Best of South India Tour

08 Nov - 22 Nov '21

14 Nights / 15 Days

What is South India famous for? On this tour of the south of India you will explore some of the oldest Hindu temples in the world.

Kerala! How do we describe Kerala beauty? On this tour you will get to know what Kerala is famous for... 

Secluded beaches, palm fringed backwaters, mist clad hills, lush tropical forests, waterfalls, exotic wildlife, monuments, art form and festivals give it a distinctive charm.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Chennai Airport - Ideal Resort, Mahabalipuram (52 kms 1.5 hrs approx)

Arrive at Chennai International Airport. You will be met and transferred from the airport to your hotel at Mahabalipuram.

 

Overnight:

IDEAL BEACH RESORT

http://www.idealresort.com/

Day 2: Mahabalipuram

Breakfast at the hotel

Morning is at leisure to relax and recover from jet lag

14h00 : Proceed to visit the stunning monuments of Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram/ Mamallapuram known as an "open-air museum" it lies on the Coromandel Coast which faces the Bay of Bengal. 

Until the late 18th century, he richness in Mahabalipuram was not known to many, as these Pallavas did not expose their innovative creations to the world for obvious reasons. With its vast casuarinas trees, silvery sandy beach and handmade crafts the place is a splendour to enjoy.

Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

Shore Temple: The oldest structure in the area, built c. 700 AD, this temple has been here for more than 1400 years. The area around the temple is now a landscaped park, with guards keeping the hordes of souvenir hawkers at bay. A Shiva lingam is enshrined in the central building.

 

Five Rathas (Pancha Pandava Rathas): This site contains five Rathas, literally chariots, dating from the 7th century. The sculptures are complemented by some enormous stone animals, including a large elephant.

 

Sculpture Museum: East Raja Street has hundreds of sculptures in stone, wood etc. The following structures like Arjuna's Penance, Krishna's Butterball, Mahishamardini Cave. Varaha Cave having four impressive carvings of Vishnu, Gajalakshmi, Trivikrama and Durga are all carved straight out of rock in the central hillside area, so you can travel between them on foot. The scenery within the hills is also quite unusual, with smooth rock rising out of the forest and carved stairways leading between the mandapas (pavilions), caves and carvings. The Old and new light houses provide views across the area to the sea. There are several unfinished temples nearby, and the December 2004 tsunami exposed more previously submerged temples.

Overnight:

IDEAL BEACH RESORT

Day 3: Mahabalipuram - Muthukadu - Mahabalipuram (20 kms / 30 mins approx)

Breakfast at the hotel. 

Dakshina Chitra a cultural living museum of art

In the afternoon, visit Dakshina Chitra Museum https://www.dakshinachitra.net/ 

 

A cross-cultural living museum of art, architecture, lifestyles, crafts and performing arts of South India.

 

 Return to hotel- rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight:

IDEAL BEACH RESORT

Day 4: Mahabalipuram - Kanchipuram (67 kms / 1.5 hrs approx)

Kanchipuram - Pondicherry (140 kms / 2.5 hrs approx)

Breakfast at the hotel. Check out and drive to Pondicherry.

Kanchipuram famous temple city of Tamil Nadu

Typical street scene in French quarter of Pondicherry

En-Route visit Kanchipuram is among the most famous of the 'temple cities' of Tamil Nadu. Though today it is only a destination for pilgrims, and a repository of major architectural monuments, in antiquity it occupied a more pre-eminent place in the history of South India.  

 

Lunch option at Kanchi Kudil (A hundred-year-old house, well maintained with all the items used by the family)

 

Continue drive to Pondicherry.

 

Visit a Silk Weaving centre en-route to Pondicherry.          

    

Puducherry (or Pondicherry) was a part of the Pallava kingdom of Kanchipuram in the fourth century AD. During the next few centuries Pondicherry continued to be under the control of several dynasties of the south.

 

The 17th century marked the beginning of colonial era in India. The French East India Company set up its trading centre at Puducherry in 1673. This outpost eventually became the chief French settlement in India. 

Arrive and check-in at your hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight:

GRATITUDE HERITAGE

http://gratitudeheritage.in

Day 5: Pondicherry

Breakfast at the hotel.

 

09h00 : A walking tour which takes about 2 hours and covers about 2 kms

French Heritage Walk: The buildings, an enduring legacy of French history in India tells the story of a colonial adventure in a faraway land. It tells of the historic rivalry between the European powers of the time including the Danes, the Dutch and the British besides the French.

 

The French Heritage walk takes you through streets that are laid out in a well-planned grid pattern. Easily recognizable by their ornate gateway arches, garden courtyards with multicolored bougainvillea and the buildings painted in pleasant hues of lime and peach. The grand French names though unpronounceable, add a certain charm.

Visit to Sri Aurobindo Ashram: Founded in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo and “the Mother” - a lady of French descent, this famous spiritual community has about 2000 members. Sri Aurobindo‘s teachings focus on 'integral yoga' that sees devotees work in the world, rather than retreat from it. Visit to the main, grey-walled ashram building is cursory: must see is the flower-festooned samadhi of Aurobindo and the Mother and the bookshop.

 

Visit Colours of Nature: Set up as a research unit in the experimental township Auroville, in south India, in 1993, The Colours of Nature has revived the ancient traditions related to natural dyes. Jesus Ciriza Larraona, the founder led a search to a small village and a family that had handed the knowledge of natural indigo fermentation dyeing down for generations. Most of our team remains until this day. The organisation continues to explore the cultivation, harvesting and processing, adding natural elements such as sea- shells, to improve the processes.

Visit is subject to permission.

https://thecoloursofnature.com/natural-dyes/at-the-colours-of-nature/

        

Overnight:

GRATITUDE HERITAGE

French Heritage Walk, Pondicherry

Indigo fermentation dyeing process

Day 6: Pondicherry

Breakfast at the hotel.

 

morning walking tour of Tamil Quarters

Tamil quarters are fascinating to watch because of their architectural transition from Hindu quarters in the north, Christian in the west and centre, to Muslim ones in the south. Each block has its unique architecture telling the tales of their cultural and religious belief. This tour of will begin from Indian coffee house and take you through a significant section in Pondicherry. Relish some popular Tamil sweet and snacks as you absorb the essence of this place.

 

Rest of the day at leisure. You could enjoy this time shopping for some wonderful souvenirs to carry back home.

        

Overnight:

GRATITUDE HERITAGE

Tamil Quarter, Pondicherry

Day 7: Pondicherry - Kumbakonam (130 kms / 3.5 hrs approx)

Kumbakonam - Kanadukathan (Chettinad) (135 kms / 2.5 approx)

Breakfast at the hotel.

 

Check-out and drive to Kanadukathan (Chettinad). En-route break for lunch at Paradise Resort at Kombakonam.

Kumbakonam is a thriving town with numerous temples from the Chola period and later, including the Nageshvara which has some of the finest early Chola sculptures. The Mahamakam tank (17th-cent.) is said to unite the waters of all of India’s sacred rivers.

 

After lunch, continue the drive to Karaikudi in the Chettinad area.

 

Arrive and check-in at your hotel.

        

Overnight:

THE BANGALA

http://www.thebangala.com/

Wall painting in a temple in Kombakonam

Day 8: Karaikudi (Chettinad)

Breakfast at the hotel.

 

09:00: Drive to Kanadukathan for a walking tour of this Chettinad town

Chettinad

Kanadukathan: Tour the village of Kanadukathan with its broad streets lined with palatial houses. Walk around the “Mattaoorani” with a view of the Chettinad Palace and visit the 1870’ VVRM house with its unique carved columns and elements of architecture typical to the region. Opposite the VVRM House one can also visit the majestic CVRM House with its imposing main hall.

 

Visit to the Ayyanar shrine with its terracotta offerings.

 

Lunch option at Chidambara Vilas – a traditional Chettinad lunch served on a plantain leaf.

 

Afternoon:    

Tile making demonstration at the Athangudi Factory: The glossy decorative cement tiles of Athangudi are typical of the Chettiar houses with various patterns and combination of colors. The craftsmen will show the visitors the different ways of using colors and possible tile designs.

 

Visit the famous Chettinad cotton weaving centre, Sree Mahalakshmi Handloom Weaving Centre, one of the old surviving hand weaving centres in the region.

        

Overnight:

THE BANGALA

http://www.thebangala.com

Day 9: Karaikudi (Chettinad) - Madurai (90 kms / 2hrs approx)

Breakfast at the hotel.

 

09:00: Check-out and drive to Madurai

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Madurai Temple City: is situated on the banks of Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu, a southern Indian state. It is the second largest city of Tamil Nadu and has a population more than 1.1 million. It is well known for the Meenakshi temple situated at the heart of the town which attracts tourists as well as pilgrims. 

 

Upon arrival in Madurai, visit the Meenakshi Amman Kovil a twin temple. The temple in the southern side is dedicated to Sri Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva) and the other to Lord Sundareswarar. This is one of the biggest temple complexes of India. 

 

Continue your drive to hotel and check-in.

        

Late this afternoon, venture out for an interactive walking tour to discover local life in Madurai city.

Attend the night ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple when the lord & his consort are put to bed for the night.

 

Auto Rikshaws will be used for transfers to add a local, authentic experience.

 

Overnight:

COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT MADURAI

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ixmcy-courtyard-madurai/

Day 10: Madurai - Thekkady (140 kms / 04 hrs approx)

Breakfast at the hotel.

 

Check-out and drive to Thekkady / Periyar, in the neighbouring state of Kerala.

Periyar: a small town with its unending chains of hills and spice-scented plantations is famous for the Periyar Wildlife Reserve, noted for its diverse wildlife and beautiful landscape.

Upon arrival check-in at your hotel

    

This evening you may choose to learn some cooking! The chef will conduct a cooking demonstration. There will be two Kerala dishes – one vegetarian & and one non-vegetarian. The chef will cook in front of you, and you may taste the cooked food and take home the recipes. 

Overnight:

AMRITARA SHALIMAR SPICE GARDEN

http://www.amritara.co.in/

Day 11: Thekkady 

Breakfast at the hotel.

Thekkady: also known as Periyar, is home to the famous Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve. With several activities on offer, you can opt for Periyar Tiger Trail, Nature walk, Bamboo Rafting, etc. in this exotic sanctuary, or an early morning boat ride on the Periyar Lake. 

 

The spice plantations in Thekkady are a prime attraction of this beautiful land. Though sprawling tea estates cover much of the landscape of Thekkady, plantations of cardamom, rubber, vanilla and coffee are also aplenty.

15.30 hrs:    This afternoon enjoy a guided walk through a spice plantation. Walk amidst the green, terraced farms in Thekkady, while you hear the murmuring sound of the rippling stream. You can go for nature walks, bird watching treks, taste the various spices and breathe in the fragrant air while exploring the spice plantation in Thekkady. Pick up a few packets of the tea and spices grown here that make for a good buy. There are various kinds of spices cultivated in Thekkady. The most abundantly found spice in Thekkady is pepper. But there is a variety of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric and curry leaves on the slanting slopes of the spice plantations in Thekkady.

 

Overnight:

AMRITARA SHALIMAR SPICE GARDEN

https://www.amritara.co.in

Day 12: Thekkady - Kumarakom (120 kms / 4hrs approx)

Breakfast at the hotel, drive to Kumarakom

Midway on the drive, stop for lunch at Elamthottam

Elamthottam Bungalow was built in 1945, and is home to Kurian Pottenkulam and his charming family, a typical Syrian Christian family. The word Thottam in Malayalam means an estate. As the name itself suggests the mansion is also an estate bungalow. The bungalow is a blend of local architecture and the colonial style is evident on its well spread exterior patterns. 

Arrive Kumarakom & check in at Hotel.

 

Kumarakom: An unbelievably beautiful paradise of mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut groves interspersed with enchanting waterways and canals adorned with while lilies - this is Kumarakom. The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and this small water world is part of the Kuttanad region. Egrets, darters, herons, teal, waterfowl, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian stork that live here in flocks are a fascination for visitors.  The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands.

 

Rest of the day is at leisure to relax at the hotel or enjoy Ayurveda treatments and massages (on direct payment)

AYURVEDA - THE NEW BALM FOR FEVERED SOULS

 

Ayurveda, in Sanskrit means “science of life” – AYU meaning life and VEDA meaning knowledge. Ayurveda is an intricate system of healing, indigenous to India and Kerala in particular. Some say it was a secret revealed to the sages by Brahma the Creator. It employs naturalistic methods based on “Panchkarma” to prevent and treat diseases and to slow-down the ageing process.  Ayurvdeic physicians believe that they can promote perfect health of body, mind and soul by administering drugs and treatments based exclusively on herbs, leaves, bark, roots and even stems of certain shrubs. Also included in the list of ingredients that go into ayurvedic medicines are spices and occasionally precious metals like silver and gold in purified powered form. These drugs complemented by a strict diet and daily medicated oil massages, have been known to lead to complete cures, some quite miraculous. Ayurveda treats the cause of the disease, eradicates it and enhances immunity.

 

Overnight:

BACKWATER RIPPLES

https://www.backwaterripples.com/

Ayurveda "Science of Life"

Day 13: Kumarakom 

Breakfast at the hotel.

11:00 - Transfer to the jetty to embark the traditional rice boats - "kettuvallam" for a fascinating cruise through the

Begin your half day cruise through the picturesque backwaters and the small lakes, relaxing in the tranquillity of Kerala’s beautiful scenery and some lovely inland lagoons, fringed by thin green necklaces of vegetation.  You are on the boats' forward sundeck, comfortably ensconced in a rosewood-and-cane easy chair. Your boat moves towards the mouth of the Kavanar River at a scorching 6 miles an hour. Hmmmmm….. It would be a fight to keep your eyelids from closing, except for a refreshingly soft breeze that angles in westerly direction, off the Vembanad Lake. It carries the cries of distant birds, surprisingly loud over the waters. 

 

Enjoy the simple lunch that is served on board. After an early tea, the boat will drop you back at the nearest jetty, from where you will drive back to your hotel.

Overnight:

BACKWATERS RIPPLES

Kettuvallam - rice boats on Kerala backwaters

Day 14: Kumarakom - Mararikulam (30 kms / 01 hrs approx)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Check-out and drive to Mararikulam

The serene and beautiful Marari Beach is located close to Alleppey. Nestled in the picturesque fishing village of Mararikulam, Marari beach is verged by unlimited lines of coconut palms. 

 

Arrive and check-in at your hotel.

 

Transfer to Alleppey town for a heritage walk. 

            

This walking tour is lead by a member of Preserve Alleppey Society

It starts with a presentation of the history and unique features of the town and ends at the Society's gallery where light refreshments are served. It is part driving and part walking through the Gujarati quarter, the canal banks and an old wholesale market with a guide. 

 

Return to the hotel.

 

Overnight:

TREE OF LIFE MARARI SANDS BEACH RESORT

https://www.treeofliferesorts.com/

Maraikulam Beach

Alleppey

Day 15: Mararikulam - Cochin (72 kms / 1.5 hrs approx)

Breakfast at the hotel.

On-time transfer to Cochin Airport to board your outbound international flight

End of Tour Service

Accommodation

Mahabalipuram - 03 Nights, bed and breakfast

Garden View Room, Ideal Beach Resort

Pondicherry - 03 Nights, bed and breakfast

Standard Room, Gratitude Heritage

Chettinadu - 02 Nights, bed and breakfast

Deluxe Heritage Room, The Bangala

Madurai - 01 Night, bed and breakfast

Deluxe Room, Courtyard by Marriott

Thekkady - 02 Nights, bed and breakfast

Elegant Room, Amritara Shalimar Spice Garden

Kumarakom - 02 Nights, bed and breakfast

Standard Room, Backwater Ripples

Mararikulam - 01 Night, bed and breakfast

Palm View Room, Tree of Life Marari Sands Beach Resort

Cost of Tour

Rate per person sharing:

US$2,396

Single Supplement:

US$852

Meal Supplements Per Person:

Lunch at Kanchi Kudil, Kanchipuram US$26

Lunch at Paradise Resort at Kumbakonam US$31

Lunch at Chidambara Vilas at Chettinadu US$43

Lunch at Elamthottam Bungalow US$35

Inclusions and Exclusions

Inclusions:

  • 14 Nights’ accommodation on twin share basis as per hotels mentioned above.

  • Daily Buffet Breakfast at all the hotels mentioned above.

  • All transportation and transfers by an exclusive chauffeur driven air-conditioned Tempo Traveller (6-8 pax)/ Mini Coach (9-10 pax) 

  • Meet & Greet services in all cities to be visited.

  • All entrances to monuments (Single Visit) during sightseeing as per itinerary.  

  • Day cruise with lunch at Kumarakom.

  • One single room for tour leader on bed & breakfast and inclusive of all monument entrances.

  • Service of an English-speaking local guide for all sightseeing.

  • Service of an accompanying staff member from Indian Vistas.

  • All local taxes.

Exclusions:

  • Any flight tickets (international or domestic)

  • Meals other than specified above.

  • Optional meals (quoted as supplement)

  • Any expense of personal nature, like liquor, laundry, telephone calls etc.

  • Any camera charges (still or video)

  • Any other expense not mentioned in the prices include column.

  • Charges for any optional tours apart from the itinerary above.

Special Notes

Mich Immelman

I am a specialist tour operator with Curious Journeys. We operate from South Africa. With the assistance of my partners in India and South East Asia, I offer fully inclusive group tours, private tours, and tailor-made services

My specialist destinations are: India, Nepal, Vietnam, and Myanmar

Whether it is a first visit to a region or a return visit to explore the area in greater depth, I will put together the perfect tour for the traveller

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