Duration: 6 – 9 hours
Group size: Minimum: 1, Maximum 10.
In steamy, spicy Southern India, the city of Chennai is a hub for travel in and out of India and Tamil Nadu. Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is one of the friendliest cities in the sub-continent. Indeed, Chennai is so modest that it’s easy to miss the fact that it is an economic power house, a queen of showbiz and has a fascinating history and a culture that dates back to 1000′s of years.
Indian Expeditions invites you to take a Private Tour of Chennai with a highly knowledgeable local guide who can speak fluent English to discover Chennai, India’s 4th largest city.
The one day Private Tour of Chennai is a specially designed travel itinerary to experience Chennai in a day. We will visit ancient Hindu temples and British Churches, enjoy a delicious, healthy and traditional South Indian meal served on banana leaves, explore Chennai’s history, be spell bound by some beautiful art relics and bronze sculptures from the 10th century, and go after some of the best shopping deals in town, having a lot of fun doing so.
The Private Tours of Chennai aim to leave you with insights on how the city came into being as it is today. The trip lead of the Private Tours of Chennai will engage you in lively conversations and debates about Chennai’s history, share interesting facts and anecdotes, and also explore the contemporary importance and pulse of the metropolis.
The Private Tour of Chennai is of low intensity, where you will travel by a luxury air conditioned vehicle with frequent stops. The Chennai Private Tour covers some of the most important areas in Chennai and leaves space for serendipity and for a high level of personalization.
Start: 830 AM (Note: Timings are customizable) Marina Beach:
The first stop on the Private Tour of Chennai is the scenic Marina beach, the second longest urban beach in the world. We will start exploring Chennai’s history here as we take a short walk on the beach, for it was here that the British developed one of their most important trading harbors. We will visit a fish market and a fishing hamlet.
Lecture: Orientation, Chennai.
On the next stop of the Private Tour of Chennai, we will explore the Dutch connection of the city in Santhome, and stop at the Santhome Basilica. Christian tradition has it that the Apostle, Doubting Thomas arrived in India on Roman trading ships and lived and preached at Chennai. The Basilica is said to have been built on the spot that St Thomas was originally buried. The Basilica houses a small but interesting museum and a relic of the Apostle. For people who are more interested in the Apostle’s connection with Chennai, the Private Tour of Chennai can be tailored to visit St Thomas Mount, a small hillock where the saint is said to have lived.
Lecture: Dutch history in Chennai and Christianity in India.
The next stop on the Private Tour of Chennai is the Kapaleeshwar temple. The age of this temple is of much debate. The present structure was built in the 7th Century AD on a site where a temple existed for many centuries before. The temple is a marvelous example of the Pallava age architecture, and is a living temple, where worship is offered to this day. Here, you will experience and witness age old Hindu rituals, which your guide will help interpret.
Lecture: Hinduism, Temple Rituals, Pallava Architecture.
The next leg of the Chennai Private Tour involes a slow drive. We will drive past the Senate House, an exquisite example of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, the Victorian style Ice House, which was a storage for ice. In the early 18th century till about 1880, huge blocks of ice were chipped from New England’s wintery slopes, cleverly insulated in woodchips and shipped to Chennai where the ice was a much sought after commodity. The slow drive on the Private Chennai Tour will also cover the Anna and MGR memorial, the final resting place of the two film star turned politicians. We will have a debate on the influence of cinema on Tamil Nadu’s politics, where all the political big wigs and chief ministers are erstwhile film stars.
Lecture: Impact of cinema on South India
Fort St George:
Fort St George was the first fort built by the British in India, and was completed on St George’s day, 1639. The fort is arguably what founded the British Empire in India and the modern city of Chennai. The fort now serves as the administrative headquarters of the government of Tamil Nadu. The Private tour of Chennai will take you to the Fort’s interesting museum, which houses many interesting artifacts from the colonial age and we will also visit the St Mary’s church, the oldest Anglican Church in India.
Lecture: British in India and the impact of the colonial rule
We will visit a high quality traditional South Indian Restaurant and enjoy a healthy, wholesome and scrumptious South Indian meal served on Banana leaves. Please note that cost of Lunch is not included in the Private Tour of Chennai.
Talk: Traditional food of South India and food habits.
The next stop on the Private Tour of Chennai is the fabulous Egmore Museum. Many travellers coming to Chennai fail to stop here, and that is indeed quite a pity. The Egmore Museum houses some of the finest pieces of ancient art and craft in the world, and is home to the world’s largest collection of exquisite Chola age Bronze sculptures (6th to 15th Century.)
Lecture: Art History of South India, Chola Bronze sculptures
The Private Tour of Chennai ends with time for shopping. Based on your interests, we will go shopping after the best deals in town and for traditional gifts
Add Ons / Customization:
There are many options on the Private Tour of Chennai for those of us who’d like to explore a bit futher. We can explore Chennai’s Armenian connection and Church or visit more Hindu temples or British Churches, or visit some of Chennai’s liveliest pubs and bars. The Private Tour of Chennai is highly customizable, and we can tailor the Private Tour of Chennai to suite you best.
Chandan S. has led over 50 South India Tours so far. Born into a family of academicians, he has traveled extensively with renowned authorities on art, culture and history. A passionate traveler, he loves meeting people and showing them around fantastic South India. Chandan has worked with Greenpeace and was later involved in building sustainable game lodges and travel cafes and has spent over a year documenting birds in the Niligiris Biosphere Reserve. Chandan has worked on many travel programs in the wilderness, apart from leading many South India Tours focusing on culture and art. He is extremely affable and informative, and loves to constantly tour South India ”Being in the travel profession and being a trip lead combines several of my interests – exploring India, trekking, wildlife spotting, being on the road and meeting new people,” he says.[/tab] [tab title="Cost"]
Prices valid through Spring 2013
85 USD for 1 person
110 USD for 2 people,
135 USD for 3 to 4 people
175 USD for 5-7 people.
195 USD for 8-10 people
Children below age 12: No Charge.
Transportation. Costs are: For upto 4 people, Rs 4000 in a Luxury Hatchback, Hyundai i20 fitted with bucket seats, Air Conditioning and Seat belts. The Hyundai i20 was rated as the top 5 safest cars in Europe in 2009 and boasts of a Euro NCAP maximum 5 star safety rating. 5 People and above: Rs 5500 for a Toyota Innova,fitted with bucket seats, Air Conditioning and Seat belts. Entrance to sites where ever applicable. Meals. Items personal in nature and anything else not mentioned as included in the cost for the Chennai Private Tour.
Tour costs include:
Expert leadership of an Indian Expeditions Leader and local guides
Sightseeing as noted
Tour Cost Does Not Include:
Transport during the tour, Entrance to sites wherever applicable, fees for cameras etc., Individual airport transfers, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional gratuities to leaders and staff, expenses such as immunizations (if any), travel insurance, and other items of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, bottled water, etc.).
Trip Payment Schedule
At time of reservation: $ 50 for tours below 5 people, $ 100 for tours above 6 people.
Upon delivery of tour: Balance
Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule
Minimum fee: None
If you cancel 20 days or more before the start of the tour: Amount paid less any non-recoverable upfront costs incurred by Indian Expeditions on your behalf. These upfront costs represent out of pocket expenses of Indian Expeditions for tickets, transportation deposits and other tour expenses. Please send a message to Indian Expeditions to find out what, if any, these costs are.
If cancelled 19 days or less before start of tour: Deposit (less any upfront costs) will be held by Indian Expeditions as per our life long deposit policy.