This fascinating journey through India’s Deep South focuses on sights that showcase striking architecture, culture and faith and provides opportunities to enjoy staying at hill stations, visiting exotic temples, palaces and wildlife reserves and appreciate beauty of the Kerala Backwaters while cruising on houseboats and relishing Indian cuisine all through.
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The tour begins by exploring the beautiful old port city of Kochi and finishes with relaxing days on the golden beaches of Kovalam. In between we travel to the hill station of Ootacamund famous for its beauty and Botanical gardens, before continuing east into Karnataka to see the palaces of Mysore. Stopping at the temples of Belur and Halebid en route to Bangalore, we take the train southward to Chennai. After a day’s sightseeing in India’s fourth-largest city our next destination is Mahabalipuram that has some magnificent monolithic beach temples. We also visit the old French enclave of Pondicherry and the arts centre of Thanjavur before arriving in Madurai, famous for its large and alluring temple-complexes with exquisite carvings. We then travel back into the hills, and Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary that delights us with its abundant bird and wildlife. Fascinating equally are the spice of Thekkady. The final phase of the tour covers a memorable houseboat cruise on the backwaters of Kerala around Alleppy before we finish at Kovalam that beckons with its sandy golden beaches.
Please note: You can use this itinerary as a guide to fully customise this tour as per your budget and requirements. Flexible options include travel dates and duration, places visited, activities and experiences, hotel category (star/rating) and any specific requirements that you may have.
Arrival in Kochi. Arrive at Kochi international airport. After the traditional welcome at the airport transfer to the hotel for check-in. Afternoon is free to explore the town. Overnight Hotel
Kochi Sightseeing. In the sightseeing programme of Kochi visit Mattancherry Palace, Jewish Synagogue and St Francis church. In the evening make an optional visit to see a display of Kathakali dance form. Overnight Hotel
Kochi – Ootacamund (270 km/6-7 hrs.). In the morning drive to Ooty, as Ootacamund is fondly known. And after checking into the hotel, it’s time to move about and enjoy the beauty of this Queen of Hill Stations that is situated in the heart of the Nilgiri hills. Afternoon is free. Overnight Hotel
Ooty (Ootacamund) Sightseeing. After breakfast, in the local sightseeing programme, visit the Botanical Gardens, the Rose Garden, Ooty lake and The Doddabetta Peak that stands high at an altitude of 2623 metres. Overnight Hotel
Ootacamund – Mysore (125 km/ 3 hrs.) via Mudumalai and Bandipur. Today after breakfast drive to Mysore via Mudumalai and Bandipur National Park crossing over from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka. In the afternoon visit Chamundi Hill where there is a temple dedicated to Durga. On the road up to the temple there is a giant stone Nandi bull carved from single piece of granite in 1659. Overnight Hotel
Sightseeing in Mysore. In the sightseeing programme today drive to Srirangapatna to visit the summer Palace of Tipu Sultan. Later, in Mysore, visit Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hill, for its Durga temple and a giant stone Nandi bull carved from single piece of granite in 1659. Visit the local bazar as well. Overnight Hotel
Mysore – Hassan (120 km/3 hrs.). In the morning drive to Hassan and check into the hotel. In the afternoon excursion to Belur and Halebid for their temples carved with scripts from Hindu mythology having mythological characters from the two Hindu Epics. Overnight Hotel
Hassan – Bangalore (180 km/4-5 hrs.) & train to Chennai. After breakfast drive to Bangalore; en-route visit Sravanabelagola, a city sacred to the Jains and famous for its 18-metre Jain colossus. Upon arrival in Bangalore board the train for Chennai. Overnight Hotel
Chennai – Mahabalipuram via Kanchipuram (150 km/3-4 hrs.). In the morning leave for a sight-seeing tour of Chennai. Visit Kapaleeswarar Temple, National Art Gallery and San Thom Cathedral. Later drive to Mahabalipuram, en route visit temples of Kanchipuram. Overnight Hotel
Mahabalipuram Sightseeing. In the morning in the local sightseeing programme see the Rock carvings at Mahabalipuram which are notable for the delightful freshness and simplicity of their folk art origins. See the skillfully carved rock of Arjuna’s Penance - the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. Overnight Hotel
Mahabalipuram – Pondicherry (100 km/2.5 hrs.). This morning drive to Pondicherry. In the sight-seeing programme scheduled for today visit Sree Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, the French Institute and Colony, Museum and Church. Overnight Hotel
Pondicherry – Thanjavur via Kumbakonam (175 km/4 hrs.). In the morning drive to Thanjavur. En-route visit the famous Darasuram Temple in Kumbakonam, a superb example of 12th century Chola architecture. Overnight Hotel
Thanjavur – Madurai (185 km/4-5 hrs.). In the morning visit Brihadeeswarar Temple which dates from the 10th century CE. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a brilliant example of Dravidian temple architecture. Later drive to Madurai. Overnight Hotel
Madurai Sightseeing. In the sightseeing today visit the Meenakshi Temple - an outstanding example of Vijaynagar temple architecture. Built during the Nayaka period between 16th and 18th centuries it is one of the largest temple-complexes in India. Later visit the Thirumalai Nayaka Palace built in 1636 in Indo-Mughal style by the Nayaka Dynasty. Overnight Hotel
Madurai – Thekkady (160 km/4-5 hrs.). In the morning drive to Thekkady and re-enter the state of Kerala. In the afternoon a short walk around a spice garden makes it an interesting day. Evening is free to explore the local market mostly selling Indian spices. Overnight Hotel
Thekkady (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary). Early morning take a jungle walk, along with a forest guide, in Periyar National Park. In the afternoon enjoy an optional boat-ride on Periyar Lake. There are other options too to spend the evening. Overnight Hotel
Periyar – Alleppey (160 km/4-5 hrs.). In the morning drive leisurely to Alleppey. After arrival board the houseboats and begin cruise through these enchanting waterways. All meals are on board for the day. Overnight Houseboat
Alleppey – Kovalam (160 km/4 hrs.). After a relaxing breakfast on the houseboats disembark and drive to Kovalam, where a rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm water ideal for sea bathing. Afternoon is free to explore the town or relax on the beach. Overnight Hotel
Kovalam (Optional Day Tour to Kanyakumari). It is a free day today. However, there is an opportunity for an Optional day’s sightseeing tour to Kanyakumari, the extreme southern tip of India where the Indian Ocean meets the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Overnight Hotel
Tour concludes. Today check out from the hotel and transfer to the international airport of Trivandrum for onward journey to respective destinations.
Flexibility Guaranteed! Using the above itinerary as a guide you can fully customise this tour as per your budget and requirements. Flexible options include travel dates and duration, places, activities and experiences, hotel category (star/rating) and any specific requirements that you may have. On receiving your enquiry we will respond with prices and work with you to create a truly personalised holiday experience that is in your budget and personal style.
Suitable for families with young children
Highest Point (Max altitude)
Fairly easy 5-6 hours of activity per day. May include some uphill sections, reasonable fitness recommended.
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