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17 day tour from £2695
group (no more than 16 people) or private tour
Fly from London to Chennai with Emirates via Dubai.
We arrive in Chennai and transfer to the delightful Fisherman's Cove Beach Resort in Covelong for two nights. The remainder of the day is at leisure until the evening when we enjoy a welcome cocktail with a chance to meet fellow travellers in the group.
Today we visit the impressive coastal site of Mahabalipuram which was constructed between the 7th and 9th centuries and portrays, by way of impressive rock carving and relief, the historical, mythological and philosophical Indian epic known as the Mahabharata. There is also the option of a visit to Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, for a sightseeing tour.
Moving on from Covelong we drive south following the coastline to the former French colony of Pondicherry. The colonial buildings, statues and churches make for an interesting and atmospheric setting and is all easily accessed from the characterful Maison Perumal, our hotel for the night. This evening enjoy dinner in a popular restaurant.
Our day’s drive takes us away from the India's eastern coast and inland to Tanjore via Darasuram, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Airavetisvara Temple. In Tanjore we visit the Brihadeeshwara Temple complex, its 62m high tower is the highest in India. We continue on to Chettinad for two nights at the well appointed Visalam hotel.
Today we explore the sleepy village of Chettinad which is home to some fine mansions, each housing its own collection of antiques, furniture and art.
Today's drive takes us to the town of Madurai which is home to some fine examples of Dravidian architecture and in particular the stunning Meenakshi Temple complex with its vast colourfully carved gopuram (towers), which we visit on our way to Periyar. In Periyar we stay for two nights at the Spice Village, a resort of charming cottages set in spice plantations.
The morning is spent at leisure before we head into the national park for a boat ride on Periyar Lake, where we hope to spot wild elephants on the grassy banks.
Descending from the Western Ghats we drive to Kumarakom, a sleepy village on the shores of Lake Vembanad and Kerala's backwater canals. A boat transfer is arranged to ferry us to tranquil Coconut Lagoon resort, where we stay for two nights.
Today is at leisure to enjoy this relaxing hotel. There are nearby paddy fields which make for an interesting walking option or there is thechance to take a boat trip on the backwaters.
We leave the peace and quiet of the backwaters and head for the port city of Cochin. Stay two nights at the first class Brunton Boat Yard hotel which is located in Fort Cochin and overlooks the harbour. Take an evening sunset cruise on the harbour.
Governed by many nations over the years, Cochin has a rich multi-cultural history. Today we will visit the Jewish Synagogue, St Francis' Church and the Dutch palace which is home to murals depicting the Ramayana. In the evening we arrive early to watch a traditional Kathakali dance performance and the preceding elaborate make-up preparation.
A long drive today takes us from the coast through paddy fields and in to the hills to the hill station of Coonoor. Here we stay at the Taj Garden Retreat.
The "toy train" is our method of transport today and will take us as far as the hill-station of Ooty. Crossing quaint bridges and traversing small hillside tunnels it is for some the highlight of the trip. From Ooty we drive on to Mysore, a city lying at the foot of the Chamundi Hills where we stay at the boutique Windflower hotel.
Take a sightseeing tour of the city this morning which includes the bold Mysore Palace. The afternoon is spent visiting Srirangapattanam which lies on the edge of Mysore and is home to an important pilgrimage temple dedicated to Vishnu.
Later drive up into the Chamundi Hills which provide excellent views of the city and is home to the monolithic Nandi Bull. The day is rounded off walking through Mysore's vibrant and colourful markets; a particular treat for anyone interested in photography.
Take a train to Bangalore today and on arrival take an orientation tour through this commercially buoyant city. Our final night is spent in the luxurious Oberoi Hotel.
Our return flight to London is via Dubai.