Highlights of South India

15 Nights/16 Days

AsktheTraveller local Partner

Over 12 years of organising Travel Experience

Our India partner, established by a group of travel professionals, with a passion to innovate, enhance and improve your  India travel experience.

The devil is in the detail and our ability to deliver the India Holiday of your dreams is our single goal.

With us the "sky is the limit" - we can customise your experience to suit your needs and rest assured you are in safe hands. 

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Trip highlights

  • Chennai

  • Mahabalipuram

  • Local cooking lesson/family experience

  • Pondicherry

  • Tea plantation tour

  • Meenakshi Temple

  • Backwater cruise

  • Cochin

Day 1

Arrive (India)- transfer to Chennai

 

Welcome to India!

Transfer from airport to your hotel.

Rest of day at leisure

Overnight in Chennai - The Leela Palace B&B

Details

 

Arrive (India)- transfer to Chennai

 

Welcome to India!

Arrive Chennai, you are met as you exit the aircraft and you are assisted with immigration and custom formalities. In the arrival hall you are introduced to your local representative who will transfer you to your hotel.

Rest of day at leisure.

 

Chennai formerly known as Madras, is the capital of Tamil Nadu, located on the eastern coast. The Chennai area has been an important administrative and economic centre for over 2000 years and was ruled by several warring dynasties. Later Europeans like the Portuguese, British and the French fought for control over this thriving centre. Ultimately in 1639 under the British, Chennai became an important trading and naval base, and this year is considered the official founding date of Chennai. Today it is a modern metropolitan city steeped in a rich culture and is an important centre for Bharatnatyam classical dance and Carnatic music. It also has a large industrial economy in the areas of automobiles, computers, technology, hardware manufacturing, and healthcare.

Overnight in Chennai - The Leela Palace B&B

Day 2

Chennai

Morning visit to the Madras Museum.

 

Afternoon - drive to the city of Mylapore and a visit to Kapleeswar Temple.

 

Overnight in Chennai - The Leela Palace B&B

Details

Chennai

In the  morning you will visit the Madras Museum housed in the Pantheon Complex, a complex of cultural institutions which derives its name from The Pantheon. This is where the Public Assembly Rooms were housed in the 18th century, and it used to be the venue for public entertainment in the city.  The Museum is a sprawling complex with labyrinthine corridors and many galleries. Your focus on this visit will be the Bronze Gallery with its superb collection of 9th to 13th century bronzes, especially the superb images of Nataraja.

 

In the afternoon you will drive to one of the more interesting and oldest areas of Chennai – the City of Mylapore.  The area is busy with local restaurants, small shops selling the items needed for performing a “puja” (religious rituals) – aromatic flowers, colored powders, sandalwood.  You continue to walking through the narrow lanes finally ending at the oldest temple in the city – Kapleeswar Temple which is a striking example of Dravidian Architecture.

 

Overnight in Chennai -  The Leela Palace B&B

Day 3

Chennai - Pondicherry

Morning drive to Pondicherry stopping to visit Mahabalipuram.

Check in on arrival at Pondicherry.

Evening - private Cooking lesson and dinner with a local family.

Overnight in Pondicherry - Palais De Mahe B&B

Details

 

Chennai - Pondicherry

Today you shall be driven to Pondicherry, en route visit Mahabalipuram.

 

Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast which faces the Bay of Bengal. During the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty it was a well established sea port.  During this era great poets, dramatists, artists, artisans, scholars and saints emerged here and art and architecture blossomed.  The rock - cut caves, temples made from a single rock, temples and bas-reliefs that you will see here are full of creativity and tell interesting tales. This ‘open-air museum’ is set in the backdrop of silver sand beach and the beautiful ocean. This site has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

Upon arrival in Pondicherry you will be received and transferred to your hotel.  

 

In the evening you will be taken for a private Cooking Lesson at a local family home followed by drinks and dinner with the family.

Overnight in Pondicherry - Palais De Mahe B&B

Day 4

Pondicherry

Today you will undertake a walking tour of Pondicherry.

Rest of day free

Overnight in Pondicherry - Palais De Mahe B&B

Details

 

Pondicherry

Today you will meet your host, Biswajit Banik, an entrepreneur, who will take you around the town.You will be taken for a walking tour of contrasting streets of French Style and Tamil Style in Pondicherry.

 

In many cases the harmonious blend of the two forms the special feature of the town. Witness the old French colonial buildings of all colours and sorts as you walk along the endless beach and visit Aurobindo Ashram. Learn about the Eastern-philosophy and meet an interesting mix of people here.

 

From here walk towards the Ganesh temple, see morning prayers and blessings offered by Lakshmi – the temple elephant that visits the temple every morning as well as in the evening to offer prayers and bless the devotees.

Rest of day free

 

Pondicherry has two distinct areas. Auroville developed around the Indian yogi and spiritual leader, Sri Aurobindo as a centre for universal religion.  After his death the development was carried on by the “mother”.  The township which was so built that it encouraged people from around the world to come and live and develop themselves both spiritually and artistically.  This led to a large craft heritage and a growing community of international and Indian potters, weavers, painters and the growth of small cottage industries making pickles and jams. The centre of this “township” is the Matri Mandir, considered the soul of Auroville.

Overnight in Pondicherry - Palais De Mahe B&B

Day 5

Pondicherry - Chettinadu

 

After breakfast we take a drive to Chettinadu (approx 5hrs) On the way we can stop at Sawamimalai for trditional Brahmin Lunch (Strictly vegitarion - own Expence) and see local bronze metal carvers at work.

 

Upon arrival at Chettinadu you shall check-in to your hotel rest of day at leisure.

Overnight in Chettinadu - Visalam B&B

Day 6

Chettinadu

Today you will explore the area with a local guide.

 

Karaikudi is the largest town in Chettinad and home to the Natukottai Chettiars. It lies on the outskirts of town Chettinad comprises 75 traditional villages which have changed little over the centuries and there is a wealth of attractions born of traditions of old. There is an abundance of stories telling of fortunes won and lost by this former community of financiers whose area of business was South and Southeast Asia. Its mansions are living museums of wood and stone-work.  Its shops offer a treasure trove of antiques and handicrafts. The cuisine of Chettinad is a byword in South India and Chettiar hospitality is legendary.

Overnight in Chettinadu -  Visalam B&B

Day 7

Chettinadu - Madurai

Morning drive (approx 2.5hrs) to Madurai through the countryside - Check-in to hotel.

Later, with your guide explore the backstreet market of Meenakshi Temple and the traditions of food offerings to the deities.

Overnight in Madurai - The Heritage B&B

Details

 

Chettinadu - Madurai

Morning drive (approx 2.5hrs) to Madurai through the countryside - Check-in to hotel.

Later in the day, take walk on backstreet market of Meenakshi Temple and see the way of life in this quaint yet busy temple town. Your guide will walk to a place where you will witness a very unique experience, an interesting ritual. You will visit to the see the local priests’ tradition of preparing food to offer to the deities (Food for Gods). The food is prepared in private kitchens and served symbolically to the deities each day before being sold as “Prasad” or food blessed by the gods.  It is considered very auspicious to eat these offerings.  You will spend some time watching the preparation and being given an explanation of this ancient tradition by your guide.

Most cities in India have a legend surrounding their origins.  Madurai is no exception, and the story tells how Shiva looked down and drops of nectar fell from his locks, resulting in the city being named Madurai or “The City of Nectar”.  Ancient Madurai was a center of Tamil culture, famous for its writers and poets, and the history goes back to the 6th century BC when it traded with Greece and Rome.  The Nayaka Kings laid out the old own in the pattern of a lotus with narrow streets surrounding the Minakshi Temple at the center.

Overnight in Madurai - The Heritage B&B

Day 8

Madurai

Morning at leisure

Afternoon - Guide will take you to the daily vegetable market & flower market.

Overnight in Madurai - The Heritage B&B

Details

 

Madurai

Morning at leisure.

Madurai is synonymous with Meenakshi Temple which is dedicated to the consort of Shiva, which is one of the biggest temple complexes in India. The five gopurams that surround the temple are known for the stucco work and the 48.8 meters high southern gopuram is the tallest. Exquisite sculptures are found throughout the temple complex.

 

In the afternoon your guide will take you to the daily vegetable market and the gorgeous flower market. Vendors dexterously heap mountains of marigolds and jasmine onto scales for the temple flower sellers here. If interested and time permits, also visit the Tirumala Nayak Palace - a gracious building in the Indo-Saracenic style, famous for the stucco work on its domes and arches and the Museum located in the same complex.

Overnight in Madurai - The Heritage B&B

Day 9

Madurai - Munnar

This morning you will be driven (approx 5 hrs) to Munnar. Upon arrival you will be received and taken to your hotel and spend rest of the evening at leisure.

 

Set on the seaward slope of the Western Ghats, Munnar is the centre of Kerala’s tea industry. It is fortunate to have developed as a British “hill station” and the quiet town and its environs are blanketed by lush tea plantations and remnants of rainforest.

Overnight in Munnar -  Windamere B&B

Day 10

Munnar

Morning Tea plantation tour and visit to the Tea Museum.

Overnight in Munnar - Windamere B&B

Details

 

Munnar

This morning you will be taken for a Tea plantation tour within the property. The stunning scenery of the Western Ghats can be experienced by walking through some of the many coffee and cardamom plantations.

From here you will have views across the nearby tea plantations and you may see the tea-pickers hard at work, delicately removing "two leaves and a bud" to create the best quality tea. The area is also rich in birdlife and many different species can be seen.

 

Visit the Tea Museum owned and run by Tata Tea. The Tea  Museum houses curios, photographs and machineries related to the tea industry and showcases how the first tea planters of the area transformed Munnar into a major plantation centre. Here you can learn about tea growing and processing and even have a tea tasting session. Apart from tea related items the museum also has a section where you can see furniture, typewriters, bathtubs etc. from the plantation bungalows from the late 19th C and early 20th C.

Overnight in Munnar - Windamere B&B

Day 11

Munnar - Kumarakom

This morning you will be driven (approx 5 hrs) to the backwaters, Kumarakom. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel, rest of the afternoon at leisure.  

Overnight in Kumarakom -

Coconut Lagoon B&B

Day 12

Kumarakom

Full day at leisure to enjoy the back water or alternatively you may enjoy the activities at your hotel  

Overnight in Kumarakom - 

Coconut Lagoon B&B

Day 13

Kumarakom - Alleppey

Today you will transfer to your private house boat for an overnight cruise.

Lunch will be served on board and in the afternoon we set sail. Along the route you can see local's going about their lives along the riverbanks, take time to stop and visit the many small churches on the banks of the canals.

Overnight in Houseboat -

Lake & lagoon House Boat Full Board

Day 14

Alleppey - Cochin

Morning you will disembark the house boat and driven (approx 1.5 hrs) to Cochin. Upon arrival you will be received and taken to your hotel located in the Fort Cochin.

 

Fort Cochin is the earliest recorded settlement on the Malabar coast, with its beautiful colonial bungalow peppered with Dutch, Portuguese and Malabar architecture. The many small winding streets with lovely old houses, is truly a treasure trove.

Overnight in Cochin - Eight Baston B&B

Day 15

Cochin

This morning enjoy a Heritage walking through the narrow streets of the area today referred to as the Heritage Zone.  Here you will see various architectural styles reflecting the many cultures that lived here.  Dutch houses stand next to spacious porticoed British plantation style homes.  Further down are two churches built by the Portuguese, while standing guard over the harbor are the Chinese Fishing nets.  

 

In the narrow alleys of the old city you will come across interesting art galleries exhibiting local talent, small cafes and book shops and boutiques.  

  

Just before sunset the fishing boats pull in and there are auctions along the waterfront as the excess is sold to local vendors, the rest being supplied to the hotels.

Overnight in Cochin - Eight Baston B&B

Day 16

Last day and transfer to Cochin airport

Morning at leisure - then transfer to catch your flight (Additional cost) home. 

Departure - We recommend that you arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to your departure flight (or 2 hours if travelling business class). Your departure time will be given to you by your chauffeur guide. It is recommended that you check in online for your departure flight so that you can avoid long queues at the airport check in counters. On line check in is available for most airlines 24 hours before your flight. Your hotel will be able to help you with this if necessary. We wish you a pleasant journey back home or to your next destination.

International flights home

Trip details

Price from £ 3145  Per person based on twin share basis, subject to exchange rates.

With all international and domestic flights prices from approx £3599 per person

Price includes

  • Services of English speaking guide as per itinerary

  • Private transfers and meet and greet services as shown

  • Entrance fees at Monuments, road taxes, parking fees, fuel charges, interstate taxes.

  • hotels shown are subject to availability & can change

  • ATOL protection (When taking international flights)

Additional Extra's

  • International & Domestic Flights

  • Additional unscheduled excursions

  • Still/video camera fees at monuments

  • Immunisations

  • Visa's

  • Personal travel insurance

  • local gratuaties