Our Last Book Club Pick of 2016

Feedback was good on our last book, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie — A Tale of Love and Fallout. For the end of 2016, we’re looking at more nonfiction with Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity  by Katherine Boo.
 
beautiful-forevers-cover
Publisher Random House says about the book: “In this brilliant, breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Annawadi, a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport.”

I love Kashmiri sculpture more than anything!

Kurt2“I love Kashmiri sculpture more than anything else,” confessed our guide, Met curator Kurt Behrendt, on a recent gallery tour. “We’ve got, in this tiny room, the biggest collection, outside Kashmir, in the whole world.” Gesturing to a stunning early sculpture, seventh century (he was nonplussed), Behrendt stated that maybe only 100 or 150 examples can be found in a museum anywhere. For more than this tantalizing taste, he reminded us, “you must go to Kashmir. On our tour with the Met this fall,” he continued, “we are going to see all the early Buddhist temples, intact with their sculptures, very rare. The 7th to 8th centuries, after the collapse of the Guptas, was the great moment, not centuries later!”

A popular lecturer, Dr. Behrendt is both the leader and, in collaboration with our team at Arrangements Abroad, the designer of the Travel with the Met tour, Ancient Kingdoms & Glorious Temples, Kashmir, Punjab & Rajasthan, scheduled for October 1-17, 2015.

Kashmiri sculpture at MetThe Vale of Kashmir is, he said, is a lovely green place—“like an island in the mountains, not very high, maybe 6,000 or 7,000 feet with big rivers and lakes, and rich agricultural land.” Known for its pine trees and rhododendrons, the Kashmir valley a place, Behrendt emphasized, “where everyone through history wanted to go.  All the Bollywood films are filmed there.” Off the world stage for decades, the situation in Kashmir calmed down, he explained, about five years ago. “My friends are visiting Kashmir, with their kids,” he added.

We continued to the next room, dominated by a simple white statue of a seated Buddha, perfectly enlightened.  This statue, he admitted, was pretty great—and the temple bay above even better. “What they are doing in the Jain tradition,” he explained, “is creating heavens.”  The sites we will see in Rajasthan, like the temples of Rankapur, he went on to say, are the very best of the Jain temples, more than hinting that lucky participants would be all but participating in the celestial abode.

Our guide saved enthusiasm for Gandhara—the ancient Buddhist kingdom that was the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation and first book. When India and Pakistan were divided, he explained, the museum in Lahore got half the riches of Punjab and the other half sits in the middle of nowhere in Chandigarh, which Corbusier created as India’s first planned city. The collection of Gandhara sculpture at the Chandigarh Museum, just to give one example, is maybe 40 times that of the Met. We will visit, he noted, at the tail-end of the monsoon season, when the desert is in bloom. All should be green!

KashmirThe goal of this trip, he emphasized, is to see great sculpture—a very good thing! How could you possibly go wrong, Behrendt added dreamily, with fabulous vistas, 3-D mountains and rivers, great forts surrounded by desert and clusters of great temples dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries?  Unlike some parts of India, good roads and world-class infrastructure make life easy.  Berhrendt will be leading an optional tour on the last full day to Chittorgarh Fort—one of the largest in India and probably the grandest in the state of Rajasthan. Most people, Berhrendt stated, drive right by. But not us! Chittorgarh was one of the six majestic forts inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The tour culminates with two-nights at the Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel. The Taj Majal is included as an optional 4-night postlude. More details in the brochure.

Suggested Reading:

Darsan, Seeing the Divine Image in India  by Diana Eck

Kurt recommends starting with this book, “a great short read that frames the big ideas.”  A fascinating and rigorous guide to deciphering Hindu symbolism, this book will help you understand and appreciate religious art in India. Despite its scholarly paraphernalia and language, the book (whose title translates as “seeing”) is tremendously useful for the traveler. With a useful glossary.

 

Indian Art by Vidya Dehejia

A volume in Phaidon’s excellent “Art and Ideas” series, this illustrated book, geared for students, considers the religious and intellectual contexts of three thousand years of Indian art and architecture. It’s particularly commendable for its extensive coverage of modern art — which gets short shift from many such surveys. This very readable book features 250 color illustrations.

 

The Hindu Temple by George Michell

In The Hindu Temple, considered the standard introduction to the subject and first published in 1977, George Michell explains the cultural, religious, and architectural significance of the temple. He illustrates his points with a profusion of photographs, building plans, and drawings of architectural details, making the book a useful guide for travelers to Asia as well as an illuminating text for students of architecture, religion, and Asian civilizations.

Kurt Behrendt

 

Kurt Behrendt
Associate Curator in the Department of Asian Art, Behrendt is curator of the current exhibition, part of the celebrations of the centennial of the department, One Hundred Years of Tibetan Art at the Met, and Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, for which he is giving gallery talks, free and open to the public with museum admission, on Monday, May 11 and Tuesday, June 2 at 10:30. Go if you can! He’s among the most engaging speakers we’ve met in a while.

Contributed by Darrel Schoeling and with thanks to Aiza Keesey and Kasia Vincunas of Travel with the Met, who arranged the talk and let Darrel tag along.
Chittorgarh_Fort_3 Chaumukha_Jain_temple_at_Ranakpur_in_Aravalli_range_near_Udaipur_Rajasthan_India

Top Tips for shopping in Kashmir: the shops & bazaars of Srinagar

Kashmir Carpet shop

A carpet shop in Kashmir

Known for exotic spices and stunning textiles, Kashmir has some of the best shopping in India. “Carpets, pashminas, papier-mâché, walnut woodcarving, and metal work are the finest crafts of Kashmir,” says tour director Christine Pagnani. One of the many pleasures of our October program to Kashmir, Punjab & Rajasthan is the opportunity to browse for handicrafts in Srinagar’s shops and markets. Here are some of our favorites!

Suffering Moses

Suffering Moses

  1. Suffering Moses for exquisite papier-mâché boxes, bowls, animal figures, and more. This well-tended shop, with the atmosphere of a museum, was founded in 1840.
  2. Cottage Industries Emporium for crafts of all kinds, reasonably priced and authentic
  3. The small shops specializing in dried fruits and other sundries along Kukar Bazar
  4. The venerable Mughal Darbar Bakery for its atmosphere, aroma, and local treats
  5. zainakadel market

    Zainakadal Market

    Historic Zainakadal Market, a wholesale trading market, for copperware, spices, and tilla tailors (embroidery on fabric)

  6. Andraab for hand-woven Kashmiri pashmina, embroidered bedspreads, scarves, and other exquisitely wrought textiles
Floating market Dal Lake

Floating market Dal Lake

Thank you to Tanveer at Kashmir Ladakh Tourism for these wonderful photographs of Kashmir! Additional images of this fascinating part of the world are on Tanveer’s blog, Himalayan Yeti.

Meet Gwenyth Lloyd, Our Designer “Across the Pond”

Gwen_Lloyd_brecon_beaconsGwenyth Lloyd started working at the Academic Arrangements Abroad New York office in 2003, and is now a remote graphic designer after moving to the UK. “I’ve worked for the company for 11 years now, 7 of them remotely,” says Gwen. “My current responsibilities include creating both print and web marketing.”

Before joining Arrangements Abroad, Gwen worked at the Center for Book Arts and Condé Nast in New York City (interning in the photography department at the New Yorker and working freelance at Vanity Fair). Before moving to New York to pursue a Design degree at Parsons, she achieved the position of Headbrewer at a microbrewery in Cambridge, MA.

What is your hometown?

I grew up in Townsend, MA, a typical New England town with a town common and gazebo. Band concerts on Thursday nights in the summer with the local military band. I loved growing up there, but had a British father who traveled to far-flung places through his work in geophysics, so I was always aware the planet was a very big place and that I’d like to see as much of it as possible.

Gwen in LatviaWhat are your favorite travel books?

Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories of the City, was a treat to read as I visited Istanbul. Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography, Speak, Memory, is a wonderful account of his childhood in St. Petersburg. And who wouldn’t want to explore Paris after reading Georges Perec’s Life, A User’s Manual?

City you most recommend to friends

I usually find something to love about any foreign city, but my favorite destinations so far are: Mumbai, for the energy, amazing sights, and sounds; Dubai for the diversity of the people and the architecture; and London (always London!) for people watching and wandering the South Bank, Hampstead Heath, and Shoreditch. It thrills me to live in the dynamic city of Bristol, just a train ride away.

City you would drop everything to see

Florence, Italy, in the summertime. There’s something magical about the light in Tuscany, and I enjoyed an unforgettable cone of profiterole ice cream there.

Gwen and MegganWhat do you enjoy working on the most for Arrangements Abroad?

The assignments are always changing, and the design work is very interesting and challenging. Working as a designer for a travel company allows me to armchair travel through researching destinations and map-making. Have loved meeting our travelers while accompanying trips to the Baltic and the Caribbean. And, last but not least, my outstanding colleagues, who make me feel like a valuable member of the team despite the distance!

Special skills

Am a mother to a spirited, adorable four-year-old son, also am a painter, seamstress, and keen cook (when I have the time)!

Most visited websites

The Guardian, Pinterest, and BBC Radio 4

What is something about you that surprises people?

Am able to count time to music pretty well for a non musician. After my first attempt at playing the drums with a band, my friend commented my timing was “like a clock!” Hope to take up learning to play the drums again someday.

Gwen and son skatingWhat are some things you can’t travel without?

My son, my iPad, pencil bag and my sketchbook

Number of trips traveled on

I have been to 26 countries and am now living abroad in the UK. Dual nationality has some perks.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Believe travel is a necessity and a force for good in the world. The more  the idea of the “other” is broken down… believing people who are from foreign places are somehow fundamentally different than ourselves…the more our compassion for humanity as a whole grows. Gaining the knowledge that the majority of people on earth, no matter where they are from, want the same things from life as us, is invaluable.

Gwen in Nicaragua

Academic Arrangements Abroad to Offer Exclusive Jet Journey Around the Globe

Chichen ItzaWandering the grounds of mysterious Chichen Itza. Swimming in the turquoise waters of French Polynesia. Walking among Easter Island’s giant Moai statues. Gazing at the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. Spotting a lion on an African safari. Witnessing thundering Iguazu Falls. Watching the sun rise over stunning Angkor Wat.

Easter IslandThrough luxury tour operator Academic Arrangements Abroad, travelers can experience all of these wonders in just three weeks on a new “Around the World by Private Jet” program. This extraordinary journey will take place from March 5 to 26, 2015. The New York-based travel firm is organizing the “Around the World” program in conjunction with Australian company Captain’s Choice.

“Captain’s Choice has been offering high-end travel opportunities for many years, and we are thrilled to be able to join their program and also offer the services of an Academic Arrangements Abroad Tour Director to accompany travelers throughout,” says Jim Friedlander, President & CEO of Academic Arrangements Abroad.

Starting in either London, England, or Mérida, Mexico, travelers will board a private wide body Boeing 767 chartered exclusively by Captain’s Choice and begin a three-week adventure to twelve of the globe’s most fascinating sites, from impressive Iguazu Falls to the plains of the Serengeti. The jet has been fitted with only 90 VIP guest seats – offering extraordinary space and comfort en route to each destination. This once-in-a-lifetime program includes top hotels, from the world-famous Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro to the gracious Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap.

“We also have a few signature events, which will be presented in select cities on the journey,” says Friedlander.

For additional details about “Around the World by Private Jet” (from $57,250 per person, double occupancy), travelers can contact Academic Arrangements Abroad at 212-514-8921.

Taj Mahal Daylight

Adventures Abroad Photo Contest Deadline Extended. Plus–Our Adventures Abroad!

Yunnan Red Earth

Yunnan Red Earth by Erik Hyman

Staff at Academic Arrangements Abroad are ineligible for our Adventures Abroad photography contest. However, we have had a few adventures of our own, and lots of talented photographers work here.

Below are a few of our favorite staff travel photos, which were taken in locations around the globe.

Assistant Tour Coordinator Erik Hyman shot wonderful images in China while he was conducting folk music research for the Fulbright program in 2011 and 2012. You can see more of Erik’s amazing travel photographs on Flickr.

Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha by Erik Hyman

Nujiang Valley

Nujiang Valley by Erik Hyman

Cathy Farber, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, traveled to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in 2013. During her journey, Cathy photographed an adorable baby seal in the Galápagos Islands.

Baby Seal

Baby seal in the Galápagos Islands

She also shot a stunning image of the Andes Mountains from Quito. (Scroll to the bottom of this blog post to see the landscape.)

Jim Friedlander, President, took a picture of a crocodile area in a national park in Panama during a trip to Central America in December 2013.

Crocodile area in Central America

Crocodile area in Central America by Jim Friedlander

In addition, Friedlander shot this dramatic photograph of Mt. Everest from a plane last November.

Mount Everest 2013

Mount Everest, Nepal, by Jim Friedlander

Gloria De Luca, Vice President, Communications, captured this image of men in turbans at the Pushkar Camel Fair in India.

Puskar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair by Gloria De Luca

Additionally, she photographed this leopard in a tree during a recent journey to Sri Lanka, where highlights included a jeep safari.

Leopard in Sri Lanka

Leopard in Sri Lanka by Gloria De Luca

We hope you’ll enter your own travel photos in our competition. The deadline was just extended to July 1, 2014, and images entered so far include everything from riding camels in Egypt to practicing yoga on a sunny beach in Puerto Rico. Show us your idea of a travel adventure!

The first-place winner, as selected by our panel of expert judges, will receive $1,000 off any 2014 or 2015 Academic Arrangements Abroad cruise. Second prize is $500 off a 2014 or 2015 Arrangements Abroad cruise, and third prize is a micro luggage scale (handy for avoiding overweight baggage fees).

You can also vote on the submitted images, which are featured in a gallery that can be accessed through the photo contest tab. The most popular photograph will receive a People’s Choice Award and a special prize.

To enter or vote, please go to our Facebook page and click on the Adventures Abroad Photo Contest icon below our name. It will take you to a new page where you can enter the contest or vote on selected entries (or both!).

Be sure to submit your entry before July 1, 2014.

 

 

Andes Mountains

The Andes Mountains from Quito, Ecuador by Cathy Farber

Don’t Forget to Enter the Adventures Abroad Photo Contest

Camel and Pyramid, Giza, EgyptWe’ve already received a number of submissions for our Adventures Abroad photo contest. Images entered so far include everything from riding camels in Egypt to practicing yoga on a sunny beach in Puerto Rico. There are also stunning shots of Peru, Antarctica, London, Italy, India, Jordan, and other destinations.

If you have a great travel photograph, there’s still time to enter it in the contest. The first-place winner, as selected by our panel of expert judges, will receive $1,000 off any 2014 or 2015 Academic Arrangements Abroad cruise. Second prize is $500 off a 2014 or 2015 Arrangements Abroad cruise, and third prize is a micro luggage scale (handy for avoiding overweight baggage fees).

India dyesYou can also vote on the submitted images, which are featured in a gallery that can be accessed through the photo contest tab. The most popular image will receive a People’s Choice Award and a special prize.

To enter or vote, please go to our Facebook page and click on the Adventures Abroad Photo Contest icon below our name. It will take you to a new page where you can enter the contest or vote on selected entries (or both!).

Be sure to submit your entry before May 1, 2014.

Travel with Us to the World’s Best Hotels

Once again, Condé Nast Traveler has come out with the magazine’s annual “Gold List,” which is based on a reader survey and features the “world’s best places to stay.” We were excited to see many of our favorite properties on the list, including hotels where Academic Arrangements Abroad travelers will be staying in 2014. Here is a round-up by region:

SOUTH AMERICA—

Exterior of Copacabana Hotel in RioThe Copacabana Palace is the hotel on the optional Rio postlude for our Buenos Aires to Rio cruise.

Bogota MarriottJW Marriott Bogota is one of the hotels that travelers will stay in on our “Jewels of Colombia & Panama” program. The article describes the property as “A fine hotel with excellent security.” Another reader says the Marriott’s “La Mina restaurant is simply ‘world-class’ in the financial heart of the city and trendy district Zona G.”

Hotel Monasterio in PeruAnother special place to stay in South America is the Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, where travelers will spend three nights during our “South American Highlights” trip . You can find out more about this hotel, which is a former seminary, in our August 2013 blog post on great hotels that used to be something else.

EUROPE—

Hotel Sacher ViennaOne of our favorite hotels in Austria is the Hotel Sacher in Vienna. Travelers stayed at this property recently during our Vienna New Year’s program, and those joining our upcoming “Unknown Glory of the Habsburgs” trip will also enjoy the “exceptional accommodations” at this legendary establishment.

Travelers on the “Unknown Glory of the Habsburgs” program will also stay at another “Gold List Pick,” the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb. One reviewer describes the Esplanade as a “charming hotel with great food, located within a short walk to the old city.”

Prague Mandarin Oriental exterior During our 2014 journey “In Pursuit of Mozart”, we will spend four nights at the historic Mandarin Oriental in Prague. The hotel, which dates to the 14th century, was once a monastery, and Condé Nast Traveler describes it as a “heavenly property with a quiet location in the heart of a bustling city.”

Another great European hotel on the Gold List is the Regent Berlin.  The article mentions the hotel’s amazing views and “very comfortable, spotless rooms.” We love this corner property on Gendarmenmarkt so much that we have reserved rooms there for several programs including “Imperial Pleasures, Royal Treasures” and “Berlin: Tear Down this Wall”.

ASIA—

Junks Halong BayTwo hotels on the Gold List are included in our program “In the Realm of Angkor: The Glories of Cambodia & Vietnam.” In Hanoi, a three-night stay is planned at the landmark Sofitel Metropole. Travelers on the program will also spend three nights at the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap.

Shangri-La BangkokThe Shangri-La, Bangkok is our hotel pick on the optional Bangkok prelude for “The Treasures of Burma.” This luxurious hotel is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the lively artery of old Bangkok and gateway to many of the city’s glittering temples and palaces.

Oberoi Udaivilas hotelSeveral Indian properties on the Condé Nast Traveler list are included in our February 2014 Rajasthan program. Among these are the Oberoi Udaivilas and Jaipur’s Rambagh Palace.  Travelers on this exceptional journey through North India will also stay at the Leela Palace in New Delhi.

Visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944 for additional details about this travel program.

Taxi !!! Our top tips on hailing cabs around the globe

Taxi cabHailing a taxi abroad can be tricky. Luckily, there’s lots of advice out there about how to flag down a cab in various locales. In some cases, it is best to have the hotel call an official taxi for you. Here are a few of our favorite destinations, with taxi tips for each one.

Black Cab in London. Courtesy Visit BritainLondon:  Like the red double-decker bus, the black cab is a symbol of London. If you see one with the word “TAXI” illuminated on top, then it is available for hire. To hail a cab, stand at a sensible spot (avoid pedestrian crossings and bus stops) and stick out your arm when the car is approaching. (Note: it is technically against the law to yell “Taxi!” at a moving black cab.) Although taking a black cab in London is a great experience, it can be very expensive. (Check out this handy fare estimator.) Mini cabs, which need to be booked in advance, are a cheaper option.  It is polite to tip 10 to 15 percent on either a black cab or mini cab, but many people round up the fare to the nearest £1 and tell the driver to “keep the change”.

For other tips on hailing cabs in London, visit http://bloomsburyinternational.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/british-culture-how-to-hail-a-black-cab-taxi-in-london/  and http://www.britainexpress.com/London/taxis.htm

Great Wall by Meggan ReimBeijing:  Taking a taxi is a convenient way to get around China’s capital, but it can be hard to find a cab during peak hours. Reserve at taxi ahead of time to make sure you have a ride.  If you do hail a cab, make sure you take an official taxi (there should a sign on the roof, and inside the driver’s registration card should be evident). Your driver might not speak much English, so be sure to have the name and address of your hotel written down in Chinese. Some guidebooks have popular destinations in Chinese, or you can ask a hotel concierge to jot down where you’re going.  When you get out of a taxi, ask for a receipt, which includes details about the car. (This is helpful if you accidentally leave something in the car or have a problem with a driver.) A taxi fare can be paid with a Beijing Transportation Smart Card, which can also be used on the subway or bus. Tipping is not expected.

For additional suggestions on taxis in Beijing, visit:

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/beijing/transportation/taxi.htm

http://www.thechinaguide.com/beijing_taxis/beijing_taxis.html

http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2013/03/beijing-taxi-problem-explained

The top of a taxi is seen in downtown Paris. By Jean Piere Gallot.Paris: In the City of Lights, typically you have to go to a “taxi rank” and stand in line, but you can also hail a cab on the street if there isn’t a rank nearby. Make sure you are getting into a licensed cab. Although taxis in Paris come in various colors, they should have a Taxi Parisien sign on the roof, a working meter, a special license plate, and a display on the back of the cab monitoring daily usage.  If you book a taxi in advance, the driver is permitted to turn on the meter when he or she leaves to meet the passenger, so don’t be surprised if there are a few extra Euros on the meter when the car arrives.  Tips are not expected, but they are appreciated, especially if you had a courteous or helpful driver.

Further tips on Paris taxis at:

http://www.wikihow.com/Hail-a-Cab-in-Paris and http://paris-wise.com/journal/how-to-get-a-taxi-in-paris.html

New Delhi: In India, it can be difficult to hail a cab, but you can phone for one or go to a taxi stand. During busy times of day—such as rush hour and in the late evening—there can be a wait if you call, so it is best to book in advance. There’s often a taxi stand located near shopping malls, major tourist attractions, etc. Tools such as this fare estimator will give you an idea of how much a trip in New Delhi should cost. Tipping isn’t required for short rides, and for day trips about 100 rupees (less than $2) is the norm.

For additional advice on New Delhi taxis, check out this article:

http://thevivant.com/hail-cab-india/

Mexico City:   In Mexico’s capital, there’s been a rise in taxi-related crimes during recent years.  As a result, taking a radio-dispatched sitio (pronounced “C-T-O”) taxi or a turismo taxi (luxury car assigned to a particular hotel) are your safest bets. You can arrange for a driver to wait for you or return to pick you up later.  Many residents of Mexico City also choose to use cabs from taxi stands. If you take a taxi in Mexico, be sure to carry small bills (drivers might not have change for larger ones), always ask if there’s a meter, and pay attention to where the driver is going. Other ways to get around this sprawling metropolis include the Metro system (which has special cars for women and children), double-decker tourist buses, and rental cars.

Read these pieces for more on Mexico City taxis:

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/mexico-city/713344

http://www.themijachronicles.com/2011/08/how-to-take-taxis-in-mexico-city-without-getting-ripped-off/

http://www.mexperience.com/guide/essentials/transport/mexico-taxi-travel.php

Have you taken a cab recently while traveling abroad? Do you have a taxi tip you’d like to share?

TuktukCoco taxis in central Havana

Featured Trip: Palaces for the Gods: The Splendors of South India, January 11 to 21, 2014

Elephant relief Accompanied by art historian Olivier Bernier, discover South India, where three millennia of culture are part of everyday life.  Explore the region’s rich heritage on visits to the splendid temples, fine museums and extraordinary landmarks of Chennai, Trichy, Thanjavur and Madurai. Here are a few of the highlights of the fascinating places we will visit.

In Chennai (Madras) visit the Government Museum to view the South Indian stone sculptures, some dating to the 2nd century B.C.E., and 10th– to 12th-century Chola bronzes of unrivaled quality.  At the nearby seaport of Mahaballipuram, admire bas-reliefs depicting Arjuna’s Penance.  Explore Kanchipuram, the “golden town of a thousand temples,” and a living museum of South Indian carving and architecture.

Thanjavur dancing dollsIn Thanjavur, discover Brihadeeswarar Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Built in 1010, the temple is the most important of the Chola Dynasty shrines.  Follow the evolution of style at Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram, and attend a classical dance performance.

Spend a day in Chettinad, where beautiful mansions were built by the wealthy Chettiar merchants and bankers.  Savor a specially arranged lunch at Chettinadu Mansion, a 100-year old architectural marvel, now a heritage hotel.  Click here to watch a video about the cuisine of Chettinadu.

Meenakshi temple interiorIn Madurai. witness an ancient evening ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple. This historic Hindu temple, considered by many to be the pinnacle of South Indian temple architecture, is located on the southern bank of Vaigai River. During the ceremony, the Statue of Lord Shiva, Meenakashi’s husband, is brought to her in a pageant of swirling life.

For further trip details, visit our website or call 800-221-1944.