Group Tour 13 days from £1699 per person

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  Places Visited: Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Tanjore, Madurai, Periyar, Kumarakom, Alleppey, Cochin

Covering some of the finest sights of the southern-most states of India, our Southern Explorer tour commences with the atmospheric temple towns of Tamil Nadu. In seafront Mahabalipuram, see the stunning bas-relief and the ancient Shore Temple. After an overnight stop in the uniquely French town of Pondicherry, drive to Tanjore to see another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Brihadeeshwara Temple.

Continue southwest to visit the vibrant and bustling Meenakshi temple at Madurai before crossing over into the Western Ghats at Periyar in Kerala. Take a boat ride on tranquil Lake Periyar and spend a night under the stars, in a rice boat, on the picturesque backwaters. Colonial Fort Kochi is the final stop before heading home.

Meenakshi Temple

Holiday Types

Cultural Tours


Travel Arrangements

  • Group Size 4 -16 people
  • Internal Travel Arrival & departure transfers. Internal travel by road
  • Accompanying Guide English-speaking guides. Accompanying tour escort when minimum group size achieved
  • Accommodation 12 nights
  • Meal Plan Breakfast daily. Lunch on days 3, 4, 5, 10. Dinner on days 1, 10


Itinerary for Southern Explorer

Day 1
Chennai, Mahabalipuram

Greeted on arrival in Chennai and transfer to the Ideal Beach Resort at Mahabalipuram or similar for two nights. The remainder of the day is at leisure to relax on the beach. A welcome dinner is arranged at a local restaurant.

Day 2

Morning sightseeing of Mahabalipuram includes a visit to the ancient Shore Temple and the impressive rock carvings and reliefs from the mythological Indian epic known as the Mahabharata. The afternoon is at leisure with the option of a city tour of Chennai, which can be arranged at a supplement.

Day 3
Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry

Drive South on the pretty East Coast Highway to the former French colony of Pondicherry (3 hours). Explore the colonial buildings, statues and churches on foot. Spend the night at the Windflower Resort or similar on the outskirts of the city.

Accommodation Options

Day 4
Pondicherry, Tanjore

A day’s drive inland to Tanjore (6 hours), via Darasuram, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Airavetisvara Temple. Stay at the Ideal River View resort, set in pretty gardens, for two nights.

Accommodation Options

Day 5

Today is a full day of sightseeing in Thanjavur, including a visit the Brihadeeshwara Temple complex: its 62m high tower is the tallest of its kind in India. Also enjoy a traditional Tamil thali lunch.

Day 6
Tanjore, Madurai

Drive to the town of Madurai (4-5 hours), to visit the stunning Meenakshi Temple complex with its vast colourfully carved gopuram (towers) and bustling bazaars. Stay overnight at the GRT Regency hotel or similar.

Accommodation Options

Day 7
Madurai, Periyar National Park

In the morning, take a leisurely drive, across state borders, into ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala. Arrive in the village of Kumily (4-5 hours), a base to visit Periyar National Park, by early afternoon, for two nights’ at the Cardamom County resort or similar.

Accommodation Options

Day 8
Periyar National Park

This morning take a walk in Periyar Nature Reserve with tribal trackers, in search of wildlife. In the afternoon, visit a spice plantation which offers an interesting insight into how various spices such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are grown, cultivated and processed.

Day 9
Periyar National Park, Kumarakom

Today we descend through the Western Ghats towards Kumarakom (4 hours), a sleepy village on the shores of Lake Vembanad, for an overnight stay at the Zuri Kumarakom Resort or similar. The afternoon is at leisure.

Accommodation Options

Day 10
Kumarakom, Alleppey

Late morning, board a rice boat for an overnight cruise on Lake Vembanad and the backwaters:- a region that, not only shelters some unique animal and bird life, but also lush paddy fields which are referred to as the ‘Rice Bowl of Kerala’. This is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level.

Day 11

Depart after breakfast for Cochin (2 hours). Check-in at the Killians Boutique Hotel or similar for two nights. In the evening, take a sunset cruise on the harbour, a signature Cochin experience for views of the landmark Chinese fishing nets.

Accommodation Options

Day 12

Spend the morning taking in the sights of historic Fort Cochin. Explore the colonial streets, the Dutch Palace, with its murals of the Ramayana, the Jewish Synagogue and St Francis, the oldest church in India. In the evening, attend a Kathakali performance, a traditional dance drama in which the dancers wear elaborate costumes and make up.

Day 13

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Group Tour 13 days from £1699 per person

What's included

✓   12 nights accommodation
✓   Arrival & departure transfers. Internal travel by road
✓   English-speaking guides. Accompanying tour escort when minimum group size achieved
✓   Breakfast daily. Lunch on days 3, 4, 5, 10. Dinner on days 1, 10
✓   Entrance fees at monuments. Escorted walks in Periyar

Holiday Extensions for this tour

India: Southern Explorer - Ooty & Mysore

6 days, 5 nights from £765 per person

Single supplement £ 395 per person
view itinerary
Day 13
Cochin, Hillgrove

A long drive (6-7 hours) from the coast, through paddy fields and up to Hillgrove for a two night stay at the Kurumba Village Resort.

Day 14

A day to relax in your pretty surroundings with options for a tribal village visit, bird watching excursions or walking.

Day 15
Hillgrove, Mysore

In the morning, take the Nilgiri Mountain railway to Ooty, through scenic villages and beautiful mountain landscapes. Journey onward by car to Mysore (4-5 hours) and spend two nights at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

Day 16

A full day of sightseeing in Mysore commences with a visit to Srirangapatnam to see Tipu Sultan’s Palace. Drive up into the Chamundi hills for stunning views of the surrounding area and a visit to the monolithic Nandi Bull. Spend time at the grand Mysore Palace and visit the colourful Devaraja market.

Day 17
Mysore, Bangalore

A morning drive (4-5 hours) to Bangalore: a city that is popularly known as the IT hub of India. The afternoon is at leisure. Stay at the Fortune Hotel or similar for one night.

Day 18

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

2022/2023 tour prices for Southern Explorer

Sun 09 Oct 2022 £1825 £765 Good
Sun 06 Nov 2022 £1825 £765 Good
Sun 15 Jan 2023 £1825 £765 Good
Sun 05 Feb 2023 £1825 £765 Good
Sun 19 Feb 2023 £1825 £765 Good
Sun 12 Mar 2023 £1825 £765 Good
Sun 02 Apr 2023 £1825 £765 Good
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