Discover the ancient temples, palatial mansions, palm-lined backwaters, spice gardens and markets, and the stunning national parks, all in one trip - the South India Revealed.
Starting in one of the seven holiest places in India, Kanchipuram, you’ll tour the Southern Indian States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, taking in their most important sites. Tamil Nadu is famous for its temples and this 17-day tour will take you to some of its most captivating and iconic places.
From the towering 1,000-year old Brihadeeswara Temple, the windswept twin stone towers of Shore Temple to climbing up the 434 steps barefoot, to the see the temples at Rock Fort, these ancient places of worship cannot fail to enthral in their beauty and remarkable engineering feats. You’ll also learn about the region’s rich history and fascinating cultural heritage from the French city of Puducherry to the 18th century palatial homes and mansions of Chettinad.
Southern India is a region of great diversity. You’ll get the chance to see some of its ancient traditional activities that are still practised today. From the 400-centuries-old handwoven Kanchi silk saris and the cascading Chinese traditional fishing nets in Cochin harbour to the vibrant colours in the spice markets. Not to mention, exploring Kumarakom’s backwaters in a Kerala-style houseboat or discovering the ancient petroglyphs in the Edakkal Caves.
Rich in cultural heritage, phenomenal architecture, opulent palaces and authentic experiences, the South India Revealed tour offers a kaleidoscope of unforgettable memories.
- Marvel at the towering splendour of one of India’s oldest Hindu wonders, the Meenakshi Temple
- Explore the dense forest at Periyar National Park, stopping at Periyar Lake with the hope of spotting herds of elephants and bisons at the waterside
- Enjoy a day cruise on a traditional Kerala-style houseboat and discover the traditional charm of Kumarakom
- Watch the fishermen of Cochin and discover the traditional Chinese fishing nets and techniques that date back to the 14th century
Start your Journey
Arrive in Chennai - Mahabalipuram
You’ll fly into Chennai International Airport and upon arrival take a transfer to Mahabalipuram. Here, you’ll check in to the Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay and enjoy your stay in a Chalet Room with Garden View.
Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram sightseeing
After breakfast, you get to enjoy a sightseeing tour of Kanchipuram. Nicknamed 'The Golden City with a thousand temples' Kanchipuram is one of the seven holiest places in India. Today, 125 temples remain, with some dating back to the 6th century. Architecturally beautiful, these places of worship reflect the different rulers of the time. Enjoy discovering the temples, their history and marvelling at the intricate craftsmanship.
Kanchipuram’s other claim to fame is its handwoven silk, which is exported throughout the world. It’s also the best place to purchase a much sought-after beautiful Kanchi silk sari. Woven on handlooms by thousands of families in the nearby towns and villages, the silk saris from Kanchipuram are considered the finest in India.
In the afternoon, return to the beach resort of Mahabalipuram. This tiny coastal village in Tamil Nadu was once a major seaport during the reign of the Pallava dynasty in the 7th century. Today you can visit its open-air gallery to discover some of the dynasty’s architecture, which includes several UNESCO World Heritage listed monuments. You get to enjoy discovering the magnificent sculptures carved into the rock face like the Descent of the Ganges, the fascinating Tamil art and the mesmerising temples here. The windswept Shore Temple on the water’s edge is considered one of the oldest stone temples in Tamil Nadu and its stone towers are a sight to be seen.
Mahabalipuram - Puducherry
This morning, you’ll leave Mahabalipuram and drive to the seaside town of Puducherry. Check in at your hotel for the night, the Palais de Mahe hotel.
It’s hard to imagine India to have a European town with colourful streets and classical French eateries, but Puducherry is just one fine example. It was under French rule up until 1954, and the town’s colonial history has remained at the heart of the French Quarter with some of its population still speaking French. Fittingly, the first stop on the Puducherry sightseeing tour is Raj Niwas, the seriously chic residence of the former French Governor. You can also discover plenty of artefacts that illustrate Puducherry’s French-Indian past by visiting the Puducherry Museum.
Later years have seen a more bohemian vibe arrive in Puducherry with the opening of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. You’ll visit the ashram and the utopian commune, Auroville, as part of your sightseeing tour. Followers travel from all over the world to practise yoga here, but also take part in the voluntary commune’s practical activities such as shoe-making and farming.
Puducherry – Chidambaram – Kumbakonam
After breakfast, you will leave Puducherry and drive to Kumbakonam. To break up the four-hour journey, you’ll stop in Chidambaram en route to visit the Nataraja Temple. This ancient Hindu temple at the heart of the city is spread over 50 acres and it’s dedicated to Shiva - the lord of dance. Its temple sculptures include the complete pose sequence of the classical South Indian Bharat Natyam dance.
On arrival into Kumbakonam, check into the Mantra Koodam Hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring this temple town at your own leisure.
Kumbakonam – Thanjavur
Today, you’ll head south to Thanjavur. Considered one of the top places to visit in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur is a cultural hub where arts and crafts have been at its heart for centuries. You’ll marvel at the Brihadeeswara Temple, which is also known as the Big Temple. At 66m in height, it’s not hard to see why it wins this title. What makes this UNESCO World Heritage site particularly remarkable is that it’s over 1,000 years old and has withstood numerous earthquakes. What is also baffling is how the ancient world managed to put the 80,000kg solid stone dome atop its 216ft tower! Made from granite, the temple is also covered in intricate sculptures. Look out for the musical pillars, the recently discovered murals from the Chola dynasty, and the huge statue of the sacred bull. Another main landmark in Thanjavur is the Royal Palace Complex, which is just a short walk from the Big Temple. Its ornate brightly colour-striped exterior is the showstopper here, with members of the royal family still living in some of its quarters.
After a fascinating day of wondrous temples and colourful palaces, you’ll check in to the Svatma Hotel.
Thanjavur – Chettinad
This morning, after breakfast, you’ll head to Chettinad. En route, you’ll make a short stop at the historical town of Trichy. It’s one of the oldest inhabited cities in Tamil Nadu, and its handmade cigars were made famous by Winston Churchill, who was an avid fan! But the star highlight of the town is the Rock Fort, which sits atop an impressive rock. The fort also consists of three Hindu temples. There are 434 steps to climb to the top, but the views over the city are worth it. Just three miles away is the impressive island of Srirangam, which lies in the middle of two rivers. You will get to enjoy visiting its extensive temple, which has the tallest temple tower in Asia, as well as the many shops here. After a fascinating sightseeing tour of Trichy, drive on to Chettinad. Upon arrival, check in to the Hotel Visalam.
Today, enjoy a fascinating sightseeing tour of Chettinad, which is famous for its decadent 18th century mansions, ornate palatial houses and fiery curries. To get an authentic feel to this region, visit a local house where you can admire its beautiful architecture and opulent interiors. No expense was spared in these mansions, with marble imported from Italy, teak from Burma, wall-to-wall mirrors from Belgium, not to mention the sparkling chandeliers!
Chettinad – Madurai – Periyar
After breakfast, you’ll leave Chettinad and drive to Periyar. En route, you’ll get the chance to visit the ancient city of Madurai, which dates back to 300BC. It’s a major centre for soaking up and discovering the Tamil culture - often referred to as the Athens of the East, due to its similar architecture and layout. Tour highlights include marvelling at the towering Meenakshi Temple with its giant gateways, perusing the vibrant and wonderfully hectic flower market and visiting the Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace.
After taking in the sights of Madurai, a four-hour drive will take you to Periyar. Upon arrival, you’ll check in at the Spice Village and stay in a Spice Garden Cottage.
Periyar - Kumarakom
This morning, enjoy a guided walk in one of Southern India’s most popular national parks - Periyar National Park. The dense hilly forest extends across 458 square miles and is home to a multitude of bird species. Enjoy a guided nature walk along the forest trails, experiencing the park’s serene setting and learning about the region’s diverse flora and fauna. The walk takes you to Periyar Lake, and if you are lucky you may get the chance to see herds of elephants and bison quenching their thirst at this watering hole.
Later, it’s time to discover the spices which are grown in the region. From cinnamon, vanilla, pepper, clove, garlic, as well as tea and coffee, immerse yourself in this interesting world and learn about this age-old industry by visiting a spice garden. Once you’ve learnt about the farming, harvesting and processing, you’ll also be able to visit a local spice market. After a day of connecting with nature, your journey continues to Kumarakom. Upon arrival, check in at the Coconut Lagoon Hotel.
Kumarakom - Cochin
Kumarakom is a village in the backwaters of Kerala. The best way to visit the region and for a quintessential experience is aboard a traditional Kerala-style houseboat. Today, you’ll enjoy a houseboat day cruise where you’ll travel through the intricate maze of backwaters. These palm-lined networks of canals, lagoons and rivers that run parallel with the coast are simply breathtaking. Houses and villages line the waterways with the region’s lush green landscape as a backdrop. You’ll pass endless paddy fields and coconut trees as you go. Stop for lunch and also get the chance to stroll through the village and meet some of the locals. The boat cruise in Kumarakom cannot fail to delight with its serene beauty and traditional charm.
After the day cruise, leave Kumarakom and head to Cochin. Upon arrival in Cochin, check in at the Brunton Boatyard for the night.
Today, you will enjoy a sightseeing tour of the charming city of Cochin. Known as the ‘Gateway to Kerala’, Cochin is positioned on the southwest coast of India. From the Dutch and British to the Portuguese and Chinese, Cochin’s international influences are reflected in its culture and architecture. On this tour you’ll discover the charm of the understated Dutch Palace, visit the oldest European-built church in India, St. Francis Church, as well as admiring the rare antiques in the Jewish Paradesi Synagogue.
Next, head to the harbour to see Cochin’s most recognisable attraction - the iconic Chinese Fishing Nets. Introduced by the Chinese traders in the 14th century, catching a glimpse of these unique cascading nets against the skyline is simply awe-inspiring.
After discovering the architectural and historical sites in Fort Kochi, the rest of the day is free for you to explore Cochin at your own leisure.
In the evening, you’ll have the chance to watch a Kathakali dance performance. Adorned with elaborate masks and colourful make-up, the dancers tell stories based from Ramayana and Mahabharata. It’s a classical Indian dance form and a wonderful Hindu tradition to experience.
Cochin - Mysore
After breakfast, you will be driven to Cochin airport and board your flight to Mysore. On landing, you will be met and a transfer will take you to the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel.
In the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the island of Srirangapatna. Just 10 miles (16km) from Mysore and surrounded by the River Cauvery, this river island is of religious, cultural and historical importance. The town on the island was once the capital of Mysore Rajas during the 17th and 18th century, when Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan were in power. You will get to visit Tipu’s fort, the summer palace - Daria Daulat Bagh, and Gumbaz, a Persian-style mausoleum built for Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.
After an interesting day of sightseeing, you will return to the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel for the night.
Mysore - Coorg
After breakfast, you will enjoy a fascinating sightseeing tour of one of India’s most enchanting cities, Mysore. In recent years, it has become famous as an Ashtanga yoga destination, but as a former royal capital, its magnificent monuments and glittering regal heritage are not to be missed.
First stop will be the Maharaja Palace, which lies in the heart of the city. Its ornate grandeur is the perfect symbol of the past Indian royal families’ power. It was designed by British architect Henry Irwin, for Wodeyar kings in the 14th century. An architectural masterpiece, you will delight in discovering its impressive gateways, domes, arches, turrets and colonnades.
Directly opposite the Palace is the Chamundi Hill. Named after the Royal Family’s patron goddess, you will be able to visit the summer palaces here, as well as the ancient temple and the 16ft Nandi (Siva’s bull) that is carved out of a huge boulder. You can also take in the panoramic hilltop vistas over Mysore and the surrounding hills and lakes.
Later on, head to the village of Somnathpur, just 25 miles east from Mysore. Here, you will be able to visit the exquisite Hoysala Temple, which dates back to the 13th century. The Hoysala Temple is built on a star-shaped platform and its exterior walls are lined with beautiful stone sculptures, including rows of elephants, mythical birds and charging horsemen.
After discovering the architectural jewels in Somnathpur, continue the tour to your next destination, Coorg. Upon arrival, check in at the Evolve Back Resort.
After breakfast, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Coorg. This pretty, extremely picturesque mountainous area is popular with people who love the great outdoors and nature. Its mist-covered hills, emerald forests, orange groves and meandering streams, has earnt Coorg the title the ‘Scotland of India’.
With 60% of India’s coffee being produced in Coorg, fittingly, the day will start with a tour of one of Coorg’s coffee plantations. From the pruning and picking to the drying and packaging, learn all about the various stages in the production of coffee here. Not to mention, tasting the final product! Other highlights of the tour will include visiting the Namdroling Monastery, which is aptly known as the Golden Temple, and Bylakuppe, India’s second largest Tibetan settlement.
After an interesting day discovering Coorg, return to the hotel for the night.
Coorg - Wayanad
After breakfast, you will leave Coorg and drive to Wayanad, where you will check in at the Wayanad Wild Hotel.
The afternoon will be spent visiting the Edakkal Caves in the Ambukuthi Hills. After climbing 450 steps, discover this underground world that’s considered to be one of the earliest centres of human habitation. Known for its ancient collection of petroglyphs, inside the caves you will see the ancient stone scripts, pictorial wall inscriptions and cave drawings that are considered to be over 3000 years old.
Afterwards, you will be driven back to the hotel and the rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy at your own leisure.
Wayanad - Calicut
India has one of the largest tribal populations in the world and today you will be able to visit a Potters & Tribal village. Pottery is one of the earliest skills known to Indians, and a visit to the local pottery-making centre gives a wonderful insight into the hand-moulded toys and deities of worship that are crafted here. You will be able to chat to the local potters, as well as giving this ancient art of handling clay a go. The tribal village also has a great martial art tradition. Known as mighty warriors, the village’s ancestors were once part of the Pazhassi Raja army. Today, the descendents are still expert archers.
After taking in the traditions and charm of the tribal village, you will drive to Calicut. Upon arrival, check in at The Taj Gateway Hotel.
Today, you will have a transfer arranged to take you to Calicut airport, where you will board your flight home.
- Accommodation - single, twin, or double sharing basis for a total of 17 nights
- Room with daily breakfast at all places except Coorg which is on full board basis
- Transport - Services using air-conditioned vehicle throughout
- 01 bottle of mineral water per person per day
- Assistance & Porterages - Meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports, hotels by Le Passage To India representative
- English-speaking local guide for sightseeing everywhere as per itinerary
- Day cruise on houseboat along with lunch
- Nature walk in Periyar
- Spice Garden visit at Periyar
- Kathakali dance show
- Potter & tribal village visit in Wayanad
- Government Service Taxes
- Any airfare, airport taxes, supplement for which are quoted separately if applicable
- Expenses of personal nature such as table drinks, telephone calls, laundry and camera fees
- Tips to drivers, local guides, and hotel staff
- Any item / service not specified above
- Domestic airfare
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