Take this fascinating journey through India’s southern cities for its incredible architecture, rich cultures and simple way of life. Visit enthralling hill stations, marvelous palaces, and abundant wildlife reserves. To name a few, Mattancherry Palace, Kailasanathar, Darasuram & Meenakshi Amman Temple, Kovalam beach, etc.
DAY01: Namaste, welcome to India
Arrive at Kochi International Airport.
After a traditional welcome ‘Swagat’ we transfer to the hotel for check-in.
DAY02: Sightseeing in Cochin
Visit Fort Kochi, founded by the Portuguese in 1503 and it is considered to be one of the earliest site chosen by European colonial power. An odor of spice emerges from warehouses and food stalls offering different delicacy is a common sight in each nook and corner of the town. In the afternoon, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese as a gift for the Raja of Kochi. Explore the town of Kochi, it's bazaars and old harbor area. In the evening, there is the chance for an optional visit to see a display of Kathakali, a form of classical dance unique to Kerala.
DAY03: Cochin (Kochi) – Ooty (280 km, 8 h)
Leave Kerala behind and enter Tamil Nadu as the road winds up through forested hillsides to Coimbatore. The road up to Coonoor is one of the most scenics in South India providing superb views of the plains below and magnificent groves of the tall and slender areca nut palm trees lining the road. Upon arrival in Ooty, as Ootacamund is fondly known, and checking into the hotel, it’s time to move about and enjoy the beauty of this Queen of Hill Stations, situated at the heart of the Nilgiri hills.
DAY04: Exploration of the town
In the morning, we enjoy a Toy-train journey.
In the afternoon, leave for the sightseeing tour of Ootacamund (Ooty). Visit the Ootacamund Botanical Garden laid out at an elevation of 2400 meters in 1847 and spread over 22 hectares of land with some 650 species of plants and trees. Explore Doddabetta Peak which stands at an altitude of 2623 meters. Merely 10 km from Ooty it is the highest point in the district, making it possibly the best vantage point around Ooty.
DAY05: Ooty - Mysore (Mysuru) (125 km, 4 h)
After breakfast, we drive to Mysore. The route winds down the eastern side of the Nilgiri Hills back to the plains – a very scenic journey. Drive through the Mudumalai National Park and Bandipur National Park as we cross the border from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka with the chance to spot deer and monkeys and elephants as we pass. After arriving in Mysore and checking into our hotel, we visit the Chamundi Hill where there is a temple dedicated to Durga. On the road up to the temple, there is a giant stone Nandi bull carved from a single piece of granite in 1659.
DAY06: Explore the town in its authentic form
In the morning, we embark on a sightseeing tour of Mysore.
Drive to Srirangapatna (the historic capital of Tipu Sultan who was known for his struggle against the British rule), where we visit the Daria Daulat Bagh, the Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan.
Return to Mysore and visit the Palace of the Maharaja (Emperor), a harmonious synthesis of Hindu and Saracenic styles of architecture – with a plethora of magnificent archways, domes, turrets, colonnades, and sculptures. Visit Chamundi Hill with its temple dedicated to Durga. On the road up to the temple, there is a giant monolithic Nandi bull, carved from a single piece of granite in 1659.
DAY07: Mysore (Mysuru) – Hassan (120 km, 3 h)
Drive to Hassan. On arrival, transfer to the hotel. Depart for an excursion to Belur and Halebid for their temples carved with scripts from Hindu mythology having mythological characters from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two famous Epics. In Halebid, visit the Hoysaleswara Temple where we see half-life size statues of Hindu deities with minute details in each all around the temple. At Belur, see the Chennakesava Temple famous for its architecture and sculptures. Later, we drive back to the hotel in Hassan.
DAY08: Hassan - Bangalore (Bengaluru) (185 km, 4 h)
After breakfast, drive to Bangalore (Bengaluru); stopping en route at Shravanabelagola, a city sacred to the Jains and famous for its 18-meter Jain colossus. Standing on Vindhyagiri Hill, the statue of Gomateshwara is said to be the tallest and most graceful monolithic statue in the world. The site is visited by hundreds of pilgrims daily. Arrive in Bangalore. Bengaluru – Chennai (by Train). Transfer to the Railway station to board our train to Chennai. Upon arrival in the late evening, we transfer to the hotel.
DAY09: Chennai – Mahabalipuram (60 km, 1 h, 40 m)
After a refreshing breakfast, we take a sightseeing tour of Chennai, the fourth largest city in India and the capital of Tamil Nadu to visit the Kapaleeswarar Temple, Government Museum and San Thome Basilica. Dive down to Kanchipuram, one of the seven holy cities in the country and famous all over India for its hand-woven silk sarees. Visit the Kailasanathar Temple famous for exquisite carvings with 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine. Next in our program is Kamakshi Amman Temple housing the statue of Kamakshi who is said to be the Super-goddess, Parasakti, having Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati as her eyes. She blesses all who dedicate themselves to her. Drive to Mahabalipuram and check into the hotel.
Take a tour of Mahabalipuram, once the main port and naval base of the great Pallava Kingdom. The Rock carvings at Mahabalipuram are notable for the delightful freshness and simplicity of their folk art origins. See the skillfully carved rock of Arjuna’s Penance - the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world.
DAY11: Mahabalipuram - Pondicherry (Puducherry) (100 km, 3 h)
Proceed to Pondicherry, which retains a strong sense of the former French presence in India: grid pattern streets, distinctive police uniforms and the occasional colonial building around everywhere. After we check into the hotel and enjoy lunch, we embark on a sightseeing tour of the town to explore its Gallic heritage. Places of tourist interest include the Shree Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, the French Institute and Colony, Museum and Church.
DAY12: Pondicherry (Puducherry) – Thanjavur (175 km, 4 h)
After breakfast, we drive to Thanjavur through the wonderfully fertile Kaveri Delta - an area of lush emerald paddy fields.
En-route we visit the famous Darasuram Temple in Kumbakonam, a superb example of 12th century Chola architecture. Arrive in Thanjavur and check into the hotel. Thanjavur is well known for its exquisite handicrafts such as bronze work and classical South Indian musical instruments.
DAY13: Thanjavur – Madurai (190 km, 4 h)
In the morning, we visit Brihadeeswarar Temple which dates from the 10th century CE. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a brilliant example of Dravidian Temple architecture. After the visit, we continue our drive to the colorful city of Madurai famous for its intricate temples. One of the oldest and most fascinating cities in Tamil Nadu, Madurai is also a thriving cultural center with a rich past. After arrival, we check into our hotel and relax for the rest of the day.
The most famous sight in Madurai is the Meenakshi Amman Temple - an outstanding example of Vijayanagar Temple architecture. Built during the Nayaka period between the 16th and 18th centuries it is one of the largest temple complexes in India. The gopurams that surround the temple are known for their colorful stucco images of Gods, Goddesses, and animals.
Later, we visit the Thirumalai Nayak Mahal built in 1636 in Indo-Mughal style by the Nayaka Dynasty. The main temple is dedicated to Meenakshi, the ‘fish-eyed Goddess’ and consort of Shiva. Madurai is a perfect place to wander around and to experience Hindu culture with the temples and bazaars in the heart of the vibrant city. The evening is free to explore.
DAY15: Madurai - Periyar (Thekkady) (140 km, 4 h)
In the morning, we drive to Periyar (Thekkady) and re-enter the state of Kerala. The drive is spectacular as the road climbs through the Western Ghats and commands fantastic views across Tamil Nadu. Arrive in the small bustling village of Thekkady and check into the hotel. This whole area is a center for spice cultivation. After lunch, we take a short walk around a spice garden where we see many different spices growing. There is plenty of time in the afternoon to explore the bazaar where a large number of shops selling cardamoms, vanilla, peppercorns, chilies, turmeric, and other spices flank the road.
DAY16: Periyar wildlife sanctuary
In the early morning, we take a jungle walk in the park along with our forest guides to admire the abundance of birdlife that includes kingfishers, storks, and hornbills which are the most commonly spotted birds. Periyar National Park is one of the largest reserves in South India and is set around a large man-made lake. Return to the hotel for breakfast. In the afternoon, there is a possibility to do an Optional Boat Ride on Periyar Lake. This is an ideal opportunity to get close to the animals and a good opportunity to spot elephants, otters, wild pigs, and buffaloes. On offer here is Ayurvedic massage (optional), which can be arranged in the nearby Ayurvedic massage center.
DAY17: Periyar (Thekkady) - Alappuzha (Alleppey) (150 km, 5 h)
After breakfast, we drive to Alleppey. Also known as Alappuzha, the town is a principal center for backwater cruises in Kerala. Board our houseboats and begin our cruise along the backwaters of Kerala; one of the highlights of the trip. These enchanting boats have been decorated and made into comfortable cruise vessels. We meander along the waterways flanked by lush tropical vegetation, catching glimpses of dazzling tropical birds and watching idyllic villages. Our overnight stay is on the boats in the middle of the famous Vembanad Lake.
DAY18: Alappuzha (Alleppey) – Kovalam (140 km, 4 h)
After a relaxing breakfast on the houseboats, we disembark and drive to Kovalam. Some of the leisure options at the Kovalam beach are sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages, special cultural programs, catamaran cruising, etc.
Enjoy a free day to enjoy the idyllic soft sandy beaches and warm clear waters of Kovalam. There is also the opportunity to enjoy an optional day’s sightseeing tour by taxi from Kovalam to Kanyakumari, the extreme southern tip of India where the Indian Ocean meets the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The trip also takes in the old wooden palace of the rulers of Travancore at Padmapuhamban- a marvelous building with fantastic woodcarvings, and the Hindu temple at Suchindram with its amazing stone carvings (this trip can be booked and paid for locally).
DAY20: Transfer to the airport of Trivandrum
Check out from the hotel and are transferred to the International Airport of Trivandrum for our onward journey.
For a confirmed booking, a deposit of (10%) is required. Deposit is paid by credit card (secure payment via Stripe, no credit card fees). The remaining balance can be paid in cash upon start of the trip - unless Host & Traveler agree on different payment methods.
Cancellations can be made free of charge up to 30 days prior to the beginning of the booked service. The deposit (10%) is only refundable if the booking is canceled at least 30 days in advance.