Tailor-made Tour 17 days from £3834 per person
Places Visited: Chennai, Covelong, Pondicherry, Chettinad, Periyar, Kumarakom, Cochin, Coonoor, Mysore, Bangalore
Covering some of the finest sights in the South, this tour highlights the region’s great diversity – Tamil Nadu’s huge, colourful temples, the vast palace and atmospheric markets of Mysore, Coonoor’s tranquil tea plantations, the cosmopolitan background of the port city of Cochin, Kerala’s stunning tropical backwaters and Periyar’s wild elephants, with several exciting options to relax at the end.
A ride on the Nilgiris Toy Train, dinner at a popular French restaurant in Pondicherry, a walk through the jungles of Periyar, a visit to the bronze idol-making artisans in Kumbakonam, and a traditional Kerala meal on banana leaves in a village, are some of the highlights of what we consider to be one of the finest tours of South India.
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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.
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.
Tailor-made Tour 17 days from £3834 per person
Places and Experiences in this tour
The capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is India’s fourth city – a fast-paced, traffic-filled metropolis of 4.7 million people. This strip of the Coromandel Coast first rose to promine...
Roughly midway between Trichy and Madurai, on a plain studded with granite boulder hills and groves of palmyra palms, lies the Chettinad region. This rural backwater is famous abo...
Periyar National Park
High in the hills of inland Kerala, the famous Periyar National Park hugs the border with Tamil Nadu. Its focal point is a convoluted reservoir on whose muddy shores herds of elep...
Kumarakom Backwaters and Bird Sanctuary
Kumarakom, a tiny village located between the shores of Vembanad Lake the largest of Kerala’s backwaters and a vast 200-square-kilometre lagoon provides an idyllic setting for rel...
For centuries the hub of India’s spice and tea trade, Fort Cochin occupies the northern tip of a peninsula dividing the mouth of the Vembanad Lake from the Arabian Sea. Its low-ri...
The main stop on the train ride to Ooty is Coonoor, a major tea market town at an altitude of 1,858m (6,561ft). Lying at the head of the Dodabetta Ravine, its core is a messy baza...
Mysore, the former capital of the Wadiyar Rajas, is far and away Karnataka’s most popular visitor destination. Unlike Bengaluru, the city seems to have been largely bypassed by th...
Huge, 300-metre cliffs of sheer red sandstone protect the north walls of Bidar fort, where the Deccan’s pre-eminent dynasty, the Bahmanis, sited their capital in the 15th century....
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