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From its ancient temples to cultural cities such as Cochin, colorful old towns, lush plantations, houseboats on the backwaters of Kerala, expansive nature reserves and golden, palm-fringed beaches – explore laid-back southern India in depth, from the east coast to the west.

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Itinerary Summary

DayPlaceHighlightsHotel Options
1ChennaiGandhi Memorial, Kala Kshetra Dance School, Marina Beach
1 - 3MamallapuramShore Temples, Arjuna’s Penance Monument, Pancha Pandava Rathas Monument, Krishna’s Butterball RockIdeal Beach Resort, Vivanta by Taj - Fishermans Cove, Chennai
3 - 4PondicherryFrench Town, Colonial Buildings, Aurobindo Ashram, AurovilleLes Hibiscus, Palais De Mahe
4 - 5ThanjavurUNESCO World Heritage Site, Brihadeshvara Temple, Statue of Nandi The BullGReaT Trails River View Resort, Svatma
5 - 7ChettinadChettinadu Palace, Mansions, Antique ShopsVisalam, The Bangala
7 - 8MaduraiMeenakshi Temple, Gandhi Museum, Vandiyur Kanmoy Tourist ComplexGRT Regency, The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai Madurai
8 - 10MunnarMatupetty Dam, Tea Plantations, Soft Trekking, Kannan Devan Tea MuseumThe Leaf Munnar, Spice Tree Munnar
10 - 12CochinFort Kochi Harbor, Matancherry & Pardesi Synagogue, St. Francis Church, Kochi-Muziris BiennaleCasino Hotel, Old Harbour
12 - 13Backwaters of KeralaLagoons & Lake, Houseboat Cruise, Village Life & Local CultureSpice Coast Cruise, Evergreen Houseboat
13 - 16MararikulamPristine Beach, Village LifeMarari Sands Beach Resort, Marari Beach Resort
16 - 16CochinFort Kochi Harbor, Matancherry & Pardesi Synagogue, St. Francis Church, Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Ideal For

  • Beaches
  • Heritage
  • Landscape
  • Wine & Food
Travel Consultant Enchanting Travels team member

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Itinerary Details

Day 1

International Arrival

Chennai

1 Night

Chennai is the gateway to South India, yet the actual city is only about 350 years old, beginning as a small fishing village before it expanded into India’s first major English settlement of Madras under British colonial rule.

Day 16 - 18

Your chauffeur will drive you from Chennai to Mamallapuram in a private vehicle (Duration: 1 hr)

Mamallapuram

2 Nights

Mamallapuram was once a bustling seaport that provided shelter to illustrious travelers like Ptolemy and Periplus in the first century! Today, the city’s claim to fame lies in its ancient Pallava heritage, evident in Mamallapuram’s exquisite collection of temples, caves, rathas (chariots) and monuments.

Included Activities

Highlights of Mamallapuram

Unearth several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tour the stunning two-towered 8th century Shore Temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva and built in the typical architectural style of the Pallava dynasty, who ruled South India for three centuries. With the temple’s oceanic backdrop, this is especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset. Explore Arjuna’s Penance, a gigantic 7th century relief carving, depicting the legend of the holy River Ganges,or the Anantasayana Panel, which shows a reclining Vishnu, and Varaha Cave. Head to the Pancha Pandava Rathas (Five Rathas or chariots). These 7th century architectural monuments were hidden under sand until 200 years ago and are intricately carved out of a single large rock. Observe the mysteriously balancing rock of Krishna’s Butterball. Unwind with a leisurely amble along the town’s sandy shores.

Hotel Options
RoomGarden View Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBeach Resort
RoomDeluxe Room Garden View
MealsBreakfast
StyleBeach Resort
Day 18 - 19

Your chauffeur will drive you from Mamallapuram to Pondicherry in a private vehicle (Duration: 2.5 hrs)

Pondicherry

1 Night

Pondicherry offers a slice of France in South India! Once a sleepy fishing village, the trading town was a French settlement since the 17th century until the Indian Independence.

Included Activities

Highlights of Pondicherry

Revel in the fusion Indo-French culture of this quaint French town, best explored by foot. Amble leisurely through cobbled streets to discover stunning boutique shops brimming with handmade, contemporary crafts, and a proud café culture, tucked within grand colonial and Tamilian buildings. In the Tamilian side of town, you can visit the living Manakula Vinayagar Temple. Wander through the famous Aurobindo Ashram, a spiritual community that follow the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, and the resting place of The Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator. Venture to the town’s outskirts and visit Auroville, a universal community that is heavily involved in sustainable and alternative living projects. Kindly note that Auroville is closed every Sunday afternoon.

South Indian Meal in Pondicherry (Vegetarian)

There is nothing quite like a delicious South Indian meal, especially when it is served up with love and with attention to detail! Experience a delicious, hygienic meal at Maison Perumal, where you will be surrounded by the artwork of local artists, as the space doubles as a gallery. Freshness is the key ingredient. Tickle your tastebuds with native vegetable such as drumsticks, yams, and okra, all of which are locally grown – and with pride. The secret to South Indian food? Cooking with coconut oil, which is not only flavorful but also healthy.(Please inform us of any food allergies in advance).

Day Trip to Chidambaram & Gangaikondacholapuram

Enjoy temple tours and historical ruins! Discover some of the most beautiful temples of South India during your day tour of Pondicherry. Visit Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja Temple, which was built by the Chola dynasty to honour the Hindu god Shiva in the form of Nataraja – the Lord of Dance. Travel to Gangaikonda Cholapuram, the city of the Chola who allegedly conquered River Ganges, and was once the beautiful capital of this powerful kingdom. Explore the magnificent three storey high Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple, which is surrounded by a massive fort-like wall and affords plenty of amazing photo opportunities.

Hotel Options
Les Hibiscus – Opt 1
RoomStandard Rooms
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Palais De Mahe – Opt 2
RoomDeluxe Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Day 19 - 20

Your chauffeur will drive you from Pondicherry to Thanjavur in a private vehicle. Enroute you will visit Chidambaram (Duration without stops: 5 hrs)

Thanjavur

1 Night

Thanjavur is a fascinating cultural melting point and was once considered India’s cultural capital.

Included Activities

Highlights of Thanjavur

Delight in the traditions and talents of Thanjavur, beginning with the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brihadeeswarar Temple, a thousand year old temple dedicated to Hindu God Shiva and home to India’s largest lingam (a phallic symbol of fertility). Venture onwards to another temple in Shiva’s honour, the Panchanatheesvarar Temple. Kindly note that footwear is not permitted within the temples. Visit the home of an artisan within his community and watch how he handcrafts the incredible brass sculptures that the city is famous for. Learn how the intricate and foiled famous Tanjore paintings are crafted.

Hotel Options
RoomGarden Facing Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleResort
Svatma – Opt 2
RoomMillennium Deluxe Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Day 20 - 22

Your chauffeur will drive you from Thanjavur to Chettinad in a private vehicle (Duration: 1.5 hrs)

Chettinad

2 Nights

Chettinad is renowned across India for its unique spectacular combination of flavorful cuisine, yet few venture to this sleepy, tranquil village.

Included Activities

Highlights of Chettinad

Discover the traditions of South India. Explore the crumbling mansions – replete with rubies – of former Chettinad traders and visit ones of these traditional homes to learn more about daily life and the customs and rituals that are such an important part of Tamil heritage. Spend time at the Kamban Mani Mandapam, where the famous poet Mahakavi Chakravarthy Kamban spent several hours writing poetry each day. Visit the library and art gallery at Kaviarsar Kannadhasan Mani Mandapam, which was built to honour another revered poet – Shri Kannadhasan. Travel onwards to the famous tile factory in Athangudi, where your guide will explain how the renowned handmade terracotta tiles of Chettinad are crafted and readied. You can also visit a unique handloom workshop, which preserve the uniquely Chettinadu check-patterned sari fabric.

Hotel Options
Visalam – Opt 1
RoomChettinad Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleHeritage
The Bangala – Opt 2
RoomThe Bangala - Standard Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleGuest house
Day 22 - 23

Your chauffeur will drive you from Chettinad to Madurai in a private vehicle (Duration: 2 hrs)

Madurai

1 Night

Madurai, the city of incense and chiming cymbals, is one of the oldest in India! Dubbed the “Athens of the East’, the historical city was reputedly visited by learned men from Rome and Greece, including Megasthenes in the 3rd century BC! Cozily nestled amidst the towering mountains, this is an energetic city of contrasts where Hindu Gods and a growing IT industry go hand in hand.

Included Activities

Highlights of Madurai

Discover the the magic of Madurai! Begin your full day tour at the heart of the ancient yet bustling city, where the awe-inspiring thousand pillared Meenakshi Amman Temple stands tall. Continue onwards to the grand Koodal Alagar Temple – a stellar example of 17th century architecture dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Located nearby is the Thirumalai Nayak Mahal that once served as the royal residence of the famous Nayaka dynasty. Madurai’s busy flower and vegetable markets provide rich insight into everyday life of Tamilians. Afterwards, direct your steps towards the Gandhi Museum, which was established after famous leader of Indian Independence, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated. (Full Day, Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness Level: Easy)

Hotel Options
GRT Regency – Opt 1
RoomSuperior Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleInternational
RoomPasumalai Superior Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleInternational
Day 23 - 25

Your chauffeur will drive you from Madurai to Munnar in a private vehicle (Duration: 6 hrs)

Munnar

2 Nights

Munnar offers a haven of peace and tranquility within the verdant hills of Kerala.

Included Activities

Personalized City Highlights Tour of Munnar

Explore the popular hill station of Munnar and its picturesque surroundings, accompanied by an expert local guide. Enjoy your drive on winding roads flanked by tea and spice plantations and grasslands. Your first stop is Mattupetty Dam and its adjacent lake area, perfect for picnics. Next, visit Echo Point, which is famed for its natural echo phenomenon. Take in panoramic vistas of the lush, mist-laden valleys of the Western Ghats, and the reserve forests below. Ahead, make a pitstop at Kundala Dam. You can unwind with a leisurely boat ride on the adjoining Lake Kundala. Continue to Top Station, Munnar’s highest point (1700 m), and a historic upper terminus that was used to transport tea using an aerial ropeway. Before returning to the town, stroll on a paved path amid this beautiful setting. Keep an eye out for the rare Neelakurunji flowers that bloom across this region every twelve years! (Duration: Half Day; Private Activity & Transfers; Fitness Level: Easy)

Tea Delights of Lockhart

Explore the Lockhart Tea Museum situated at Devikulam, a scenic hill station and national park on the outskirts of Munnar in southern India. Drive along meandering country roads flanked by lush tea plantations and wooded hills. In a while you will reach the expansive Lockhart Estate established in the late 1800s as one of High Range’s earliest tea plantations. Accompanied by an in-house expert, tour the working tea factory, following the staff in action at every stage. Learn about orthodox tea, and its entire production process from tea leaf picking to your teacup. Understand the various health benefits of tea and its many uses. Visit the tea museum to know more about the history of tea in the region. Discover a collection of vintage equipment related to tea manufacture, and browse old photographs that trace the evolution of the town itself. Visit the adjoining nursery and garden where you can observe life behind the scenes. Finally, enjoy a tea tasting session while appreciating the fantastic scenery around! (Half Day; Duration: 1 hr; Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness level: Easy)

Hotel Options
The Leaf Munnar – Opt 1
RoomGolden Leaf
MealsBreakfast
StyleResort
RoomClassic Room With Jacuzzi
MealsBreakfast
StyleResort
Day 25 - 27

Your chauffeur will drive you from Munnar to Cochin in a private vehicle (Duration: 5.5 hrs)

Cochin

2 Nights

Kochi, formerly Cochin, is considered the Queen of the Arabian Sea as it was one of the first European settlements in India, due its ideal positioning for trading.

Included Activities

Dances of Kerala: A Cultural Evening

Discover the art and culture of Kerala. Spend an evening at the Greenix Village in Cochin where you can enjoy a special performance of some of Kerala’s most celebrated dance forms. Learn the complex rhythm and artistic skills of popular classical dance forms such as Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Bharatanatyam, performed by trained dancers over a period of two hours. The most famous and popular of these is Kathakali – a harmonious blend of dance, drama, music, literature and painting. Observe the detailed make up, grand costumes and intricate gestures which characterize this art form. (Half Day, Evening Activity & Transfer; Duration: 2.5 hours, from 1700 hrs to 1930 hrs including observing performer’s makeup session)

Highlights of Cochin (Half Day)

Cochin is an engaging city to explore, from the absorbing views of Fort Kochi harbor with its huge Chinese fishing nets, to ancient mosques, Portuguese architecture, and the crumbling remnants of the British Raj. Explore Mattancherry, where you can observe murals and antiquities at the Dutch Palace and Cemetery. Indulge your senses browsing traditional spice and antique markets. Encounter the fascinating 400 year old, fully-functioning Parsi Synagogue in the Jewish quarter. Visit the original grave of Vasco da Gama in St. Francis Church, used before his remains were returned to Portugal. Discover Hill Palace, the state’s largest archaeological museum, which is located in the regal and artistic suburbs of Tripunithura. (Duration: 4 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Fitness level: Easy; Please note that the Dutch Palace is closed on Fridays, the Jewish Synagogue is closed on Friday afternoons and Saturdays and the Hill Palace Museum is closed on Mondays).

Culinary Traditions of Cochin

Discover Cochin through its culinary traditions. Your experience begins with a visit a local village, set in the picturesque backwaters by boat. Learn about the extensive network of backwaters which played an important role in the age old spice trade and form the lifeline of the region. Buy local fish from the daily catch, sourced from the nearby estuaries and understand what makes them taste so distinctive. Cook traditional seafood dishes along with a local family, as you understand the age old cooking traditions and the importance of spices in their cuisine. End your culinary journey as you share your meal with your host. (Half Day; Time: Morning; Duration: 4 hrs; Private Activity; Meal included: Lunch; Fitness level: Easy;Please inform us of any food allergies in advance)

 

Hotel Options
Casino Hotel – Opt 1
RoomExecutive Room
MealsRoom Only
StyleInternational
Old Harbour – Opt 2
RoomSuperior Room
MealsBreakfast
StyleBoutique
Day 27 - 28

Your chauffeur will drive you from Cochin to Backwaters , Alleppey/Kumarakom in a private vehicle (Duration: 1.5 hrs)

Backwaters of Kerala

1 Night

Kerala’s famous backwaters are a labyrinthine network of tree-fringed lagoons, idyllic lakes, and river systems, running parallel to the Arabian Sea along the Malabar coast.

Included Activities

Overnight Houseboat Experience

Cruise Kerala’s backwaters and stay overnight in a traditional kettuvallom, a boat made from coconut rope and wooden planks. This unique and exotic barge experience provides all the comforts of a hotel, with furnished bedrooms, a modern shower and toilet room, a living area and a shaded balcony for relaxing on as you enjoy uninterrupted views of rural Kerala. There is also a kitchen where the boat’s crew will rustle you up deliciously fresh meals and snacks, served traditionally on banana leaves. The skipper (captain), might moor up and take you to visit a backwater village, where you can meet local people and observe ancestral homes and places of worship. After a relaxing day, drop anchor and rest your head to the gentle sounds of the swishing lake waters.​

Hotel Options
RoomOne Cabin House Boat
MealsFull Board
StyleHouseboat
RoomOne Bed Room
MealsRoom Only
StyleHouseboat
Day 28 - 31

Your chauffeur will drive you from Backwaters , Alleppey/Kumarakom to Mararikulam, Alleppey in a private vehicle (Duration: 30 mins)

Mararikulam

3 Nights

Mararikulam located a short drive from the town of Alleppey, epitomizes the tropical dream with its pristine white sands and crystal clear waters.

Included Activities

Culinary Lesson, Kerala-style

If you fancy rustling up a romantic Kerala-style dinner for your partner, this is your chance. Learn how to cook some amazing Keralan or North Indian cuisine during this hands on cooking class in the Marari Sands Resort. Travel to the local market in an auto rickshaw (three wheeled scooter)and buy all the necessary ingredients for the meal. Return and don the Chef’s hat as you cook a meal for two in an exotic beach setting. Be expertly guided by the Chef as you learn about the Kerala or North Indian cooking and cook a delectable meal for two. (Half Day; Times:Morning; Duration: 3 hrs; Private Activity; Meal included: Lunch;Please inform us of any food allergies in advance)

Hotel Options
RoomPalm View Room
MealsRoom Only
StyleBeach Resort
RoomGarden Villa
MealsBreakfast
StyleBeach Resort
Day 31 - 31

Drive from Mararikulam to Cochin Airport (75 km, 2 hrs)

Cochin

0 Nights

Kochi, formerly Cochin, is considered the Queen of the Arabian Sea as it was one of the first European settlements in India, due its ideal positioning for trading.

International Departure

 Price & Inclusions

  • Option 1 From $ 3,690 /person
  • Option 2 From $ 4,490 /person

Prices are in USD and exclude international flights. This trip price is based on low season rates for accommodation and other applicable services, and may change depending on availability, currency fluctuations and number of people traveling together. For high season prices, please contact us with your exact travel dates and preferences.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation and meals, as specified in the itinerary
  • Activities and excursions, as specified in the itinerary
  • Transportation services, as specified in the itinerary
  • Your Trip Coordinator: a 24/7 point of contact supporting you during your trip
  • Carbon emissions offsetting for your trip

Not Included

  • Entrance fees and meals, unless mentioned in the itinerary description
  • Tips and personal expenses
  • Visa and tourism fees
  • Travel, health, and cancellation insurance
  • International airfare
Prachtbauten in Bangalore, Südindien
What our guests say about this trip

Planning a trip through Enchanting Travels was the best thing I could have done! The trip was cost effective, covered my travel desires, included great accommodations and excellent service and resulted in a stress free, fabulous vacation experience. I will definitely use Enchanting Travels in the future.

– Candice Betteridge
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Simply South India: Heritage, Landscapes and Beach

16 days $ 3,690 / person