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A Special Tour of South India – Female Empowerment: Reclaiming Her Identity

A society’s advancement can be assessed by women’s status in society based on her education. India, her varied ancient cultures, when taken into consideration, holds the unique status in the world as the first nation in the world, during the early Vedic period, where women were at par with men in all aspects of life. She was educated, chose her own husband, opted to be in a live-in relationship, a priestess or even a queen who led her army to battle! A woman’s role, through the ages, ever changing – evolving from a powerful entity during the early Vedic era to a diminished role of a housewife, in about 500 BC; finally in 1917 a resurgence as the first women’s delegation, became a major organization in the movement for social change for women.

As we travel our way through Tamil Nadu, discovering the ancient Dravidian culture, visiting temples, amazing and inspiring women in her many roles as daughter, sister, wife, mother and of course – revelation of her own identity within her community! A state so rich in history, arts, culture, cuisine, literature and dance, we will get a glimpse to Tamil Nadu’s rich legacy such as classical arts, classical music, classical literature, magnificent religious sites, multi-religious pilgrimage sites, historic buildings and multi-cuisine.

Our venture through Tamil Nadu and Kerala is like nothing you have ever experienced! Visiting Chennai, whose history can be visualized through the churches, and art centers – a glimpse into India’s rich colonial past. A short drive brings us to Mahabalipuram, renowned for its sculptures and the amazing Shore Temple, Five Rathas and Arjuna’s Penance.

An excursion takes you to Kancheepuram not only known for its silk saris, but was also home to a thousand temples. Drive to Chidambaram, steeped in history, ruled, at different times, by the Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Marathas and the British. Attend a very special dance festival, where dancers from all over India and worldwide congregate. Travel to Darasuram, visiting Airavateswara Temple, a UNESCO Heritage monument. Meet with a priest to discuss about Hinduism and the prayer rituals.

Travel to Thanjavur, where more than 70 temples were built by the Cholas, the best being Brihadeswara Temple. Meet with Palace Museum Curator and Saraswati Mahal Library’s Bookkeeper. Travel by land to Chettinad, known for its old mansions and spicy cuisine. We will see Chettinad Palace, a center that still makes Athangudi tiles followed by a bullock ride through the village. A special meeting with Mrs. Meenakshi Myyappa Chettiyar as to why she converted her mansion into a hotel. Visit a local handloom center. Drive to Madurai, more than 4,000 years old, is still amajor center for Tamil culture and learning. Visit a village to see and learn how God is created from Mud. Try your hand at making one! See and learn about Madurai Sugudi textile, an exclusive product of this region. Drive to Periyar, known for its elephants and boat safaris. Considered a heaven for natural spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and clove.

Indulge in Ayurvedic massages, meet with an Ayurvedic Doctor followed by yoga and meditation. Sites also include Vaikom Mahadeva Temple including a private puja (prayer ceremony) and much more also learning to create our own Pookalam, a decorative flower motif, floor art. Partake in a Sadhya!

Learn how to eat with your hands and the manner in which the food is served.

Embark on one night on a Houseboat (Backwater Cruising), gliding through the backwaters during the day and docking in the middle of the lake at night. Enjoy a Village Walk, interacting with the local people. Visit the only temple in India where women are priestess. Learn and understand about their matriarchal history. A member of the Preserve Alleppey Society will take us on a historic walking tour through town. Proceed to Kumarakom, a man made land reclaimed from the Vembanad Lake.

En route to Kochi, visit Alleppey, meeting with the only Priestess presiding at a Hindu temple in India enjoy a part walking and part driving tour through the Gujarati Quarter, the canal banks including an old wholesale market. Kochi also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, was an important spice trading centre on the west coast of India from the 14th century onward, and maintained a trade network with Arab merchants from the pre-Islamic era. At the Hill Palace Museum, meet with the Document Keeper, visiting St. Francis Church, Santa Cruz Basilica, Chinese Fishing Nets, Paradesa Synagogue and Sunset Cruise – a photographer’s delight. There is much more to see in Kochi but most importantly, ride in the only “She Taxis”. Followed by an informal meeting with your drivers to learn why they chose to be in this profession.

For more information, visit A Classic Tours Collection



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