A fascinating journey through India's tropical south, do experience the diversity in scenery, architecture, culture and most importantly the people. Visit the two southern states of India - Tamil Nadu and Kerala, both with unique cultures and different landscape.

Trip Duration - 12 days  |   Grade - Heritage & Cultural Tour  |   Accommodation - 11 nights hotel stay

On arrival meet and assistance at the airport, then proceed to your hotel for a check-in. Start your journey in the serene port city of Cochin also called ‘the Venice of the East’. History unfolds here an intriguing mix of ancient churches, palaces, synagogues, Portuguese houses and influences of the British Raj. The result of this cultural influence can be seen in its Indo-European architecture. The historical towns of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry remain nostalgic with the smell of the past while the mainland Ernakulam town is the new cosmopolitan hub. After some rest at your hotel, start with the visit of the famous Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin. The huge cantilevered Chinese fishing nets that droop towards the waters like over-sized hammocks... Next is the St.Francis CSI Church, the oldest European church in India built in 1503, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama was originally buried and then pass by the finest Santa cruz Basilica. Later enjoy a cultural evening with a Khatakali performance. This dance can be characterized by grotesque gesticulations, amazing costumes and very extensive make-up. The stories are mostly taken from the epics Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Return at your hotel for your overnight stay. (Bed & Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel and check-out. This morning wander around the small streets of Mattancherry and enter inside the Paradesi Jewish Synagogue, dating from 1568, featuring ornate gold pulpit and elaborated hand-painted floor tiles from China. Follow your heritage journey with a visit of the Dutch Palace and its astonishing mural fresco paintings from the 17th century. Don’t miss a stop at the Spice Market, where exotic odors of the finest ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric and pepper emanate from the spice warehouses lining the street. Later drive to Alleppey and embark your Houseboat for a Backwaters cruise. These Houseboats are a reworked version of kettuvallams of olden times and made out of huge planks of Jack wood, joined with coir from Coconut shells. The backwaters act as a vital waterway for the transport of goods, people and their produce are often the only link between isolated villages and crowded towns. It is also one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea-level, using a system of dykes. Cruise through the palm fringed canals enjoying the beauty of rural village life. Enjoy a sumptuous Keralan Lunch on Board. En route take a country canoe ride – there is no better way of taking a closer look at the life and activities on the backwaters. The trip continues through a wonderful area of the lush green vegetation. Overnight stay onboard (Full Board).

Today, wake-up with the surroundings chanting birds on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals and enchantingly beautiful web. Breakfast onboard. Disembark and take a beautiful drive from the plains to the green mountains of the Nilgiris. Rubber, Coffee and Cardamom plantations and tea gardens will follow. Arrive at your hotel, in Thekkady, the getaway town to the Periyar Wildlife Reserve. Later in the day, go explore one of the surrounded Spice Plantation where you can touch, smell the intense whiff of cardamom and taste almost all the spices seen worldwide. Due to its location in the lower mountains around 1000 meters above sea level, Periyar is blessed with numerous types of spices. Finnaly enjoy a stroll through the spice Markets of Kumily.Overnight stay at the hotel. (Bed & Breakfast)

After an early breakfast, spend your day on exploring the Periyar National Park. This park is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India and has an abundant ecosystem with Elephants, bison, birds and reptilian life, etc... Take a full - day Bamboo rafting - a community based initiative including the tribal community of the reserve.The excursion takes you into remote areas through a 2hrs trek and a peaceful and relaxing bamboo rafting. This is a very good opportunity to experience the Flora and Fauna of the region. In the evening get a chance to intimate with a Kerala family during an interactive Cooking Session followed by a dinner. Return to your hotel for your overnight stay.(Half-Board)

Breakfast at the hotel and check-out. This morning take a scenery hill drive toward Tamil Nadu to its most vibrant city Madurai. Before your check-in at the hotel, go visit the sprawling Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, 17th century palace of the emperor of the Nayak dynasty and capture its hybrid Dravidian-Islamic style. After some rest at the hotel, take an auto-rickshaw and be invited for a guided Walking tour into the real life of this Tamil rooted oldest city. Dive into the narrow streets flanked by flowers and bananas stands, interact with local people and stroll down in the fruit markets and bazaars. Learn with your guide the 5000 years old legends of this busting city while having a meter tea from the corner tea stall. Later take a visit of the imposing Meenakshi temple complex of 15 acres featuring 4,500 pillars and 12 towers carried out during the reign of the Nayaks dynasty from 1623-55, and attend the night ceremony when the temple bronze of Lord Shiva is carried to the bed chamber of Parvati. Return to your hotel by auto-rickshaw. Overnight stay.(Full Board)
Suggestion : You may opt for a typical south indian dinner on a roof-top with views on the Gopurams of the Meenakshi temple or a meaty feast at the local spot Kumar Mess and try their spicy Biryani (Payable locally).

After breakfast, check-out, and direction Trichy, citadel of the early Chola and Pallavas kings. En route don’t forget to make a stop at the Madurai’s flower market which is one of the biggest in the southern region, and transacts as much as 10 tonnes of flowers in a day, mainly the renowned Madurai malli and other flowers like marigolds, tuberoses and roses. On arrival after your check-in at hotel, go visit the Srirangam Temple, quite possibly the biggest temple in India, looking like a self-enclosed city with its 49 separate shrines, all dedicated to Vishnu. Follow with the Rock-Fort Temple, landmark of Trichy, perched on a massive outcrop of 83m high. This ancient rock was sculpted by the Pallavas and Pandyas dynasties. There are over 400 stone-cut steps to climb to the top. Keep on your journey to Tanjore, former capital of the mighty Cholas Empire and check-in at your hotel. Overnight at the hotel. (Breakfast & Lunch)

Breakfast at the hotel and check-out. This morning be immersed into the Chola Empire legacy during a visit of the world Heritage-listed Brigadeswara Temple, build in the 11th century by Raja Raja I (‘king of kings’). Enter through the Nayak gate, followed by two original gopurams with some elaborate stucco sculptures. Inside discover several shrines, including one of India’s largest statues of Nandi (Shiva’s sacred bull). Both west and north walls of the main building are lined with exquisite lime-plaster Chola frescoes. Continue your visits at the Thanjavur's Royal Palace, which preserves memories of other powerful dynasties from later centuries. Here, explore the Saraswati Mahal Library Museum housing over 30000 Indian and European manuscripts and the Art Gallery containing a collection of superb, mainly Chola, bronzes and stone carvings. It is time for your next enlightment, sneak into a small house and witness the Tanjore veena art making process, there an entire instrument is carved on a single block of Jackwood. Carnatic music played on these Veenas has won the hearts of millions of music lovers. Later on learn about the Tanjavur painting technique with gem stones inlay demonstration from the masters. Overnight at stay.(Bed & Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel and check-out. Early morning drive to Pondicherry. En route stop at Swamimalai and observe the art of making Bronze idols by Stapathis (sculptors) as per the traditional Shilpa Sastras (craft hindu system) prevailed from the Chola period. Follow to Darasuram and see its famous Airavatesvara Chola Temple, UNESCO world heritage site, carved with vivid elephants and horses pulling chariots and dating from the 12th century. You will then be invited to meet the adjacent colony of silk weaver and discover the art of the Saree weaving, made out from their traditional wood machinery and tracing few generations. Later follow with your drive to Pondicherry. Settled by the French in the 18th century, this colonial town retains a tranquil atmosphere with some French architecture aesthetic. On arrival check-in at your hotel and on early evening enjoy a Walking tour through the French district and the Tamil quarter with a Storyteller. Pass by the white town (as the French quarter is popularly known as) with its heritage colonial buildings, keep biking toward the Tamil quarter and learn the anecdotes of the distinctiveness of Franco-Tamil culture, creating a fusion of diversity in the air of Pondy... Return to your hotel. Suggest you to have a dinner in one of the eclectic lines of restaurants of Pondy, such as the local vegetarian spot Surguru to savour a south Indian meal (Payable locally).Overnight at the hotel. (Bed & Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Check out and drive up to Auroville, this spiritual community was founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and a French-born woman known as ‘the Mother’. You will be taken through the visitor’s center and a few of the Auroville units which innovatively work on paper, textile, bamboo and stones. Pass by the Matri mandir (the meditation centre) and learn from those who choose to join, build and live this unique lifestyle. Enjoy a lunch at Solar kitchen - the community Kitchen for the inmates and understand the unique living here, based on universal harmony. This afternoon enjoy a coastal drive to the seaside town of Mahabalipuram, port of the Pallava in the 5th to 8th centuries. Along the shore lies a stunning series of temples and sculptures, carved from the living rock 1,200 years ago. Unlike many Hindu temples, the rocks show scenes of everyday life. Check-in your hotel and spend the rest of the day free relaxing on the beaches of the Coromandel coast.Tonight, enjoy a Seafood dinner in a terrace facing the sea shore (Payable locally).Overnight stay. (Bed & Breakfast)

Breakfast at the hotel. Go visit with your guide the magnificent Shore temple, symbolising the heights of Pallava architecture and the maritime ambitions of their kings. Go explore the masterpiece of Mahabalipuram’s Rock cut caves representing the scenes of Hindu myths and finish by the site of the Five Rathas. Each of these temples were named after one of the Pandavas, the five hero-brothers of the epic Mahabharata. Rest of the day free relaxing on the beach. Overnight at the hotel. (Bed & Breakfast)

After your breakfast at the hotel, head to your final destination Chennai and get introduced to the “Capital of the south” during an orientation tour. Explore the diverse neighbourhoods and sense its role as a keeper of South Indian artistic and religious traditions... Take a peek into colonial Madras though its majestic buildings such the excellent British-built Government Museum, the Roman style San Thome Basilica and the majestic colonial Fort St George. Later you will be directed in the heart of the bustling Mylapore, where you will zigzag though the very beat and pulse of this neighbourhood, learn about Tamil Nadu myriad customs and Hindu tradition during a visit of the impressive Kapaleeshwarar temple, with its rainbow-coloured gopuram and pillared mandapas. Finally take a sunset walk along the long stretch of Marina Beach and barge into a cricket game or catch some families evenings gather. You may opt for a diner with a view seated in one of the coastal beach restaurant (Payable locally). Overnight at the hotel. (Bed & Breakfast)

After breakfast drive to Chennai International airport to connect onto your flight for home.


Suggested Day Excursions


Day 3 - Thekkady Spice Plantation by Jeep / Cooking demo + Dinner with a Kerala Family / Bull cart Ride at Harvest Farm

Day 4 - Thekkady Day with the Mannan / Spice Plantation by Jeep / Fishing in Thekkady / Cooking demo + Dinner with a Kerala Family

Day 5 - Madurai Evening Food Tour

Day 6 - Madurai 24h / Pottery Tour

Day 7 - Master of Tanjore

Day 8 - Pondicherry : Food Tour Pondicherry / Pondy Stories

Day 11 - Chennai : Stories of Chennai

Hotel Envisaged

Place #Nights Superior
COCHIN 1 The Killians
COCHIN 1 Houseboat
THEKKADY 2 Greenwoods
MADURAI 1 Heritage Madurai
TANJORE 2 Ideal River View Resort
PONDICHERRY 1 Maison Perumal
MAHABALIPURAM 2 Ideal Beach Resort
CHENNAI 1 Ibis Chennai City Center

TOUR INCLUDES

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis at the hotels mentioned or similar
  • Breakfast at all places and meals as per described on the itinerary
  • Transportation as per itinerary by chauffeur driven air conditioned car.
  • Local English Speaking Guides for the sightseeing of Cochin, Madurai, Tanjore , Trichy, Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram and Chennai
  • Entrance charges at the monuments as mentioned in the Itinerary
  • Ticket for the Kathakali Dance show in Cochin
  • Overnight Backwater cruise by House Boat with a country canoe ride on full board basis
  • Spice plantation visit in Thekkady
  • A full - day Bamboo rafting in Periyar National Park
  • An interactive Cooking Session with a local family followed by dinner
  • Evening guided Temple Ceremony in Madurai by Auto-rickshaw
  • Veena art workshop visit in Tanjore
  • Guided Visit to Auroville
  • Guided Heritage walk in Pondicherry
  • Assistance on arrival and departure
  • All currently applicable taxes

TOUR EXCLUDES

  • Camera fees & activity charges other than those listed in the itinerary inclusions
  • Expenses of personal nature such as porterage, laundry, telephones, tipping etc
  • International/Domestic flight charges ; Visa/Insurance Charges if any
  • Any other items not covered under inclusions