Twenty-Day Deccan and Tamil Nadu Tour

Embark on an in-depth exploration of South India's art and architecure, starting in Hyderabad with visits to historic sites such as the Charminar, Chowmahalla Palace and the Paigah Tombs. Journey through the architectural wonders of Mysore, visit Bangalore’s cultural sites, and explore Cochin’s rich heritage. Continue to the great Tamil Nadu temple towns of Madurai and Thanjavur, and take in Pondicherry’s French colonial charm before concluding in Chennai.

Day 1: Hyderabad

  • Morning: Walk around the Charminar (great 1591 Qutb Shahi centrepiece of Hyderabad) and area around the Mecca Masjid
  • Afternoon: Visit the Salar Jung Museum (good textile and jade collection)

Day 2: Hyderabad

  • Make a full day excursion to Palampet to visit the Ramappa Temple, a 13th century Kakatiya masterpiece. If time permits, also visit the nearby group of Kakatiya temples at Ghanpur (from the same period as Ramappa but in disrepair, awaiting much needed restoration)

Day 3: Hyderabad

  • Morning: Visit the Chowmahalla Palace (built in the 18th century by the Asaf Jahi Nizams) and the 17th century Badshahi Ashurkhana (used for the Shi’ite observances of Ashura)
  • Afternoon: Tour the Paigah Tombs (magnificent structures decorated in stucco work)

Day 4: Hyderabad

  • Visit the rugged Golconda citadel, headquarters of the Qutb Shahis in the 16th17th centuries, and the nearby tombs of the Qutb Shahi sultans

Day 5: Hyderabad

  • Day trip to Nalgonda to visit the museum and the 12th century Pachala Someshwara temple complex at Panagal (a forgotten treasure of Telangana; the four Chalukya-era shrines here feature exquisite carvings, but are in need of restoration)

Day 6: Hyderabad — Mysore

  • Fly to Mysore

Day 7: Mysore

  • Morning: Visit the 13th century Hoysala temples of Lakshiminarayana in Hosaholalu and Panchalingeshwara in Govindanahalli
  • Afternoon: Return to Mysore. In the evening, visit the Devaraja fruit and vegetable market

Day 8: Mysore

  • Morning: Half day trip to visit Chennakeshava Temple at Somanathapur (an outstanding example of late Hoysala architecture).
  • Afternoon: On return to Mysore, tour the lavish Mysore Palace and Jayalakshmi Vilas Palace (ethnographic museum). In the evening, visit the Chamundeshwari temple (located on a hill outside of Mysore, and popular with local worshippers and pilgrims).

Day 9: Mysore — Srirangapatna — Bangalore  

  • Drive to Bangalore via Srirangapatna to tour Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace and museum, and the famous Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Day 10: Bangalore

  • Visit the newly opened Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) and the Government Museum

Day 11: Bangalore — Cochin

  • Morning: Drive to Lepakshi and visit the Vijayanagara period temple, famous for its 16th century ceiling paintings, the earliest and best preserved to be seen anywhere in south India
  • Afternoon: Fly to Cochin

Day 12: Cochin

  • Visit Mattancherry Palace (also known as the ‘Dutch Palace’), Jew Town and Paradesi Jewish Synagogue. If possible, attend the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (held every other year, usually December-April).

Day 13: Cochin

  • Morning: Visit to Kerala state museum to see some of Raja Ravi Varma’s works
  • Afternoon: Walk around Fort Kochin; see the Chinese nets and explore the Dutch section of town

Day 14: Cochin — Madurai

  • Travel day; break the long drive at Periyar for lunch and some spice shopping

Day 15: Madurai

  • Morning: Start at the Murugan temple at Thiruparankundram and witness the procession of the deity. Then visit Meenakshi Amman temple and Palace of Thirumalai Nayak.
  • Afternoon: Tour Gandhi Museum

Day 16: Madurai — Trichy — Thanjavur (Tanjore)

  • Morning: Visit Sikharagiriswara temple at Kudumiyan Malai and stop in Vishalam for lunch.
  • Afternoon: Drive to Chettinad (where wealthy traders built impressive courtyard mansions in the 19th and early 20th centuries); tour historic houses, Athagudi tile factory and Athagudi palace. Drive to Narthamalai to visit an atmospheric early Chola temple on a hill lock. Proceed to Tanjore.

Day 17 : Thanjavur

  • Morning: Visit Sri Ranganatha swamy temple at Srirangam, Trichy. Drive from Trichy to Tanjore on the banks of river Kaveri taking the oldest road in south India; en route, view a historic brick dam
  • Afternoon: Visit Tanjore Palace and the Art Gallery (showcasing outstanding Chola bronzes and sculpture). In the evening visit the 11th century Brihadeshwara temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site also known as Tanjore Big Temple, a masterpiece of Chola architecture built by Rajaraja I)  

Day 18: Thanjavur – Pondicherry

  • Morning: En route to Pondicherry visit the charming Thiruvalasuzhi Ganesha temple; continue on to Airavateswara temple at Darasuram, in Kumabkonam (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
  • Afternoon: Visit the Arulmigu Peruvudaiyar temple at Gangaikonda.

Day 19: Pondicherry

  • Take a full day to walk around this former French trading station in India

Day 20: Pondicherry — Chennai

  • Drive from Pondicherry to Chennai airport, to connect to your outbound flight