South India Highlights: 19 Days

Following the soulful rhythm of Carnatic music in Chennai, through the towering temples of Mahabalipuram and French-inspired avenues of Pondicherry, this 19 day tour gives you an insight into the soul of Southern India. Enjoy the warmth of Southern hospitality as you are bewitched by the Athens of the East- Madurai, awoken by the enthusiastic chirping of birds at the Kumarakom sanctuary and peacefully navigate through the emerald green backwaters of Kerala. Bask in the splendor of intricately decorated temples and observe the subtle change of language, flavors and culture as you journey along this fascinating land.



Day 1: Chennai

Enjoy the breakfast at the hotel. Morning free to explore the city on own. Later in afternoon take the train to Chennai.

The first British Warehouse came up in 1639 when the British acquired the sandy beach from the local Nayaks on lease. It was called Madraspatinam then. Later by 1654, the Fort St. George was built. Still later the neighbouring villages were included in the city which came either as grants or gifts. Triplicane was rented from the Sultan of Golconda in 1676. In 1744 Robert Clive worked as a writer from the Fort, later to become a military man of British Army. The Fort House, which housed the Governor and his council, were added in the 17th Century, the Assembly Hall in 1910 and the Secretariat in 1925.

All the neighbouring areas were merged into the city now known as Madras or as Chennai as it is officially known. Until Independence, Madras was the capital of what in British times was called the Madras Presidency, comprising nearly the whole of South India, including the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada speaking areas.

Arrive at Chennai and transfer to the hotel. Check – in and relax. Overnight will be at Chennai.

Day 2-3: Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram - the ancient capital and sea port of Pallava kings is famous for its south Indian temple architecture.But today it is a sleepy village living on its past glory and the tourist traffic. The sculptures and carvings are fascinating. Mahabalipuram is also known as the "city of seven pagodas" for out of solid stone were carved exquisite rock temples. Five of the temples are known as "Rathas" and on their walls the story of Hindu mythology has been lovingly carved out. The most famous of them is group of five rathas. This ratha is dedicated to the five Pandava princes and their consort-wife Draupadi. A group of elephants one of them 5 meters long known as "Arjuna Penance" is the most prominent feature of this sculpture.

Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 4: Pondicherry

Morning breakfast at hotel and at 0800 hrs drive to Pondicherry carries a strong whiff of the French presence in India. Legend says that Pondicherry is the place where St. Agasthaya settled down.

Enroute visit Tiruvannamallai - Spiritual seekers from all over world comes to Tiruvannamalai, an Pilgrimage city filled with living enlightenment gurus . This sacred city is Located 200 kilometer from Chennai. This ancient town has been built around Arunachala hill (annamalai hill), an mountain raising 4000 Meter heavenly from the ground.

Tiruvannamalai is famous for sprawling temple arunachala temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Every full moon day people walk around the annamalai hill and offer special prayers to Arunachala temple called Girivalam. Spiritual gurus Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Ramana Maharshi, Arabindo, Shesathiri Swamigal , Muniyandi swamigal and many more saints and sadhus were living and still living here to bring the divine close to people.

Thereafter continue your drive to Pondicherry. Upon arrival check in at hotel. After fresh n up leave for leave for city tour of Pondicherry visiting Aurbindo Ashram, the city of dawn, which is 10kms north of Pondicherry. This ashram promotes Aurbindo's ideas in bringing about a synthesis of Yoga and modern science, so as to unite the spirit and matter. Afternoon, visit Auroville - a unique experiment in international living and in creating a new environment where men and women of all nationalities live together in harmony; Vardaraja Perumal Temple, Vedapureeswarar Temple & Manakula Vinayagar Templewar memorial, Town hall. Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight stay at hotel.

Pondicherry - Pondicherry is a union teritory, which lies within the state of Tamil Nadu.The inherent ambience of Pondicherry, becomes most evident in the oldest part of the town, which flanks the seashore boulevard. The French ruled this territory for 300 years, Pondicherry is a living monument of French Culture in India. The Aurobindo Ashram and 'Auroville' the international township are famous all over the world.

Day 5-6: Thanjavur - Trichy

Morning breakfast at hotel at 0900 hrs and drive to Thanjavur.

Thanjavur (formerly Tanjore) - is a small town in the state of Tamilnadu in South India. It is a wonderful place to visit. The Bragadeeshwara temple, an archaeological splendour is found in this town. The town is now growing fast and is now getting in touch with technology. Tourists find Thanjavur a very nice place to spend their time.

Upon arrival check in at hotel. Afternoon leave for city tour. Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 7: Chettinad

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

After breakfast drive to Chettinad / Karaikudi. Drive from Tanjore to Chettinad would also give the opportunity to visit Illangudipatti where tiles are made; also one gets the opportunity to see the Ayyanar Temple which is distinct from the conventional temples of Tamilnadu in its open form.

In the Chettinad area one can see cotton weaving, the colorful chettinad mansions, and the street scenes at Karaikudi, the Athangudi Tile Factory, and a street which is famous for the sale of old things including antiques.

Reach Chettinad and check into your hotel.

Chettinad is a region of over 75 villages that is famous for its mansions and culinary delicacies. The Chettiars were a prosperous banking community who mostly migrated to South East Asia during the 19th century. They built opulent mansions of marble, granite and Burmese teak, incorporating elaborate pillars, gates and inner courtyards. You will spend the day leisurely exploring these mansions, as well as temples and village markets where you will witness local craftsmen working with wood, metal, silver and textiles.

Enjoy a cooking demonstration and authentic Chettinad feast at Chetinad Mansion. This regional cuisine is characterized by its liberal use of oils and spices such as peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon and red and green chilies. It is well known for producing some of the country’s best chutneys and softest idlis (a steamed rice cake popular throughout the south).

The houses in Chettinad has been erected on a rectangular plot, across two streets, they have superb interior planning. If you come to see one of these buildings you would wonder at the architectural skill of the ancient artists who had the talent to erect such magnificent structures without the aid of the Interior Decorators! The 100 years old Chettinad Palace is a special Tourist Attraction at this place and one can hardly deny the splendor of the artifact. It has been constructed with materials brought from Italy and Burma, Indonesia and Belgium.

Overnight will be at Chettinad.

Day 8-9: Madurai

Early morning breakfast will be at the hotel.

Today is Pongal Day - this is one of the most important festivals in the Tamil Calendar.

Visit a village to see the celebration of Pongal. It is the Harvest Festival of Tamilnadu. In the villages people cook their traditional Rice dish called Pongal. Various pooja’s and rituals are performed by the senior woman in the house. There is lot of festivity and celebrations and the event is a boisterous one.

The rest of the day is at leisure to see the festivities around the city.

Overnight will be at Madurai.

Day 10-11: Thekkady

Breakfast will be at the hotel.

Start early to enjoy local activities performed by villagers on daily basis.

Drive southwards over rolling hills and coffee plantations to the PERIYAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY - enroute visiting Vegetable and Flower market at Usilampatti & Chinamannur, Brick Kiln on the Usilmapatti – Andipatty Route. There will be various agricultural activities in the fields based on the availability of water (at the time which can be pre or post-harvest), there is also a Dhobi Ghat on the route.

Reach Thekkady and check into the hotel.

Bullock Cart Ride through the villages behind the hills of the Periyar Tiger Reserve - the villages here are quite picturesque and there numerous crops like Mango, Tamarind, grapes, sunflower, and a host of vegetables grown in this village.

In late afternoon visit spice plantations like cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, tea estates etc. on your way back to the hotel, you could stop at the Kumily market and pick up some fragrant spices.

Overnight will be at Thekkady.

Day 12-14: Kovalam

Today Kovalam has become one of the most popular beach hangouts in India. Kovalam means a grove of coconut trees and truly the coconut trees along the beaches gives it a ravishing look. The palm-fringed bays in secluded coconut groves, promise a relaxed stay. The boundless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and miles of white sands washed away by the surf at the feet of the stalwart palms and the rocky promontories, makes this beach paradise. This marvellous beach is a tourist's dream come true.

Overnight stay at hotel.

Day 15-16: Kumarakom

Breakfast will be at the resort.

You will pass through rolling tea gardens and rubber plantations. Stop at a tea factory to see the tea – making process. (Tea factory opens at 0930 hrs) Later proceed to Kumarakom.

The drive being through quite picturesque country side affords a lot of photo stops; also activities like tea plucking rubber tapping etc. would be arranged. By Lunch, check into a traditional houseboat of Kerala Style and go on a leisurely backwater cruise along the lake on a thatched houseboat. The houseboat with all modern comforts lets you discover the countryside at your own pace. You will have lunch, dinner and breakfast in the Houseboat. A ride on the houseboat is a fabulous way to explore the fascinating beauty of the backwaters.

You will pass through rolling tea gardens and rubber plantations. Stop at a tea factory to see the tea – making process.

Lunch will be served on the boat. The menu is simple and traditional. The cook (chef) of the boat prepares the lunch from fresh materials and even you can have a peek at the recipe.

Tea and snacks would be served in the evening. The boat will be anchored in the backwaters along a paddy field (let's make site that the boat is indeed anchored near a village and patty field!!) and you can go for a stroll into the village or relax at the deck of the boat.

Dinner will be on the boat.

Overnight will be at Houseboat.

Day 17-18: Alleppey - Cochin

Breakfast will be on the boat.

Start cruise through the backwaters and arrive at Alleppey enjoying the beauty of the lakes and lagoons.

A backwater (Kuttanad) is a land of lush paddy fields and is called the 'Rice Bowl' of Kerala. Kuttanad stretches for 75 Km sandwiched between the sea and the hills.

Disembark the boat at the finishing point where your driver will be waiting for you to drive to Cochin. Drive to Cochin will be done along the coastal road. Though it is narrow and a bit slower journey, there is the long coastline, beaches, small fishing villages, fishing activity, auctioning of fish, coir mat weaving factory, woman weaving coir ropes, a primary school, churches etc., to be seen on this route.

Reach Cochin and check into the hotel. Enjoy city sightseeing.

Afternoon – Walk through Old Cochin, Jew town and areas of spice markets.

In the early evening proceed for a private harbor cruise. Enjoy watching the dolphins, the fishing island and the Bolghatty Palace. Cruise till the mouth of the sea and enjoy the sunset.

Overnight will be at Cochin.

Day 19: Back Home

Morning breakfast at hotel. In time meeting/assistance at hotel and transfer to airport to board your onward/return flight.

SPECIAL HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED

• Welcome dinner with classical dance in chennai,
• Rides and safaris will be private,
• Kathakali dance presentation in cochin,
• Harbour cruise in cochin,
• Overnight stay in houseboat,
• All meals in houseboat,
• Day package at periyar from 0430hrs to 1730hrs which will include breakfast, lunch, jeep safari,
• Nature walk/trekk and paddle boating,
• Spice plantation tour at periyar,
• Prayer ceremony at madurai.

THE TOUR INCLUDES

• Accommodation at suggested hotels,
• Sightseeing tours as mentioned in the itinerary,
• Assistance at the airports on arrival / departure,
• All tours and transfers in ac vehicle,
• English speaking company authorised guides for all mentioned tours,
• Monument entrances,
• Mobile phone during your tour,
• Unlimited mineral water and tissues during drives and
• Dedicated tour manager / coordinator for tour.
• All applicable taxes and service charges, and
• All road taxes, government taxes and driver allowances.

EXCLUSIONS

• Lunches and dinners (except for those mentioned in inclusions),
• Personal expenses,
• Camera fees, tips etc,
• International airfare,
• Visa charges.

Hotels

City Luxury Palace & Boutique First Class & Heritage Nights
Chennai Taj Coromandal Taj Coromandal GRT Grand 01
Mahabalipuram GRT Temple Bay GRT Temple Bay Chariot 02
Pondicherry Perumal Mansion LA Dupliex The Promenad 01
Trichy Parisutam Parisutam Sangam 02
Madurai The Gateway Hermitance Sangam 02
Thekkady Spice Village Shalimar Spice Garden Cardamom County 02
Kovalam The Leela Palace Kempinski Taj Green Cove Resort Travencore Heritage 04
Kumarakom Coconut Lagoon The Zuri SWishpering Palms 02
Cochin Taj Malabar Malabar House Casino 02

Tour Price

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