds a unique significance in the religious traditions of Tirumala.

After Tirupati, we will continue to Srikalahasti to visit the last of 5 Element Temples, the Sri Kalahasthi Temple. At the end of the day, you will bid adieu to this spiritual haven, carrying with you the blessings and divine energy that we’ve absorbed over the past few days. Your tour bus will then take you to the ancient silk city of Kanchipuram.

Stay in Kanchipuram

Day 9: Kanchipuram – The City of Thousand Temples – Earth Element (December 3)

Here in Kanchipuram, you will visit the Ekambareswarar temple, a 1500+ year-old marvel dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Earth element. The temple also houses a 3500-year-old mango tree, a sight to behold.

You will then visit the Kailasanatha temple dedicated  to Lord Shiva. Built by the Pallava Dynasty in the 8th century, the temple is known as Kailasanathar, meaning “Lord of the Cosmic Mountain.” The temple is renowned for its intricate sandstone carvings and architectural elegance. and the Kamakshi Amman temple, one of the most significant feminine energy centers in India. 

At the end of the day, the tour bus will take you back to Chennai for evening dinner and flights home.

For those who have time before flights, this can be used as a last chance to shop for some traditional Indian garments. 

Depart from Chennai Airport at night or optionally stay an extra night in Chennai.

Day 10: (Optional) Free and Easy in Chennai (Dec 4)

Most travelers will depart either late Sunday night Dec 3rd or after midnight in the early hours of Monday Dec 4th. However, if you want to arrange your flights to depart later,, you can optionally stay an extra night in Chennai and have an opportunity  to explore Chennai at your leisure on Monday Dec 4th. The extra night is not included in the package, but we can help arrange it for you if you’d like. 

Perhaps you’d like to unwind at the hotel, or maybe the allure of Chennai’s streets is too enticing to resist. You could explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, sample its famous street food, or shop for souvenirs to take back home.