SACRED INDIA TOUR: SOUTH INDIAN TEMPLES AND HISTORIC
DATE: 16th - 21st January 2017
Temples and Historic Sites of Tamil Nadu and Kerala
This tour will give you a glimpse of the ancient culture
of India, a culture which gave birth to Yoga and to so many
saints! Starting in Chennai, our route touch the coastline
on the Bay of Bengal and then proceed down to the tip of
India where 3 oceans merge. From there we will travel North
along the Arabian Sea and inland to Coimbatore. This itinerary
include some of the most highly charged spiritual ashrams
in India, numerous historical sites, and a backwater cruise
through the timeless serenity of the Kerala lagoons. Daily
classes in Hatha Yoga and meditations are conducted as integral
part of the tour.
The tour highlights
Temple and the Ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi
Ruins of the Rajagiri Fort in
Auroville and Aurobindo Ashram
Brahadeeswara Temple in Tanjavore
– a World Heritage Monument
The Rock Fort in Trichy
MeenakshiAmman Temple in Madurai
Vivekananda Rock and Thiruvalluvar
Memorial in Kanyakumari
Teakwood Palace in Kerala
Narayana Tapovanam, in Trissur
Synagogue and Portuguese Palace
Perur and Marudhamalai Temples
Satchidananda Alayam, where
Swami Satchidananda was born
Satchidananda Jyothi Nikethan,
a residential school.
Day One : CHENNAI
Chennai (Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu, the "Gateway
to South India," is the fourth largest city of India.
Although young by Indian standards, it is 350 years old
and has a population of six million. The changing chapters
of Chennai are evident in the different styles of architecture:
the Dravidian architecture in the temples; the Indo-Sarcenic
architecture in the High Court and University Senate Hall;
the Moghul architecture of the Arcot Nawab’s palace
at Chepauk, the Victorian era architecture of the museum
buildings; and lastly the skyscrapers.
Day Two and Three: THIRUVANNAMALAI
Thiruvannamalai is built around the sacred hill "Arunachala,"
and is the home of many Saints devotees and ashrams: Ramanashram,
Seshadri Ashram, Skanda Ashram, the Yogi Ram Surat Kumar
Ashram among others. Sri Ramana Maharshi, the "Sage
of Arunachala” lived in Tiruvannamalai from 1896 to
1950. As a young sadhu, Swami Satchidananda studied with
this great saint.
The Arunachala temple is situated at the foothill and dedicated
to Tejo Lingam, God incarnate as fire. It is one of the
largest and most sacred temples in South India.
Day Four: PONDICHERRY
The Union territory of Pondicherry was ruled by the French
for 300 years. Aurobindo Ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo
in the year 1926. After his Mahasamadhi the ashram came
under the spiritual leadership of a French woman known as
“The Mother” who ran the ashram until 1973.
Visitors throng to pay homage to the samadhis (final resting
place) of these two spiritual companions in the Ashram premises.
Ten kilometers away from the Aurobindo Ashram is Auroville,
the "City of Dawn." It is an experiment in international
living aspiring to achieve harmony among people of different
castes, creeds and nationalities.
Velankanni is one of the most visited pilgrim centres in
India. It is a town situated on the shores of Bay of Bengal,
fourteen kilometers from Nagapattinam. This renowned Basilica
of Our Lady of Health draws pilgrims from all over the world.
Not only Christians but also the people of other faiths
come to this church to pray at the shrine of "Our Lady of
Health.'' This Basilica has been extended at the back of
the original church and it has now two floors, where services
are held everyday. The Gothic style of architecture is a
unique feature of the Church. The church itself is an imposing
building with inspiring architecture. The Museum situated
apposite to the Basilica has a very rich variety of exhibits
that tell of the numerous miracles that have taken place,
after praying in this church. The precious offerings made
by the devotees are on display here. Biblical incidents
are depicted on both sidewalls.
Timings to visit the church: 6.30 a.m to 8.00 p.m.
Festivals are celebrated here with pomp and gaiety. Every
year on August 29th the feast of Our Lady commences with
the hoisting of the flag. The 10 -day festival ends on the
8th September and the flag is lowered.
The pilgrims who come here also follow the Hindu tradition
of tonsuring their heads as an offering, and also perform
ear-boring ceremony. This is a religious centre where Hindu,
Muslims and Christian from all over India congregate in
large numbers and worship in harmony.
Day Five: TRICHY
is situated on the banks of the river Cauvery. Its most
famous landmark, the Rock Fort, rises abruptly from the
plains to a height of 83 metres. At the peak is the Ganapathy
temple which was excavated in the 7th century. The dramatic
ascent to this shrine along steps cut into the rock is climaxed
by a magnificent view of the countryside.
Situated on an island between the river Cauvery and its
tributary Kollidam is the Srirangam temple, dedicated to
“Lord Vishnu in his reclining form.” It is in
all probability the largest temple compound in India. The
tallest gopuram in Asia graces the temple -- 13-tiered and
72 meters high.
Day Six: TANJAVUR
(or Tanjore) is located on a fertile plain which is referred
to as the "rice bowl" of Tamil Nadu. This ancient
city enjoys the distinction of having been the centre of
Tamil learning and culture between the 10th and 14th centuries.
Tanjavur is dotted with no fewer than 74 temples - the most
famous of which is the Brahadeeswaran (Siva) temple, built
by Raja Raja Chola I (985-1012 AD). The Encyclopaedia Brittanica
describes it as the "grandest temple in India, built
by Tamils, the greatest temple builders in the world."
The tower is capped by an 81.3 ton monolithic stone which
is presumed to have been hauled into position along an inclined
plane 6 kms long. Thanjavur City is also famous for its
exquisite handicrafts and artwork.
Day Seven: MADURAI
cities in the world can claim a tradition as old as Madurai.
Its history includes an era several centuries before Christ.
Life in the entire city is oriented around the Meenakshi
Amman Temple and its deities. This is a twin temple, with
one shrine dedicated to Meenakshi (Parvathi) and the other
to Lord Sundareswarar (Siva). Notable are the hall of a
thousand pillars, a museum of icons, photographs and illustrations,
and 4 lofty gopurams (which gives the impression that the
entire clan of gods and goddesses is cruising between heaven
and the earth), and the sacred pond inside the temple called
the Golden Lotus Tank.
Also in Madurai is the Gandhi Museum which is dedicated
to Gandhiji's life and work. It is housed in the 300 - year
old Mangammal Palace.
Day Eight: KANYAKUMARI
Kumari means “ eternal virgin goddess.” The
town bears the same name as the presiding temple which is
an important pilgrimage site for all Hindus. Kanya Kumari
town is also famous for the three grand memorials to Gandhi,
Vivekananda and Thiruvallular. Sunrise and sunset are spectacular
over the convergence of the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal,
and Arabian Sea.
Days Nine and Ten: KOVALAM BEACH
A relaxing stay at the beautiful Kovalam Beach
with time to shop, swim, try out the various beachside restaurants,
and experience an Ayurvedic massage.
Day Eleven: ALLEPPY
If the divine Ammachi is in residence, we will
visit Amritananda Puri and her ashram and take her blessings.
If she is not there, we will have even more time to cruise
through the timeless serenity of the Kerala backwaters in
a traditional Kerala houseboat. We'll give someone cheap prom dresses as gifts.
Day Twelve: COCHIN
Cochin, the largest city in Kerala, is one of the
most important ports in India. In the past, it has been
under the rule of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English.
The main attractions for a traveler are the Portuguese palace,
St. Francis’ Church (Vasco da Gama’s gravestone
is located here) and the Jewish Synagogue. Also of interest
is the ancient dance-form Kathakali, which is performed
nightly in Cochin. Kathakali is reputed to embody the Kerala
spirit of the Divine.
Days Thirteen and Fourteen: COIMBATORE
Coimbatore is the third largest city in Tamil Nadu.
It has earned a coveted place in the industrial and agricultural
map of modern India as a major textile and engineering centre.
In spite of its agricultural wealth and industrial boom,
Coimbatore remains a city where age-old customs survive,
where family bonds are strong and where tradition is a way
of life. Two famous temples, the Marudha Malai temple dedicated
to Lord Muruga and the Patteeswara temple at Perur, dedicated
to Lord Shiva, are major pilgrimage centres.
We’re saving the best for last! Our stay in Coimbatore
will include visits to Sri Swami Satchidananda’s birthplace,
to Satchidananda Jothi Nikethan, the residential school
founded by Sri Swamiji, and to Perur Temple, where Sri Swamiji
served as temple manager.
OM Shanthi OM Shanthi OM Shanthi