Hit the temple trail to visit some of the stars of South India on this 10-day itinerary. You'll experience the modern culture of the state of Tamil Nadu alongside ancient Indian history and mythology, touring some of the world's most impressive and intricately carved temples and taking in the natural views along the Bay of Bengal.

Highlights

  • Take in modern Chennai culture in the Mylapore Tank area
  • Stroll through the Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram
  • Take in one of the world's tallest temples at Brihadeeshwara
  • Follow the pilgrimage trail to Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Chennai Chennai
Day 2 Chennai to Kanchipuram Mahabalipuram
Day 3 Mahabalipuram Mahabalipuram
Day 4 Mahabalipuram to Kumbakonam Tanjore
Day 5 Tanjore Tanjore
Day 6 Tanjore to Tiruchirapalli Trichy
Day 7 Trichy to Rameswaram Rameswaram
Day 8 Dhanushkodi Rameswaram
Day 9 Rameswaram to Madurai Madurai
Day 10 Return to Chennai and Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Chennai

Chennai market
Chennai market

The friendly city of Chennai is the gateway to the temple state of Tamil Nadu. You'll start your journey off with the impressive temples of Kapaleeshwar, Kalikambal, and Vadapalani Murugan. Experience Chennai culture in the narrow streets of the Mylapore Tank and Mandavali areas with quaint shops, flower sellers, and street foods.

Day 2: Chennai to Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram, the town of a thousand temples
Kanchipuram, the town of a thousand temples

Drive to the pilgrim city of Kanchipuram, also known as the town of a thousand temples. Here you'll visit the temples of Ekambaranathar, Kailasanatha, Varadharaja Perumal, and Kamakshi Amman. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silk saris, and you'll have a chance to visit the silk weavers and learn about the history of this colorful fabric, which is an essential part of a South Indian bride’s trousseau. Then continue to the nearby town of Mahabalipuram for the night.

Day 3: Mahabalipuram

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

This 7th-century erstwhile port city of Mahabalipuram is famous for its historical stone carvings and rock-cut shore temples. Stop at the Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna's Butterball, and the Five Rathas. Don't forget to leave time to enjoy the stunning views of the town and the sea from the lighthouse on the hill.

Day 4: Mahabalipuram to Kumbakonam

Carvings on the temples
Carvings on the temples

Another town of temples, Kumbakonam is known for its silk saris and brass work. It's also famous for the Navagraha Temples, dedicated to the nine major celestial bodies of Hindu astronomy. You'll visit the beautiful Vaitheeswaran Koil temple, devoted to Mars. You'll also stop at the Airavateswara temple and the Mahalingeswarar temple on your way, then overnight in Tanjore.

Day 5: Tanjore

Brihadeeswara temple
Brihadeeswara temple

The ancient capital of the Chola empire, the town of Tanjore is known for the Brihadeeshwara Temple, an architectural masterpiece that you'll spend your day exploring. The temple is one of the tallest in the world and the world's first complete granite temple.

Day 6: Tanjore to Tiruchirappalli

Sri Ranganathaswamy temple
Sri Ranganathaswamy temple

Another ancient city, Tiruchirappalli (also known as Trichy) is famous for its ancient temples. Start by visiting the temples of Srirangam and Jambukeswarar. Then continue to another special place, the Rock Fort Temple complex, perched on a rock from where you can enjoy splendid views of the city and the Kaveri river.

Day 7: Trichy to Rameswaram

Rameswaram beach
Rameswaram beach

An island with mythological significance, Rameswaram is one of the holiest cities of Hinduism and part of the Char Dham pilgrimage. Experience the famous Ramanathaswamy Temple and the footprints of the god Ram.

Day 8: Dhanushkodi

The Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal

Set off on a jeep excursion to Dhanushkodi, where the confluence of the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal resemble a bow and arrow. Relax on the shore as you enjoy beautiful views of the ocean and bird life, then head back to Rameswaram for the evening.

Day 9: Rameswaram to Madurai

Meenakshi Temple
Meenakshi Temple

An important pilgrimage destination, Madurai is famous for its Dravidian-style temples, most notably the famous Meenakshi Temple. You'll also visit the Subramanya Swamy and Pazhamudhir Solai temples.

Day 10: Return to Chennai and Depart

Kapaleeswarar Temple, Chennai
Kapaleeswarar Temple, Chennai

Return to Chennai today to continue your adventure or head back home.