THE DISCOVERY COLLECTION

Discover Goa & Tamil Nadu

In this Discover Goa and Tamil Nadu programme, we aim to show you a different side to Goa before ending the trip with some time chilling out at the beach. Goa is markedly different from the rest of India and there are many different and fascinating aspects to it that are often overlooked. Listen hard and you can hear smatterings of Portuguese still spoken on the streets – the remnants of a 450 years’ legacy of being a Portuguese colony, dewy green fields are flanked by coconut groves and towering churches appear on every corner. Of course, we can’t ignore the sun-dappled beaches with shacks that serve a variety of cuisines and flea markets that always offer good bargains. Goa is definitely synonymous with good times.
Tamil Nadu is the homeland of one of humanity’s oldest living classical civilisations, stretching back uninterrupted for two millennia and very much alive today in it’s language, dance, poetry and Hindu religion. Tamil Nadu’s temples are extraordinary with vivid, intricate and colourful carvings adorning their gopurams, it is easy to get ‘templed out,’ but the best two are in Madurai and Tanjore, these both showcase a devotion which can be bewildering to those of us from the west. The mood changes from morning to evening and no two days are the same at these ancient places of worship.

G & T

Destinations Covered

Panjim | Wildernest | Beach, Goa | Chennai | Puducherry | Kumbakonam | Chettinad | Madurai

Key Highlights

  • Exploring Fontainhas and Panjim, the historical centre of Goa
  • Wildernest in the wilds of the hills of Goa
  • A little culture and beach time.
  • The French and Tamil influences in the former French Colony, Pondicherry.
  • Thanjavur, the Sri Bridhaswara Temple and cultural activities as per your choice, classical dancing or discovering a bit about the Vedas.
  • Exploring the mansions of the Chettiar merchants
  • The vibrant and beautiful Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai

Itinerary

Day 01Arrive into Goa and transfer to the hotel in Panjim.Panjim, Goa
Day 02In the morning, explore the charming old Portuguese town of Fontainhas on a walking tour of the area.  In the afternoon, discover Old Goa.Panjim, Goa
Day 03After breakfast you will be transferred to Wildernest Nature Resort.
Nestled in the trees, 800 metres above sea level, Wildernest looks down over the spectacular Swapnagandha Valley. Rest of the day at leisure to take in the beautiful views and absorb the picturesque valley from the infinity pool.
Wildernest, Goa
Day 04 & 05As this charming lodge is located within the forest it is a fantastic choice for nature lovers. Activities include, forest walks, botanical tours,
bird watching trails & waterfalls treks.
Wildernest, Goa
Day 06After breakfast, transfer to your hotel with a difference, by the beach.
Once an armed fortress that belonged to the Portuguese, Fort Tiracol has a kaleidoscopic view of the Arabian Sea and the spectacular estuary of the Tiracol River. As soon as you enter, you will be taken aback by the 17th century church standing there bang in the middle. This resort provides history, walks and beach, something for everyone.
Beach, Goa
Day 07Day at leisure.Beach, Goa
Day 08Arrive in to Chennai where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.Chennai
Day 09Explore Chennai with your guide, visiting Chennai museum, Fort area, Kapaleeswarar temple and St. Thomas Church.Chennai
Day 10Transfer by road to Puducherry en route visiting Mahabalipuram, exploring the ancient shore temples. Evening strol the quite streets of Puducherry, a former French territory which still maintains a Mediterranean feel.Puducherry
Day 11Visit the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and take a short drive out to Auroville.Puducherry
Day 12After breakfast drive to Kumbakonam. Visit a Kalamkari workshop to see intricate artwork being done on fabric.Kumbakonam
Day 13Drive to Chettinad via Thanjavour visiting the famous Brihadeeshwara Temple. Evening enjoy a heritage walk in the village.Chettinad
Day 14Visit the town of Karaikudi and a hand made tile making factory. You will also get to see old mansions of merchants from this area.Chettinad
Day 15Drive to Madurai. In the evening, visit the Sri Meenakshi Temple to witness the evening ceremony of the gods being put to bed.Madurai
Day 16Transfer to the airport for your onward journey
Explore Goa and Tamil Nadu Differently on Our Discovery Tour - Beyond the Taj, Discover Goa & Tamil Nadu
Explore Goa and Tamil Nadu Differently on Our Discovery Tour - Beyond the Taj, Discover Goa & Tamil Nadu
Explore Goa and Tamil Nadu Differently on Our Discovery Tour - Beyond the Taj, Discover Goa & Tamil Nadu

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If you only visit one temple town in Tamil Nadu, we recommend visiting the Shree  Meenakshi in Madurai. Considered to be the finest of its kind in Tamil Nadu, this great temple’s towering gopurams are covered in a riot of gaily painted, dancing and cavorting Gods and Goddesses. The entire temple is given over to worship but outside there are markets and stalls and it is almost reminiscent of how the ancient monasteries would have been centuries ago with people trading, plying on the pilgrims as they flock to prayer, which many still do as it is one of India’s most sacred pilgrimage centers.
The Sri Brihadiswara Temple in Tanjore is extraordinary. An incredible feat of engineering that could barely be matched today, but more than that, it is the carvings which adorn its walls and the stories which are weaved around every part of its history, architecture, priests and devotees which make this a fabulous place to visit. It is a constant hive of activity, morning, noon and night, some days there are dance performances, some days the cash the temple generates is being counted, but on all days it provides a fascinating insight into Hinduism and its devotees.
One of India’s most relaxed state capitals, Panaji (Panjim) crowds around the peninsula overlooking the broad Mandovi River, where cruise boats and floating casinos ply the waters, and advertising signs cast neon reflections in the night. A glorious whitewashed church lords over the animated city center, a broad leafy boulevard skirts around the river, and grand colonial-era buildings rub shoulders with arty boutiques, old-school bookshops, state-of-the-art malls and backstreet bars.
The first British settlement in India, Chennai still has a fine legacy of colonial architecture which displays a wide range of influences from the elegant classical style of the 18th century to the much more eclectic Anglo-Indian school of the late 19th century. Like all Indian cities, it has become busy and chaotic, but there is gentleness in the south and the occasional melody of Carnatic classical music and the gongs of church bells that can be heard above the cacophony of work-hour traffic. Unmistakable is the aromatic smell of freshly brewed filter coffee, the fragrance of jasmine flowers and the sight of rice crepes or dosas rolled out on a hot griddle by the roadside, quintessential south Indian attributes.
Pondicherry has an unusual, enchanting Mediterranean atmosphere not felt anywhere else in India. The French ruled this territory for 300 years, and today it stands as a living monument to French culture in India as it was only ceded to the Indian union in 1954. The White Town with its tree-shaded, leafy lanes is still reminiscent of the Mediterranean with its seaside promenade, immaculately white painted buildings, cobbled paths of the French Quarters and its pretty colonial bungalows all of which lend a quaint charm to this tiny city.
Old Goa is located beside the Mandovi River in the western Indian state of Goa. The former capital of Portuguese India, it’s known for colonial-era monuments like the Basilica of Bom Jesus, with the remains of St. Francis Xavier, and the domed Church of St. Cajetan, inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome. Nearby, the vast Se Cathedral, built in the 16th–17th centuries, has ornate chapels and a bell tower.
A beautiful two-hour ride along the scenic East Coast Road from Chennai gets you to the seashore town of Mahabalipuram. The magnificent Shore Temple, although ravaged by the elements and the pounding ocean waves, still reflects the glorious past of these intrepid merchants
The Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu is fascinating. Seemingly one small village yet it contains numerous mansion-like heritage homes and temples made during the Chettiar dynasty. The Chettiars were, and still are, a prosperous merchant community and their legacy can be seen in the ornate mansions and shrines they built when at the height of their power. Many are sadly in disrepair but a few have been restored into charming heritage hotels and a museum.