South India Temples and Historic Sites  


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 will include:

Thiruvannamalai "Arunachala" Temple and the Ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi


Ruins of the Rajagiri Fort in Krishnagiri

Auroville and Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry

Brahadeeswara Temple in Tanjavore – a World Heritage Monument

The Rock Fort in Trichy

MeenakshiAmman Temple in Madurai

Gandhi Museum-Madurai

Vivekananda Rock and Thiruvalluvar Memorial in Kanyakumari

Teakwood Palace in Kerala


Backwater Cruise

Narayana Tapovanam, in Trissur

Synagogue and Portuguese Palace in Cochin

Perur and Marudhamalai Temples in Coimbatore

Satchidananda Alayam, where Swami Satchidananda was born

Satchidananda Jyothi Nikethan, a residential school.


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.


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.

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
TrichyTrichy 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.

Madhurai TempleThanjavur (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
Few 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.

Kanya KumariKanya 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

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