The greatest joy of exploring Kerala is the actual traveling by boat which we will do overnight, along the enchanting backwaters; visit the hugging mother guru, Ammaji's ashram at Kollam. We plan to 'worship' the sun on the beaches of Kovalam and experience the spectacular sunset at the southern most tip of India, Kanyakumari, where three oceans meet. We will end this part of the journey in Madurai, the oldest inhabited city in the Indian peninsula. One of South India's great temple towns, Madurai is synonymous with the celebrated Meenakshi Temple with its deity, the beautiful fish eyed Goddess, Meenakshi, the consort of Shiva.
Situated on the banks of river Vaigai, Madurai has a rich cultural heritage passed on from the great Tamil era more than 2500 years old. This journey gives us the opportunity to ponder about the larger questions of life, and the universe, and open ourselves to the archetypes of Hinduism and Buddhism. Tamil Nadu, the heartland of South India is a peninsula surrounded by three oceans, a region of great natural beauty. Culturally rich, Tamil Nadu is an unforgettable panorama of unique temples and temple cities, overwhelming in their detail of sculpture and grandeur of scale.
Many of them are as much a part of everyday life as they were centuries ago. It is a region vibrating with community life, bazaars, smells, colour, dance, music and worship. The people of this region are known for their friendliness and welcoming smiles. Chennai, formerly Madras, has the relics of doubting Thomas one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, the Theosophical Society Gardens with the second largest banyan tree in the world, Kalakshetra Arts village and the Kapaleshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
We will also visit the textile town of Kanchipuram, known as one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism and 'the town of a 1000 temples', where we will visit the world famous silk weavers. A short distance away is the sea side village of Mahabalipuram, the 'city of seven pagodas' and the shore temple, a UNESCO designated world heritage site from the seventh century. At Tiruvanmalai, we will visit the Ramana Maharishi Ashram and join thousands of local pilgrims in the annual full moon festival of Deepam Girivalam. We will circumambulate the sacred mountain of Arunachala, considered Shiva's lingam of fire.
At Pondicherry, the picturesque French colonial town by the ocean, we will visit the ashram of Sri Aurobindo who tried to bring a blend of yoga and modern science. Close by, is the planned transnational utopian community of Auroville inspired by the evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the centre of which has the beautiful golden meditation temple, the Matri Mandir. Meetings and discussions will be arranged with teachers and local people to gain further insight into the widsom and local culture. This will be an exceptional chance to see India that few travelers have the opportunity to experience.
Day 1, November 22nd: Trivandrum - Kovalam.
Day 2, November 23rd: Kovalam - Kanyakumari- Kovalam.
Day 3, November 24th: Kovalam - Kollam.
Day 4, November 25th: Kollam - Allepey - Kumarakom (Overnight on House Boat).
Day 5, November 26th: Kumarakom - Thekkady.
Day 6, November 27th: Thekkady - Madurai.
Day 7, November 28th: Madurai - Chennai by air.
Day 8, November 29th: Chennai - Kanchipuram - Mahabalipuram.
Day 9, November 30th: Mahabalipuram - Tiruvanmalai.
Day 10, December 1st: Tiruvanmalai.
Day 11, December 2nd: Tiruvanmalai - Pondicherry.
Day 12, December 3rd: Pondicherry/Auroville.
Day 13, December 4th: Pondicherry - Chennai.
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